Fantasy Game Notes for Saturday: American League
Notable Injuries: Victor Martinez, C (quadriceps, day-to-day)
Game Story: On paper, Cleveland has many platoon players who hit very well versus left-handers -- especially Jason Michaels, Casey Blake and Ryan Garko -- so I would avoid John Danks. The opposite is true for Paul Byrd. The only left-handed bat with pop for Chicago is Jim Thome. Byrd has use if you spot start him wisely, and this should be such a start.
Game Story: Chad Durbin is the kind of pitcher who turns mediocre hitters into great ones. Lyle Overbay is off to a slow start, but Durbin is a guy he can use to snap out of his slump. Curtis Granderson has started off well and hits better away from Comerica Park. He also hits right-handers well, and is worth a play.
Game Story: For all the talk of the Angels having a clear road to the World Series, their hitting is still quite weak. Outside of Vladimir Guerrero and Casey Kotchman, the lineup is the type that will stay mediocre against good pitchers. Curt Schilling certainly qualifies as a good pitcher. Hector Carrasco is filling in for Kelvim Escobar, who was scheduled to start before being placed on the disabled list. Carrasco is an above-average long reliever but, like most long relievers, is likely to be stretched too thin as a starter.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Seattle has the fewest games played in the majors and has started off cold as a team -- no pun intended -- with a .531 OPS in five games. Vicente Padilla has been relatively close to an average pitcher when he pitches away from home, and if you squint hard enough, you can see a spot start here. Not so for Miguel Batista; he didn't allow a home run to Oakland, but 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings against a poor offense is a poor harbinger for today's game versus Texas. Eric Gagne is back, and the Rangers say he's the one who will get the opportunity to close if this game requires it.
Notable Injuries: Jaret Wright, SP (shoulder, DL)
Game Story: Baltimore is pretty weak against left-handers. Its right-handed batters do not have severe platoon splits against lefties, but none of its left-handed hitters can hit righties. Odalis Perez gets a bad rap because he's prone to monstrous blowups, but sifting through the game log, you can predict most of these by his matchups. This is a good one, so even though Perez has been knocked around in his first two starts this year, I believe. Daniel Cabrera is also a good start; when he has his control, he is lights out, but even if he is lacking his control today, Kansas City does not have the lineup to punish him for it.
Notable Injuries: Jesse Crain, RP (strained shoulder, day-to-day)
Game Story: Edwin Jackson is only 23 and was once an elite prospect, but while many people still have hope he can deliver on his early promise, there is little substance to back it up. Jackson's minor league strikeout rates have not been above average in three years, so there is little reason to think that they will rise in the majors. Assuming they don't, Jackson simply walks way too many hitters to survive; Minnesota has the lineup to take advantage of that, and should do so. Sidney Ponson sets the standard for bad, though, so anything other than a high-scoring affair will be a surprise.
Game Story: Through 10 games of play, Oakland is 28th in the majors in OPS at .632. Darrell Rasner is stepping in for Carl Pavano, and even against a weak-hitting team like Oakland, you probably don't want to mess around with him. The Yankees are a horrible matchup for Joe Blanton. Blanton's stuff isn't great, but he can more than hold his own against impatient teams or mediocre hitters. The Yankees are neither of those, and though it is a small sample size, in two career starts against the Yankees, it is telling that Blanton has lasted 8 2/3 innings and has a 13.50 ERA.
Fantasy Game Notes for Saturday: National League
Notable Injuries: Alex Gonzalez, SS (bereavement, day-to-day)
Game Story: Cliff Floyd seems to have, temporarily at least, taken the starting left-field job from Matt Murton. Manager Lou Piniella is right in his assessment that the Cubs are "too right-handed," and playing Floyd against right-handers and Murton against left-handers is the right play. Floyd, therefore, seems probable to get the start today, since a right-hander is on the mound. Floyd and Jacque Jones hit right-handers well enough that they're worth starting against them.
Notable Injuries: Scott Rolen, 3B (back spasms, day-to-day)
Game Story: Chris Capuano was hit hard in his four starts against St. Louis last year (5.76 ERA, 1.48 WHIP), and because little of the Cardinals' lineup from last year has changed, it is worth noting. Preston Wilson has received five starts against left-handers this year, and hasn't done much with them. He's not a good enough overall hitter to wait for him to get through a slump, so bench him until further notice. Kip Wells has been fabulous so far and isn't a bad bet to keep it up against Milwaukee's heavily right-handed lineup.
Notable Injuries: Ray King, RP (shoulder inflammation, DL)
Game Story: Shawn Hill is interesting; his minor league stats aren't eye-popping, but he has shown an ability to prevent home runs and avoid handing out free passes. That may be unexciting to most, but with half of his starts in one of the league's best pitchers' parks, it's not bad. New York is reputed to have a great offense -- and the Mets do -- but they were 21st in home OPS last year. It's a bit risky, but I believe I just made a case for Shawn Hill as a nice spot start.
Notable Injuries: Chase Utley, 2B (hand, day-to-day)
Game Story: The Astros hit lefties rather well (the jobs of Chris Burke and Craig Biggio depend on it) and Cole Hamels allowed 10 home runs in 59 innings at Citizens Bank Park last year. Morgan Ensberg's career OPS is 133 points higher against left-handers than right-handers, and this could be the day he gets on the board. The Phillies also hit left-handers considerably better than right-handers, especially Aaron Rowand. As a result, it doesn't look great for either pitcher.
Notable Injuries: Hanley Ramirez, SS (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Kyle Davies really is a mixed bag; he can be electric, but his walks can turn into two- or three-run home runs, so he's often playing with fire. Florida's lineup is weak, though, so if this game isn't postponed, it represents one of Davies' better matchups. Scott Olsen has been all over the place in his two previous starts (nine walks, five strikeouts), and Atlanta's core lineup is strong enough that it is likely asking too much to spot start Olsen here.
Game Story: A matchup against the Pirates may not be as favorable for Barry Zito as you might initially think. Pittsburgh's lineup is nothing to write home about, but three of the Pirates' four best hitters (Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez and Xavier Nady) mash left-handers. San Francisco's offense has been as poor as expected (second-to-last in runs scored and OPS), but even that is not quite enough for me to recommend Tony Armas. For a pitcher to feast on poor hitting, he has to at least be better than said hitting; Armas has yet to prove that.
Notable Injuries: Chris B. Young, OF (groin, day-to-day)
Game Story: The good: Aaron Cook allowed just two home runs away from Coors Field last season. The bad: Chase Field plays like a hitters' park, and Cook had a 6.75 ERA in six starts against Arizona last season. While players like Scott Hairston and Conor Jackson may not go yard, they are solid bets to have good days. Livan Hernandez's peripherals do not support his success to this point, and I expect a rough outing for him. Willy Taveras stole his two bases this year off Arizona, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him do it again.
Game Story: Just glancing at the starters, you would assume this to be a pitchers' duel, but I am not so sure. Jason Schmidt has a 6.23 ERA in his last 39 innings against San Diego, and Dodger Stadium is not the pitchers' park it once was. San Diego is a patient team that can punish Schmidt's walks. Terrmel Sledge especially hits right-handers well, with some above-average pop. Oh, Jake Peavy? Well, he should have no problem; he has a career 2.40 ERA in 13 starts against the Dodgers. Rafael Furcal should be back, but you don't need to feel rushed to put him into your lineup.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Paul Byrd, SP, CLE versus Chicago White Sox
Vicente Padilla, SP, TEX @ Seattle Mariners
Odalis Perez, SP, KC @ Baltimore Orioles
Daniel Cabrera, SP, BAL versus Kansas City Royals
Shawn Hill, SP, WAS @ New York Mets
Morgan Ensberg, 3B, HOU @ Philadelphia Phillies
Kyle Davies, SP, ATL versus Florida Marlins
Xavier Nady, OF, PIT versus San Francisco Giants
Scott Hairston, OF, ARI versus Colorado Rockies
Terrmel Sledge, OF, SD, against Los Angeles Dodgers
Please Note that the notable injuries are not meant to be a comprehensive report of each team's disabled list. For brevity, we include only day-to-day injuries or new DL additions for players you might otherwise consider using in these games. Long-term DL or day-to-day injuries to starting pitchers who were not scheduled to appear are omitted.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at Adam@TalentedMrRoto.com