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A little more thna a week ago I made a trip to watch an NL East battle as the Mets visited the Phillies. In addition to tailgating and availing ourselves of the pre-game rib cooking contest in the parking lot, my friends and I got to see a great baseball game. During the game my friend Gustav and I had a conversation about how in baseball, as in life, it's the small moments that often have the biggest impact. And as if almost on cue, Jayson Werth proceeded to get thrown out at third base on a ball hit in front of him, a cardinal sin, which helped the Mets take one on the road. Fantasy baseball is much the same way. It's the little decisions (giving the wrong starter a turn in your rotation, missing out on a last minute lineup switch) that can ultimately make or break your season. With the season heading down the home stretch, it's absolutely crucial you make the right call each and every week.
One outstanding decision I made was staying up long enough to discover south Jersey's finest television show, The Dance Connection Old School Line Dance Show, featuring this week's musical guest, Kool Moe Dee. So join us as we help you exploit this week's matchups.
Jason Hammel @ LAD: Hammel's 12.1 innings at Dodger Stadium have gone very well. He's allowed one earned run (0.75 ERA), eight hits/zero walks (0.67 walks plus hits per innings pitched), a .190 batting average against, and nine strikeouts. Overall against the Dodgers Hammel has pitched in five games (two starts) and the numbers are solid: 2.25 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .237 BAA, and 15 Ks/three BBs. Another thing in Hammel's favor is that he faces Hiroki Kuroda, whom we'll deal with in a minute.
Tim Hudson vs. WAS: Automatic is the best word to describe Hudson against the Nationals. In 16 career starts against Washington, Hudson is 10-1 with a 1.49 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .225 BAA, and a 4.15 strikeout to walk ratio. Hudson's 6.5 K/9 isn't great, but it is his best against any opponent with at least 120 IP. In his three starts against the Nats this season, Hudson is 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA, 17 Ks/four BBs, and a 0.97 WHIP. I see no reason why Hudson doesn't continue his DC dominance.
Clayton Kershaw vs. COL, vs. CIN: The Dodgers' lefty gets the nod as my first two-start pitcher of the week thanks to his two home starts. Kershaw's home winning percentage (.667), WHIP (1.12), BAA (.206), and K/9 (10.2) are all outstanding, and I expect that trend to continue when the Rockies hit town. In two starts against Colorado this year, Kershaw is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA (two ERs in 13 IP), 18 Ks/seven BBs, and only six hits allowed. Next up is the Reds, against whom Kershaw is 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA (three ERs in 14.1 IP), 0.98 WHIP (11 hits/three BBs), a .212 BAA, and 15 Ks in two career starts.
Roy Oswalt vs. SF, vs. WAS: Sure, Oswalt is 0-3 against San Francisco this season, but that's not his fault. His 3.15 ERA, .268 BAA, 1.10 WHIP, and 15 Ks/three BBs indicate he's pitched well enough to win, and now that he's with a much more explosive offensive team, expect him to get the run support he needs. The Nationals on the other hand have knocked Oswalt around pretty good this year, handing him two losses. The Nats have lit Roy up for 11 hits and eight ERs in 8.1 IP. Oswalt's career numbers against Washington are pretty solid (3.72 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, .226 BAA) which leads me to believe this season has been an anomaly, not a trend. Expect Oswalt to get back on track and secure his second victory of the week.
Adam Wainwright vs. MIL: I know that Wainwright is pretty much a no-brainer start, but he's so good against Milwaukee I just had to write about him. In 10 career games (seven starts) against the Brewers Wainwright is 7-3 with a 1.94 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, and a .190 BAA. This season Wainwright has held the Brew Crew to one ER in 18 IP (0.50 ERA) with 17 Ks/one BB. It's possible Wainwright may get a second start this week against San Francisco, and although he hasn't had the same level of success against the Giants as he's had against the Brewers, he's basically unbeatable at home this year, so make absolutely certain he's in your lineup if he gets the second start.
Bad, Bad, Bad
Kevin Correia @ CHC, @ MIL: My two-start sit of the week leaves the home ballpark where his ERA, WHIP, BAA, K/9, and K/BB are all better than they are on the road. Correia has struggled in 5.2 IP at Wrigley Field, surrendering 12 hits (.424 BAA), 11 ERs (17.47 ERA), and four Ks/six BBs. In seven total games against the Cubs things aren't much better (0-2, 7.50 ERA, 1.94 WHIP. 0.77 K/BB, .306 BAA). Matters may improve when Correia visits Milwaukee, but not by much. In eight games at Miller Park (two starts), Correia is 1-1 with a decent 3.86 ERA, but his 1.48 WHIP troubles me. Overall against the Brewers he's 2-2 in 12 games (five starts) with a 4.30 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Best to leave Correia on your bench until he's back in the friendly confines of Petco Park.
Jorge De La Rosa @ LAD: The Dodgers have made a habit out of knocking De La Rosa around. In 11 games (seven starts) against L.A. the Rockies' hurler is 0-5 with a 6.58 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, and a .315 BAA. Complicating matters is the fact that the game is on the road, where De La Rosa has struggled this year. In four road starts he's compiled a 6.86 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, and 19 Ks/16 BBs.
Livan Hernandez @ ATL: Livan has the misfortune of going against the aforementioned Hudson, which is one strike against him. His 14-game sample at Turner Field (3-7, 5.30 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 1.39 K/BB, .307 BAA) is another. Livan has been pretty good against Atlanta this season, with a 1-1 record, a 3.72 ERA (four ERs in 9.2 IP), but his four Ks/seven BBs is a bad sign. He's due for a drubbing at the hands of the Braves, and this is the week he gets what's coming.
Hiroki Kuroda vs. COL: Kuroda has been flat-out dreadful against the Rockies. In five career starts (three at home) he's 0-3 with a 7.57 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 4.3 K/9, 1.3 K/BB, and a .364 BAA. In 9.1 IP against Colorado over two starts this season Kuroda has allowed 19 hits and nine ERs with six BBs against only four Ks.
Jason Marquis @ PHI: It's been a rough go for Marquis against the Phillies throughout his career. In 21 career games (14 stats) Marquis is 5-5 with a 5.21 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 5.0 K/9, and a 0.86 K/9. In four starts at Citizens Bank Park Marquis is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA (14 ER in 18.2 IP), 2.04 WHIP, and a disastrous nine Ks/16 BBs. Marquis' only start in Philly this year was a 4.1 inning stinker that ended after he allowed six hits, six ERs, and two BBs (one K).
There are a lot of one-start options this week, while double threats are few and far between.
Clayton Kershaw 8/17 vs. COL; 8/22 vs. CINRicky Nolasco 8/17 @ PIT; 8/22 vs. HOURoy Oswalt 8/17 vs. SF; 8/22 vs. WASJohan Santana 8/17 @ HOU; 8/22 @ PIT
How ya like me now:
Bronson Arroyo 8/17 @ ARZ; 8/22 @ LADChad Billingsley 8/16 @ ATL; 8/21 vs. CINJon Garland 8/17 @ CHC; 8/22 @ MILTom Gorzelanny 8/16 vs. SD; 8/21 vs. ATLTommy Hanson 8/17 vs. WAS; 8/22 @ CHCDaniel Hudson 8/17 vs. CIN; 8/22 vs. COLJair Jurrjens 8/16 vs. LAD; 8/21 @ CHCJonathon Niese 8/16 @ HOU; 8/21 @ PITWandy Rodriguez 8/17 vs. NYM; 8/22 @ FLAChris Volstad 8/16 @ PIT; 8/21 vs. HOUBarry Zito 8/17 @ PHI; 8/22 @ STL
Kevin Correia 8/16 @ CHC; 8/21 @ MILZach Duke 8/17 vs. FLA; 8/22 vs. NYMJeff Francis 8/17 @ LAD; 8/22 @ ARZJ.A. Happ 8/16 vs. NYM; 8/21 @ FLAJames McDonald 8/16 vs. FLA; 8/21 vs. NYMScott Olsen 8/17 @ ATL; 8/22 @ PHIRandy Wells 8/17 vs. SD; 8/22 vs. ATL
I'm Hittin' Hard
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, vs. FLA, vs. NYM: It's not just the blind optimism of a long-suffering Buccos fan that has me on the Alvarez bandwagon; the guy has all the ability in the world. However, as a young player, it's not strange to see him doing his best work at his home park. In 25 home games Alvarez is hitting .387 with nine HRs and 24 RBIs, whereas in 24 road games he's hitting .183 with one HR and eight RBIs. New York and Florida are two average road staffs, so the young slugger should get plenty of good pitches to hit. I think he will make the most of his opportunities and continue his current hot streak.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, @ CHC, @ MIL: When the Padres hit the road, run don't walk, to get Gonzalez into your lineup. Gonzales is hitting .045 points higher on the road, his OPS improves by .143 points, and he has six more HRs and 11 more RBIs in one fewer game than he's played at home. Sweetening the deal is the fact that Gonzalez dominates in both his opponents' ballparks. In 15 games at Wrigley Field, Gonzalez is hitting .322 with a .394 OBP, 1.14 on-base plus slugging, six HRs, 13 RBIs, five doubles, one triple, and 13 runs. In 15 games at Miller Park, Gonzo is hitting an outrageous .450 with a .514 OBP, 1.31 OPS, five HRs, 16 RBIs, six doubles, and 20 runs. He hasn't faced the Cubs or Brewers yet this year, but last season he went a combined 16-for-26 (.615) in their parks.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, @ LAD, @ ARZ: Just because Gonzalez is away from Coors Field don't feel like he won't deliver outstanding fantasy numbers. In 14 games against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks this season, Gonzalez is 23-for-52 (.442) with six HRs and 22 RBIs. Five of those games were played on the road, and Gonzalez is 8-for-22 (.364) with one HR and eight RBIs in those contests. Overall, Gonzalez has been a more productive hitter at home this year, but based on his recent play (11 hits, two HRs, five RBIs, three SBs, six runs in his last six games) and his success in Los Angeles and Arizona, fantasy owners are advised to keep him in the lineup.
Kelly Johnson, 2B, vs. CIN, vs. COL: The desert certainly agrees with Johnson; his 2010 splits strongly favor his home ballpark. At home Johnson's batting average improves by .076 points, while his power numbers also spike, evidenced by his 1.010 home vs. .705 road OPS. This week Johnson welcomes two teams he's had great success against, starting with the Reds, against whom he's compiled a .313 BA, .400 OPB, and .921 OPS in 27 games. Next up is the Rockies, whom Johnson has a .306 BA, .425 OPB, .935 OPS and a very impressive 21 BBs/17 Ks.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, @ LAD, @ ARZ: Another Rockies road warrior gets the nod this week. Tulowitzki hasn't had the same level of success in Los Angeles and Arizona his aforementioned teammate has, but there are other arguments to be made. First, Tulowitzki's 2010 splits favor his play on the road. Second, August is typically his best month. Third, he's been red-hot lately (.383 BA, .418 OBP, .935 OPS, 12 RBIs in his last 15 games). Tulowitzki is 4-for-7 with five BBs/one K in three games at Dodger Stadium this year and has one HR, two RBIs and three SBs in three games at Chase Field.
Jason Heyward, OF, vs. LAD, vs. WAS, @ CHC: We're starting to see a bit of the rookie wall with Heyward, who's been limited by a sore knee. He's been absolutely awful in August (.167 BA, one HR, one RBI in nine games). Heyward has been decent against this week's three opponents (9-for-42, two HRs, nine RBIs in 13 games), but nothing special, and I'm not holding out much hope for him.
Matt Kemp, OF, @ ATL, vs. COL, vs. CIN: Kemp has two tough series this week, in addition to one straggler road game. The Reds have the best road pitching staff in the National League in terms of ERA and BAA, and the Rockies are in the top half of the league as well. Kemp has played better at home this season, however, his historically superior road performance indicates things are about to even out, and my guess is that starts this week. Despite solid career numbers against both Colorado and Cincinnati, his recent struggles and the fact that he's given way to Jay Gibbons in two of the last three games concerns me.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, vs. CIN, vs. COL: First I recommend starting the guy who replaced his brother, now I'm suggesting sitting him. Tough week for the LaRoches. LaRoche has the same matchups Kemp does (just reversed and without the Braves), so we know he's got some tough road pitching to contend with. LaRoche's career numbers against the Reds (.241 BA, .313 OBP, .737 OPS in 55 games) and Rockies (.259 BA, .338 OBP, .791 OPS in 42 games) are nothing special, so I think he's due to cool off.
Ian Stewart, 2B/3B, @ LAD, @ ARZ: My recommendation to bench Stewart this week comes down to one metric; K/BB ratio. In 36 combined games at Dodger Stadium and Chase Field, Stewart has struck out 46 times with only nine walks. That's not good, and his other numbers aren't great either. In 18 games in Los Angeles Stewart has a .265 BA/.367 OBP/ .897 OPS stat line; that's not terrible, but his 22Ks/seven BBs concern me. In Arizona his line is worse: .235 BA/.273 OPS/.704 OPS, and 24Ks/two BBs (18 games).
Juan Uribe, 2B/3B/SS, @ PHI, @ STL: The Cardinals (second in home ERA) and Phillies (fourth in home BAA) have solid staffs who excel in their home ballparks, which is a bad sign for Uribe, who is hitting much better in his own park this year. Uribe has had some success at Citizens Bank Park (six games, .300 BA, .391 OPS), but he's due to come back to Earth. Uribe is only 3-for-16 (.188) with no walks in four games in St. Louis, and I expect more of the same this week.
Need a little bullpen help but find all the closers already taken in your league? Here are a few set-up men, owned in less than 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues, who can lend a helping hand.
Do You Know What Time It Is
Hong-Chih Kuo, LAD: 17 Holds, 0.90 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 11.03 K/9 (18 percent)Clay Hensley, FLA: 18 Holds, 2.73 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9.91 K/9 (three percent)Kyle McClellan, STL: 15 Holds, 1.96 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 7.36 K/9 (three percent)Arthur Rhodes, CIN: 21 Holds, 1.42 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 7.71 K/9 (13 percent owned)Jonny Venters, ATL: 18 Holds, 1.07 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 9.51 K/9 (11 percent)
* All stats through 8/12/10.
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