Andrew Jones – Welcome to the AL Mr. Dempster. The former Cub has been unable to catch a break, with his first three AL starts coming against the Angels, Red Sox, and now the Bronx Bombers. While he preformed admirably in the Red Sox start (had a shutout until 2 errors and a bad pitch led to a 3 run homer for Will Middlebrooks), he was crushed in the Angels start (8 earned in 4.2 innings) and figures to have similar issues navigating the loaded Yankee lineup. Andrew Jones could be the X-factor, as he is batting .325 against the righty with one third of his hits going for extra bases. For a strikeout prone hitter, it is worth noting that Jones has walked just as often as he has struck out. The current Yankees are batting .312 against Dempster, so run producing opportunities figure to be aplenty for Jones tonight. Jones is batting 42 points higher at home this season, just one more reason to look his way when searching for a sleeper in daily fantasy baseball games.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Every game is important for the Bucco’s these days, as they are not only chasing a winning record, but a spot in the postseason. I like their chances at home against Aaron Harang tonight, as they have a team batting average of .349 against the big righty. It may be a small sample size, but the 33.3% of their hits have gone for extra bases and they have walked 3 times as often as they have struck out. In addition to the positive Pittsburgh stats, it is worth noting that hitters are batting 47 points higher against Harang on the road this season. The Dodgers are the better team, but for fantasy baseball owners, Pittsburgh is the roster to pick apart tonight.
Players to avoid:
Asdrubal Cabrera – After a tough month of July (.228 batting average), Cabrera has turned things around in August with a batting average approaching .300. However, it is likely that we see the July version when Cabrera steps into the batters box against C.J. Wilson. The Angels ace has held Cabrera to one single in 11 career at bats (.091 batting average) and struck him out three times. The odds of him getting a hit aren’t in your favor, and the odds of a hit doing any significant damage are even lower. the Indians hold a .186 team average against Wilson, with Grady Sizemore (60 day DL) having the most success. This has the feel of a 7 shutout inning performance, making all Indians avoidable in daily fantasy baseball leagues.
Washington Nationals - They got Nattiude, but I don’t believe they’ve got what it takes to knock Ryan Vogelsong around. The Giants righty has been near unhittable at home (1.42 ERA with a .194 batting average against) and he has been on a role of late. If you subtract his start at Coors in which he was spotted a big lead and was pitching to contact, he has given up just 3 runs in his last 26 innings pitched. Most of the young Nationals have not faced Vogelsong before and it figures to take them at least one at bat to get a feel for the movement on his pitches. The Washington players that have face Vogelsong have recorded only 1 hit in 16 at bats (.063 batting average), making me even more confident in the 35 year old pitcher tonight.
Vernon Wells and Kendrys Morales – It is hard not to love any member of the Angels roster that hits behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but don’t risk it tonight. Wells and Morales are batting a putrid .115 against Justin Masterson with nearly twice as many strikeouts as hits. Their value typically comes from players getting on base ahead of them, but the Angels hold only a .186 batting average against Cleveland’s righty, making the ceiling quite low for this duo. Don’t get suckered into rostering these two just because the Angels are a much better team than the Indians, as the numbers indicate a long day ahead if you do.