I hope everyone enjoyed Monday's picks. The real stars of the show weren't the hitters, but the pitchers. The three mentioned as potential spot starts: Brett Myers, Clayton Richard, and Mike Pelfrey, all had solid outings. They combined for three wins, a complete game, 18 strikeouts, and a microscopic ERA of 1.64!
Hopefully all the readers in head-to-head leagues started the week off just as good as those pitchers did. Now it's time to start the end of the final regular-season week with just as much success:
- The final game of the final series to be played by the Boston Red Sox in "the house that Ruth built" starts at 1:05 EDT. Jon Lester (12-5, 3.49) will be taking on Mike Mussina (16-7, 3.45). Sorry Red Sox fans, I'm going to have to side with Mike Mussina and the New York Yankees. I expect them to close out the 85-year-old stadium with a victory versus the divisional rivals. Not only do I expect C Jose Molina to call a great game for "Moose," I also expect him to contribute with the bat. He's 3-for-5 over his career against Lester.
- The only other day game dwarfs in comparison. We'll see Cincinnati's Aaron Harang (4-13, 5.35) take on Houston's Brandon Backe (8-12, 5.54). This goes down as the only game of the day where both starters sport an ERA greater than five. Try 2B/3B/SS Geoff Blum as a spot start, as he is 5-for-9 with a HR and two RBI against Harang.
- The night starts off in Hotlanta. I like Anibal Sanchez (2-2, 3.99) a lot in this game. Even though the major markets of New York and Philadelphia are hogging all the media attention, Florida is still alive in the NL East. The competition will be putting Charlie Morton (3-8, 6.39) on the mound. He's easily countered by two lefty batters, who are available in several leagues down the stretch. 1B Mike Jacobs and C John Baker are a combined 2-for-4, with a HR and three RBI, against the struggling right-hander.
- Clayton Kershaw will be facing the Nationals and 3B Ryan Zimmerman. A career .316 hitter against lefties, Ryan has gone 1-for-3 with a steal his previous time versus Kershaw. Opposing the Dodgers will be John Lannan (7-12, 3.95). Look for 1B/3B/SS Nomar Garciaparra on the waiver wire, as he is hitting .300 this season against lefties. His prior experience against Lannan is no different, 1-for-3 with two RBI.
- The Toronto Blue Jays are going to give John Parrish (1-0, 4.05) another shot. He's been bouncing around between AAA and the majors, and he's back up again. He'll be facing a team challenging for the best record in baseball, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Look to OF Rocco Baldelli, flying under the radar in many leagues, as he's actually played a crucial role in the Rays' offense, not missing a beat with Carl Crawford injured. A career .299 hitter against left-handed pitching, Rocco is also 2-for-4 with two BB against Parrish; he might even be due for his first stolen base of the season. He'll look to help Edwin Jackson (10-8, 3.93) get his 11th victory of the season. Edwin has been helping himself of late, winning five of his past six games on the mound. Another great spot-start opportunity if you believe that Tampa Bay is legitimate.
- The next game looks like a pitching duel, at least on paper. Cole Hamels (11-8, 3.20) of Philadelphia taking on the Chicago Cubs and Ryan Dempster (15-5, 2.85). Philadelphia needs this game more than Chicago. Hamels is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts versus the Cubs, and I am fully expecting his adrenaline to kick in here and help the Phillies to victory in what may go down as a one-run victory.
- There are pitching duels, and then there are slugfests. Texas and Brandon McCarthy (0-0, 2.25) will be in Anaheim to face the Angels and Jon Garland (11-8, 4.49). McCarthy simply doesn't have the endurance to outlast a beat-up Rangers' bullpen, and Jon Garland is probably not looking forward to facing the best offense in baseball. How about giving OF Nelson Cruz a try? While he has struggled in past call-ups to the bigs, this time might be different. Not only does he have a chip on his shoulder, since no one claimed him off of waivers, he just flat-out smashed the competition in AAA. In 103 games and 383 at-bats, Cruz batted .342 with 37 HR and 99 RBI, not to mention his speed of 24 stolen bases. He's seen Garland three times, and has one hit. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a couple more on Thursday night. His story might not be as interesting, but there's also OF Marlon Byrd. Byrd is 3-for-5 against Garland and has hit safely in 19 out of 24 games so far this month.
- To cap off the night, Minnesota will put one of their control specialists on the mound, Nick Blackburn (9-8, 3.78). OF Jack Cust will swing at anything and could eventually challenge the single-season strikeout record. For some reason, I like him Thursday night. He's 2-for-3 with a double against Blackburn, and if Cust connects, he could very well give the hometown fans something to cheer about. Dana Eveland (8-8, 4.30) will be taking the mound for Oakland, and he has the potential to pitch well. His claim to fame this season was a complete game against Tampa Bay back in May, where the Devil Rays were held to just three hits. He could do it again, and I'm sure the scouts will be keeping an eye on him as Oakland is waist deep in pitching talent.
Best of luck everyone!
Shaun Copsey currently manages seven fantasy baseball teams, one in fourth, two in third, one in second, and the final three occupying first place.