Daily Notes: Can Santana get back on track?
Felix Hernandez, RHP (11-7, 3.96 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) versus
Jeremy Bonderman, RHP (11-8, 4.73 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Richie Sexson, 1B (hamstring, questionable); Jeremy Bonderman, SP (elbow, probable)
Game Story: This is a matchup featuring two of the more disappointing fantasy starters this season. Hernandez and Bonderman have not been the dominant aces they were expected to be and are prone to the occasional costly blowup. Hernandez is coming off a strong performance against the Yankees, has a quality start logged against the Tigers this season and has a tidy ERA of 3.77 on the road. Gary Sheffield has been a hazard to King Felix, going 4-for-5 in his career with a home run, but we can't really count on vintage Sheff right now. Curtis Granderson is boom-or-bust in eight career at-bats against Hernandez, with four hits and four strikeouts. All-in-all, Hernandez should avoid a blowup and provide a quality start for his owners. Bonderman, on the other hand, has been hit pretty hard by the Mariners this season. In two starts, he has a 5.54 ERA over 13 innings, yet still managed to win both games. Ben Broussard has been a pain for Bonderman, going 13-for-44 in his career with three home runs and a 1.031 OPS. Raul Ibanez and Ichiro are both 8-for-24 (.333) versus Bonderman and Jose Guillen has two hits -- both home runs -- against him.
Josh Beckett, RHP (17-6, 3.30 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) versus
Jeremy Guthrie, RHP (7-5, 3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)
Game Story: Beckett is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA, 11 strikeouts and no walks in 16 innings at Oriole Park this season; he should have little trouble notching his 18th win in this one. Avoid most Orioles, including Miguel Tejada who is a measly 3-for-17 (.176) against Beckett. The only two O's to focus on are Brian Roberts (1.275 OPS versus Beckett) and Jay Payton (8-for-21, .381 versus Beckett). The only thing standing in Beckett's way for the win is Guthrie's stellar record against Boston this season. In 13 2/3 innings, Guthrie has a 1.98 ERA versus the BoSox. Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis are a combined 1-for-16 against Guthrie. Guthrie is safe for AL-only and any mixed league, save the shallowest.
Jesse Litsch, RHP (5-7, 4.03 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) versus
James Shields, RHP (11-8, 4.01 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Casey Janssen, RP (ankle, questionable)
Game Story: If you can overlook his previous outing in Fenway, Litsch might be the best, widely-available spot start of the day. Before his disastrous outing on Monday, Litsch was one of the best pitchers since the All-Star break. He entered that game in Boston with a 2.80 ERA in 58 innings since the break. Litsch already has a 6 2/3 inning shutout of the Devil Rays this season. Start him, and do it with confidence. Shields has been quite dominant in his domed home, with a 3.60 ERA. The Blue Jays have a combined .163 batting average (8-for-49) in their careers versus Shields. Matt Stairs, Tory Glaus and Lyle Overbay are hitless in 16 combined at-bats. Shields is a great start as we'll see an under-the-radar pitching duel in this game.
Johan Santana, LHP (14-11, 3.15 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) versus
Jon Garland, RHP (9-10, 4.75 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Game Story: Santana has been below-average since his 17-strikeout spectacle on August 19. In fact, Johan has a 5.68 ERA in his three starts since then. The White Sox don't hit lefties that well (.728 OPS versus LHP, 26th in majors), and no one in Chicago's batting order (who has faced Johan a significant number of times) hits better than .250 against him. Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, Scott Podsednik, Juan Uribe and A.J. Pierzynski are all below the Mendoza line versus Johan. Suffice it to say, bench your White Sox. Garland has been useful in AL-only and deep mixed leagues but, if you will recall, it was the Twins who tagged Garland for one of fantasy's most damaging performances this year. Minnesota put up 11 earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings versus Garland on July 6. That in itself is a bad omen and I'd avoid starting him. Jason Kubel is your plug-and-play candidate from the Twinkies. He is a career 5-for-13 (.385) with two home runs versus Garland.
Chien-Ming Wang, RHP (17-6, 3.68 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) versus
Zack Greinke, RHP (6-5, 3.87 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Chien-Ming Wang, SP (back, probable); Luis Vizcaino, RP (shoulder, out)
Game Story: Wang is quoted as saying his back feels fine, and you -- like the Yankees -- should plan on starting him. He is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA against the Royals this year, and should keep pace with Beckett for the major league lead in wins. There are still plenty of Royals to spot start though. Joey Gathright (.417) is 5-for-12 versus Wang and could swipe you a couple bags. Alex Gordon, Emil Brown and David DeJesus also bat better than .400 against Wang. Although he has only started his last three appearances, Greinke hasn't allowed a run in his past 10 games, dating back to August 4 and spanning 19 innings. But guess who tagged him for five runs on August 4 without allowing him to get an out? That's right, the Yankees. Greinke is a terribly interesting addition to your fantasy team for the rest of the season, but bench him for this one. Jason Giambi hits Greinke particularly well; 3-for-6 with two home runs.
Lenny DiNardo, LHP (8-8, 3.70 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) versus
Kevin Millwood, RHP (9-11, 5.30 ERA, 1.61 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Kiko Calero, RP (shoulder, doubtful)
Game Story: Despite his 2.33 ERA versus Texas, DiNardo has a 5.14 ERA in Arlington and his road ERA is two runs worse than at home. He can be a fine spot start in Oakland, but don't touch him here. This Rangers team hits a combined .338 against DiNardo and Brad Wilkerson is a nice substitute in this game. He is 3-for-7 with two home runs and a 1.857 OPS against DiNardo. Millwood has been pretty solid this season, especially in the previous two months. In two starts, he has a 3.00 ERA against Oakland so he could be in line for a win considering DiNardo's numbers. On the downside, Shannon Stewart, Nick Swisher and Mark Ellis all hit Millwood quite well with averages better than .350. If you are seeking that win, Millwood is useful in AL-only and deep mixed-formats. Mike Piazza can ride the pine on your fantasy team as he is 8-for-54 (.148) versus Millwood.
Aaron Laffey, LHP (2-1, 5.93 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) versus
Jered Weaver, RHP (11-6, 3.76 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Vladimir Guerrero, OF (triceps, questionable)
Game Story: A strong home ERA and a quality start in the books against Cleveland are both good reasons to start Weaver. The fact that the Indians lineup has only hit a combined .203 against him is icing on the cake. Weaver should be fine in all leagues. The Angels hit lefties better than righties and Laffey hasn't been doing so hot in his first go around the majors. I wrote earlier this year that he might be able to fool hitters who haven't seen him before, and that is true. Unfortunately, the effect only lasts for one at-bat. Opponents are hitting just .255 in the first three innings against Laffey, but are batting .340 in the next three. Since he isn't likely to get the hook after pitching three solid innings, don't play with fire.
Jason Bergmann, RHP (3-5, 4.30 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) versus
Lance Cormier, RHP (2-4, 6.69 ERA, 1.67 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Edgar Renteria, SS (ankle, doubtful)
Game Story: Bergmann is a great spot start. In three starts against Atlanta he has allowed two earned runs in 18 innings for a 1.00 ERA. In those three games he has struck out 22 while walking just five. Two of those starts came at Turner Field, where his ERA is 0.90 and he allowed just five hits in 10 innings. Bergmann has the Braves' number. Brian McCann is the only regular to make sure you start, as he is 4-for-12 with two home runs and a 1.345 OPS against Bergmann. Also, I'd consider starting Matt Diaz, who is 4-for-5 versus Bergmann. Although he's been better since a June/July DL-stint, Cormier doesn't warrant much consideration yet. Austin Kearns has six RBIs in seven career at-bats versus Cormier.
Roy Oswalt, RHP (14-6, 3.35 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) versus
Pedro Martinez, RHP (1-0, 3.60 ERA, 1.60 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Carlos Delgado, 1B (hip, out)
Game Story: Pedro draws a tough pitching matchup, but a mediocre offense, in his second start of the season. The Astros are 28th in team OPS (.719) since the All-Star break, so Martinez's inability so far to top 90 mph shouldn't be a big issue. Houston's lineup of hitters bats only .208 in their careers against Pedro. Expect a quality start now that Pedro will have a higher pitch count. Oswalt is a risky proposition because of his 5.15 ERA away from Minute Maid Park. Luckily, his most fearsome foe on the Mets (Delgado) will be out, but Carlos Beltran is trouble as well (5-for-12, .417). Shawn Green can be avoided (3-for-19, .158 versus Oswalt), and don't expect much from David Wright (3-for-14, .214 versus Oswalt). The Mets have been pounding the ball as a team for the past seven days though (.874 OPS), so I'd steer clear of Oswalt in shallower leagues.
Ben Sheets, RHP (11-4, 3.36 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) versus
Phil Dumatrait, LHP (0-3, 13.00 ERA, 2.56 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Damian Miller, C (calf, questionable)
Game Story: Sheets has looked fine in two starts since healing his fingers. Great American has not been an issue for him, as evidenced by a 2.08 ERA over the last three seasons. In fact, in that three year span, his ERA against the Reds has been 1.75. Ken Griffey Jr. has four hits in 13 at-bats against Sheets, three of them home runs, while Adam Dunn can't catch up with the rightie, hitting .179 in 28 at-bats. Sheets should be fine. Here's a stat to help you avoid Dumatrait: he's allowed an earned run for every 14 pitches he has thrown this season (21 ER, 294 pitches). He's a fly-ball pitcher in a hitters' park, so expect a dinger from Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder.
Steve Trachsel, RHP (6-9, 4.48 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) versus
Matt Morris, RHP (8-9, 4.54 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Xavier Nady, OF (head, questionable)
Game Story: The way Pittsburgh's offense has been churning lately, I'd avoid Trachsel. The Pirates finished August fifth in team OPS (.836) and are sixth for the previous week (.876). The Cubs rocked Morris in July (when he was a Giant) for eight runs -- five earned -- in four-plus innings. He's also been bad at PNC Park, with a 6.00 ERA in three starts. The fact that Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit better than .300 against Morris (with a big sample size), while Alfonso Soriano and Jacque Jones hit better than .600 (in a small sample size) is disconcerting to say the least. Cliff Floyd also has just seven hits in 28 at-bats versus Morris, but three have been home runs. I wouldn't bother with Morris here. Jason Kendall and Mark DeRosa hover near the Mendoza Line versus Morris, so they can ride the pine.
Dontrelle Willis, LHP (8-14, 5.01 ERA, 1.61 WHIP) versus
Jamie Moyer, LHP (12-11, 5.13 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
Game Story: Willis has a 5.25 ERA is four starts versus the Phillies this season and a 6.17 ERA in two starts at Citizens Bank Park. Can we say avoid? Abraham Nunez should get slipped into the lineup considering his 6-for-13 (.462) record against the D-Train. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley perform sub-par against Willis though. Conversely, Jamie Moyer dominates this Marlins lineup. He is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA versus the Fish and warrants a spot start in any league. Miguel Cabrera, Dan Uggla, Josh Willingham and even lefty-specialist Cody Ross bat .200 or worse (in some cases much worse) versus Moyer.
Chris Young, RHP (9-6, 2.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) versus
Josh Fogg, RHP (8-9, 5.01 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)
Game Story: Nothing like a date in Coors Field to cure what ails ya'. That may sound like sarcasm, but in the case of Young it just may hold true. Young hasn't lasted past the fifth inning and has coughed up five earned runs in each of his two outings since a DL stint. This year in Coors for Young: nine innings with a 1.00 ERA, eight strikeouts, no walks. Versus Colorado: 15 innings with a 0.60 ERA, 14 strikeouts, two walks. Heck, he's got a career 1.71 ERA in Coors and a 2.18 ERA versus the Padres. Young will bounce back in fine form. Send Todd Helton (.158 versus Young), Kaz Matsui (0-for-7 versus Young) and Willy Taveras (0-for-6 versus Young) to the bench. The Padres have assaulted Fogg for 10 earned runs in 10 innings in two starts this season. The Giles Brothers and Michael Barrett all have an OPS better than 1.000 against Fogg, Morgan Ensberg and Adrian Gonzalez hit better than .300 against him and even the man he shares the mound with -- Young -- is 2-for-3 against Fogg.
Brad Penny, RHP (15-4, 2.82 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) versus
Matt Cain, RHP (7-14, 3.83 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Jack Taschner, RP (shoulder, questionable)
Game Story: He hasn't been as dominant, but Penny's annual post-All-Star collapse is nowhere to be seen this season. He has not had an easy time with Giants though, and should be considered for a benching if you can't afford a poor outing. San Francisco has hit .324 as a club against Penny, and in 19 innings against him have only had four batters strike out, while seven drew walks. There are some conflicting stats for Penny though, as he sports a 3.32 ERA in his three starts against the Giants and his one start in AT&T Park was a seven-inning, one-earned run performance. That's why I think he'll probably be OK, but should be benched if you need to take extra caution. Randy Winn is 9-for-27 versus Penny with three home runs, while Omar Vizquel and Dave Roberts each hit him better than .300 in a sample size of about 30 at-bats. More than half the Dodgers lineup (Andre Ethier, James Loney, Jeff Kent, Juan Pierre and Rafael Furcal) hit Cain better than .375. Nomar Garciaparra and Luis Gonzalez, on the other hand, are below the Mendoza Line versus Cain. The bad outweighs the good here, and I wouldn't start Cain.
Brad Thompson, RHP (6-5, 5.07 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) versus
Doug Davis, LHP (13-11, 3.98 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
Game Story: Thompson -- who pitched relief in August -- comes back to the Cards rotation for this game. He has been unspectacular out of the bullpen and starting this season, with both splits showing an ERA worse than 5.00. The Diamondbacks tagged him for four earned runs in seven innings earlier this season and I wouldn't bother with Thompson despite how hot St. Louis has been. If you can stomach the WHIP, Davis has been winning games lately. Though I can't say I'd recommend him at home, where his ERA rises almost a run. Russell Branyan is 4-for-6 with two home runs against Davis, but even more amazingly (for Branyan) has never struck out against him.
Ben Broussard, 1B, SEA @ Detroit Tigers
Jay Payton, OF, BAL versus Boston Red Sox
Jesse Litsch, SP, TOR @ Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Jason Kubel, OF, MIN @ Chicago White Sox
Joey Gathright, OF, KC versus New York Yankees
Brad Wilkerson, 1B, TEX versus Oakland Athletics
Jason Bergmann, SP, WAS @ Atlanta Braves
Abraham O. Nunez, 3B, PHI versus Florida Marlins
Jamie Moyer, SP, PHI versus Florida Marlins
Randy Winn, OF, SF versus Los Angeles Dodgers
Russell Branyan, 3B, STL @ Arizona Diamondbacks
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