Travis Hafner - When opposing Justin Verlander, you’ve got to take what few positives there are when looking for a value play in daily fantasy baseball games. Hafner has struck out more times than he has recorded a hit, but he has also drawn 1 walk every 4.5 at bats. The power potential is there (2 HR’s and 10 RBI on his 14 hits) and he figures to at the very least be on base. Hafner won’t cost you much, and could surprise against the best pitcher in the MLB today.
Corey Hart – The Nationals pitching has been the best in the majors to this point, but regression is likely when Edwin Jackson squares off against the BrewCrew. Hart has 5 hits in 9 at bats (.556 batting average) against the righty with 3 extra base hits (2 of which were home runs). Milwaukee as a team owns a .338 average against Jackson, and with plenty of power around him in the lineup, Hart will see quality pitches. On a day with relatively few games, Hart’s matchup is about as good as it gets for daily fantasy baseball owners.
Billy Butler – The Royals slugger has extreme power, and he should flex those muscles in spacious Seattle tonight. He faces Jason Vargas, a pitcher who he has taken deep twice in 11 at bats. The power is nice, but I find as much encouragement in the fact that he has yet to strikeout against the lefty. The M’s have been playing better ball of late, but their fielding takes a hit with the departure of Ichiro, making Butler a solid bet for at least an extra base hit tonight. The Royals are hitting .303 against Vargas, increasing the likelihood that there are runners on base that will cash in when Butler connects.
St. Louis Cardinals – Chris Capuano used to see the Cardinals more often when he pitched in the NL Central, and they are a big reason why he relocated. The current Redbirds are batting .320 against Capuano, with Lance Berkman (.364 batting average) and Matt Holliday (.348 batting average) doing the majority of the damage. Table setter Rafael Furcal also owns a .364 batting average against the lefty, giving St. Louis dangerous options up and down the order. A final statistic to consider when choosing your roster: Capuano’s ERA is nearly 2.5 runs higher on the road with opponents batting 36 points higher.
Players to avoid:
Los Angeles Dodgers - Jake Westbrook is far from an elite pitcher, but when it comes to dominating the Dodgers, there are few pitchers who can live up to his past success. Of players with at least 9 career at bats against the Cardinals righty, Juan Rivera leads the way with a .222 batting average. Westbrook won’t hurt himself with the walk (roughly 2 walks per 9 innings at home) and has only given up one home run in his last 6 starts. Matt Kemp has never faced Westbrook before, and I expect it to take him a few at bats to get used to a new pitcher. The Dodgers will score 3 runs or fewer, and leave fantasy baseball owners disappointed.