- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
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Fantasy Game Notes for Friday: American League
Game Story: What a pitching matchup! Haren's numbers might suggest he has the advantage, but consider that Bedard is 10-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 22 starts at home since the start of last season, which balances things out a bit. These two should limit your hitting choices, as Bedard has shut down guys like Eric Chavez (0-for-7, 4 K's) and Nick Swisher (2-for-11, .182, 4 K's), while Haren has dominated Aubrey Huff (1-for-9, .111) and Melvin Mora (1-for-12, .083). Expect a low-scoring affair, probably won by Bedard, but if it's a save chance for the A's, keep in mind the Orioles' left-handed heavy lineup should play in favor of Alan Embree getting the ball.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Byrd has pitched well this season, but a road assignment at Detroit, against a Tigers offense averaging 6.05 runs per game in its home contests, isn't a favorable matchup. The one thing playing in his favor is that the Tigers are a righty-heavy lineup, and Byrd's weaker side has clearly been the left (they've batted .309 with an .857 lifetime against him). Still, it's not enough, as Curtis Granderson (6-for-14, .429) and Carlos Guillen (7-for-21, .333, 1 HR) can hit him, and Sean Casey warrants a look as well. Robertson, though, doesn't face any better a matchup. Casey Blake (8-for-25, .320, 4 HR) and Jhonny Peralta (9-for-16, .563) own him, and Ryan Garko should be used, too.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Weaver has five straight quality starts, and the whole "second time around the league" theory doesn't entirely apply; he has a 3.04 ERA in 13 career starts when facing a team that has already seen him. The Yankees have seen him once, last Aug. 13, and he dominated them. As a team, they're a combined 4-for-23 (.174) without an extra-base hit and with 10 K's against Weaver, so temper your expectations from your Yankees. Clippard, meanwhile, is coming off a dominant MLB debut, though it seemed more a result of fooling hitters with his deceptive delivery than his overpowering the Mets. That could carry over to his second start, though be aware of the risk in counting on him.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Nine starts is a good enough sample size to get a read on Dice-K, and so far, he appears a guy who is lights-out against left-handed hitters, and one completely comfortable on the road. He's 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in four road starts, and remember, two of them came against the Blue Jays and one against the Yankees, which are comparably tricky matchups to this one. Matsuzaka's presence should limit your Rangers choices to Sammy Sosa and Mark Teixeira, pretty much. Don't use McCarthy, who is too homer prone, especially against right-handed hitters (.275/.837). Coco Crisp (2-for-5, .400, 1 HR) and Mike Lowell (1-for-1, 1.000, 1 HR) have already hit him nicely.
Game Story: King Felix hasn't looked at all like the unhittable pitcher he was in his first two starts of the season in his two turns since returning from the DL, but an assignment against the Royals should be just what he needs to get back on track. He pitched well enough against the Padres his last time out to limit your Royals choices to only Mark Teahen (.346/.979 in May) and perhaps John Buck and Mike Sweeney. Meche handled his old team adequately on April 28, with six innings and only three unearned runs allowed, and he should do so again in a home game. Still, red-hot Jose Guillen (5-for-10, .500, 1 HR) can handle him, and you shouldn't ever sit Ichiro Suzuki.
Game Story: Both of these pitchers looked great in their 2007 debuts, though what happened to Jesse Litsch in his second turn (4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER) could easily strike Baker in his start No. 2. There are two key differences between these pitchers, though: Baker has sharper command, and he surely has more experience. A standout effort against a Blue Jays team that swings and misses a fair share can't be ruled out, though it's nevertheless risky enough to limit Baker to AL-only consideration. Litsch, meanwhile, is an even greater unknown. His shakiness with his command in his second start, and the fact that he hasn't been overpowering in the strikeout department thus far, should play in the Twins' favor. Call it a good day to use Luis Castillo, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel.
Game Story: Though the White Sox bats seem to be waking up of late, Shields is on far too much of a roll -- 2-0, 1.90 ERA in his last six starts -- to expect that to continue here. The right-hander is displaying remarkable command, and it should help him that he has never in his career faced a member of this year's White Sox team. The latter point could play in Buehrle's favor as well, as the only currently active Devil Rays he has faced are Carl Crawford (6-for-10, .600) and Carlos Pena (5-for-23, .217, 7 K's). Sure, that the Devil Rays are loaded with right-handed bats makes him a little less appealing than Shields, and it does make B.J. Upton, Ty Wigginton and Delmon Young useful starts. Still, this could easily wind up a pitchers' duel, so limit your hitting choices.
Fantasy Game Notes for Friday: National League
Dolphin Stadium (outdoor) 7:05 p.m. ET (30 percent chance of rain, low of 76 degrees, heavy winds up to 29 mph)
Orlando Hernandez, RHP (2-1, 2.53 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) versus
Sergio Mitre, RHP (2-2, 2.25 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Henry Owens, RP (shoulder, DL/should be available)
Game Story: The Mets expect "El Duque" to return for this start, though any last-minute setbacks could earn Jason Vargas another turn. All reports indicate Hernandez should be fine, though, which as always means to load your lineup with left-handed hitters scheduled to face him (he's .273/.815 career against them). Jeremy Hermida (2-for-2, 1.000, 1 HR vs. Hernandez) is a prime start, and Alfredo Amezaga warrants NL-only attention. Mitre, meanwhile, has a 1.57 ERA in four starts since his return from the DL, though this should be his toughest matchup yet. Left-handed hitters historically have owned him (.334/.931 career), so it's a good day for Carlos Delgado to get his season going.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Maholm couldn't possibly match up worse than he has in road starts at Cincinnati in his career. He's 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in five career starts there, and that right-handers get to him at .303/.851 lifetime rates bodes extremely well for Edwin Encarnacion, Ryan Freel, Alex Gonzalez, Brandon Phillips and David Ross. They're a combined 24-for-65 (.369) with four homers against Maholm, incidentally. Harang is 10-3 in 15 career starts against the Pirates, making for a solid matchup, but be aware that certain Pirates do hit him. Jason Bay (12-for-34, .353, 3 HR), Ryan Doumit (5-for-13, .385, 2 HR), Adam LaRoche (5-for-14, .357, 2 HR) and Xavier Nady (7-for-16, .438) each have the track records to warrant using here.
Game Story: Howard is due back for this contest, and he's 7-for-21 (.333) with three homers lifetime against Hudson, so feel free to activate him. Beyond that, though, few Phillies can get to Hudson. He has two quality starts in two tries against them this season, and only Carlos Ruiz (3-for-9, .333, 2 HR) has much of a track record against him. As for Moyer, he's coming off his two worst outings of the season, and the Braves do have the right-handed bats to give him headaches. Matt Diaz (.333/.819 vs. lefties this year), Jeff Francoeur (.323/.951), Chipper Jones (.306/1.003) and Edgar Renteria (.358/.994) match up awfully nicely, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn't a bad NL-only option.
Notable Injuries: Ryan Franklin, RP (illness, day-to-day)
Game Story: Reyes has really gotten a bad rap for his record and ERA this season, though he hasn't been pounded with the exception of his last start at Detroit. A home assignment against the Nationals' bottom-ranked offense (3.60 R/G) is a great matchup for him, and it should limit your choices on their side to Ryan Church, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Zimmerman. Bowie has yet to ramp up to a full starter's workload, so expect a mix-and-match of so-so Nationals relievers filling the innings in this game. Incredibly, he can't get lefties out (.361/.915 career), so Chris Duncan shouldn't be benched. Neither should Albert Pujols or Scott Rolen.
Game Story: Johnson was scratched from this start, which could be merely a precautionary move, so Gonzalez, he of the 4.45 ERA in five starts this year, gets the ball. He's not a terrible pitcher, but the Astros have the offense to get to him. Adam Everett (4-for-6, .667, 3 HR) incredibly owns him, and it should be a good day for Luke Scott as well. Williams, of course, is a hittable pitcher as well, so don't read into Arizona's weak offense as a reason to start him. Eric Byrnes (4-for-9, .444, 1 HR), Conor Jackson (5-for-14, .357, 2 HR) and Carlos Quentin (2-for-8, .250) should be particularly good starts.
Notable Injuries: Brian Giles, OF (knee, day-to-day)
Game Story: Ryan Braun is expected to make his debut in this game, repleacing the weak link in the Brewers offense, but also becoming the weak link of the infield defense. He had been batting .342 with 10 home runs and an 11/14 K/BB ratio at Triple-A Nashville. Though he has been a disappointment so far this season, Bush did dominate the Padres on a complete-game, one-run effort last June 6, and an assignment at spacious Petco should play to his strengths. I'd start him, and hope that this jump-starts his season. Limit your Padres to only the Giles brothers, Mike Cameron and Adrian Gonzalez. Maddux, meanwhile, has adapted perfectly to Petco, with a 2.30 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in four starts there this year. Keep your usual red-hot Brewers, like Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy, active, and also take a look at Geoff Jenkins (22-for-49, .449, 1 HR) and Gabe Gross (3-for-6, .500, 1 HR), who have strong track records against Maddux.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Cain has long dominated the Rockies, with a 2.52 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in eight career starts, and he did toss a quality start in each of his two turns at Coors Field earlier this year. Garrett Atkins (9-for-22, .409, 2 HR) is the one Rockies hitter with a strong track record against the right-hander, and while Brad Hawpe might seem a useful spot start against a righty, keep in mind he's 0-for-9 lifetime against Cain. Hirsh has pitched well to date, but Rich Aurilia (3-for-6, .500) and Randy Winn (2-for-3, .667) have handled him fine. It's not a bad play to use Hirsh in NL-only formats, but expect Barry Bonds, Ray Durham and Omar Vizquel to be productive enough to warrant using too.
Game Story: Keep riding Lilly's hot streak, as he has eight quality starts in nine tries, and at least it can be said that Dodger Stadium is well-suited to success for him. Rafael Furcal, Jeff Kent and Russell Martin are performing too well to ever sit, but with Lilly pitching like he has, limit your remaining Dodgers choices. Use Lowe as well, though. He has long pitched well at Dodger Stadium, and among Cubs, only Jacque Jones (8-for-25, .320), Derrek Lee (8-for-17, .471, 1 HR) and Floyd (2-for-4, .500) have particularly strong track records against the right-hander.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Scott Baker, SP, MIN versus Toronto Blue Jays
Casey Blake, 3B, CLE @ Detroit Tigers
Matt Diaz, OF, ATL versus Philadelphia Phillies
Ryan Doumit, C/OF, PIT @ Cincinnati Reds
Alan Embree, RP, OAK @ Baltimore Orioles
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, CIN versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Adam Everett, SS, HOU @ Arizona Diamondbacks
Jose Guillen, OF, SEA @ Kansas City Royals
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA versus New York Mets
Geoff Jenkins, OF, MIL @ San Diego Padres
Ryan Braun, 3B, MIL @ San Diego Padres
Greg Maddux, SP, SD versus Milwaukee Brewers
Anthony Reyes, SP, STL versus Washington Nationals
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.
Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
Our daily notes examine the matchups of the day ahead and where the advantages are for fantasy.