- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
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Fantasy Game Notes for Thursday: American League
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Weaver returns to Detroit, where his career began, in what again could prove his final start in the Seattle rotation. He had a quality-start effort in his last turn there on May 3, 2006, as a member of the Angels, but don't count on any miracles here, not with the Tigers having the game's fourth-most potent offense at home (5.67 R/G). Sure, it's worth mentioning that left-handed hitters torch him (.295 AVG, .855 OPS career), and the Tigers lean more toward the right side, but Curtis Granderson and Carlos Guillen, and perhaps even Sean Casey, should give him fits. Verlander should be the standout here, against a Seattle offense aptly handled by Yankees rookies over the weekend.
Notable Injuries: Jason Giambi, DH (foot, day-to-day)
Game Story: In another case of a player perhaps pitching for his rotation spot, McCarthy brings his 1.72 home runs per nine innings and 0.82 ground-ball/fly-ball ratios to Yankee Stadium to face the game's leading offense in runs per game (5.94) and OPS (.801). That's a potential recipe for disaster, and before you think to load the lineup with lefties, remember that righties hit him even better (.275/.835 career). Of course, it's not like you'd ever sit Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, but it means play either first baseman that starts, even if it's Josh Phelps. Wang dominates -- stress dominates -- in home games, with a 17-6 record and 3.22 ERA lifetime at Yankee Stadium. With the Rangers' bats sluggish, limit your choices to only the usual suspects and Kenny Lofton.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Twins' offense is simply not as lethal with Joe Mauer out, and Mike Redmond against a right-hander -- he's.271/.663 career against them -- is a huge drop-off at catcher. Sure, Contreras has to deal with Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau, but the rest of the lineup is pretty manageable, making him a useful mixed spot start. Use Jason Kubel, though; it's just a hunch. Of course, the White Sox lineup is thinned out with Jim Thome sidelined, but for some reason, this team simply has Silva's number. Among the Sox who hit him: Joe Crede (11-for-31, .355, 3 HR), Darin Erstad (11-for-25, .440, 1 HR) and Juan Uribe (15-for-30, .500, 4 HR).
Game Story: This is probably Bannister's last start, with Scott Elarton and Luke Hudson on the mend, and based on his uninspiring past three, it's probably not going to be a good one. Bannister's problem is he lacks a reliable out pitch against left-handers; they've hit him at .323/.893 rates for his career. Remember, that Oakland offense is strong from the left side, with Buck, Eric Chavez, Jack Cust, Johnson and Nick Swisher, and I'd start every one of them (assuming full health for Buck and Johnson). I'd spot start Kennedy in AL-only formats, too, based on his assignment against the lefty-heavy, bottom-ranked (AL) Royals offense (3.79 R/G). Billy Butler and Mike Sweeney can be kept active, though.
Notable Injuries: Justin Speier, RP (illness, DL)
Game Story: I've mentioned in the past Ervin Santana's problems on the road, and so far in his career, Sowers is developing into that type of pitcher as well. He's 2-3 with a 5.91 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in eight road starts, compared to 5-3 with 3.18/1.15 rates in 12 at home. Plus, the Angels hit better at home (5.28 R/G) than on the road (2.67), so I'd call this a stay-away start for Sowers. I expect Shea Hillenbrand, Robb Quinlan and Reggie Willits to get tossed in there and get to him, so consider them each in larger leagues. Escobar has had his share of troubles with the Indians' slugging lefties, but it's not a bad start for him in AL-only formats. Use your usual Indians, plus Trot Nixon.
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: Cabrera has long dominated inexperienced, free-swinging teams like the Devil Rays, and in their particular case, note that he's 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in seven career starts against them. Sure, he walked a good bunch in those starts, 34 in 42 innings, but that might be more a sign of him looking for young hitters fishing. It doesn't mean you should sit a Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford or B.J. Upton, but Tampa Bay hits could be tough to come by here. As for Fossum, sure, the Orioles' lineup is left-handed heavy and 5-7 against lefties to date, but I'd nevertheless avoid the matchup. With guys like Melvin Mora, Jay Payton and Kevin Millar on hand, Fossum should be in for a long day.
Notable Injuries: Kevin Youkilis, 1B (leg, day-to-day)
Game Story: Look at the pitching matchup on paper and it might seem a complete mismatch, but don't be too hasty in your judgment. Wakefield already beat these Blue Jays in Toronto on April 18, and those knuckleballers, you never know what to expect from 'em. Feeling lucky? I'm not in this case, not with Halladay opposing him. But then again, Wakefield has been frustrating to Alex Rios, Frank Thomas and Vernon Wells on occasion. Keep them active, of course, but this is one of those "who-knows?" kinds of games. Halladay, meanwhile, is a no-brainer, but among Red Sox, here's a standout against him: Mike Lowell, 4-for-11 (.364) with two home runs lifetime.
Fantasy Game Notes for Thursday: National League
Notable Injuries: Mike Jacobs, 1B (thumb, day-to-day)
Game Story: Lowe beat the Marlins offense in both his starts against them in 2006. Here's a shocker: Miguel Cabrera is 0-for-13 lifetime against him! That's a trend easily snapped this time around, but it's looking probable that Lowe can shut down the Marlins' lesser bats. Mike Jacobs should join your regular Marlins in the lineup, though. Meanwhile, Mitre can be a serviceable innings-eater at times, but note that lefties dominate him to the tune of .341/.954 career numbers. With the Dodgers stacked with talent on that side -- Luis Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre -- expect things to lean toward L.A.
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: The one team that shelled Albers in his last four starts was these same Reds, in Houston, so do you really think he'll perform much better in Cincinnati's ballpark? Alex Gonzalez and Ken Griffey Jr. homered off him on May 1, and the Reds as a team are 14-for-41 (.341) with a .987 OPS lifetime against Albers. Go heavy on Reds hitters, including Ryan Freel, Scott Hatteberg and Josh Hamilton. Harang, meanwhile, has quality-start efforts against the Astros in three of his last four tries at home, and he's 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA in nine starts against them since 2005. Expect another solid effort, though Luke Scott's track record against Albers (4-for-12, .333, 1 HR) makes him a useful start.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Hudson's bounce-back season continues, as he's now in the midst of a streak of seven consecutive quality-start efforts to begin the year, during which time he has managed a 1.70 ERA and .195 BAA. He's effectively back to must-start status, particularly at Turner Field, where he has a 3.66 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 37 career starts. There is a Padre who owns him, though: Adrian Gonzalez (shocker!), who has two home runs in five career at-bats. Besides Gonzalez, start both Giles brothers, and that's about it. Don't bother starting Wells in a road game, either; at this stage of his career I'd call him a Petco matchup specialist, that's it. Note that both sides can hit Wells, too, so Kelly Johnson and Brian McCann remain fine starts, along with Matt Diaz.
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: Predictably, Maholm hasn't offered his owners anything since that shutout of the Astros on April 24. A matchup at Wrigley Field, despite his two wins in two career starts there, isn't at all a favorable one. He's simply too hittable against right-handed batters, and there are loads of them in baseball, especially in that Cubs lineup. Besides your regulars, Mark DeRosa (.301/.850), Matt Murton (.323/.903) and Ryan Theriot (.329/.911) are standout starts based on their career numbers against lefties. Don't fear Zambrano's 0-2 record and 7.53 ERA in three starts against the Pirates last year, either. It's a fine matchup for him, limiting your under-the-radar Pirates to only Ryan Doumit.
Game Story: Lowry is not at all the kind of pitcher designed to succeed at Coors; unsurprisingly, he's 1-3 with an 11.03 ERA in five career starts there, serving up nine home runs in those turns. Sure, he's in the midst of a decent bounce-back season, but remember that he's a pitcher far more suited to pitching at AT&T Park, with its spacious outfields. Among Rockies, even the left-handed Brad Hawpe (2-for-4, .500) and Todd Helton (7-for-19, .368, 1 HR) can hit him, though I don't expect Hawpe to play. Instead, Jeff Baker (3-for-10, .300, 2 HR vs. Lowry) would make a fine spot start if he's in the early lineup. Ride the red-hot Troy Tulowitzki, too. Among Giants, Barry Bonds (11-for-23, .478, 1 HR) and Omar Vizquel (7-for-14, .500, 1 HR) appear to own the hittable Cook.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Jeff Baker, OF, COL versus San Francisco Giants
Daniel Cabrera, SP, BAL versus Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Jose Contreras, SP, CHW @ Minnesota Twins
Matt Diaz, OF, ATL versus San Diego Padres
Curtis Granderson, OF, DET versus Seattle Mariners
Matt Murton, OF, CHC versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Robb Quinlan, 1B/3B, LAA versus Cleveland Indians
Luke Scott, OF, HOU @ Cincinnati Reds
Juan Uribe, SS, CHW @ Minnesota Twins
Please Note: 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.
Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
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