As we approach the end of the first half, the folks that make the MLB schedule are treating us to some fantastic match-ups from which to build your daily fantasy baseball salary cap teams. We’ve got some great division rivalries, strong pitching match-ups and plenty of hitters in some favorable situations. Here’s a look at the data from some of the games you’ll want to check out before making your final decisions.
Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (7:05pm ET)
Braves starter Tim Hudson is coming off one of his worst starts of the season, giving up five runs over six innings of work. But he’s maintained a 3.57 ERA over his last eight starts against the Phillies and holds the hot-hitting Carlos Ruiz to just a .259 average. Ruiz does, however, have two home runs in 27 at-bats against him. Also keep an eye on table-setter Juan Pierre who is batting .308 against Hudson over 27 trips to the plate. The Phillies will send right-hander Kyle Kendrick, he of the 5.54 home ERA, to the hill to try and contain a very hit-hitting Braves lineup that features the likes of switch-hitter Chipper Jones who is batting .333 with two home runs and three doubles over 21 at-bats and right-hander Martin Prado who is 7-for-12 (.583) with one home run off the young righty.
New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox (7:10pm ET)
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The rivalry of all rivalries starts up again with veteran right-hander Josh Beckett on the hill facing an always potent Yankees lineup. He’s improved a bit recently, posting a 3.43 ERA for the month of June, but will definitely have his hands full with the likes of Robinson Cano who is batting .324 with three home runs and nine doubles over 71 at-bats. Righty Derek Jeter also does some damage against Beckett, batting .296 with two home runs and two doubles over 81 at-bats against the right-hander. For the Yankees, it’s veteran righty Hiroki Kuroda who will be facing a number of former National League foes such as Adrian Gonzalez who is batting .261 with two home runs and three doubles over 23 at-bats against Kuroda. Also watch for Cody Ross who might only be batting .263, but has a home run and two doubles of his own over 19 trips top the plate.
Chicago Cubs at New York Mets (7:10pm ET)
Since joining the Cubs rotation, Travis Wood has maintained a 3.05 ERA and is holding the opposition to a .206 average and has an even better 2.66 ERA on the road this year. That should make for a tough match-up for Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy who is hot right now, batting .478 with a home run, four doubles and a triple over his last 23 at-bats but is hitting just .252 against southpaws this year. But watch for Ruben Tejada who is batting .480 with two doubles over his last 25 at-bats and is hitting a robust .394 against lefties this year. Veteran lefty Johan Santana is on the hill for the Mets after having already held these Cubs to two runs over six innings earlier this season. He does a great job holding Alfonso Soriano to a .125 average over 16 at-bats, but look for Reed Johnson to get the start as he is hitting .464 against Santana with a home run, a double and a triple over 25 at-bats.
Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers (8:05pm ET)
With a rash of injuries to the pitching staff, the Rangers were forced to turn to rookie left-hander Martin Perez who was holding lefties to a .225 average down in the minors before he was recalled. However, his ERA against righties was a 5.87 which doesn’t bode well for him against the likes of Josh Willingham who may only be batting .240 over his last 25 at-bats, but has three home runs and 10 RBI. Right-hander Brian Dozier may only be hitting .235 on the year, but he’s currently batting .375 with one triple over his last 24 at-bats. The Twins will turn the ball over to lefty Francisco Liriano who does a great job against Josh Hamilton (.200) and Michael Young (.231), but watch out for Adrian Beltre who is batting .280 against him with a home run and two doubles over 25 at-bats.
Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox (8:10pm ET)
Not only is Jake Peavy enjoying a renaissance season that has him at six wins and a 2.96 ERA, but he is killing right-handed batter and holding them to a .163. That doesn’t bode too well for Jose Bautista who has just one hit in 12 trips to the plate against the veteran right-hander or Edwin Encarnacion who is batting .182 with one double against him. The Jays will counter with left-hander Aaron Laffey who has now made two starts for the Jays and given up just two earned runs over 12 innings. He’s holding right-handed hitters to a .167 average this season, but Paul Konerko seems a few ticks better with a .278 average over 18 at-bats against Laffey. Alexei Ramirez, another right-hander, is batting .333 against him with one double over 12 at-bats.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (9:40pm ET)
Lefty or righty, home or away, it doesn’t seem to matter as Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw dominates everyone, it seems. He’s sporting a 2.65 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 115.1 innings and he’s holding the opposition to a .219 batting average. Division rival Arizona knows him all too well, but no matter how many times they see him, the results are usually the same. Right-hander Justin Upton has just one hit in 21 at-bats (.048) against him while lefty catcher Miguel Montero is batting just .143 with a double over 14 trips to the plate. Arizona will go with right-hander Josh Collmenter who recently returned to the rotation with a six inning, one -run performance. However, he still has a 5.52 ERA at home and lefties are crushing him with a .347 average. That should make James Loney an interesting choice as he is batting .353 over his last 17 at-bats.
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.