Miguel Montero – The Diamondbacks catcher is quietly on pace for his best season of his career, and with a matchup against Bronson Arroyo, I like that trend to continue. He has 8 hits (4 for extra bases) in 15 career at bats (.533 batting average) against the Reds righty, leading Arizona in HR’s, hits, and RBI. He is slugging 1.200, a number that is impossible to ignore on a slow Monday in the majors. Montero averages a little more than 1 walk every 3 games, making this free swinging catcher a player with a high ceiling against the Reds.
Nelson Cruz – Nobody on planet Earth is hotter than Cruz, and not even the great David Price has a good chance to slow him down. Cruz owns a .500 batting average against the Rays ace with a .800 slugging percentage. The Rangers lineup should benefit from pitchers wanting to face Cruz with the bases empty, leading me to believe that the top of this order will come out swinging and provide Cruz with run producing opportunities. The past numbers are great and he simply cannot be retired these days; you’ve got to ride out this remarkable fantasy baseball streak as long as it lasts.
Carlos Beltran – Can I make it any more clear? The Cardinals offense is rounding into form, and Beltran should lead the charge tonight against A.J. Burnett. The St. Louis outfielder has a .333 batting average against the Pirates ace with more RBI (10) than hits (9). The Cardinals as a team are batting .322 against Burnett, and I trust this veteran team to piece together quality at bats tonight. Burnett has given up 28 hits and 14 earned runs over his last 3 games, providing Pirates fans with a glimpse of what Yankee fans saw last season. This is a HUGE series for the NL playoff picture, and for daily fantasy baseball games, I like the Cardinals (specifically Beltran) to steal the show today.
Jose Tabata – At first glance, this looks like a pitchers matchup, but I like both offenses in a one game format. No, I don’t think Kyle Lohse or A.J. Burnett are flukes, but neither has had success here. Tabata is a player with little risk (financially at least) with considerable upside, as he holds a .500 average against Lohse. He has hit for the career cycle on his way to a .833 slugging percentage, and with the Bucco’s batting .318 against Lohse, Tabata will have plenty of chances to produce. Tabata has looked much more comfortable at the plate after missing 6 weeks with an injury, and should provide great value for his fantasy baseball owners.
Players to avoid:
Colorado Rockies – I’ll admit that this prediction has very little statistical evidence, but how can you not like Josh Beckett to make some noise in his first start away from Boston? We saw Adrian Gonzalez homer in his first at bat in LA, leading them to a win over the Marlins, and I expect Josh Beckett to endure himself to the Dodger faithful with a quality start tonight. The current Rockies (in limited action) have 19 strikeouts and 20 hits at bats, but only 5 Rockies have ever seen Beckett. I’m not betting against the 32 year old Beckett, who has been known to pitch well in big games, for the rest of this season, and I advise daily fantasy baseball owners to avoid his opponents.