Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: American League
Jacobs Field (outdoor) 1:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 65 degrees)
Billy Buckner, RHP (0-1, 5.29 ERA, 1.76 WHIP) versus
Aaron Laffey, LHP (3-1, 5.29 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Buckner's best asset in the minors this season was his dominance of right-handed hitters (.241 batting average against), but batters from the left side smacked him around (.303). Dealing with left-handed bats like Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez won't be fun for Buckner, or you if you try and spot start him. I like Laffey as long as he maintains his superb ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio. In six major league starts he has a ridiculous G/F rate of 5.00, which is something he has shown in the minors this season with a 2.81 rate. Noting the Royals' .740 OPS versus left-handers and the fact he already has a quality start against the Royals are just two more reasons to trust Laffey here. Emil Brown is still a nice spot start from Kansas City as he went 3-for-3 in a meeting with Laffey last month.
Rogers Centre (indoor/retractable roof) 1:07 p.m. ET
Victor Santos, RHP (1-5, 5.75 ERA, 1.51 WHIP) versus
Shaun Marcum, RHP (12-6, 4.11 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)
Game Story: Marcum has been pretty rotten at home (5.68 ERA) and against Baltimore (7 1/3 innings, 6 runs), so I'd leave him on the bench in all formats. Combined, Miguel Tejada and Nick Markakis have nine career hits against Marcum and five of them have been home runs. Santos has allowed four home runs in his last five innings of work, and has no indicators that suggest he'll have any success in this start. Stay far, far away. Even though Jamie Walker gave up a couple ninth-innings taters on Friday, he should still get the first call for a save opportunity with Baez on the mend.
U.S. Cellular Field (outdoor) 2:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 71 degrees)
Joe Saunders, LHP (8-3, 3.97 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) versus
Mark Buehrle, LHP (9-9, 3.39 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Gary Matthews, OF (ankle, out); Justin Speier, RP (knee, questionable)
Game Story: Saunders remains borderline relevant to deep fantasy leagues, but should not be used when up against a quality pitcher like Buehrle. Saunders' redeeming quality is his ability to get a win by pitching for the Angels, but Buehrle has good numbers against the Halos and should put up a fight. Buehrle has two quality starts versus Los Angeles of Anaheim this season and should be good for another. Maicer Izturis is 3-for-7 with a home run against Buehrle, but the cheap spot start for the Angels is Robb Quinlan. Look for him to get the start and feel free to us him in any league. Quinlan is 7-for-18 (.389) with three career home runs versus Buehrle.
Metrodome (indoor) 2:10 p.m. ET
Jair Jurrjens, RHP (2-1, 3.15 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) versus
Scott Baker, RHP (9-7, 4.17 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Mike Redmond, C (finger, questionable)
Game Story: It's a tough call whether to trust Jurrjens after just four career starts, and just one since hitting the disabled list. If you need the win and some help with your WHIP though, I say use him. The Twins remain tied with the Giants with a league-worst OPS of .710 since the All-Star break, so Jurrjens won't get an easier matchup. He will be a strong speculative play if you are looking for a starter to keep on your roster the rest of the season. Jurrjens should draw the Royals and then the Twins again to run out the regular season. Baker has had Detroit's number this season, with a 2.51 ERA in two starts against the Tigers. If you need to plug a hole in your outfield, Marcus Thames is a career 3-for-5 against Baker with two home runs.
Safeco Field (outdoor/retractable roof) 4:05 p.m. ET
Andy Sonnanstine, RHP (5-9, 5.96 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) versus
Jarrod Washburn, LHP (9-14, 4.49 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
Game Story: There appears to be little rhyme or reason for Sonnanstine's bad outings, or his good ones. He's baffled the Yankees and blown up against the Orioles and vice-versa. He remains very risky, and since he hasn't faced Seattle before, he should not be used. Washburn will be in tough against the fifth-best offense against southpaws in the majors (.817 OPS). He does have a win and quality start against Tampa Bay this season, but the Devil Rays also have hot September bats (.842 OPS, eighth in majors), so you are playing with fire if you use him.
McAfee Coliseum (outdoor) 4:05 p.m. ET (partly sunny, high of 71 degrees)
Vicente Padilla, RHP (6-9, 5.70 ERA, 1.62 WHIP) versus
Lenny DiNardo, LHP (8-9, 3.87 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Padilla has only had two hiccups in six games since coming of the DL, with his two previous starts both six-inning shutouts. He is primed for a good game here. Nick Swisher is 1-for-15 (.067) against Padilla and can be ignored. DiNardo faces a Texas lineup with the second-highest OPS so far in September (.895), and should be avoided. The Rangers tagged him for seven runs (three earned) in his most recent outing, forcing him from the game after just 1 and 2/3 innings. Marlon Byrd, Frank Catalanotto, Brad Wilkerson and Nelson Cruz are actually just some of the names with an OPS better than 1.000 against DiNardo.
Fenway Park (outdoor) 8:05 p.m. ET (clear, low of 47 degrees)
Roger Clemens, RHP (6-6, 4.45 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) versus
Curt Schilling, RHP (8-7, 3.93 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Shelley Duncan, OF/1B (pelvis/hernia, questionable); Roger Clemens, SP (elbow, probable); Kyle Farnsworth, RP (neck, questionable); Coco Crisp, OF (hip, questionable); Manny Ramirez, OF (back, questionable); Doug Mirabelli, C (hamstring, doubtful)
Game Story: When I ask you to define "barn burner," you should simply point to this pitching matchup. Clemens remains adamant that he'll start, but can you trust him in your fantasy lineup? Absolutely. The Rocket will rise to the occasion. Luckily, he has a great history against this Red Sox lineup as well. No one but the injured Mirabelli hits better than .250 against Clemens. Schilling, conversely, has been hit hard by Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, Bobby Abreu and Derek Jeter. Nonetheless, I expect Schilling to reach down and pull out some magic for this showdown. You would think all the offense would scare me off in this game, but I'll take both pitchers in a duel. So should you.
Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: National League
Shea Stadium (outdoor) 1:10 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 69 degrees)
Adam Eaton, RHP (9-9, 6.31 ERA, 1.58 WHIP) versus
Oliver Perez, LHP (14-9, 3.42 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
Game Story: Don't just look back at Perez's splits against the Phillies and be swayed from starting him. Yes, he has a 6.23 ERA in two starts against Philadelphia, but one of those starts was Ollie's second of the season and was a complete disaster (2.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 BB). We have five months of solid pitching from Perez to look at since then, and his second outing against the Phillies was an absolute gem just more than two weeks ago (6 innings, 3 runs, 10 K's). Perez should be fine in this game as long as he gets past Pat Burrell. Burrell owns Perez with a 5-for-14 (.357) average and four home runs for an OPS of 1.759. Abraham O. Nunez should also be a decent filler in this game (5-for-12, .417 versus Perez). We should actually be in for a solid pitching matchup here as Eaton is at his best when facing the Mets. He is 2-0 in three starts this year with a 2.89 ERA. Both those wins came at Shea. Shawn Green and David Wright struggle against Eaton (both are below the Mendoza Line versus him) while Jose Reyes and Moises Alou hit better than .400 against him. I would use in Eaton in deep NL-only leagues for a spot start.
RFK Stadium (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 68 degrees)
Tim Hudson, RHP (15-8, 3.48 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) versus
Shawn Hill, RHP (4-3, 2.87 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Hudson is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA and 20 strikeouts in three starts versus the Nationals. Bench all your Nats for this game. For that matter, sit down most of your Braves. Hill has been rock solid and Atlanta has been hitting rather light this month anyway (.701 OPS, 27th in majors). Hill is widely available in ESPN leagues, so get him in your rotation.
Miller Park (indoor/retractable roof) 2:05 p.m. ET
Matt Belisle, RHP (8-8, 5.31 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) versus
Carlos Villanueva, RHP (7-4, 4.42 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
Game Story: Milwaukee is crushing the ball this month (.917 OPS, first in majors), so don't get any wise ideas about using Belisle. He's started twice against the Brewers, lasted a total of nine innings and has an ERA of 9.00. As a team, the Brewers hit .391 (27-for-69) in their against Belisle. The Brewers should spot Villanueva a lead early, so he looks like a useful start looking for a win in NL-only. Don't expect a quality start to go with it though, as Villanueva is unlikely to get through six innings.
Minute Maid Park (indoor/retractable roof) 2:05 p.m. ET
Paul Maholm, LHP (10-14, 4.32 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) versus
Brandon Backe, RHP (0-1, 5.91 ERA, 1.97 WHIP)
Game Story: Assuming Maholm feels good enough to start, he is a good option for a Sunday spot start. In two starts against the Astros this season, Maholm is 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA in 15 2/3 innings. Craig Biggio should be the bright spot for the Houston offense. He is 5-for-12 (.417) against Maholm with two home runs. Backe is getting some work in with an eye to next season. After a hiatus of over a year for elbow surgery, he doesn't look like he has his breaking stuff that helped him break through in 2004-05. In his two starts this season, opponents have hit .311 off of Backe. Unless you, like the Astros, are playing for 2008, there is no reason to consider Backe. Adam LaRoche has two career hits and two career home runs against Backe.
Busch Stadium (outdoor) 2:15 p.m. ET (mostly cloudy, high of 77 degrees)
Jason Marquis, RHP (11-8, 4.17 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) versus
Mark Mulder, LHP (0-2, 12.38 ERA, 2.38 WHIP)
Game Story: Marquis has struggled in his former home stadium this season, with a 6.94 ERA in two starts at Busch. Aaron Miles, Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols (three of the few remaining healthy Cardinals) have had success against Marquis, so I wouldn't bother with him. Mulder has been throwing nothing but grapefruits this season, so get all your Cubs into the lineup. Notably, Matt Murton should get a start against Mulder based on his 6-for-15 (.400) lifetime numbers against him. Murton would replace Cliff Floyd, who is 0-for-9 versus Mulder.
Coors Field (outdoor) 3:05 p.m. ET (partly sunny, high of 86 degrees)
Scott Olsen, LHP (9-13, 5.81 ERA, 1.72 WHIP) versus
Franklin Morales, LHP (1-2, 4.84 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)
Game Story: Olsen has struggled lately and sports a 10.80 ERA in one start versus Colorado this season. It could be considered crazy to start him in Coors. Matt Holliday, Ryan Spilborghs, Todd Helton, Garrett Atkins and Troy Tulowitzki are a combined 11-for-22 (.500) against Olsen. Although Morales has the groundball-inducing ability to succeed at Coors Field, he isn't ready for fantasy baseball use yet. The Rockies haven't let him top 90 pitches, so he should get pulled before he can log a quality start.
Petco Park (outdoor) 4:05 p.m. ET (clearing, with a high of 73 degrees)
Tim Lincecum, RHP (7-4, 3.99 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) versus
Jake Peavy, RHP (17-6, 2.44 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Milton Bradley, OF (oblique, out)
Game Story: Both pitchers have pitched shutout-ball against the other team this season: Lincecum with a seven-inning gem on June 25, when he struck out eight Padres; Peavy with a six-inning effort for the season opener. The edge goes to Peavy as the Giants remain 30th in the league for OPS for the season, since the All-Star break and for September. San Diego hasn't been much better this month, sitting 24th in league OPS. Overall, don't go looking for hitters in this game and don't be surprised if we have a scoreless game going into the eighth inning.
Dodger Stadium (outdoor) 4:10 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 82 degrees)
Edgar Gonzalez, RHP (7-2, 4.76 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) versus
Esteban Loaiza, RHP (2-1, 4.32 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)
Game Story: Gonzalez looked fine in his most recent start, but that came against the lowly Giants. This time around he catches the Dodgers, to whom he has surrendered 10 runs in 10 1/3 innings this season (8.71 ERA). James Loney is a big 2-for-2 with a home run against Gonzalez, while Nomar Garciaparra is 3-for-6 with a home run and both hitters have been on tears over the previous week. Loaiza lasted just 3 and 1/3 innings in his first start at home for Los Angeles, so it's hard to find an upside to trying your luck here. Avoid him.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Aaron Laffey, SP, CLE versus Kansas City Royals
Emil Brown, OF, KC @ Cleveland Indians
Jamie Walker, RP, BAL @ Toronto Blue Jays
Maicer Izturis, SS, LAA @ Chicago White Sox
Robb Quinlan, 3B, LAA @ Chicago White Sox
Jair Jurrjens, SP, DET @ Minnesota Twins
Marcus Thames, OF/1B, DET @ Minnesota Twins
Vicente Padilla, SP, TEX @ Oakland Athletics
Marlon Byrd, OF, TEX @ Oakland Athletics
Pat Burrell, OF, PHI @ New York Mets
Abraham O. Nunez, 3B, PHI @ New York Mets
Adam Eaton, SP, PHI @ New York Mets
Moises Alou, OF, NYM versus Philadelphia Phillies
Shawn Hill, SP, WAS versus Atlanta Braves
Paul Maholm, SP, PIT @ Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B, HOU versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Matt Murton, OF, CHC @ St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan Spilborghs, OF, COL versus Florida Marlins
James Loney, 1B, LAD versus Arizona Diamondbacks
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B/3B, LAD versus Arizona Diamondbacks
Please Note that the notable injuries are not meant to be a comprehensive report of each team's disabled list. For brevity, we include only day-to-day injuries or new DL additions for players you might otherwise consider using in these games. Long-term DL or day-to-day injuries to starting pitchers who were not scheduled to appear are omitted.
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at alla_rino@TalentedMrRoto.com