LA Dodgers – This prediction takes a little bit of faith, but follow me through this logic. The team as a whole is batting .267 against Trevor Cahill, not exactly the type of domination that is typically promoted here. But there big bats (Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, and Andre Ethier) are all batting at least 19 points higher than that. The Diamondbacks starter has never faced this lineup with all 4 of those players batting in succession, worrying me that he will not be able to navigate his way through the middle of this order more than once tonight. Daily fantasy baseball owners need to recognize that this quartet is elite and capable of producing runs regardless if the rest of their lineup has had success against a given pitcher. I’ll role with great hitters who will treat every game as a must win and feel great about my chances in daily fantasy baseball games.
Chipper Jones – Somebody forgot to tell Chipper that once a player hits 40 years old, he isn’t supposed to be producing on a playoff contender. He is batting over .300 while anchoring the middle third of the Braves lineup, and is Atlanta’s best hitter against Roy Halladay. Jones owns a .326 batting average against the Phillies ace with 60% of his hits going for extra bases. Unlike most matchups with Doc Halladay, Jones has support behind him in the lineup, as 7 of his teammates have homered against him and the Braves hold a .310 team batting average against Halladay. Atlanta has a deceivingly deep lineup, and I think they give Halladay all kinds of problems tonight, and continue to lead the NL wild card race.
Players to avoid:
B.J. Upton – The physical tools are there for Upton, but for some reason, 2012 has been a season in which he has failed to put it all together. His .247 batting average is unlikely to rise against Brandon Morrow, a pitcher he is batting only .105 against. In fact, if you’re looking for a player to lead the league in strikeouts tonight, Upton (11 strikeouts in 19 career at bats against Morrow) is a solid bet. Opponents are batting a mere .201 against the Blue Jays righty this season, making me pessimistic even if Upton finds his way on base. The Rays have been finding ways to win, but for fantasy baseball owners it hasn’t been useful, as they rely on pitching.
Nelson Cruz – I realize that this is playing with fire, but Ubaldo Jimenez has struck out the red hot Ranger in 5 of his 6 plate appearances. In fact, albeit in limited at bats, the Rangers loaded lineup holds only a .200 batting average against the erratic righty, a number that drops to .167 when you subtract Mike Napoli’s career numbers. Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers boast an elite offense, but this game is being played on the road and against a pitcher who sees his ERA drop by nearly 4 runs when pitching in Cleveland. In this case, the numbers don’t lie, and Cruz is among a handful of Rangers that I am not spending big bucks on tonight.
Miguel Cabrera – In a huge divisional showdown, the best hitter in the game figures to come up small against Jake Peavy. The typically selective Cabrera has struck out on 37% of his at bats while recording a hit 23.7% of the time. His slugging percentage is a pedestrian .316, not the type of statistics you are looking for from one of the games best. It is foolish to bet against Miggy often, but tonight I am avoiding him in daily fantasy baseball games.