Fantasy Game Notes for Wednesday: American League
Notable Injuries: None.
Game Story: Robertson doesn't have any strong trends in his pitching performance recently, mostly alternating between good and bad outings. In three previous starts against the Indians, he has a 3.72 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, which isn't bad. It's hard to believe the Indians are just 25th in OPS since the All-Star break, but these numbers would suggest they're a weak offensive team. So, at second glance, Robertson isn't such a bad option. Ryan Garko (.323/.407/.523 against lefties) and Franklin Gutierrez (four homers and a .337 average in 86 at-bats) are the Indians' resident lefty-killers. Before allowing four runs in his last start, Sabathia was in the midst of a 10-start streak in which he allowed two or fewer runs. The Tigers hit lefties well and have lit up Sabathia this season (6.04 ERA), but he's still an ace worth starting.
Notable Injuries: None.
Game Story: King Felix has been one of the league's most inconsistent pitchers, at least among pitchers of his talent level. But he has owned the A's this season, with a 0.39 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in three starts. The A's have the second-highest on-base percentage in the majors this month (.370), with Mark Ellis (.386/.478/.561 with two home runs) and Daric Barton (.333 average past eight games) contributing surprising performances. But Hernandez's track record against the A's is too strong to ignore. This is Meyer's third career start, and the young pitcher is doing little to shed the "failed prospect" label, with 13 runs allowed (10 earned) in 11 innings. The Mariners come alive against southpaws -- Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Guillen, most notably -- so expect the worst from Meyer.
Notable Injuries: Gary Matthews, OF (ankle, questionable); Carl Crawford, OF (groin, out).
Game Story: After a rough June and July (6.16 ERA), Shields has made adjustments and rebounded, with a 2.39 ERA since the beginning of August. Shields' long-ball tendencies are still a bit of a concern, but the Angels aren't a home run-hitting team (27th in the majors in the homers this season). If the Angels can't capitalize on Shields' one major weakness, the young pitcher should continue to roll. Colon has been a disaster all season, and with the combined factors of age (34), weight (a lot) and injuries (just 27 starts the past two seasons), Colon now must be considered a long shot to ever get "it" back. And don't look now, but the Devil Rays have the sixth-best offense in baseball since the break in terms of OPS, and are second this month, with at least some of the credit going to Dioner Navarro (.415 average this month).
Game Story: Burres fired seven shutout innings, allowing eight hits and no walks, against the Blue Jays in his last start, easily his best performance of the season. The Jays have the best offense in the majors against lefties, even though Troy Glaus was unavailable. Good left-handers can go a long way toward neutralizing the Yankees, and the loss of Shelley Duncan has taken away an important lefty-mashing bat, too. That said, there's no case to be made that Burres is even a decent left-hander, so play your Yankees per normal. In two previous starts against the Orioles this season, Pettitte has a 3.21 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. That's a scary WHIP, but it might be explainable. Pettitte rarely allows home runs, and it's not as if the Orioles are adept at manufacturing runs.
Game Story: Arguably the best pitching prospect in baseball, Buchholz has more than held his own in the majors, to the point where you have to love his chances against a now-decrepit offense against right-handers. The only Blue Jays hitter who has remained effective against righties is Matt Stairs (19 home runs in 284 at-bats). It's always nice to spot-start a pitcher who has potential for strikeouts, too, and Buchholz struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings in the minors. Litsch has averaged less than 5 1/3 innings per start and has been particularly poor this month, with an 11.12 ERA in three starts. Give the green light to all your Red Sox hitters.
Notable Injuries: None.
Game Story: Even when Contreras gets decent end results, he doesn't look good doing it. Although he has a 3.32 ERA this month in three starts, it comes attached with a 1.89 WHIP. While the Royals are essentially a one-man offensive team -- Alex Gordon has a .340/.364/.679 line this month, with four home runs -- you surely don't want to roll the dice by starting Contreras, who has a 7.30 ERA in two starts this season against the Royals. Bannister has surprisingly managed to keep piling up impressive numbers -- he has allowed two or fewer runs in five of his past six starts -- despite barely striking out four men per nine innings. The White Sox, who rank 27th in the league in OPS, shouldn't do much to change that.
Notable Injuries: Gerald Laird, C (knee, day-to-day).
Game Story: Padilla was ejected in his last start, so he gets another start three days later. He's been the definition of boom-or-bust recently; in his past six starts, he has allowed zero runs three times, six runs twice, and one run once. Against an anemic offense like the Twins', he appears to be a safe risk. Since the All-Star break, the Twins are averaging 3.87 runs per game, last in the majors, and they're second-to-last in OPS. Hmm, might as well give Padilla a whirl. Garza has a 7.73 ERA in his past five starts, failing to reach the seventh inning in each of those outings. Garza is better than that, but he's not a safe bet against the Rangers and their .845 OPS in September, which includes contributions from a litany of players.
Fantasy Game Notes for Wednesday: National League
Game Story: Pelfrey has slowly improved from his horrendous performance earlier in the season, but he's still quite rough around the edges. Since he hasn't demonstrated much upside, we wouldn't feel comfortable recommending him against even the weakest of offenses. The Nationals have improved over the course of the season and now should be considered a "league average" offensive team, finishing 17th in OPS in August and sitting 14th in OPS this month. The Nats aren't the pushovers they once were. Chico has been decent in his past three starts, with four earned runs allowed in his past 18 innings and a 12-3 K-BB ratio. The Mets are good against lefties, though, and Chico hasn't fared well against the Mets in two previous starts.
Notable Injuries: Josh Willingham, OF (back, day-to-day).
Game Story: Willis has been getting progressively worse, not better; his ERA has increased every month since May, and he now has a 7.71 ERA in September. He has allowed 28 home runs (a career high) despite pitching half of his games in a pitchers park, and he's averaging less than six innings per start for the first time since his rookie season. It's questionable whether the Braves can take advantage of him, though; their .734 OPS this month ranks them 27th. Even Matt Diaz, who starts mostly against left-handers -- and is hitting .352/.378/.582 against them for the year -- is struggling, hitting .206 with a .235 slugging percentage in September. James has a 6.88 ERA in his past seven starts, so expect the Marlins to put some runs on the board, especially with Jeremy Hermida and Mike Jacobs hitting well.
Notable Injuries: Scott Hatteberg, 1B (oblique, day-to-day).
Game Story: Shearn's ERA and WHIP numbers look nice four starts into his major league career, but the other peripherals attached -- four home runs in 26 innings, a 13-9 K-BB ratio -- suggest you want nothing to do with him. The Cubs rank seventh in the majors with an .838 OPS this month, led by sluggers Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee, although Mark DeRosa also has chipped in. The Reds' offense is vulnerable against lefties such as Hill, even though they did just plaster Rich Hill for four runs and eight baserunners in 4 2/3 innings. Lilly has 24 strikeouts in 18 innings in three previous starts against the Reds, though, and his 0.83 WHIP belies his 4.00 ERA.
Notable Injuries: None.
Game Story: While Bush was unlucky earlier in the season, when his ERA and WHIP didn't reflect how good his peripherals were, he has fallen off the pace since then, with a 6.18 ERA, 1.54 WHIP and ridiculous 14 homers in 59 2/3 innings since the All-Star break. Bush also hasn't done well in three previous starts against the Astros this season (5.91 ERA) and he has been intolerable in road starts (6.49 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) ... this doesn't get said often, but bust out all your Astros hitters, from Mark Loretta (eight-game hitting streak) to Craig Biggio (.325 average at home) to Luke Scott (three homers, .619 slugging this month). Gutierrez wasn't more than a serviceable starter in Triple-A, so expect the Brewers (.879 OPS in September) and 'Stros to make this a high-scoring game.
Game Story: Moyer may look done (6.26 ERA, 1.65 WHIP since the break), but he has been the victim of poor matchups, and he does have 54 strikeouts in 69 innings. Coming off a good start against a strong Mets offense, Moyer faces an offense that is struggling due to injuries and normally struggles against left-handers. The 44-year-old veteran has enough left in him to turn in a good performance Wednesday. Wainwright, meanwhile, has been surging since the All-Star break, not having allowed more than two earned runs in seven straight starts. That's difficult to pass up, even though he is facing the best offense in the NL and second-best in the majors.
Notable Injuries: Kaz Matsui, SS (hamstring, day-to-day); Willy Taveras, OF (quadriceps, doubtful).
Game Story: The Rockies started off September a little slow offensively but have been on fire the past week, hitting .327/.410/.562 as a team. Penny has been on a gradual decline since his superb start to the season, posting a 4.06 ERA and 1.51 WHIP since July (84 1/3 innings). It's surprising Penny hasn't regressed more -- he has a 54-39 K-BB ratio during that time frame -- but the Rockies will test that, especially at Coors Field, where their home OPS ranks second only to the Yankees. Fogg is nothing more than a fifth starter, although he's decent as far as fifth starters go. If the Dodgers keep sitting Matt Kemp for no reason -- he has missed the past two games despite hitting .395 this month -- they shouldn't be too surprised if a fifth starter shuts down their feeble offense.
Notable Injuries: Alberto Collaspo, 2B (hamstring, day-to-day); Barry Bonds, OF (toe, out).
Game Story: Zito has been cruising, with a 2.62 ERA since the beginning of August. He's averaging more than 6 1/3 innings per start, and he gets a great matchup on Wednesday against the D-backs (1.88 ERA, 1.12 WHIP against in two starts this season). In fact, only the Giants are worse against lefties than the D-backs. Zito is virtually a lock for another great start. Of course, Davis also is a lefty, and the Giants will almost assuredly be without Bonds. Davis has a 3.38 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP in three previous starts against the Giants, and he also is a very good bet to have a productive start.
Notable Injuries: Milton Bradley, OF (oblique, doubtful).
Game Story: Snell has a 1.80 ERA this month, but his 1.40 WHIP (with 11 walks in 20 innings this month) is worrisome. But facing the Padres in San Diego is a pitcher's dream; the Padres rank last in the majors in home OPS. Of course, the same applies to Young, who is nearly untouchable at home (1.47 ERA and 0.95 WHIP). The Pirates have a better offense than the Padres -- the Pirates' OPS this month is .824, the Padres is .748 -- but the Petco Park effect in this game is such that both pitchers should fare well. With two good pitchers in an extreme pitchers park, you can't help but assume the game is going to be a low-scoring pitcher's duel.
Ryan Garko, 1B, CLE versus Detroit Tigers
Franklin Gutierrez, OF, CLE versus Detroit Tigers
Mark Ellis, 2B, OAK versus Seattle Mariners
Jose Guillen, OF, SEA @ Oakland Athletics
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, SEA @ Oakland Athletics
Dioner Navarro, C, TB @ Los Angeles Angels
Clay Buchholz, SP, BOS @ Toronto Blue Jays
Alex Gordon, 3B, KC versus Chicago White Sox
Brian Bannister, SP, KC versus Chicago White Sox
Vicente Padilla, SP, TEX @ Minnesota Twins
Moises Alou, OF, NYM @ Washington Nationals
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA @ Atlanta Braves
Mike Jacobs, 1B, FLA @ Atlanta Braves
Luke Scott, OF, HOU versus Milwaukee Brewers
Jamie Moyer, SP, PHI @ St. Louis Cardinals
Adam Wainwright, SP, STL versus Philadelphia Phillies
Matt Kemp, OF, LAD @ Colorado Rockies
Doug Davis, SP, ARI versus San Francisco Giants
Ian Snell, SP, PIT @ San Diego Padres
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, 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.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at Adam@TalentedMrRoto.com.