Yadier Molina – A catcher who always hits for a plus average and has a .696 slugging percentage against the probable starter will find a way onto my team every single night. Molina has hit Yovani Gallardon well in the past (.304 batting average) with 71% of his hits going for extra bases. Another encouraging stat is the fact that he averages 3.5 walks for every strikeout, meaning he is seeing the ball well and only swinging a pitches in the zone. The Cardinals as a team have crushed the Brewers ace (.304 team batting average with a .563 slugging percentage) with 21% of their hits leaving the ball park. All the numbers point to a big night from the Cardinals offense, and when you include the fact that every game is important for them, they are a can’t miss offense tonight. Look for the middle of the order to take some pitches and get on base, putting Molina in a position to drive in more runs than any other catcher tonight.
Aramis Ramirez – Same game, similar story. Ramirez isn’t the teams top offensive option, but batting behind Ryan Braun, he figures to see his share of pitches. ARam has hit Kyle Lohse hard over his career, leading all Brewers with at least 10 career at bats against the righty in batting average (.391), OBP (.440), and slugging percentage (.783). Lohse was razor sharp in August, but was pounded by the Nationals in his first September start, and could experience similar issues tonight. The Brewers are batting .297 against Lohse, and with Ramirez yet to strikeout against the Cardinals 2012 ace, he is a good bet to drive in runs. Fantasy baseball owners should take a step back from the pitchers season numbers, and realize that neither pitcher in this game has had much success against the opponent. Ramirez is a cheap option at the hot corner that could very easily produce elite stats.
Philadelphia Phillies – I haven’t liked the Phillies as a whole this season, but against Jeff Francis, the top of the batting order has me convinced that they can help fantasy owners for one day. Juan Pierre and Jimmy Rollins have combined for a .439 batting average against the Rockies lefty, striking out only 3 times in 57 career at bats. This duo will put the rest of the Phillies offense in a position to succeed, making all players worth owning in daily fantasy baseball leagues. Francis has given up more HR’s on the road despite making 2 fewer starts, so if you’re going to take a chance on Ryan Howard, today is the day.
Players to avoid:
Alfonso Soriano – Hopefully you enjoyed your one day of valuable Cub hitters, as we are back to the lovable losers tonight. Soriano has struck out in 9 of 19 at bats while recording a mere 3 hits (.158 batting average) against the Pirates A.J. Burnett, giving him very little upside in a soft hitting lineup. The Cubs as a team hold a .179 batting average against the righty, with only one extra base hit in 78 career at bats. The lack of power would indicate that daily fantasy baseball owners considering Chicago batters are relying on multiple hits in an inning, something that is mathematically very unlikely. The Cubs will be lucky to scratch across a run or two against Burnett, and Soriano (whose 3 hits have all been harmless singles) is almost certainly not going to be a part of it.
Matt Kemp – In arguably the biggest series of the season for either team, I’ll take good pitching to beat great hitting. Tim Lincecum may not be having a Cy Young caliber season, but when it comes to pitching against the Dodgers best hitter, he has proven to be one of the games best. Kemp owns a .231 batting average against Big Time Timmy Jim and has struck out 40% of the time he has stepped into the batters box. He has only one extra base hit against Lincecum, a pitcher who has given up more than 3 runs only once over his last 7 starts. It’s difficult in daily fantasy baseball games to not spend the big bucks on the games elite, but Kemp isn’t worth top dollar tonight.