Normally Thursday would be a short slate of games, but after interleague, we get treated to nearly a full slate every day this week. There are some fantastic options today for your daily fantasy baseball salary cap teams, from outstanding pitching match-ups to low-cost 2012 debuting players to heavy hitters in parks that play to power. Here’s a look at some of the data you’ll want to know before making your final decisions.
Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies (1:05pm ET)
Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick has been getting banged around lately, sporting an 8.10 ERA over his last four starts. That doesn’t bode too well when Clint Barmes is batting .333 through nine at-bats against him or Andrew McCutchen who is not only batting .300 over 10 at-bats against Kendrick but is also currently hitting .423 with one home run, three doubles and a triple over his last 26 at-bats overall. On the hill for the Pirates will be right-hander A.J. Burnett who is very much enjoying his time away from New York. He’s got a 1.80 ERA over his last three starts and is holding the opposition to a .235 average. Juan Pierre still sets the table nicely against Burnett, though, as he is batting .300 with three doubles off Burnett through 20 at-bats. Meanwhile, Jimmy Rollins is only batting .256 against him with one home run and three doubles through 43 at-bats.
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Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays (7:07pm ET)
The Blue Jays have had some serious problems with the health of their pitchers and were forced to call up southpaw Brett Cecil from the minors. He’s been around before, so it’s not like this was a debut or anything, and he’s 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA over two starts now. Perhaps he’s been in the minors because he lets hitters like Alberto Callaspo bat .417 against him with one double through 12 at-bats. Or Howie Kendrick hitting .286 with a home run and a double over 14 at-bats. For the Angels, Dan Haren, who’s given up 10 earned runs over his last two starts (11.1 IP) could be in for a long day facing the likes of Edwin Encarnacion who is batting .350 with two home runs over 20 at-bats against him. Look into recently-recalled Adam Lind and see if he gets the start. He’s 3-for-10 (.300) with one home run in his career against Haren.
Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays (7:10pm ET)
After getting hit around for a few games, Detroit righty Max Scherzer has settled down and actually has a 1.93 ERA over his last two starts. Over his last two starts at Tropicana Field, though, Scherzer has a 4.22 ERA, allowing six runs through just 10.2 innings. Jeff Keppinger has only faced Scherzer four times but has one hit which is a home run. Couple that with the fact that he’s hitting .500 with one double over his 16 at-bats and you could have a nice sleeper who covers a few positions. The Rays will go with James Shields who has already beaten these Tigers this year, holding them to two runs over eight innings. But there are two guys in particular that love facing Shields, and that’s Miguel Cabrera — .455 with one home run and four doubles through 22 at-bats — and Jhonny Peralta who is batting .474 with three home runs and a double over 20 trips to the plate.
Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves (7:10pm ET)
Welcome to the debut of the next big pitching phenom! Yup, that’s right…the long awaited debut of right-hander Trevor Bauer. Comparisons have been made to Tim Lincecum and the #3 overall pick in the 2011 draft is known for big strikeout numbers. This season, between Double and Triple-A, he’s compiled an 11-1 record with a 2.23 ERA and 116 strikeouts over 93 innings. Since he’s been in Triple-A, he’s got a 1.93 ERA against left-handed hitters, so look for a big match-up with the red-hot Jason Heyward who is batting .550 with three home runs and three doubles over his last 20 at-bats. The Braves will send right-hander Jair Jurrjens to the mound and see if he can duplicate his great start last week again here. He’ll have to contend with newly activated Stephen Drew who is hitting .385 with two doubles and a triple over 13 at-bats and Chris Young who is actually hitting just .200 in his career against Jurrjens but with a home run and a double.
New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers (10:10pm ET)
Chris Capuano is having a great year for the Dodgers with nine wins, a 2.60 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 93.1 innings this year. He’s holding righties to a .215 average and has a 1.57 ERA at home. But before you go writing off the Mets, realize that right-handed Davis Wright is batting .333 with a home run and a double through 12 at-bats against Capuano while lefty Ike Davis, who has yet to face the Dodgers lefty, is batting .273 with three home runs and eight RBI over his last five games. To counter, the Mets will send right-hander Chris Young to the mound who might actually catch a break with Andre Ethier (.414 with 6 HR vs Young) questionable for the game with a sore oblique. But look for James Loney in the lineup as he is batting .353 with two doubles over 17 at-bats.
Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco Giants (10:15pm ET)
Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner is having another fine season, but he runs into a tough opponent for him. In three starts against the Reds, Bumgarner has an ERA of 8.56 and hasn’t made it past the sixth inning in any one of them. Joey Votto is batting .375 with one home run over eight plate appearances while Brandon Phillips has an even more impressive .429 mark against Bumgarner, although no extra-base hits. On the hill for the Reds is righty Johnny Cueto and while he too is enjoying a fine season (9-3; 2.21), the Giants pose as much of a problem for him as the Reds do Bumgarner. Ryan Theriot looks like a good sleeper play, batting .325 with a home run and three doubles over 40 at-bats against Cueto and Angel Pagan is batting .316 against righties this year and has three hits in five at-bats against Cueto.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites, including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for direct questions or comments you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.