- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
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Fantasy Game Notes for Friday: American League
Notable Injuries: Luis Castillo, 2B (legs, day-to-day)
Game Story: Baker has pitched great seemingly out of nowhere in his past two starts amidst challenging matchups. This isn't a bad spot-start matchup for the righty, facing a White Sox offense ranked 29th (3.95 R/G) in MLB. Most of the White Sox who hit him best are hurt, with only Tadahito Iguchi (2-for-4, .500) and Rob Mackowiak (5-for-5, 1.000, 1 HR) among the healthy under-the-radar considerations. Garland should be fine to use as well. With Twins hitters, if you'd normally use them, you should here, though with it a doubleheader day, it's the second game that you should be looking for more of your spot-start types.
Game Story: Again, if you're loading up on Twins hitters, this is the game for making those decisions. Masset is the likely starter, though Gavin Floyd, 7-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 15 starts for Triple-A Charlotte, could get the call if the former is needed in relief before Friday. If it's Masset, load up, not fearing right-handed hitters since they're at least as successful against him (.323 AVG/.862 OPS) as left-handers (.294/.814) are; think Jeff Cirillo and Michael Cuddyer. If it's Floyd, go strong for left-handers; think Castillo and Jason Kubel. Garza, meanwhile, is more for the desperate here, though AL-only owners could think of worse matchups for him. He knows he needs a standout effort to earn long-term rotation consideration, so his barely qualifying for a quality start can't be ruled out. Stick with those Game 1 picks, like Iguchi and Mackowiak.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Including his beating the Tigers with a seven-inning, one-run effort on May 17, Tavarez is 4-2 with a 3.17 ERA and .242 BAA in his last nine starts. Nevertheless, he's as risky as they come in a road start against MLB's top-ranked offense (5.88 R/G). Sean Casey (6-for-20, .300, 1 HR) and Placido Polanco (5-for-14, .357) surely welcome the matchup based on past history against the right-hander, and righty-killing Curtis Granderson (.322/1.004) is a must-start, too. Miller could ask for a better matchup, but in AL-only leagues, he should bring enough to the table to keep active. As right-handed hitters (.267/.832) handle Miller better so far this year, stick with Mike Lowell (.289/.825 against lefties), Dustin Pedroia (.333/.890) and Kevin Youkilis (.304/.902).
Notable Injuries: Alex Rodriguez, 3B (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: No, you'd never sit him, but Alex Rodriguez's mastery of Colon warrants mention; he has five home runs against the right-hander in his last eight at-bats, and is a .444 hitter (20-for-45) with eight homers and 17 RBIs lifetime against Colon. Don't fret much about A-Rod's hamstring, but worry about Colon here. Johnny Damon (18-for-49, .367, 2 HR), Derek Jeter (12-for-34, .353, 2 HR) and Hideki Matsui (4-for-12, .333, 2 HR) also hit Colon well. Pettitte, despite his terrible last start, shapes up as the better starter here. The Angels can hit, though, with Orlando Cabrera (.338/.895 against lefties), Mike Napoli (.279/.866) and Reggie Willits (.385/.884) particularly appealing.
Notable Injuries: Troy Glaus, 3B (foot, day-to-day)
Game Story: Remember, the Blue Jays hit left-handers well (.292/.830), with Aaron Hill (.333/.955), Frank Thomas (.306/.997) and Vernon Wells (.297/.832) especially productive against that side. That doesn't bode well for Lee, whose first start of the season was a so-so, six-inning, nine-hit, five-run outing against these Blue Jays (May 3). His opponent, Halladay, after all, is 4-0 with a 3.33 ERA in nine career games (eight starts) against the Indians. Trot Nixon (19-for-51, .373) can hit the right-hander, and typical Indians are too good to sit, but expect this game to lean in Halladay's favor.
Notable Injuries: Al Reyes, RP (rotator cuff, DL)
Game Story: Though Shields is 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA in his last four starts, to be fair, three were on the road, one was at Coors Field and another was at the Indians. Give him the benefit of the doubt, even if this is another road assignment, as the Royals are MLB's 23rd-ranked offense (4.44 R/G). He's 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in two career starts against them, with only John Buck (2-for-3, .667, 2 HR) enjoying noticeable success against the right-hander. As for Perez, while he beat the Devil Rays on June 2, it wasn't that great an outing. Brendan Harris homered off him, and among Devil Rays hitters, Jonny Gomes (.270/.850 against lefties) and Ty Wigginton (.280/.962) match up well.
Game Story: Watch out for the rain, which should be heavy in Arlington all day Friday. As for the individuals, in his last time out, Guthrie allowed one too many runs to qualify for his 11th consecutive quality start since his permanent shift to the rotation. That's too strong a track record to avoid him simply based on this game being at a hitter-friendly ballpark. Only red-hot Brad Wilkerson (15-for-55, .273, 7 HR in his last 15 games) and Michael Young warrant consideration from the Rangers. Most Orioles hitters, meanwhile, are useful options against Loe, who struggles against left-handed hitters (.322/.885). Freddie Bynum (.235/.807 against righties), Nick Markakis (.284/.805) and Brian Roberts (.348/.926) are each rather favorable starts here.
Game Story: Certainly some of the reason for the Athletics' sheer dominance of the Mariners since 2005 -- they've won 30 of their last 42 meetings -- has been Haren's performance in those games; he's 5-2 with a 2.54 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in eight career starts against the Mariners. Don't worry at all that he's coming off his worst start of the year; it was against the Yankees, after all. Adrian Beltre (10-for-26, .385, 1 HR) is about the only Mariner with a favorable track record against Haren. Don't believe in the Weaver mirage, though. He might be 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA in his last three starts, but the Athletics have plenty of hitters who can get to him: Eric Chavez (11-for-25, .440), Dan Johnson (2-for-2, 1.000) and Nick Swisher (1-for-3, .333, 1 HR), to name three.
Fantasy Game Notes for Friday: National League
Notable Injuries: J.J. Hardy, SS (flu, should play)
Game Story: Bush really hasn't pitched poorly at all of late, with a 3.49 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in his last seven appearances (six starts), and you can't ask for a much better matchup than this one. The Nationals offense is the worst in MLB (3.69 R/G), and the right-hander already beat them on May 8 (6 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER). Among Nationals who do hit him: Robert Fick (4-for-5, .800, 1 HR), Austin Kearns (5-for-13, .385, 2 HR), Brian Schneider (5-for-7, .714) and Dmitri Young (3-for-5, .600, 1 HR). Load up on Brewers against Bacsik, as the team hits lefties at .290/.851 rates and he has .298/.832 career numbers against righties. Ryan Braun (.556/1.753), Bill Hall (.303/.883), J.J. Hardy (.291/.974) and Corey Hart (.302/.952) are particularly strong against left-handers.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Credit Maholm for greatly improving his walk rate, from 4.14 per nine innings in 2006 to 2.54 per nine this year, though what has not changed with him is his trouble with right-handed hitters (.294/.817 rates this year). That makes a matchup against the Cubs, a team stacked with right-handed power, one to avoid. Beyond your usual Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano trio, Mark DeRosa (.286/.759) handles lefties well enough to use. Stick with Marquis; he dominated these Pirates in back-to-back starts May 2 and 9, with a combined 17 innings pitched and one run allowed. Only one Pirate truly gives him trouble: Jason Bay (13-for-31, .486, 3 HR).
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Hitter-friendly Great American doesn't seem to bother Lohse, he of the 3.86 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 13 career games (12 starts) there. Considering he'll be facing a Diamondbacks team ranked 27th (4.20 R/G), it's not a bad matchup, at least not for NL-only owners. Still, left-handed hitters handle Lohse well enough that Orlando Hudson (.300/.843 against right-handers) and Chad Tracy (.295/.949) remain good starts here. As for Owings, though he managed a respectable outing in a losing effort against these Reds on April 11, he's coming off a bad start against a weak Giants team, and one could argue that the Reds have seen him already plays more in their favor. Lefties hit Owings hard (.300/.896), so load up with Adam Dunn (.282/1.023 against righties), Ken Griffey Jr. (.297/.994), Josh Hamilton (.285/.981) and Scott Hatteberg (.309/.877).
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Through seven starts, Pelfrey hasn't looked at all up to the task of pitching at the big-league level. His biggest weakness: Left-handed hitters, who have touched him up for .354/.988 numbers this season. Lance Berkman (.276/.890) and Mike Lamb (.295/.816) match up nicely, and Mark Loretta and Hunter Pence warrant attention as well. As for Rodriguez, while he's an impressive 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA in eight home starts, an assignment against the Mets, who have scored 34 runs in their last seven games, should limit him to NL-only use. Surprisingly, Carlos Delgado (4-for-4, 1.000, 1 HR) hits him, while Damion Easley (.322/.954 against lefties) could be a useful spot start.
Game Story: The Cardinals are an even weaker offense against left-handers (.248/.674) than right-handers (.272/.734), partially a result of one of their best lefty sluggers, Chris Duncan, barely touching lefties (.226/.652 rates). That makes Lowry worth the rare spot start on the road; he's 1-5 with a 4.66 ERA in seven road turns. Remember, lefty-killer Spiezio (.320/.904) could also be on the sidelines for this game. Avoid Maroth, though. The Giants have enough bats to get to left-handers, a group that includes Rich Aurilia (.263/.715), Ray Durham (.277/.922) and Randy Winn (.333/.897).
Game Story: Coors has never fazed Francis; he's 22-11 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 41 career starts there. He's also 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his last six starts, so keep riding the hot streak. One interesting Phillie to consider: Pat Burrell, a .270/.929 career hitter against left-handers, .342/1.067 at Coors Field. Don't trust Kendrick in a Coors game, though. Left-handed hitters get to him -- .280/.905 rates -- and the Rockies are chock full of quality lefties. Brad Hawpe (.330/1.029 against righties this year), Todd Helton (.314/.956) and Kazuo Matsui (.314/.803) are standout picks here.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Germano finally showed signs of slowing down in his last start (6 2/3 IP, 8 H, 5 ER against the Dodgers last Sunday), but that he has eight quality starts in 10 tries for the season suggests he should be kept active at home. Willie Harris (.379/.942), Kelly Johnson (.291/.871) and Chipper Jones (.348/1.036) are three Braves who hit right-handers well, but don't expect much else from a Petco game. Carlyle, meanwhile, can't get left-handers out for the life of him (.329/.997 rates). That bodes extremely well for Adrian Gonzalez (.276/.803 against righties) and Terrmel Sledge (.260/.805).
Game Story: Billingsley is a strikeout artist (53 in 49 2/3 innings), and the Marlins are by far the game's most strikeout-prone team (706 total). The right-hander did beat these Marlins twice in 2006, totaling 16 K's in 13 innings, and has held Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla to a combined 1-for-18 performance (.056) with nine K's. Keep that trio active, but go for Billingsley based on the matchup, too. Willis shouldn't be a bad option, either, though Nomar Garciaparra (4-for-9, .444, 1 HR) and Olmedo Saenz (3-for-8, .375) have hit him in the past.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Scott Baker, SP, MIN @ Chicago White Sox
Chad Billingsley, SP, LAD versus Florida Marlins
Dave Bush, SP, MIL @ Washington Nationals
Mark DeRosa, 2B/3B, CHC @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Jeff Francis, SP, COL versus Philadelphia Phillies
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B/3B, LAD versus Florida Marlins
Gary Glover, RP, TB @ Kansas City Royals
Jonny Gomes, OF, TB @ Kansas City Royals
Corey Hart, OF, MIL @ Washington Nationals
Dan Johnson, 1B, OAK versus Seattle Mariners
Mike Lamb, 1B, HOU versus New York Mets
Noah Lowry, SP, SF @ St. Louis Cardinals
Rob Mackowiak, OF, CHW versus Minnesota Twins
Jason Marquis, SP, CHC @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS @ Detroit Tigers
Terrmel Sledge, OF, SD versus Atlanta Braves
Chad Tracy, 3B, ARI @ Cincinnati Reds
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.