College football season began Saturday night, which means a lot of sports fans are about to move their attention over to the gridiron. However, it would be a mistake to forget about baseball down the stretch. Not just for the playoff races, but for daily fantasy purposes. The weather has cooled a smidge in a lot of places, which could mean a few less homers. Although there will still be plenty, because that's how baseball works now. It's your typical Sunday in MLB, as there are 15 games on the slate and almost all of them in the afternoon. Here are my recommendations.
I'm focused on pitchers who have matchups with the worst offenses in baseball. For starters, Aaron Nola ($53) isn't going to post another 2.37 ERA, but his 3.51 ERA is plenty impressive. And he's also struck out 10.04 batters per nine innings, which represents a career high. Just as importantly, he's facing the Marlins who rank 29th in runs scored.
One of the major reasons the Indians felt like they could trade Trevor Bauer is because of the emergence of Shane Bieber ($59). As a rookie, he posted a 3.17 FIP, and has produced a 3.39 FIP in his sophomore campaign. Bieber's also a strikeout machine, averaging 11.07 K's per nine innings in 2019. Now he's facing the Royals, who rank 28th in runs scored.
Martin Perez's ($33) numbers aren't as good as Nola's or Bieber's, but I'm still throwing my recommendation behind him. His 4.60 ERA isn't terrible, and he's striking out more batters than ever before. This is mostly about the matchup, as Perez will be at home against the Tigers. Detroit owns the worst offense in the league, and it is falling further and further behind the Marlins. Any matchup with the Tigers is worth considering.
Since finally getting a starting gig with the Mariners, Marco Gonzales ($34) has been underrated. He recorded a 3.37 FIP last year, and his FIP this season sits at an impressive 3.95. The Blue Jays rank 20th in runs scored, but they've also played as many games as any team in the majors. So, on a per-game basis, they rank a little worse than that. They also comes in with a .237 team batting average, which is tied with the Tigers for lowest in the league.
Nolan Arenado ($20) is an elite hitter, but a lot of people only think of him as a product of Coors. When the Rockies are on the road, fantasy players are less likely to think about putting him in their lineup. That's a mistake. The third baseman boasts a .510 slugging percentage away from home, and he's hit as many homers away from Coors as he does in his home ballpark with 16 in each situation. And St. Louis' Michael Wacha enters with a 5.79 FIP, so Arenado may not even need Coors to post a big day.
Carlos Santana ($24) is having a career year at 33. His slash line of .289/.410/.544 all represent personal bests, along with his 30 home runs. The Royals have called up Eric Skoglund from Triple-A for his first start of the season. I can see why they wanted to wait so long to give him a shot, as his career ERA sits at 6.03.
Willy Adames ($18) has had a weird season. He's been awful against lefties and at home, but he's hitting righties well and looked great on the road. Seriously, he's registered a .934 OPS in away games compared to a .495 OPS at home. This game is on the road, and the pitcher starting for the Orioles is a righty. Not only that, it's Dylan Bundy, who has struggled to a 5.16 ERA at home.
Daniel Vogelbach ($15) doesn't make a ton of contact with a .219 batting average, but when he does the ball tends to go a long way. He's crushed 28 homers, and the hefty hitter has been mashing right-handed pitchers in 2019 with a .913 OPS versus righties this season. Clay Buchholz was pitching poorly to start the year, putting up a 6.57 ERA in five starts. Then he got hurt, so Buchholz will be making his first start since May due to his shoulder injury.
Astros vs. Jaime Barria (Angels)
Barria's numbers have fallen off a cliff this season. He's looked awful with a 6.35 ERA, but somehow has been even worse on the road with a 9.00 mark. The 23-year old has also given up 2.38 homers per nine innings. For whatever reason, the Angels have decided to give Barria a start against the juggernaut offense of the Astros, and on the road to boot.
Altuve got off to a slow start by his standards, but now his batting average is back up to .303. He's on pace to exceed .300 for the sixth-straight season. The diminutive second baseman is also one of the many hitters enjoying the power surge with 23 homers, one behind his current career-high.
Brantley isn't going to want the month of August to end, as he's posted a 1.129 OPS. That's not to say he was a slouch before that, especially against righties. The southpaw slugger has registered a .971 OPS versus right-handed pitchers. He also has an .837 OPS against lefties, so he should still be fine once this game gets to the bullpen.
Alvarez possesses insane power. He may be a rookie who already is locked into being a designated hitter, but he's more than capable of handling the "hitter" part of that moniker. The dude has managed a .683 slugging percentage to go with 19 homers in only 58 games. Like I mentioned earlier, Barria has allowed 2.38 homers per nine innings. That could make for quite the explosive combination.
Rangers vs. Reynaldo Lopez (White Sox)
It appeared as though Lopez was making strides last season when he posted a 3.91 ERA. However, that number was hurt by a 4.57 FIP. The White Sox hurler has regressed to a 5.04 FIP, and he's given up 1.65 home runs per nine innings. Since he's a righty, I've recommended a couple lefties, and also a guy who is a switch hitter. Texas is a very hitter-friendly park, but that doesn't mean the team doesn't also roll out guys who can rake on the road.
Hitting 20 home runs as a 37-year old is fairly impressive of Choo. What's even more impressive is that he's also stolen 11 bases. That's rare for a DH, but the Korean slugger gets on base so often he accumulates plenty of opportunities. Choo has a .371 OBP, which is in line with his career number of .378.
As a rookie in 2014, Santana posted a .319 batting average and stole 20 bases. He wasn't able to replicate that success as he bounced around the majors, but has landed on the Rangers and finally tapped into that potential from his debut campaign. The 13 stolen bases are to be expected, but Santana represents one of those hitters who suddenly find themselves with power. He's hit 22 homers, which is more than his career total before this year. His BABIP is also quite high, but the power is real.
Weirdly for a lefty, Calhoun has hit better against left-handed pitchers - at least based on OPS. However, that figure was achieved in only 59 at-bats, and I'm not going to complain about the 24-year-old being able to hit his fellow southpaws. It'd be nice if he walked more, but Calhoun sports a .292 batting average to go with a .579 slugging percentage.