Commentary

Daily Notes: Big-time offense in Colorado

Updated: September 28, 2007, 7:15 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

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Fantasy Game Notes for Saturday: American League

Rogers Centre (indoor/retractable roof) 1:07 p.m. ET
Edwin Jackson, RHP (5-15, 5.96 ERA, 1.79 WHIP) versus
Jesse Litsch, RHP (7-9, 3.94 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Carl Crawford, OF (groin, out); Brendan Harris, 2B (latisimus, questionable); Lyle Overbay, 1B (hand, out)

Game Story: If you are trolling for a win with good ratios, Litsch is a great pickup for this start. He has manhandled Boston and New York in his two previous outings, but Litsch won't strike many guys out. He's a groundball pitcher who will get you a win behind a Jays offense that hasn't mailed in the season just yet. For that matter, Jackson hasn't been pitching that hot lately and the Jays' offense has been getting the job done. No team has scored more runs than Toronto over the last seven days. Rookie Adam Lind is 2-for-7 with a home run versus Jackson.

McAfee Coliseum (outdoor) 4:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 72)
Kelvim Escobar, RHP (17-7, 3.46 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) versus
Dallas Braden, LHP (1-8, 6.88 ERA, 1.63 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Kelvim Escobar, SP (shoulder, probable); Gary Matthews, OF (knee, probable)

Game Story: The safe play is to avoid Escobar. His shoulder inflammation has resulted in some ugly September statistics for the quick-working righty. His numbers are slightly misleading against the Athletics. His 2.70 ERA in 20 innings against Oakland comes with an 0-3 record, 10 walks and only 10 strikeouts. Oakland's offense is also in the top-half for OPS this month and over the previous week. The Angels might be slightly below average versus southpaws, but Braden hasn't been a model pitcher this year by any account. Starting all your Halos is advisable. Howie Kendrick has been hitting better than .300 against lefties this season.

Orioles Park (outdoor) 7:05 p.m. ET (clear, low of 53 degrees)
Andy Pettitte, LHP (14-9, 3.81 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) versus
Daniel Cabrera, RHP (9-17, 5.36 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Corey Patterson, OF (ankle, out)

Game Story: Cabrera is far too mercurial to take a risk with this late in the season. I don't care how desperate you are for strikeouts there are other options. Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu are both south of the Mendoza Line for their career batting average against Cabrera. Pettitte has been terrific of late, and he sports a 2.38 ERA in 22 and 2/3 innings of work against the O's this season. Aubrey Huff and Brian Roberts hit worse than .200 versus Pettitte.

Fenway Park (outdoor) 7:05 p.m. ET (clear, low of 49 degrees)
Carlos Silva, RHP (13-14, 4.22 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) versus
Tim Wakefield, RHP (16-12, 4.80 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Lew Ford, OF (hand, questionable); Jacoby Ellsbury, OF (calf, questionable); Coco Crisp, OF (illness, questionable)

Game Story: Silva has been turning groundballs into outs and parlaying those into very decent starts lately, but you can only do so much against the Red Sox. Boston is on fire, with a team OPS of .958 (first in majors) over the last week. David Ortiz is no surprise, but Alex Cora also hits Silva better than .400 for his career. Manny Ramirez is 1-for-12 lifetime against Silva and can be benched for this one. The knuckleball has little effect on these Twins, as Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter and Jason Bartlett all hit better than .400 against Wakefield. I'd avoid Wakefield in this game.

U.S. Cellular Field (outdoor) 7:05 p.m. ET (mostly clear, low of 57 degrees)
Justin Verlander, RHP (18-6, 3.68 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) versus
Gavin Floyd, RHP (1-5, 5.71 ERA, 1.56 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Andy Gonzalez, 3B/OF (fingers, questionable)

Game Story: The White Sox have batted a collective .140 against Verlander this season. Paul Konerko might be one of the worse culprits, as he is 2-for-30 lifetime against Verlander. Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome smoke the Tigers sophomore though, batting better than .400 with seven combined home runs. At the end of the day, though, Verlander has two quality starts against Chicago this season, and he has pitched well in September, so there is no reason not to use him. Gavin Floyd isn't going to log a quality start, but he won't get blown out of this game either. If you are more worried about collecting some strikeouts and not ERA and WHIP, he makes a fine spot start. He has three games against Detroit and a very respectable 1-0 record with a 3.24 ERA in 16 and 2/3 innings, notching 17 strikeouts and two walks. Tigers rookie Ryan Rayburn is 4-for-9 against Floyd.

Kauffman Stadium (outdoor) 7:10 p.m. ET (partly cloudy, low of 64 degrees)
Jake Westbrook, RHP (6-9, 4.32 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) versus
Gil Meche, LHP (9-13, 3.69 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: none

Game Story: Westbrook is another pitcher who could help this weekend. He rides a relative hot streak into a game against the team with the 28th ranked OPS for September (30th for the last week) and is coming off a season high nine strikeouts. Did I mention he pitches for the team with the best record in baseball? Meche has been on top of his game this month, but a lot of the Indians players hit him pretty hard. He's a risky proposition with only strikeouts as the real category gain. I'd shy away from Meche. Trot Nixon hits Meche quite well (7-for-15) and should do some damage in the lineup.

Safeco Field (indoor/respectable roof) 10:05 p.m. ET
Kevin Millwood, RHP (10-13, 5.16 ERA, 1.61 WHIP) versus
Miguel Batista, RHP (15-11, 4.43 ERA, 1.56 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Yuniesky Betancourt, SS (elbow, questionable)

Game Story: Millwood is exceptionally average against Seattle. In five starts, he is 2-2 with a 5.23 ERA. The Mariners have hit .350 against Millwood this year, which is why I am going to err on the side of benching him. Jose Vidro hits particularly well against Millwood (26-for-80, .325 average). Betancourt owners shouldn't even bother gambling on his return, as he is a .152 hitter against Millwood. Texas is third in September OPS and second in OPS for the previous seven days. You want no part of Batista in this game.

Fantasy Game Notes for Saturday: National League

Shea Stadium (outdoor) 1:10 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 70 degrees)
Chris Seddon, LHP (0-1, 6.89 ERA, 1.66 WHIP) versus
John Maine, RHP (14-10, 4.07 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Josh Willingham, OF (back, doubtful); Cody Ross, OF (hamstring, questionable)

Game Story: Maine struck out nine Marlins with a decent five-inning game in his previous outing, so what's not to like here? The Mets will be pouring it on, with their playoff hopes on the line. By starting Seddon, it's clear the Marlins favor the Mets to make the postseason. Seriously though, New York tees off on southpaws (.809 OPS, sixth in majors) and you can expect a strong game from the Mets and a ton of runs to be charged to Seddon. As for hitters, give Jeremy Hermida the green light for your lineup, he's a career 4-for-7 against Maine. Paul Lo Duca belted a home run last weekend against Seddon.

Miller Park (indoor/retractable roof) 3:55 p.m. ET
Chris Young, RHP (9-8, 3.13 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) versus
Dave Bush, RHP (12-10, 5.16 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Johnny Estrada, C (knee, out)

Game Story: Young has Petco fever, with a 1.69 ERA at home and a 4.63 ERA on the road. Milwaukee doesn't have the hottest hitters over the last week, but they still have the sixth best September OPS (.828) and represent a dangerous assignment for a pitcher who has not been on lately. As much as you might need Young to come through right now, you just can't trust him. The Padres torched Bush for seven runs in five innings in his only outing against them this season, and Adrian Gonzalez is 5-for-6 in his career against him. Forget Bush.

Great American Ball Park (outdoor) 3:55 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 80 degrees)
Rich Hill, LHP (10-8, 4.05 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) versus
Aaron Harang, RHP (16-5, 3.70 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: none

Game Story: The Cubs have the second-hottest September offense (.844 OPS) and are just clubbing the ball lately. Harang and the Reds have nothing to play for, so avoid anyone from Cincinnati. The Cubs should force the Reds to roll over pretty quickly. Cincinnati barely touches lefties and Hill has been better than average against the Reds this season. Feel free to start him. Matt Murton is 6-for-19 (.316) with two home runs against Harang, and makes a good spot start for your outfield.

Citizens Bank Park (outdoor) 3:55 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 74 degrees)
Matt Chico, LHP (6-9, 4.75 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) versus
Adam Eaton, RHP (10-9, 6.33 ERA, 1.61 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: none

Game Story: Philly is third in the league for OPS versus left-handers (.831) and scored four runs in just more than four innings against Chico in a game earlier this season. Look for the Phillies not to let the Mets gain any ground on this day. With Adam Eaton and his soft-tosses on the mound for Philadelphia, it's advisable that you start anyone on offense in this game. Ronnie Belliard is 6-for-16 off of Eaton and makes a decent plug-and-play at second base.

Minute Maid Park (indoor/retractable roof) 7:05 p.m. ET
Jeff Bennett, RHP (2-0, 2.57 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) versus
Brandon Backe, RHP (2-1, 4.37 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Lance Berkman, 1B (knee, questionable)

Game Story: His minor league numbers don't support the eight strikeouts Bennett racked up in his only extended outing with Atlanta on September 20. He keeps the ball down though, so he might be an option for those ultra-deep NL-only leagues. Houston has hit the ball better in the previous week though, holding the 10th-best OPS in the majors (.794). Only gamble on Bennett, like I said, in the mega-ultra-deep leagues. Noting that he is a groundball pitcher, I wouldn't start many Astros against him. Backe is also an option for deep leagues that just need a quality start. I don't expect a win or many strikeouts, but when two struggling offenses meet, you can look for decent ratios out of the pitchers. Don't bench your usual Braves against him though.

PNC Park (outdoor) 7:05 p.m. ET (clear, lo of 45 degrees)
Adam Wainwright, RHP (13-12, 3.69 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) versus
Tom Gorzelanny, LHP (14-9, 3.73 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Jim Edmonds, OF (groin, limited to pinch-hitting); Jason Bay, OF (knee, limited to pinch-hitting); Nate McLouth, OF (illness, questionable); Freddy Sanchez, 2B (shoulder, out)

Game Story: Both pitchers are coming off bad outings against good offenses, so with all the injuries on both sides of this game, I'd look for both Wainwright and Gorzelanny to make quick work of the lineups. Gorzelanny has a terrific 1.31 ERA in 20 and 1/3 innings against St. Louis, while Wainwright has a 3.75 ERA in 24 innings against the Pirates. With Sanchez and Bay added to the wounded list in Pittsburgh though, Wainwright should be just fine.

Coors Field (outdoor) 8:05 p.m. ET (slight chance of showers, mostly cloudy, low of 45 degrees)
Edgar Gonzalez, RHP (8-3, 4.73 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) versus
Mark Redman, LHP (1-4, 8.67 ERA, 1.87 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Willy Taveras, OF (quadriceps, questionable)

Game Story: This game is going to be a war, so stay away from all pitchers on both sides. Colorado (first, .855 OPS) and Arizona (fifth, .833 OPS) have been among the hottest hitting teams in September. Don't be surprised to see a football score in this contest. So start anyone useful on offense.

Dodgers Stadium (outdoor) 10:10 p.m. ET (mostly clear, low of 57 degrees)
Travis Blackley, LHP (0-0, 3.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) versus
Chad Billingsley, RHP (12-5, 3.09 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)

Notable Injuries: Jeff Kent, 2B (undisclosed, doubtful); Tony Abreu, 2B (hip, doubtful); Rafael Furcal, SS (back, out)

Game Story: It's actually Blackley who will have the better time on the mound. The Giants have come alive this week, sporting a .794 OPS over the previous seven days. The Dodgers are 22nd in OPS against left-handers and 24th in OPS for the past seven days. I wouldn't spot start Blackley, but I wouldn't depend on my L.A. hitters either. Billingsley, as mentioned, runs into a hot San Francisco team and won't get much help from his team. I can't fault anyone for starting him because he has been so good, but I won't endorse him either. Dave Roberts is 7-for-13 against Billingsley, if you are looking for some cheap speed in these final days.

Waiver Wire Pickups

Jesse Litsch, SP, TOR versus Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Adam Lind, OF, TOR versus Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Howie Kendrick, 2B, LAA @ Oakland Athletics
Alex Cora, SS, BOS versus Minnesota Twins
Jason Bartlett, SS, MIN @ Boston Red Sox
Gavin Floyd, SP, CHW versus Detroit Tigers
Jake Westbrook, SP, CLE @ Kansas City Royals
Trot Nixon, OF, CLE @ Kansas City Royals
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA @ New York Mets
Paul Lo Duca, C, NYM versus Florida Marlins
Matt Murton, OF, CHC @ Cincinnati Reds
Ronnie Belliard, 2B, WAS @ Philadelphia Phillies
Dave Roberts, OF, SF @ Los Angeles Dodgers

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 stints 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. He can be reached at alla_rino@TalentedMrRoto.com

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He was the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hockey Writer of the Year. You can tweet him @seanard.