- Sean Allen
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Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: American League
Game Story: Westbrook was money in the bank in the month of August. His 1.90 ERA and 0.98 WHIP was partly fueled by an eight-inning two-hitter he threw against these very White Sox. Westbrook is one of your better spot starts for the day and I wouldn't go looking through Chicago's batting order for any hidden gems. There is nothing outstanding about Contreras this season. He shouldn't even be on your radar. Although Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez only hit .158 against Contreras, Grady Sizemore can do all the necessary damage on his own. His career OPS versus Contreras is a sparkling 1.131.
Notable Injuries: Joba Chamberlain, RP (suspension, out)
Game Story: The Yankees continue to rip and roar on offense, so starting Hammel for your fantasy team is the equivalent of pushing him in front of a charging rhino. Equally as troubling is the matchup for Pettitte. The Devil Rays are seventh in the majors in OPS versus lefties (.798) and several players have favorable histories against Pettitte. Carlos Pena in 15 at-bats, Delmon Young in eight at-bats, and Brendan Harris in seven at-bats all have an OPS over 1.000. Akinori Iwamura is normally a spot start against southpaws, but he is 0-for-7 in his career against Pettitte.
Notable Injuries: Richie Sexson, 1B (hamstring, questionable)
Game Story: Weaver has allowed two home runs in each of his past three outings, and that can be trouble against a team like the Blue Jays. Troy Glaus, Alex Rios, Matt Stairs and Lyle Overbay each have two home runs in the past seven days. This looks like a start in which Weaver does not merit spot-start consideration. Burnett's five walks and only three strikeouts in his most recent outing are nothing to be concerned about as it was his second straight start against the A's, so they may have had a bead on him.
Game Story: Whether we'll see Dr. Daniel Jekyll or Mr. Hyde Cabrera is anyone's guess. My favorite way to decide is just to bench him and find out later. If you are going to tempt fate by using Cabrera, do it in a game in which he isn't pitching to one of the league's top offenses. Alex Cora hits Cabrera well (11-for-18, 1.556 OPS), so consider him for a spot start in your infield. Lester is always useful for his potential to get a win. He should be pretty good in this matchup as the O's are below average against southpaws. If you have Corey Patterson, make sure you are starting him against lefties, whom he hits to the tune of .312. Finally, don't get cute and try to use Eric Hinske just because Manny is out. Hinske is 3-for-21 (.143) against Cabrera.
Notable Injuries: Joe Mauer, C (hamstring/ankle, questionable)
Game Story: Bonser is safe to spot-start against the league's weakest offense for the month of August (.669 OPS). He should get you above-average strikeouts, but maybe not a win as this game shapes up as an under-the-radar pitching duel. Bannister has been one of the nicest surprises this season and has 14 innings of 2.57-ERA baseball logged against the Twins this season. His ownership in ESPN leagues is still criminally low at 7 percent; but I guess that's more spot-starting opportunities for the rest of us. I wouldn't go too deep on offense for either team.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Gaudin actually makes a decent spot start here. Don't expect a win, but if you need some strikeouts try him out. He's had quality starts three of his past four times out and one of those was against the Tigers. He struck out nine batters and allowed just two earned runs versus Detroit on August 13. The A's are average against southpaws, but Robertson coughed up four runs against Oakland August 12 and gave up six earned runs in his most recent outing against Kansas City. Marco Scutaro has Robertson's number, with an OPS of 1.467 in 12 career at-bats.
Game Story: Despite keeping his earned runs to a dull roar, Gabbard isn't lasting long enough into games. He hasn't completed the seventh inning as a Ranger and while he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in his six starts for Texas, only three of those were quality starts. Reggie Willits hits .358 against lefties and his speed is always nice to plug into your lineup. It's also time to stand up and take notice that Kendry Morales is playing and hitting. Morales is 12 for his last 25 and has a home run and four RBIs to boot. If you need someone to start at second in shallow leagues, Howie Kendrick is 15-for-46 (.326) versus southpaws. Lackey should mow down this Rangers lineup without breaking a sweat.
Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: National League
Notable Injuries: Josh Willingham, OF (back, day-to-day)
Game Story: You don't often see numbers like this: Miguel Cabrera is 10-for-13 versus Eaton with a 2.093 OPS. The damage Miggy could put up single-handedly is enough to forget about Eaton. Olsen hasn't looked good lately, allowing six earned runs in each of his past two starts. Feel free to dig a little deeper on offense in this game looking for starters.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Can I really say how cool it is to see these two going head-to-head? I don't think I can express it, so let's get down to the nitty gritty. I expect both pitchers will reach back and find a gem of an outing against each other. I think both are fine starts because of the added incentive to perform well against someone whose name will forever be uttered in the same breath as their own. Glavine has to watch out for Andruw Jones and his career 1.290 OPS in 41 at-bats. Matt Diaz and Kelly Johnson also hit Glavine fairly well. Smoltz needs to be wary of Shawn Green, who sports a 1.325 OPS in 29 at-bats. Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Delgado also hit Smoltz well.
Notable Injuries: Kevin Frandsen, 2B (ankle, day-to-day)
Game Story: Barry Bonds versus Mike Bascik, the sequel, was called off as the Nats promoted Chico to make the start. Chico has started 25 games this year with limited success and a WHIP that is conducive to the opponents' offense. Look for a big game out of the Giants' bats. Bengie Molina, Ryan Klesko and Randy Winn are all options for this game (especially the way Winn hits lefties). How about Ryan Zimmerman versus southpaws? He's 48-for-118 (.407) this season. At the end of the day, though, Zito was a monster in August (2.50 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) and should be a fine start.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: If you thought Zimmerman punished lefties, try Ryan Braun's numbers on for size: 41-for-90 (.456). Gorzelanny has been having trouble with good offenses lately (four earned runs versus Cincinnati, five versus Philadelphia) and should ride the pine for you in this one. The Brewers are tied with the Blue Jays for best in the majors when it comes to punishing left-handers (.850 OPS). Adam LaRoche, Ronny Paulino and Nate McLouth all have an OPS over 1.000 versus Suppan, albeit in limited at-bats. Pittsburgh was also fifth in August OPS (.836), so I'd avoid Suppan.
Notable Injuries: Juan Encarnacion, OF (head, questionable)
Game Story: Cincinnati's offense has been rocking and rolling with an August OPS of .874 (first in majors). Be kind, and don't throw Looper under the bus. Consider Edwin Encarnacion among the red-hot bats and makes a wise choice as a spot start. Overall, though, Encarnacion, Scott Hatteberg, Brandon Phillips, Alex Gonzalez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Norris Hopper are all batting better than .400 over the past week. Aaron Miles is making the most of his playing time with Adam Kennedy on the DL. Miles makes a nice start considering his .381 average in the past seven days. All the key Cardinals (Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, David Eckstein and Chris Duncan have an OPS of .800 or better against Arroyo, so it may not be his day for good ratios. I do expect him to get the win, though.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Williams could be in trouble as Jason Kendall and Cliff Floyd both have a career OPS better than 1.000 against him while Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit better than .300. We are talking about at least 29 at-bats for the aforementioned players, so these aren't small sample sizes. Except for a game in Coors (which we can overlook), Hill hasn't allowed more than three earned runs since July 4. His strikeouts have been creeping back up as well. Start him with confidence, as the Astros are slightly below average against left-handers.
Notable Injuries: Michael Barrett, C (concussion, DL/may return)
Game Story: Russell Martin and Jeff Kent are both batting a ridiculous .500 over the previous seven days and could be all the trouble Germano can handle. Germano's ERA in Petco is actually a brutal 5.30, so don't even consider him against the Dodgers. The Padres aren't as scorching as they were a week ago, but the offense is still lukewarm, and Milton Bradley is lighting up everyone he faces. Billingsley has been reliable enough that I would start him here, though.
Game Story: We can chalk up Webb's last outing (6 ER) to either his shutout streak catching up with him or the fact that the Padres were red-hot. I'm not worried about Webb facing the Rockies at home. Arizona might be missing Jackson and Reynolds, which would make Fogg a little more attractive here. The Diamondbacks offense was 27th in the league for OPS in August and Fogg can overcome tough ballparks by inducing ground balls. He has a 3.27 ERA in two starts this season at Chase Field. I think he could be useful to those in NL-only leagues looking to eat a few innings.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Jake Westbrook, SP, CLE versus Chicago White Sox
Alex Cora, SS, BOS versus Baltimore Orioles
Brian Bannister, SP, KC @ Minnesota Twins
Boof Bonser, SP, MIN versus Kansas City Royals
Marco Scutaro, SS, OAK versus Detroit Tigers
Kendry Morales, 1B, LAA versus Texas Rangers
Shawn Green, OF, NYM @ Atlanta Braves
Randy Winn, OF, SF @ Washington Nationals
Nate McLouth, OF, PIT @ Milwaukee Brewers
Aaron Miles, 2B, STL versus Cincinnati Reds
Please Note that the notable injuries are not meant to be a comprehensive report of each team's disabled list. For brevity, we include only day-to-day injuries or new DL additions for players you might otherwise consider using in these games. Long-term DL or day-to-day injuries to starting pitchers who were not scheduled to appear are omitted.
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at alla_rino@TalentedMrRoto.com