Pedro Ciriaco - This man needs to be your starting SS in daily fantasy baseball leagues whenever the Yankees and Red Sox meet; it’s that simple. His batting average has hovered around .500 all season against the Bronx Bombers, and his energy has a way of sparking the Boston lineup. These games may mean nothing for the Red Sox in the standings, but for players like Ciriaco, who are trying to prove they belong in the big leagues, these games could not mean more. The 26 year old shortstop is a slap hitter who fits the mold of an ideal leadoff hitter, but he has knocked in 4 runs (more than half of his season total against NYY) against Hughes, which only adds to his fantasy baseball value.
Torii Hunter – The veteran outfielder is often overshadowed by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but hitting behind both of them should leave Hunter in an enviable position. The A’s Brett Anderson has never had to face the Trout/Pujols combination, and figures to struggle with their ability to adjust over the course of an at bat. It seems safe to conclude that there will be runners on base for Hunter, and he has made the most of those opportunities against the Oakland lefty. Hunter holds a .385 career batting average against Anderson with more RBI than hits. Last season, Anderson gave up more hits than innings pitched, and I think that’ll be the case tonight against the desperate Angels.
Carlos Santana – The Indians switch hitting catcher has failed to make the strides this season that many fantasy owners had hoped for, but he is still capable of producing against the Rangers Derek Holland. Santana has a .385 lifetime average against the lefty, with 60% of his hits going for extra bases (.923 slugging percentage). Playing in hitter friendly Texas should also help Santana’s cause, as Holland’s ERA is 5.35 at home. Few pitchers give up more long balls than Holland (1 HR surrendered every 5.2 innings pitched) and as the Indians main source of power, Santana could easily go yard tonight.
Players to avoid:
Paul Konerko - With Adam Dunn ailing, the protection around Konerko becomes considerably less intimidating, and with limited help in the lineup, there is no way I am rostering Konerko against Justin Verlander. The slugging first baseman has had little success with Dunn batting behind him (.164 batting average vs Verlander), and figures to have even less tonight. Konerko has struck out more times than he has reached base against the fireballer, providing him with almost no upside against a Tigers team that needs this game. On most nights, Konerko blends power with average, but against Verlander, it is doubtful that we see either tonight.
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder – Yes, Chris Sale has been that good. The 23 year old kid has been the rock of the White Sox rotation, and this is the type of big game that aces pitch well in. I’m buying Sale as a legitimate number one on a playoff team, and his success against the big bats of Detroit only back my claim. Fielder and Cabrera have combined for 2 hits in 20 at bats against the lefty, having struck out 6 times. Opponents are batting a mere .191 against Sale in Chicago, which has resulted in an ERA that is nearly 2.5 runs lower at home. This matchup of two solid offenses is going to be a pitchers duel, thus providing very little value in daily fantasy baseball games.
Burning Question: What prevails when a big game pitcher faces a big game hitter? We should find out when the Dodgers and Josh Beckett face the Cardinals and David Freese in a huge game for the NL Wild Card.