Daily Notes: Clemens, Carmona look to bounce back
Boof Bonser, RHP (5-4, 4.65 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) versus
Roger Clemens, RHP (1-3, 5.32 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Bonser had a miserable June, with an ERA of 6.91 and only 17 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings compared to a combined 68 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings in April and May. He can cover up a lot of faults when he's striking out more than a batter per inning, but if he can't sustain that, he's a decidedly-average pitcher. Clemens has been off and on in his first four starts, and the Twins are averaging 6.8 runs per game since June 19. Jason Bartlett hit .298 in June with 10 steals and two homers, and Lew Ford hit .326; don't be surprised if Clemens gets knocked around a bit.
Andy Sonnanstine, RHP (1-2, 5.85 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) versus
Fausto Carmona, RHP (8-4, 3.92 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Indians are usually tough to pitch against, but their offense is struggling -- relatively speaking. The Tribe finished June with a .768 OPS, tied for 12th in the majors. Jason Michaels was one of the bright spots (.333 average with four home runs), though. Sonnanstine has potential -- his K/BB is a superb 9.0 -- but seven home runs allowed in just five starts won't get it done. Against a lesser opponent, Sonnanstine would be a better play, but the Indians, even not necessarily at their best, pose too much of a risk. The Devil Rays are considerably better against lefties (.824 OPS) than against righties (.736). So, although Carmona did get bombed his last start, he was solid before that outing. Assuming it was just one awful start, Carmona should rebound on Monday.
Brandon McCarthy, RHP (4-4, 5.90 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) versus
Kason Gabbard, LHP (1-0, 6.48 ERA, 2.28 WHIP)
Game Story: Rather than giving McCarthy a couple more rehab starts, the Rangers decided to throw him right back into the fire. Before hitting the DL, McCarthy was maddeningly inconsistent (though his home run rate is at a career low). The Red Sox have too many quality hitters to think about playing McCarthy. Look for J.D. Drew (four home runs, .325 average) to continue his hot month and redeem his slow start to the season. Gabbard is simply a rotational stopgap, whom you shouldn't expect much from. Texas hitters including Marlon Byrd, Kenny Lofton, Victor Diaz and Sammy Sosa all make great spot starts.
Felix Hernandez, RHP (4-4, 4.33 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) versus
Gil Meche, RHP (5-6, 3.28 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Game Story: King Felix has been unable to find any consistency, posting mediocre starts even against poor competition. However, he has also been extremely unlucky -- his batting average on balls in play is .393, the worst in the majors. With very strong ratios, Hernandez is due for a correction, and the practically punchless Royals -- sorry John Buck, Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen -- should make for a good start. Meche has managed to pitch like an ace for nearly half of the season. Therefore, even though the Mariners offense is nothing to sneeze at, it will be difficult to truly touch up Meche, especially if Seattle's best hitter this month, Raul Ibanez (five home runs in June), is unable to go.
Erik Bedard, LHP (6-4, 3.36 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) versus
Mark Buehrle, LHP (5-4, 3.33 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Jermaine Dye, OF (quadriceps, questionable)
Game Story: One of the hottest pitchers in the league (Bedard) faces the worst offense in baseball (White Sox); there is no need to say much more than that. It's more difficult for Buehrle, obviously, but the Orioles aren't an imposing offense either. Melvin Mora had a nice month (six home runs, .319 average) and hits lefties well, and Aubrey Huff has been serviceable the past month (.314 average). The pitchers will be the star of the show in this one, though.
Josh Towers, RHP (3-5, 5.59 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) versus
Lenny DiNardo, LHP (3-4, 2.47 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Losing Travis Buck hurts the A's considerably, but they still have enough weapons to prevent Towers from becoming anything more than a desperation option. Dan Johnson is hitting .454 with two home runs in his last six games; Eric Chavez had his best month of the season in June; and even the much-maligned Shannon Stewart hit .373 with five home runs in June. If it seems DiNardo is hanging on by a thread, that's because he is: He had 14 walks to nine strikeouts in June, and he's struggled to make it past even five innings. The Blue Jays are one of the league's best offenses against lefties (.816 OPS), with Aaron Hill (four home runs, .338 average) and Frank Thomas (four home runs, .312 average) particularly nasty against them.
Ted Lilly, LHP (6-4, 4.03 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) versus
Jason Simontacchi, RHP (5-5, 5.81 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Lilly has been hit hard a bit, but he's not quite red-flag worthy; except for the Dodgers, the teams that have hit him hard were either red hot or exceptionally good against left-handers. The Nationals are neither of those things, and except for Dmitri Young (.377 in June) and Ronnie Belliard (two home runs and a .316 average against left-handers this season), their lineup offers little resistance. The Cubs are heating up -- they finished June with a .776 OPS -- and Simontacchi hasn't exactly made a name for himself even against the weaker offenses. Cliff Floyd (hitting .305 since May) is a sneaky spot start, and the streaky Mark DeRosa is in the midst of one of his positive swings (.337 average in June).
Jeff Suppan, RHP (8-7, 4.88 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) versus
John Van Benschoten, RHP (0-2, 4.30 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Chris Duffy, OF (ankle, DL)
Game Story: Suppan has a 2.93 ERA against NL Central opponents and a 6.34 ERA against everyone else -- luckily, the Pirates are in the NL Central. Although Suppan hasn't been that solid against Pittsburgh (3.86 ERA, 1.46 WHIP in two starts), that's enough to make him a good spot start. The Pirates aren't without weapons: Adam LaRoche has two home runs and six hits in his last three games, Xavier Nady hit six home runs in June, and although Ryan Doumit has slowed down, he's still hitting good enough for a catcher. Offensively, though, the streaking Brewers should have no problem against Van Benschoten, who still has a ways to go before being a productive starter.
Jamie Moyer, LHP (7-5, 4.15 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) versus
Woody Williams, RHP (3-10, 5.58 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Astros found some offense in June, finishing seventh in OPS (.797). They have hit left-handers better than righties all season long, with Mark Loretta (.965 OPS) and Craig Biggio (.343 average) hitting southpaws much better. Luke Scott (five home runs, .906 OPS in June) and Mike Lamb (five homers, .325 average) had their best months in June and were major contributors. Moyer is a solid pitcher and is much better on the road, but there's no reason to play with fire unnecessarily. It should go without saying that the Phillies, who are third in OPS against right-handers, will pound Williams. Keep an eye on Greg Dobbs; virtually all of his production has occurred against right-handers, and he's getting more playing time as Pat Burrell gets benched.
Brandon Webb, RHP (8-5, 3.05 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) versus
Braden Looper, RHP (6-6, 4.66 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Scott Spiezio, OF (finger, questionable)
Game Story: The Cardinals finally started to hit better last month. They are facing Webb, however, who had a 1.76 ERA in June. Juan Encarnacion had a nice June overall but has cooled off recently, once again leaving Albert Pujols and Chris Duncan as the team's most (or only?) productive hitters. Duncan has hit just .238 since May but has 10 home runs in that time, too. Looper allowed 13 earned runs in his last 10 1/3 innings before hitting the disabled list with shoulder tightness. The D-backs have been punchless offensively, making it tempting to give Looper a go, but there are obvious risks playing a pitcher who has allowed six earned runs or more in four of his past six outings.
Tom Glavine, LHP (7-5, 4.12 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
Jason Hirsh, RHP (3-7, 5.21 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Willy Taveras, OF (undisclosed, day-to-day)
Game Story: The Rockies aren't quite as good against left-handers as they are against righties. Still, Colorado's less potent output against lefties doesn't necessarily make Glavine a good start. Although Brad Hawpe (.197) and Todd Helton (.318 average, but just one home run and a .409 SLG) are weak against lefties, Troy Tulowitzki (.375) and Matt Holliday (five home runs, 1.048 OPS) help make up for some of the difference. Hirsh has been absolutely horrible in his last three starts -- allowing five earned runs in each and a whopping total of seven home runs. It's tempting to start any pitcher versus the Mets due to their June swoon, but there's no need to be hasty. Let Hirsh prove himself all over again.
Sergio Mitre, RHP (2-3, 2.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) versus
David Wells, LHP (3-5, 4.48 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Terrmel Sledge, OF (thumb, day-to-day)
Game Story: Mitre's recent performance is worrisome, as he allowed 11 combined runs against the Pirates and Royals, sandwiching a somewhat solid start against the White Sox between those two outings. He did go at least six innings in all three starts, though, and has allowed only five home runs on the season, so maybe he deserves a break. Only the Nationals are worse at home than the Padres (.675 OPS), so the opponent is right. The Marlins feast on southpaws (.840 OPS), and already hit Wells around in an earlier start.
John Smoltz, RHP (9-4, 2.98 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) versus
Derek Lowe, RHP (8-7, 3.03 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Russell Martin and Luis Gonzalez have hit well all season and have been the Dodgers' only two dependable hitters. However, now that James Loney has been called up and is playing regularly, the offense has a bit more life in it. Smoltz shut out the Dodgers on May 4, going seven innings and striking out six. Not to suggest the Dodgers are now some sort of offensive powerhouse, but at the least Smoltz should have a tougher time repeating that performance. Lowe has a 2.30 ERA since May, and outside of Chipper Jones and Edgar Renteria, the Braves have been struggling to find an offense. Lowe may have a slight advantage over Smoltz in the pursuit of a win due to his team's better bullpen, but it should be a low-scoring game nonetheless.
Jason Bartlett, SS, MIN @ New York Yankees
Jason Michaels, OF, CLE versus Tampa Bay Devil Rays
J.D. Drew, OF, BOS versus Texas Rangers
Marlon Byrd, OF, TEX @ Boston Red Sox
Victor Diaz, OF, TEX @ Boston Red Sox
Gil Meche, SP, KC versus Seattle Mariners
Melvin Mora, 3B, BAL @ Chicago White Sox
Dan Johnson, 1B, OAK versus Toronto Blue Jays
Shannon Stewart, OF, OAK versus Toronto Blue Jays
Aaron Hill, SS, TOR @ Oakland Athletics
Frank Thomas, DH, TOR @ Oakland Athletics
Ronnie Belliard, 2B, WAS versus Chicago Cubs
Cliff Floyd, OF, CHC @ Washington Nationals
Jeff Suppan, SP, MIL @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Adam LaRoche, 1B, PIT versus Milwaukee Brewers
Mark Loretta, 3B, HOU versus Philadelphia Phillies
Craig Biggio, 2B, HOU versus Philadelphia Phillies
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL versus New York Mets
Sergio Mitre, SP, FLA @ San Diego Padres
James Loney, 1B, LAD versus Atlanta Braves
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
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