Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: American League
Rogers Centre (indoor/retractable roof) 1:07 p.m. ET
Jason Hammel, RHP (2-5, 6.08 ERA, 1.64 WHIP) versus
A.J. Burnett, RHP (10-7, 3.49 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
Game Story: If you are desperate in AL-only leagues, Hammel represents a decent gamble for ratios and strikeouts. In five September starts he has an ERA of 3.54 over 28 innings and has 21 strikeouts. He sports a respectable 4.00 ERA in two starts against Toronto. Again, he is for the desperate owner in a deep league. Matt Stairs is the Blue Jay to start against Hammel, as he is 3-for-4 versus him. Hammel won't get a win though, as Burnett will close the season out in style. He has a 2.08 ERA in three starts against Tampa and has a 2.62 ERA at home.
Oriole Park (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 76 degrees)
Sean Henn, LHP (2-2, 7.49 ERA, 2.05 WHIP) versus
Brian Burres, LHP (6-7, 5.66 ERA, 1.66 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Corey Patterson, OF (ankle, out)
Game Story: The Yankees have nothing to prove in this game, and last year they benched some of their stars after just two at-bats in the final game. Don't depend on them too heavily for offense. Add in the fact that Burres actually confounds New York (.176 team batting average versus Burres in 14 and 2/3 innings) and you want even less to do with the Yanks. Burres sports a 1.84 ERA in those innings against New York this season and he represents another deep league gamble on a starter. Henn won't throw too many pitches either as this is his first start out of the bullpen, but there isn't anyone on Baltimore's offense that stands out either.
Fenway Park (outdoor) 2:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 65 degrees)
Matt Garza, RHP (4-7, 3.92 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) versus
Curt Schilling, RHP (9-8, 3.87 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
Game Story: Like the Yankees, expect a few Red Sox to take it easy or get the day off. Notably, David Ortiz might rest his aching knee and Manny Ramirez might get an extra day of rest for his back. As such, Garza should leave us with a happy feeling about him. He has a 2.79 ERA on the road. Don't expect Schilling to pitch too deep into this game either, so you can keep all your Twins active.
U.S. Cellular Field (outdoor) 2:05 p.m. ET (mostly sunny, high of 81 degrees)
Nate Robertson, LHP (8-13, 4.79 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) versus
Jose Contreras, RHP (10-16, 5.52 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Andy Gonzalez, 3B/OF (fingers, questionable)
Game Story: Robertson has issues with some of these White Sox hitters. Jermaine Dye has five home runs in just 26 at-bats versus him and Juan Uribe hits .371 with two home runs versus him. Josh Fields could add to the trouble as he hits .311 versus lefties with 10 home runs this season. Keep Robertson squarely on your bench. Contreras has been having his best month of the season (by far) with a 2.88 September ERA, but the number is influenced by a complete-game shutout of the lowly Royals. Detroit has 14 earned runs in just 11 and 2/3 innings against Contreras this season, and will be fuming about missing the playoffs. They'll end the season swinging for the fences. Get Ryan Raburn into your lineup. The Tigers rookie is 2-for-2 with two home runs versus Contreras.
Kauffman Stadium (outdoor) 2:10 p.m. ET (mostly cloudy, with a 50 percent chance of showers and a high of 81 degrees)
Aaron Laffey, LHP (3-2, 4.87 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) versus
Jorge De La Rosa, LHP (8-12, 5.82 ERA, 1.64 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: De La Rosa has had some good starts, some great starts, and some really bad starts this season. Two of those really bad starts came against Cleveland, while he has one good outing against the Tribe. The Indians may take a day of rest ahead of the postseason, so De La Rosa is another pitcher that deep AL-only leagues might find somewhat useful for strikeouts. I wouldn't bet on a quality start from him though. Laffey, on the other hand, should sufficiently fool the Royals lineup for a quality start, only without the strikeouts. Emil Brown is an amazing 6-for-6 versus Laffey, and is one Royal to make sure is in your lineup if you need some hits and batting average points to end the season.
McAfee Coliseum (outdoor) 4:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 73 degrees)
Jered Weaver, RHP (13-7, 4.01 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) versus
Chad Gaudin, RHP (11-13, 4.56 ERA, 1.56 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Gary Matthews, OF (knee, doubtful)
Game Story: Again, look for Weaver to take things easy as the Angels know where they will be playing next week. I wouldn't start him unless you were desperate for a win. Gaudin has logged a lot of innings against the Angels this season (five starts, 27 and 1/3 innings), and has very poor numbers against them (6.26 ERA). Even if the Halos rest some bats, I'd avoid Gaudin. Maicer Izturis is 6-for-13 (.462) versus Gaudin.
Safeco Field (outdoor/retractable roof) 4:05 p.m. ET
Brandon McCarthy, RHP (5-10, 4.87 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) versus
Felix Hernandez, RHP (13-7, 4.06 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Brandon McCarthy, SP (forearm, questionable); Yuniesky Betancourt, SS (elbow, questionable)
Game Story: It's not 100 percent that McCarthy will pitch for Texas, so try not to put too much stock in him. Though, whoever does pitch is in line for a win thanks to the Rangers destructive offense. Texas is third in September OPS, and has put up a .914 team OPS over the previous seven days. Vicente Padilla is the only other pitcher who may get the call for Texas that you want to roster. Jose Vidro has two hits in four at-bats against McCarthy; both of them home runs. The Rangers offense is too hot to risk starting even a supposed-stud like Hernandez. Avoid him unless five strikeouts could make or break your season.
Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: National League
Shea Stadium (outdoor) 1:10 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 69 degrees)
Dontrelle Willis, LHP (10-15, 5.20 ERA, 1.58 WHIP) versus
Tom Glavine, LHP (13-7, 4.14 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Josh Willingham, OF (back, doubtful)
Game Story: The Mets may be playing for their postseason life, not to mention their dignity. No one will remember a "near-collapse" in five years, but they'll be talking about it for a while if the Mets miss the playoffs. There is no one better to have on the hill than Glavine for such a game. I don't think you can sort stats by "ERA in big games," but I'll bet Glavine's is near the top. The crafty-veteran will get the job done, but he doesn't offer much to fantasy leagues as a win, with no strikeouts and OK ratios won't win many championships. Cody Ross is a name streamers keep around for whenever the Marlins face a southpaw, but don't use him in this matchup. He is just 3-for-17 versus Glavine. Willis hasn't been having a great September and he's coughed up nine earned runs in 11 innings versus New York this season. He'll pitch a decent game as the Fish look to play spoiler, but nothing to write home about. Pluck Moises Alou and his 8-for-17 history against the D-Train off your waiver wire.
Great American Ball Park (outdoor) 1:15 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 81 degrees)
Ted Lilly, LHP (15-8, 3.86 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) versus
Homer Bailey, RHP (3-2, 5.67 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Adam Dunn, 1B (knee, out)
Game Story: Unlike pitchers I've previously mentioned, the Cubs won't limit Lilly's outing too much because he isn't one of their go-to guys. He should have a field day pitching to this Triple-A version of the Reds. In fact, Lilly had an eight-strikeout, two-earned run masterpiece against this same team September 19. Norris Hopper is one of the few healthy bodies left, and he is 4-for-6 versus Lilly. With some key Cubs hitters likely resting up, Bailey could flash us his potential in this game. Here's hoping he doesn't though so he slips below the fantasy radar for next season (a la Matt Garza). I just can't recommend Bailey here though. Not in his hitter-friendly home park.
Citizens Bank Park (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 76)
Jason Bergmann, RHP (6-5, 4.33 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) versus
Jamie Moyer, LHP (13-12, 5.15 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Phillies better hope they wrap things up on Saturday, because they don't hit Bergmann very well. In five starts, he sports a very decent 3.48 ERA and has kept Phillies' hitters to a .203 batting average. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins are among the players hitting below the Mendoza Line against Bergmann. Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell are actually the only hitters with more than four at-bats versus Bergmann batting better than .200. I'd seriously consider benching some of my Phillies if the season were on the line and there was a better matchup out there. We could have a mild pitchers duel on our hands as Moyer has limited the Nationals to a .200 batting average this season. Both pitchers are candidates for a spot start.
PNC Park (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 77 degrees)
Braden Looper, RHP (12-12, 4.90 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) versus
Bryan Bullington, RHP (0-2, 6.00 ERA, 1.92 WHIP)
Game Story: Can you chalk it up to butterflies, when Bullington was tagged for five runs by St. Louis in his MLB debut? Better question: do you risk chalking it up to butterflies on the final day of the season? I don't think he has shown us enough of his potential to be used in this game, regardless of how many regulars are "out for the season" in St. Louis. Rick Ankiel took Bullington for a three run ride in that debut, so using Ankiel might be a wise choice in this contest. Three out of Looper's past four starts have been what we like to call "blowups." Maybe his arm has had enough after being a reliever for the last several seasons. Whatever the case, don't touch him in this one.
Miller Park (indoor/retractable roof) 2:05 p.m. ET
Brett Tomko, RHP (4-11, 5.39 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Jeff Suppan, RHP (11-12, 4.57 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Johnny Estrada, C (knee, out)
Game Story: If the postseason berth is on the line, Jake Peavy may start on short rest. If Tomko starts, he looks like an option for deep NL-only leagues. He has a quality start in two of his past three games. Although those games came against weaker offenses, the Brewers may be a bit despondent after missing the playoffs. Suppan has been a quality start machine of late, and if you just need a pitcher with good ratios, he is an option. Don't ask him for strikeouts though. Brady Clark should start because of the Padres injury woes, and he is 10-for-30 with two home runs against Suppan.
Minute Maid Park (indoor/retractable roof) 2:05 p.m. ET
Chuck James, LHP (11-10, 4.24 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) versus
Felipe Paulino, RHP (1-1, 10.38 ERA, 1.85 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: James is a good option for shallower NL-only leagues or deep mixed leagues. He gets an uninspired Astros offense that hasn't seen very much of him in their careers. Count on him for a few strikeouts and a win. Paulino has coughed up his fair share of home runs in just four appearances this season and should prove easy pickings for the Braves.
Coors Field (outdoor) 3:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 70 degrees)
Doug Davis, LHP (13-12, 4.25 ERA, 1.59 WHIP) versus
Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP (4-4, 4.52 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Willy Taveras, OF (quadriceps, doubtful)
Game Story: This game could matter, big time. I don't recommend either pitcher in what could prove to be quite the battle. Todd Helton, Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday hit better than .500 against Davis, so, don't start him in Coors Field should actually be his fantasy tagline. Jimenez held the Diamondbacks to just three hits in 6 and 2/3 innings in an earlier matchup this season. All the same, it's a big game, with the playoffs possibly on the line. Jimenez isn't big-game proven yet.
Dodgers Stadium (outdoor) 4:10 p.m. ET (mostly sunny, high of 69 degrees)
Barry Zito, LHP (10-13, 4.63 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) versus
Eric Stults, LHP (1-3, 4.93 ERA, 1.56 WHIP)
Game Story: The Dodgers have been hitting Zito this season, tagging him with a 6.11 ERA in 17 and 2/3 innings this season. Specifically, Luis Gonzalez is 7-for-15 (.467) versus Zito, but look out for James Loney who is 0-for-6. Stults has lousy numbers in September and isn't someone you gamble on in the final day of the season. Start any Giants you want to against him, notably Randy Winn, who hits southpaws better.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Jason Hammel, SP, TB @ Toronto Blue Jays
Matt Stairs, 1B/OF, TOR versus Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Matt Garza, SP, MIN @ Boston Red Sox
Juan Uribe, SS, CHW versus Detroit Tigers
Josh Fields, 3B, CHW versus Detroit Tigers
Ryan Rayburn, OF, DET @ Chicago White Sox
Emil Brown, OF, KC versus Cleveland Indians
Maicer Izturis, 3B, LAA @ Oakland Athletics
Jose Vidro, 2B, SEA versus Texas Rangers
Norris Hopper, OF, CIN versus Chicago Cubs
Jamie Moyer, SP, PHI versus Washington Nationals
Jason Bergmann, SP, WAS @ Philadelphia Phillies
Rick Ankiel, OF, STL @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Brett Tomko, SP, SD @ Milwaukee Brewers
Brady Clark, OF, SD @ Milwaukee Brewers
Chuck James, SP, ATL versus Houston Astros
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