Scott Podsednik – There are very rarely players ranked this low that have a tremendous track record against a very god pitcher, and I encourage you to take advantage in daily fantasy baseball games. Believe it or not, the Red Sox slap hitter is batting .500 against Zack Greinke with an out of character .735 slugging percentage. Pods has played in 17 straight games (eclipsing his previous season high of 7) and is batting .333 over that stretch. For the season, the left fielder holds a surprising .362 batting average, a number that is a good bet to rise tonight. Mathematically speaking, he is in good shape for a multi hit performance tonight, and with his speed, getting on base often means scoring runs. There is very little risk in rostering Podsednik, and for one night, there is considerable upside.
Kansas City Royals – They’ve been swinging a hot stick of late (just ask Justin Verlander) and their big guns have had plenty of success against tonight’s probable starter. Rick Porcello has held the Royals as a team in check (their .257 team batting average isn’t overwhelming), but he has struggled to get out Kansas City’s best hitters. Billy Butler (.286 batting average), Alex Gordon (.304), Jeff Francoeur (.357), and Eric Hosmer (.364) are all well above the team average, and have driven in 81% of the teams runs against the Tigers righty. Porcello has surrendered at least 8 base runners in every August start, a trend that should continue tonight, providing loyal Royal daily fantasy baseball owners plenty of value.
Darwin Barney – Pitchers who miss an extended period of time typically need a few starts to regain confidence and develop a rhythm. Shaun Marcum hasn’t had that grace period yet, leading me to believe that the Cubs may jump on him early tonight. Barney has a .333 batting average against the Brewers righty, with every one of his hits going for extra bases (.833 slugging percentage). His success against Marcum has come in a small sample size (12 at bats), but his splits at home tell a similar story. His batting average is 97 points higher at the Friendly Confines with all 6 of his home runs coming there. There are no real elite options at 2B today, so why not take a flier on a player who is in the ideal position to surprise?
Players to avoid:
Justin Upton – Has he looked better of late? Yes. But not against elite pitchers like the one he faces tonight. Clayton Kershaw welcomes the Diamondbacks to LA with a smile on his face, as Arizona’s current hitters have managed only a .177 with as many strikeouts as hits+RBI+walks. Their best hitter has dragged that average down considerably, recording only 2 hits in 23 career at bats (.087 batting average) against the Cy Young candidate. Upton has struck out 8 times and has appeared to be guessing over his career against Kershaw; and those who guess against the games elite always end up losing. Upton will be a good buy low option next year, but as far as this year (and more specifically, today) is concerned, I’m avoiding the talented 25 year old in fantasy baseball games.
Toronto Blue Jays – Matt Moore has quietly won 10 games while boasting a 3.6 ERA for one of the better pitching staffs in the MLB, numbers that will improve when he faces a Jose Bautista-less Toronto lineup. The healthy Blue Jays have only 3 hits in 35 at bats (.086 batting average) against Moore with 12 strikeouts. None of those hits have been home runs, meaning that Toronto will need to string a few hits together in order to scratch across a run tonight. These are two teams headed in very different directions, with Tampa Bay poised to make a run at the postseason and needing this game to keep pace with the Yankees. There is no way I am taking a flier on a single Toronto player tonight, as they have shown no signs of providing offense against the 23 year old lefty.