Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: American League
Jacobs Field (outdoor) 1:05 p.m. ET (partly cloudy with a high of 88 degrees and a 30 percent chance of showers)
Andy Pettitte, LHP (8-7, 4.00 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) versus
Jake Westbrook, RHP (3-6, 5.00 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Game Story: Yes, the Yankees are the league's hottest team, but Westbrook is equally as "on" lately, with three straight quality starts. I would be recommending Westbrook for AL-only use if Tim McClelland wasn't calling the balls and strikes. McClelland calls the fewest strikeouts per game in the majors, and Westbrook needs some leniency, not a control freak. Not many Tribe hitters have seen a lot of Pettitte, with Kenny Lofton being the only one to see double-digit at-bats against him. I think Pettitte is safe here. This is not one of the days to sub in Melky Cabrera, who is a career 0-for-7 versus Westbrook. With a southpaw on the hill, Franklin Gutierrez is bound to get into the lineup for Cleveland. He has a .323 batting average and .922 OPS against lefties. If Posada misses the game, it's a blessing for Westbrook. Posada has a career 1.400 OPS in 15 at-bats versus Westbrook. It's tough for the Indians to find room for Kelly Shoppach when Ryan Garko also hits lefties well, but Shoppach sports an outrageous 1.245 OPS against southpaws this season.
Comerica Park (outdoor) 1:05 p.m. ET (30 percent chance of showers, partly cloudy, high of 89 degrees)
Dallas Braden, LHP (1-6, 5.12 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) versus
Nate Robertson, LHP (6-9, 4.94 ERA, 1.56 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Brandon Inge, 3B (personal, questionable)
Game Story: With very few exceptions, starting a left-hander against the Tigers is not a good idea. Braden is no exception; he should get lit. Ryan Raburn has been a popular spot-start option of late, but he bats .200 against lefties -- compared to .438 against righties -- so leave him on the bench. Robertson logged a quality start against the A's on August 1, and his last outing was a gem. Consider him safe for all leagues. Travis Buck is always an option versus left-handers, as his OPS is 1.022 against them. In limited at-bats, Donnie Murphy also appears to split out much better versus southpaws, batting .300 (75 points higher than his average against righties). Mark Ellis is swinging a hot bat, with a .346 average over the previous seven days.
Camden Yards (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (sunny with a high of 88 degrees)
Curt Schilling, RHP (6-5, 4.31 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) versus
Steve Trachsel, RHP (5-7, 4.88 ERA, 1.60 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The fact that Schilling is probably still something less than 100 percent given his recent shoulder woes is offset by the fact that the Orioles lineup has few players that hit him well. He is worth a start, but don't expect Schilling-esque numbers just yet. Trachsel is coming off two decent outings, but the walks still come too frequently to make him useful for fantasy purposes. Despite giving up just two earned runs so far in August, Trachsel has walked eight and struck out three. Don't touch him here. Start all your usual players on offense. Aubrey Huff may have started his late-season tear a little later than usual. He is riding a seven-game hit streak and has nine hits in his last 20 at-bats. Huff is available in 75 percent of ESPN leagues.
U.S. Cellular Field (outdoor) 2:05 p.m. ET (partly cloudy with a high of 88 degrees)
Jeff Weaver, RHP (3-10, 6.20 ERA, 1.62 WHIP) versus
John Danks, LHP (6-9, 4.96 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Alex Cintron, 2B/SS (illness, questionable)
Game Story: Several widely-available Mariners jump off the page whenever they are facing a left-hander. Jose Guillen (.381), Jose Vidro (.330) and Yuniesky Betancourt (.326) all hit lefties very well and are available in at least 90 percent of ESPN leagues. Seattle is also tenth in the majors for OPS versus southpaws (.793), so all things considered, it's hard to like Danks in this game. For what it's worth, rookie Adam Jones is actually 3-for-3 against left-handers since his callup. With at least 26 at-bats each, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski have an OPS of .835 or higher versus Weaver. With that kind of history in the middle of the lineup, don't even consider Weaver for a spot start here.
Angel Stadium (outdoor) 3:35 p.m. ET (clearing with a high of 87 degrees)
Boof Bonser, RHP (5-8, 4.63 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) versus
Jered Weaver, RHP (7-5, 3.94 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Despite some recent problems that will no doubt be on the minds of Weaver owners, feel free to start him. He has mystified the Twins this season, with a 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and .200 batting average against in 14 innings. Start your usual Twins and make sure you don't think about benching Torii Hunter. He has two home runs in six at-bats against Weaver. Bonser has been hit pretty hard by the Angels in two starts this season. His ERA in those games is 5.54, but more alarming is the fact that he has only two strikeouts in 13 innings against the Angels. Since strikeouts are supposed to be the benefit when using Bonser, avoid him in this one. Start all of your Angels.
Kauffman Stadium (outdoor) 7:10 p.m. ET (sunny and hot with a high of 100 degrees)
A.J. Burnett, RHP (5-6, 4.31 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) versus
Brian Bannister, RHP (8-6, 3.32 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: A.J. Burnett, SP (shoulder, return from DL)
Game Story: It's going to be a hot one in Kansas for the return of Burnett. His right shoulder just needed some rest, and he looked good in his rehab, so I have no concerns about starting him against the Royals. John Buck stands out against Burnett, as he has two hits in six at-bats, both of them home runs. In his last 13 starts, Bannister has eight quality starts and only once in that span has he allowed more than four earned runs and not lasted at least six innings. Let's face it, he is a must-start for AL-only now and a strong contender for regular spot starts in mixed leagues. He also has the element of surprise, as no Blue Jays batter has faced him before.
Rangers Ballpark (outdoor) 8:35 p.m. ET (sunny and hot with a high of 100 degrees)
Jason Hammel, RHP (1-1, 6.09 ERA, 1.74 WHIP) versus
Kason Gabbard, LHP (5-1, 3.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Devil Rays crush left-handed pitching. Led by Jonny Gomes, Akinori Iwamura and Brendan Harris -- who have batting averages better than .332 versus southpaws -- the team's OPS versus lefties ranks sixth in the majors (.809). Don't touch Gabbard with a 10-foot pole. Hammel has pretty rough numbers all around, and doesn't warrant any attention here. Frank Catalanotto and Marlon Byrd both deserve attention whenever the Rangers are at home. Catalanotto bats a full 106 points better at home (.306) and Byrd hits just over 20 points higher in Arlington (.329). Plus, Catalanotto has been smoking-hot over the last week.
Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: National League
Shea Stadium (outdoor) 1:10 p.m. ET (sunny with a high of 88 degrees)
Rick VandenHurk, RHP (3-3, 7.49 ERA, 1.88 WHIP) versus
Oliver Perez, LHP (10-8, 3.31 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The state of Florida certainly feeds off left-handers. The Marlins rank fifth in the league in OPS against southpaws (.812), making Perez a dangerous play. Perez's ability to make batters miss and Chad Fairchild as the umpire (third most strikeouts per game, 15.0) should help, but I think the Marlins -- who have a .844 OPS since the All-Star break (third in majors) -- get to Perez. Both Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez bat better than .400 against southpaws, and Cody Ross is third on the team with a .389 average versus lefties. As intrigued as I remain by VandenHurk, stay away. The Mets pounded him for eight earned runs in four innings when they met in April, and unfortunately VandenHurk has done nothing to earn our trust since then.
Great American Ball Park (outdoor) 1:15 p.m. ET (sunny with a high of 96 degrees)
Jake Peavy, RHP (12-5, 2.21 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) versus
Bronson Arroyo, RHP (5-12, 4.51 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)
Game Story: Peavy has a bizarre split, with a 3.10 ERA at home and a 0.89 ERA on the road. He has also maintained a tidy 2.89 ERA in Great American Ball Park, despite its hitter-friendly tendencies. Let Peavy loose and keep most of your fringe Reds on the bench. In seven games Peavy has surrendered only one home run to a Red (Adam Dunn). Josh Bard is someone to pounce on with Barrett hitting the DL. Bard is available in close to 100 percent of ESPN leagues. It's hard to trust Arroyo's good start against the Padres this season (8 IP, 1 ER, 6 K) because it came in the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park. Arroyo pitched a gem in his last outing and a stinker the start prior. San Diego's team OPS of .662 in the last week (27th in the majors) is what is bringing me off the fence in favor of starting Arroyo, but I'll cap my recommendation at NL-only because I'm not confident in him at home.
Minute Maid Park (indoor/retractable roof) 2:05 p.m. ET
Claudio Vargas, RHP (9-4, 4.97 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Woody Williams, RHP (6-12, 5.21 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Tony Graffanino, 2B (knee, DL)
Game Story: After destroying the ball for six days in Triple-A, Rickie Weeks found himself leading off the for the Brewers on Friday. He certainly looked patient at the plate, with four walks in the game. Thanks to Graffanino's injury, it looks like the Brewers have no choice but to give Weeks another chance. His ownership dropped to 26 percent with his demotion to the minors, so head out and pick him back up, as it looks like he has heeded this wakeup call. Vargas has given up a total of 13 earned runs and 17 hits in 9 2/3 innings in his previous two starts. Don't bother with him until the ship rights itself for a few games. Williams has two quality starts against the Brewers this season, and both came when the Brew Crew was hitting the ball a lot better than they are now (20th in post All-Star OPS). I think he is safe for NL-only leaguers hunting for an extra win. I'm going out on a limb here and saying that two-catcher deep leagues should spot-in Damian Miller for this matchup. He is a career 13-for-28 (.464) hitter against Williams, while Johnny Estrada is a career 3-for-15.
Busch Stadium (outdoor) 2:15 p.m. ET (sunny with a high of 103 degrees)
Mark Hendrickson, LHP (4-6, 4.63 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) versus
Anthony Reyes, RHP (1-11, 5.66 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Delwyn Young, OF (calf, questionable)
Game Story: Reyes is pitching much better this time around and is perfectly safe for a spot start against teams like the Dodgers (22nd in OPS since All-Star break) until further notice. Reyes has a 3.00 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in his three starts since being recalled. Rick Ankiel actually hit slightly better against lefties in the minors, so he should get another start for those tinkering with the idea of picking him up. With Albert Pujols rocking two home runs in just seven at-bats against Hendrickson, I don't think this is the game to consider spot starting the big lefty. Besides, Hendrickson has been sub-par as a starter outside of a streak in late-April and early-May.
Coors Field (outdoor) 3:05 p.m. ET (20 percent chance of showers, partly cloudy with a high of 96 degrees)
Sean Marshall, LHP (5-6, 4.17 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) versus
Jeff Francis, L (13-5, 4.06 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) or Franklin Morales, LHP (first career start)
Game Story: Ryan Spilborghs looks like a must-start every time a lefty is up. He actually bats an incredible 204 points better versus southpaws (.469 versus LHP, .265 versus RHP). Marshall has earned a benching, even in NL-only leagues, based on his last two starts. His pitch counts are going up too quickly as of late, and the last time he pitched more than six innings was June 24. Besides, it's Coors Field, and Marshall hasn't pitched there before. A good general rule is to let your fantasy pitchers ride the pine for their first tour in Denver (see Gallardo, Yovani). Since Hirsh was placed on the DL, the Rockies are running low on options for a starter. The most likely scenarios see Francis going on short rest or Morales getting a phone call from Triple-A. Either way, the Cubs don't hit lefties well (27th in team OPS versus southpaws, .704). If it's Francis, use him in NL-only. The fact that he is on a roll gets mitigated by the Cubs' performance against him on June 25, when Francis was hit for six earned runs. If it's Morales, watch with interest. He has a 2-0 record with a 1.47 ERA in 12 innings since being promoted to Triple-A. Although his ownership is now up to 61 percent in ESPN leagues, Ryan Theriot deserves even more attention with Alfonso Soriano on the DL. Theriot is a man on fire since taking over the leadoff spot, and, if you are looking for runs, look no further.
AT&T Park (outdoor) 3:05 p.m. ET (clearing, high of 71 degrees)
Tom Gorzelanny, LHP (10-6, 3.50 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) versus
Barry Zito, LHP (8-10, 5.16 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)
Game Story: The lefty-on-lefty battle doesn't offer too much hope for the offenses, as both the Giants and Pirates are in the bottom-ten for OPS versus southpaws. Ronny Paulino (.375 versus LHP) and Freddy Sanchez (.359 versus LHP) are your bright spots for Pittsburgh, and Randy Winn (.349 versus LHP) is a great play for San Francisco. Gorzelanny looks good to go, coming off his best fantasy start of the year. Zito is a little more questionable, having not logged a quality start since July 17. But since no Pirates regular has faced his big-breaking curveball before, I'll give Zito an endorsement.
Chase Field (indoor/retractable roof) 4:40 p.m. ET
Mike Bacsik, LHP (5-6, 4.47 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
Micah Owings, RHP (5-6, 4.96 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Dmitri Young, 1B (hamstring, questionable)
Game Story: Arizona ranks 30th in the majors for OPS versus left-handers, as evidenced by the fact that Owings has the highest average versus southpaws in the Diamondbacks starting lineup for this game. Bacsik's three outings before running into Barry Bonds on Tuesday were all quality starts. I say Mike "Mr. Gave-Up-756" Bacsik is a very decent NL-only option considering the Diamondbacks' futility against left-handers. Justin Upton, who is owned 45 percent of ESPN leagues, is 3-for-10 against lefties since being called up. His debut has been better than hoped so far, and it's time to boost that ownership number. Owings is worth running out there at home, where his ERA is 3.88. He's another good option for NL-only play.
Citizens Bank Park (outdoor) 8:05 p.m. ET (sunny with a high of 89 degrees)
Buddy Carlyle, RHP (7-3, 4.28 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) versus
Jamie Moyer, LHP (10-8, 4.70 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Octavio Dotel, RP (shoulder, DL)
Game Story: Carlyle has to be a dream-come-true for the Braves. For the journeyman to be 7-3 is more than the Braves could have possibly asked for. I'll support starting Carlyle in NL-only leagues because he just keeps getting those wins. Philly tagged him for five earned runs in Carlyle's first start of the season, but Chase Utley did most of the damage (three RBIs), and he won't be around this time. As always, with a lefty on the hill, Matt Diaz is worth a look. He has a .920 OPS versus southpaws. Willie Harris -- who doesn't usually start versus lefties, anyway -- is 1-for-10 versus Moyer and almost certainly will not start this one.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Franklin Gutierrez, OF, CLE versus New York Yankees
Kelly Shoppach, C, CLE versus New York Yankees
Mark Ellis, 2B, OAK @ Detroit Tigers
Travis Buck, OF, OAK @ Detroit Tigers
Aubrey Huff, 1B/3B/OF, BAL versus Boston Red Sox
Jose Vidro, 2B, SEA @ Chicago White Sox
Jose Guillen, OF, SEA @ Chicago White Sox
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, SEA @ Chicago White Sox
A.J. Pierzynski, C, CHW versus Seattle Mariners
John Buck, C, KAN versus Toronto Blue Jays
Brian Bannister, SP, KAN versus Toronto Blue Jays
Jonny Gomes, OF, TB @ Texas Rangers
Frank Catalanotto, OF, TEX versus Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Marlon Byrd, OF, TEX versus Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Cody Ross, OF, FLA @ New York Mets
Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL @ Houston Astros
Damian Miller, C, MIL @ Houston Astros
Woody Williams, SP, HOU versus Milwaukee Brewers
Anthony Reyes, SP, STL versus Los Angeles Dodgers
Ryan Spilborghs, OF, COL versus Chicago Cubs
Randy Winn, OF, SF versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Ronny Paulino, C, PIT @ San Francisco Giants
Micah Owings, SP, ARI versus Washington Nationals
Justin Upton, OF, ARI versus Washington Nationals
Mike Bacsik, SP, WAS @ Arizona Diamondbacks
Matt Diaz, OF, ATL @ Philadelphia Phillies
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