The first half is coming to a close this weekend, so there are plenty of guys out there trying to finish on a high note. Both pitchers and hitters alike, everyone wants to come up big in the end and that’s what you’re looking for when making selections for your daily fantasy baseball salary cap team. Here’s a look at some of the games and match-ups you might want to check out before making your final decisions.
Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers (7:15pm ET)
Twenty-nine year old right-hander Sam Deduno makes his major league debut for the Twins here after getting a surprise call-up. He posted a 1.03 ERA over his last five Triple-A starts and notched 33 strikeouts over 26 innings. He’s exhibited some command issues and had 14 walks in that time as well, but he’s been holding lefties to a .150 batting average down on the farm. That should make for an interesting match-up with Josh Hamilton who is batting .316 with two home runs over his last 19 at-bats. On the hill for the Rangers is left-hander Derek Holland who is making his first start since going on the disabled list on June 5 with a should issue. He’s been getting beaten up in his last two rehab starts, so that might be a concern, as well as the fact that he’s given up nine of his 11 home runs to right-handed batters and Trevor Plouffe is batting .333 with four home runs and eight RBI over his last seven games. Josh Willingham is also batting .286 with three home runs over his last six games.
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New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox (7:15pm ET)
This will be the second game of a doubleheader so everyone will be primed and ready to go. The Yankees are going with veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia who got battered for five earned runs over just 1.2 innings earlier this season. David Ortiz recently connected for his 400th career home run and had he not done it then, he was sure to do it here. Big Papi is batting .300 against Garcia with two home runs and five doubles over 40 at-bats. You might find a hidden gem in Mike Aviles who is batting a colossal .563 with one home run over 16 at-bats opposite Garcia. On the mound for the Sox will be lefty Felix Doubront who held the Yankees to one run over six innings earlier in the year. Right-handed hitters are batting .270 against him, so watch for Derek Jeter who is batting .292 with four doubles over his last 24 at-bats. Switch-hitter Mark Teixeira steps in from the right side of the plate on Doubront and has hit pay-dirt once before with a monster home run yanked to left field.
Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (7:15pm ET)
Right-hander Tommy Hanson takes his nine wins and 3.70 ERA to the City of Brotherly Love to face a Phillies club that smacked him around for four runs over 3.2 innings the last time they faced each other. Lefties are batting .297 against him this year which should be an interesting match-up as the Phils have just gotten back lefty sluggers Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. What should also be interesting is the fact that Hanson is holding righties to a measly .212 average this season, but Hunter Pence is killing it right now with a .417 average and two home runs over his last 24 at-bats. Veteran right-hander Joe Blanton is on the hill for the Phillies which could mean it’s time to get some Braves into your daily lineup. Last time they faced, Blanton pitched a complete-game shutout. What are the chances of him doing that twice in a row? Chipper Jones is batting .350 with a home run and a double over 20 at-bats against Blanton and while Brian McCann has been struggling this season, he is still batting .381 with two home runs over 21 at-bats against Blanton, so maybe this is what he needs to get off the schnide.
Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels (10:05pm ET)
Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel has made the voters look genius for snubbing him for the All Star Game recently as he’s coughed up 12 runs over his last 10 innings (two starts). The fact that he’s holding lefties to a .201 average would be great had he not been facing a predominantly right-handed lineup in the Angels. Right-handers are batting .263 against Hammel and Mike Trout is batting .375 with two home runs, one double and five stolen bases over his last 24 at-bats so that might be rough in his bid to prove he is all-star worthy. And who woke up Howard Kendrick? The right-handed second baseman is batting .421 with one home run over his last 19 at-bats. The Angles will go with their ace right-hander Jered Weaver on the hill with his 2.13 ERA and .194 batting average against. But newest Oriole and left-handed slugger Jim Thome is batting .286 with two extra-base hits against Weaver over 14 at-bats while right-hander Adam Jones is batting .364 with a double and a triple over 11 at-bats against him.
Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres (10:05pm ET)
Reds right-hander Homer Bailey is coming off one of his better starts, but holding the Dodgers to two runs over eight innings isn’t really all that tough a feat anymore for major league pitchers. Pitching in pitcher-friendly Petco Park is always a bonus, but Bailey has given up 11 of his 15 home runs to right-handed batters this year and Cameron Maybin is batting .429 with two walks against Bailey over nine plate appearances. Right-handed Chris Denorfia should get an opportunity here as he is batting .286 against right-handers and is killing it lately with a .588 average and two doubles over his last 17 at-bats. On the hill for San Diego is left-hander Clayton Richard who owns a 2.91 ERA at home and is holding left-handed hitters to a .194 average this season. However, righties are batting .267 against him so keep an eye on Todd Frazier who is batting .333 with a home run and a triple over his last 21 at-bats. Also Brandon Phillips who is batting .444 against Richard with a home run over a dozen plate appearances.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (10:10pm ET)
The last time right-hander Chad Billingsley faced the Diamondbacks, he gave up four runs off eight hits and two walks over just four innings. Opponents are batting a combined .273 against him and lefties and righties are pretty even actually. Watch for Miguel Montero who is batting .343 with a home run, three doubles and two triples off him over 35 at-bats, as well as the recently returned Stephen Drew who has a career .364 average against Billingsley with a home run, five doubles and a triple in 61 total plate appearances. The Diamondbacks will send right-handed, ground ball specialist Trevor Cahill to the mound to face a Dodgers lineup decimated by injuries. No Matt Kemp, no Andre Ethier and no Dee Gordon. Just a .130-hitting Bobby Abreu and .067-batting Juan Rivera (against Cahill, that is) to try and pick up what’s left of the Dodgers’ dignity.
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 email@example.com.