Splitsville: More in store from Infante?
Omar Infante's improbable season will likely continue in Fantasy Week 22, at least if the splits have anything to say about it. Our Jeff Lippman touches on that and more in his latest edition of Splitsville.
Actually, you know you should be starting the two National League Triple-Crown contenders at all times. Splitsville is just excited to see the possibility of that accomplishment being realized this season. Now back to what Fantasy owners need to know to make the playoffs in their leagues. September is upon us so we're tightening up the screws and heading for home.
Now, on to the Week 22 splits.
Five Strikes (Positive Splits)
Brian Matusz, SP, Orioles
Upcoming Schedule: Aug. 31 start vs. Boston, Sept. 5 start vs. Tampa Bay
At first glance Matusz, with his 6-12 record and 4.79 ERA, appears to have a horrific upcoming scoring period with two starts against two AL East rivals steeped in a playoff chase. Matusz, the enigma that he's been in his first full season in the big leagues, has splits that will suggest very differently. Despite his record, Matusz has made three starts against Boston this season and has gone 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA. That comes with 19 strikeouts covering 18 2/3 innings and a WHIP of 1.179. He may have a career 6.23 ERA against the Rays, but Matusz is still 2-1 against them through four starts with 24 strikeouts spanning 21 2/3 innings. It appears he gets up for the stiffer competition and Matusz is getting up for just about everybody these days. He is 2-0 in his last two outings with one run allowed through 15 innings with 11 Ks. Matusz is 3-1 in five August starts with a 2.32 ERA and might just be growing into a top-notch major league starter.
Omar Infante, 2B, Braves
Upcoming Schedule: Four games vs. N.Y. Mets, Three games at Florida
Splitsville is beginning to think Infante being named an All-Star this season was a bit of a clairvoyancy on the part of those who selected him. He did hit .332 before the break, but all of a sudden he's an everyday player and has been on a tear since the end of July. He's hit in almost every game in August thus far and, entering Sunday, was hitting .373 over his previous 29 games with five home runs, 12 doubles and three stolen bases. The red-hot Infante meets two of the teams he hits best in Week 22. With a career .348 average against the Mets and a .323 against Florida -- he actually hits better at Dolphin Stadium with a .361 average -- Infante is a no brainer for the upcoming scoring period.
Paul Maholm, SP, Pirates
Upcoming Schedule: Aug. 30 start at Chicago Cubs, Sept. 5 start vs. Washington
It has definitely been an ugly year for Maholm. Over his last four starts he's 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA and his record is 7-12 on the year with a 4.82 mark. The upcoming scoring period could give the 28-year-old starter a boost, however, as he pitches twice against some favorable competition. While Maholm is actually 0-3 against the Nationals with a 5.30 ERA over six career starts, Washington had already lost 17 times in August entering Sunday. Against the Cubs, however, Maholm has been inspiring. He has gone 7-1 against them with a 5.70 ERA, but that includes already beating them three times in three tries this season with a much more solid 2.25 number. He's pretty good at Wrigley Field, too, going 5-1 for his career with a 6.20 ERA but 2-0 this season with a 1.93.
Carlos Ruiz, C, Phillies
Upcoming Schedule: Three games at L.A. Dodgers, One game at Colorado, Three games vs. Milwaukee
Ruiz, amid a 1-for-13 batting slump entering Sunday's game, has a wild schedule coming up in Week 22. The Phillies will play on the West Coast, East Coast and in the middle of the country all in one scoring period. Luckily for Ruiz's slump, he should hit well in the first four games of that week. Beginning with Dodger Stadium, Ruiz hits better there than at any other National League ballpark, entering the series with a .333 average over 21 at-bats. A career .354 hitter against Los Angeles overall, Ruiz has eight RBI in his last 10 games against them. Ruiz has four RBI at Coors Field in five starts and hits .294 there over 17 at-bats. He's also batted .357 against Colorado over 14 at-bats and five games this season with a home run.
Ervin Santana, SP, L.A. Angels
Upcoming Schedule: Sept. 4 start at Oakland
Santana has been fairly solid in his last four starts with a 4.21 ERA and a 3-1 record, but certainly has been nothing to write home about. The 27-year-old starter could be in for a pretty solid Week 22 as he pitches in one of his favorite ballparks. It is against the Athletics, specifically at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, where Santana has shined through the years. Yes, he had a poor outing there earlier this season when he allowed four runs over five innings in a loss. Still, his career record in Oakland stands at 5-1 with a pristine 1.89 ERA in 10 appearances and eight starts. Against Oakland overall, Santana has gone 11-3 with a 1.73 ERA. With one poor outing behind him, something tells us he could be pretty sharp on Saturday.
Five 7-10 Splits (Negative Splits)
Matt Cain, SP, Giants
Upcoming Schedule: Sept. 4 start at L.A. Dodgers
Cain has been fairly sharp in August, going 2-2 with a 2.76 ERA and 31 strikeouts over 32 2/3 innings. That said, he could be in for one of his poorer scoring periods in Week 22 against a division rival. Although the Dodgers play just hours south of San Francisco, Cain has never been able to come close to having similar results by Chavez Ravine. For his career spanning six starts at Dodger Stadium, Cain has gone 0-2 with a 3.31 ERA with a WHIP of 1.745. He may just be allergic to the color blue as he's gone 1-8 for his career against the Dodgers with a 3.94 ERA. He did beat them in San Francisco earlier in August with a pretty solid performance, but struggled over five innings against them in a loss back at the end of June.
Jose Reyes, SS, N.Y. Mets
Upcoming Schedule: Four games at Atlanta, Three games at Chicago Cubs
Reyes has a lot of red flags entering Week 22. First of all, he's dealing with an oblique injury that could see him sit out at least the early part of the scoring period. Secondly, Reyes is currently on a 1-for-12 slump over his last three contests. The third and fourth, and best, reasons are his splits entering Week 22. Although he may miss part of the series in Atlanta, Reyes is just a career .265 hitter there and has gone just 4 for 23 (.174) at Turner Field this season with four strikeouts. Reyes has gone just 1 for 8 (.125) at Chicago's Wrigley Field this year in two games but is 7 for 37 (.189) overall with the ivy on the outfield wall. After all that, there is also the fact that September has always been far and away his worst offensive month. He has batted just .248 over the season's final month for his career, almost 30 points lower than April, his next worst month.
Ryan Raburn, OF, Tigers
Upcoming Schedule: Three games at Minnesota, Three games at Kansas City
He's not exactly the highest profile player that we have examined this season, but clever owners know Raburn has been playing some ball of late for the Tigers. Getting an everyday spot in the lineup when Magglio Ordonez went down with injury, Raburn, entering Sunday, has hit .351 with five homers and 13 RBI over his last 19 games with a .649 slugging percentage. Unfortunately for the owners who were hoping to get value out of him in Week 22, it doesn't figure to be a rosy scoring period for Raburn. He has thus far not warmed up to hitting at Target Field in Minnesota, going 2 for 12 (.167) there this season with three strikeouts. In fact, he's worse against the Twins than any other American League team with a career .205 average over 78 at-bats and 20 strikeouts. He's actually not that bad against the Royals or at Kauffman Stadium, but owners would need a full week of positive splits to get Raburn active in mixed formats.
J.A. Happ, SP, Astros
Upcoming Schedule: Aug. 30 start vs. St. Louis, Sept. 5 start at Arizona
Happ has had one poor start since joining the Astros from Philadelphia and has actually been solid over his last four outings with a 2-1 record and a 2.92 ERA with 21 strikeouts over 24 2/3 innings. Who did that poor start come against? That would be his opening Week 22 opponent, the Cardinals. Happ gave up seven runs on six hits and three walks and lasted just one inning on Aug. 4 in St. Louis. The young starter has never been able to solve Albert Pujols and the Cardinals, in fact, as he owns a career 0-2 record over three starts with a 9.45 ERA. In his last two seasons, Happ is 0-2 against them with an ERA of 15.43. Happ has only made one career start against Arizona, a loss at Chase Field last season. His record against his two opponents in the upcoming scoring period is 0-3 over four starts.
Bill Hall, OF, Red Sox
Upcoming Schedule: Three games at Baltimore, Three games vs. Chicago White Sox
Thanks to the depleted Red Sox offense, Hall has been a regular for Boston pretty much since the All-Star break. That said, entering Sunday, in 35 games since the break, Hall is hitting just .236. Then again, he also has 10 homers and 16 RBI over that span. Hall has definitely raised his Fantasy value with the long ball but could be in for a long Week 22 against the Orioles and White Sox. Unlike most of the Red Sox, who love playing at Camden Yards, it has actually been one of Hall's least favorite venues this season. He has played in six career games there, all this year, and has hit .214 with only one extra-base hit and two RBI. He is a .250 hitter against Baltimore overall but that number has been just .192 as a member of the Red Sox over 11 games. Only the Yankees have afforded Hall a lower career batting average among American League teams than have the White Sox. Chicago has held Hall to a .176 number over four games and 17 at-bats.
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