Howard Kendrick – He may not be one of the big name Angels, but he has been swinging a hot bat of late (batting over .330 for August, his best month of the season) and has dominated James Shields over his career. The Halo’s second basemen has 12 hits in 21 career at bats (.571 batting average) against Big Game James with an .857 slugging percentage. He only has 1 career RBI against the righty, but I like the odds of that changing now that Albert Pujols and Mike Trout are in the LA lineup. Shields has been rocked by Yankees (another elite offense this season) and figures to struggle with the depth and consistency of this Angels lineup. I have no issue if you want to roster their studs, but from a value perspective, Kendrick is the best option in fantasy baseball today.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jake Westbrook and the Cardinals pitching staff has been a pleasent surprise this season, but you need to consider the Pirates unimpressed. They have pounded the big righty to the tune of a .321 team batting average, with production coming up and down the lineup. It should be no surprise that Andrew McCutchen (.375 batting average against Westbrook) has flourished, as he seems to hit every pitch throw his way these days, but it is the support he has received in the Pirates lineup that fantasy owners need to take advantage of. Lesser valued players like Pedro Alvarez (.462 batting average) and Jose Tabata (.421) have a great track record against Westbrook, and should benefit from the fear McCutchen creates. Neil Walker (.353) and Clint Barmes (.313) are two more names to remember when filling out your roster today, as the Bucco’s boast extreme depth against the Cardinals tonight.
Jim Thome – No power is as fun to roster as “cheap” power, and that is exactly what Thome gives you tonight against the Tigers. Your natural thought is likely to avoid all Orioles, as they face Justin Verlander, and under most circumstances it is a good idea to avoid hitters when the reigning MVP takes the mound. And while the O’s as a team are hitting only .181 against the righty, the ageless Thome has been able to time his powerful swing with Verlander’s blazing fastball. He holds a .269 batting average against the Tigers ace, but the more telling number is his .712 slugging percentage. Half of his hits have gone for HR’s, a ratio that is unlike any other batter against Verlander. In a daily format, Thome at least deserves consideration, as the odds of him running into a 98mph heater are better than most.
Miguel Olivo – Yep, you read that right. I’m suggesting you roster a Mariners batter, and I’ve got the numbers to back me up. The 34 year old catcher has a .476 career batting average against Nick Blackburn and a slugging percentage of 1.095. Those numbers become even more difficult to ignore when you consider that the M’s are batting .388 as a team against the Twins righty. Seattle may still be flying high off of King Felix’s perfecto, and figure to celebrate with an offensive explosion (maybe 6 runs) against Minnesota tonight.
Players to avoid:
Alfonso Soriano – The Reds pitching has been on a role of late and the Cubs hitting simply isn’t good, making Soriano a player I wouldn’t roster free of charge tonight in daily fantasy baseball games. He holds a .208 batting average against Bronson Arroyo with more strikeouts than hits. His struggles are indicative of Chicago’s entire roster, as they hold a mere .216 average against Arroyo. With the Reds rolling and chasing a playoff spot, there is no reason to believe that the punch-less Cubs will do much damage tonight, making even their best hitter a player to avoid in daily fantasy baseball leagues.