The year of the pitcher? Maybe it is the guys behind the plate that have something to do with it. On this night, those unappreciated parts of the pitching game should become the focal points of their respective offenses.
Brian McCann - When rostering catchers in daily fantasy baseball games the best strategy is to swing for the fences. Catcher production is so up and down on a day to day basis that a player with power potential is well worth the risk. He faces Cole Hamels, an ace who has had success against the Braves (see Uggla, Dan) but has given up his share of hard hit balls to McCcan. The Atlanta catcher owns only a .278 batting average against the lefty, but 60% of his hits have gone for extra bases, with one third of those leaving the yard. He averages an RBI per hit against Hamels and has drawn enough walks to register a .361 OBP. Hamels is an elite pitcher, but look to McCann for run producing potential tonight.
Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli – Boston throws their ace against the Rangers tonight, but that is no reason to be skeptical about one of the leagues elite offenses. The duo owns a .583 career batting average against Jon Lester with 7 of their 14 hits going for extra bases and 3 leaving the ballpark. Even more encouraging is the fact that Napoli and Cruz have only struck out 3 times against the lefty, increasing their potential to knock in runs. Lester has been miserable at Fenway (2-7 6.96 ERA) and facing an elite offense that has had success against him in the past is a difficult way to reverse that trend.
St. Louis Cardinals – They may have lost big number 5 in the middle of their lineup, but the Cardinals are still getting it done. Barry Zito comes into this matchup having given up 11 earned runs in his last 9.2 innings pitched and has never fared well against the current redbirds. As a team, St. Louis owns a .311 batting average against the lefty with an impressive .484 slugging percentage. The only player he has retired on a consistent basis is Matt Holliday (.214 career batting average with as many punch outs as hits), but I’ll side with the outfielders .400 batting average over the last 45 days instead of the 28 career at bats he has against Zito. Rafeal Furcal (.341 career average against Zito) and Skip Schumaker (.583) figure to get on base and provide the Cardinals with run scoring possibilities often. Zito has given up more HR’s on the road in less innings pitched than at home, so the power packed 3-6 hitters (Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, and David Freese) should all be considered reasonable HR threats in any fantasy baseball format.
Players to avoid:
Dan Uggla – While I am willing to overlook Uggla’s flaws for his power on some nights, a matchup with Cole Hamels is one in which I am avoiding 10 times out of 10 in daily fantasy baseball leagues.. His .145 career batting average is reason enough to avoid the slugger, but his 2.25: 1 strikeout to hit ratio is simply impossible to ignore. The odds are much greater for Uggla to record multiple strikeouts than to record multiple hits, a statistic that steers me away from the Braves 2B.
Derek Jeter – I’m not saying this Yankees/Tigers series won’t be a shootout, but the odds of Jeter contributing multiple hits seems to be a long shot. The HOF bound shortstop has NEVER recorded a hit against Rick Porcello (0-12)! Even the best hitters in the game can’t hit every pitcher well, and for whatever reason, Porcello has been able to keep Jeter off of the base paths every time they have faced. This makes even less sense when you consider that opponents are batting .314 against the Tigers righty at home this season, but the goose egg in the hits column is hard to ignore. Maybe you view it as Jeter being “due” for a big game, but for me, there are plenty of other shortstops with statistics indicating a better day than Jeter.