Daily Notes: Can Kazmir top the Sox?
Vicente Padilla, RHP (3-8, 6.30 ERA, 1.75 WHIP) versus
Daniel Cabrera, RHP (9-12, 4.93 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Padilla was superb in his return from the disabled list, striking out eight and allowing only four hits and no earned runs versus the Royals. In the Orioles, Padilla faces an offense on the same level as the Royals, at least when judged this month: The Orioles are 20th in OPS in August, the Royals 24th. Nick Markakis, Corey Patterson and Aubrey Huff have hit considerably better since the All-Star break than before it, so there's a bit more life in the bats, but it still offers a favorable matchup for Padilla to see whether his first start off the disabled list was a fluke. Cabrera has a 30-25 strikeout-to-walk rate in seven starts since the All-Star break and is too unpredictable to be used even against an offense as poor as the Rangers'.
Joe Blanton, RHP (10-8, 3.94 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) versus
Shaun Marcum, RHP (10-4, 3.31 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Travis Buck, OF (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Blanton abruptly halted a performance streak that was spiraling downward rapidly by pitching seven innings of shutout ball against the White Sox in his last start. Before that start, Blanton had allowed 34 earned runs in his past 50 innings. The Blue Jays are particularly vulnerable against right-handers because they employ a lineup that leans heavily to the right, and in Blanton's lone previous start against the Jays, he allowed one run in a complete game. Marcum has allowed just four earned runs in his past four starts, which has helped him to his five-start winning streak. His numbers are due for a regression, but other than Jack Cust, the Athletics hardly look like a major league offense.
Tim Wakefield, RHP (14-10, 4.55 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) versus
Scott Kazmir, LHP (9-7, 3.44 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Ben Zobrist, SS (oblique, questionable)
Game Story: Wakefield has faced the D-Rays two times in his past four starts and three times in his past eight. Overall, he has a 2.21 ERA and 1.08 WHIP against them this season. You can't argue with that much, so consider Wakefield a strong spot start. Kazmir has a microscopic 1.01 ERA since the All-Star break, and his 1.10 WHIP is actually higher. He has continued his career-long dominance of the Red Sox this season, as well, with a 1.50 ERA in three starts against them this season, so this matchup should be sort of a surprise pitching duel.
Horacio Ramirez, LHP (7-4, 7.38 ERA, 1.89 WHIP) versus
Matt Garza, RHP (2-3, 2.05 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Jason Bartlett, SS (hamstring, questionable)
Game Story: There's just been no hope for Ramirez, who has been horrible in every sense of the word. Minnesota just lit him up for six runs in his last start, so start all your playable Twins. Garza wasn't great against the Mariners, allowing 11 baserunners in seven innings and allowing three runs. The Mariners have been hot this month, hitting .325 as a team, so it might be best to bench Garza his second time around against them. Jose Guillen is hitting .313 with three home runs; Yuniesky Betancourt is at .368 with three home runs; and Raul Ibanez has hit more home runs in August (seven) than he had accumulated to that point (six).
Gil Meche, RHP (7-11, 3.90 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) versus
Mark Buehrle, LHP (9-8, 3.36 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Paul Konerko, 1B (personal, day-to-day)
Game Story: Meche's ERA has increased gradually every month, and his ERA after the All-Star break is pushing 5, but he still is useful as a spot starter. The White Sox are considerably better against southpaws and could be without one of their best hitters (Konerko), and Meche did well against them in a start earlier this season. Josh Fields is hitting just .190 against righties and Danny Richar has been brutal as a replacement for Tadahito Iguchi, so only Chicago's best hitters can be played. As matchups go, Buehrle shouldn't have a problem with the Royals, although it's worth noting Billy Butler is hitting .352 against lefties and Alex Gordon is hitting .286 with four home runs and three stolen bases this month.
Phil Hughes, RHP (2-1, 4.44 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) versus
Dustin Moseley, RHP (4-2, 4.84 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Angels aren't hitting well this month, with their .745 OPS ranking 21st in the majors. It has been a trend, too, as in July they finished 22nd in the majors with a .712 OPS. Casey Kotchman is hitting .345 but hasn't hit a home run since the All-Star break, and otherwise only Vladimir Guerrero and Chone Figgins are producing. Hughes has been impressive, striking out a batter an inning and allowing only two home runs in 26 2/3 innings, so he should do well. Moseley hasn't pitched past the seventh inning in any of his starts and is facing what has been the most dominating offense since the All-Star break. Almost the entire team is hitting very well; Melky Cabrera is hitting .338 since the break with four home runs and four stolen bases.
Russ Ortiz, RHP (2-3, 5.20 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) versus
Sergio Mitre, RHP (5-6, 3.82 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Miguel Olivo, C (groin, day-to-day)
Game Story: It goes without saying that Ortiz is one of the furthest things from a pitching option. The Marlins feature a pretty good offense, one that seems to have Mike Jacobs out of his slump, as well; he has hit three home runs in his past five games. Josh Willingham is hitting well, too, with a .321 average and three homers this month, and has chipped in four steals. Mitre hasn't handled a soft schedule very well the past couple of months, and he just allowed five runs in six innings in a start against the Diamondbacks. The Giants offer another favorable matchup, but Mitre seems too risky to be used regardless of matchups.
Joel Pineiro, RHP (3-2, 4.25 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) versus
Ted Lilly, LHP (13-5, 3.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Cliff Floyd, OF (bereavement, day-to-day)
Game Story: After a poor start against the Nationals, Pineiro, in two starts, has allowed two earned runs in 14 innings. Both teams are hitting moderately well -- with St. Louis better than the Cubs, anyway, whose .746 OPS since the All-Star break is 21st in the majors -- so that Pineiro might have to be taken seriously. The Cubs are essentially down to just Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez in terms of productive hitters, and although it still would take some guts to start Pineiro, especially considering the weather situation, the idea is intriguing to say the least. Lilly was lit up by the Reds, allowing six runs in five innings against one of the worst teams in baseball against lefties. The Cards aren't much better, though, so trot Lilly out there again.
Tim Hudson, RHP (14-5, 3.02 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) versus
Phil Dumatrait, LHP (0-1, 10.32 ERA, 2.56 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Alex Gonzalez, SS (bereavement, day-to-day)
Game Story: Hudson has logged seven quality starts in a row, leading to a 1.78 ERA since the All-Star break. The Reds rank sixth in OPS versus righties (.784), and with Josh Hamilton back, they have their best hitters in the lineup again. Hamilton is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak since returning and has hit a home run, too, so the wrist doesn't seem to be a problem. Hudson can't be benched, but it wouldn't be surprising to see his ERA rise in this start. Dumatrait was bombed by the Cubs for five runs in two innings, and the Cubs are one of the weakest teams in the majors against lefties. Start all your Braves bats, including Matt Diaz, who should get a start versus a lefty.
Tim Redding, RHP (2-3, 2.88 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) versus
Jason Jennings, RHP (2-8, 6.16 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
Game Story: Redding has managed to keep up his surprising performance, even logging a quality start against the Phillies -- an offense with an .859 OPS since the break -- in his last start. He has 24 strikeouts in his past four starts (25 1/3 innings). The Astros have a weak offense already -- even without the prospect of two of their best hitters missing a game or playing while banged-up -- so Redding should keep the magic going. Jennings has a 6.87 ERA this month and already has allowed a whopping seven home runs. Start any reasonable Nationals hitters, including Austin Kearns, Ryan Church and Felipe Lopez.
Matt Morris, RHP (7-8, 4.65 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP (2-2, 5.28 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: You have to go back eight starts to find the last time Morris has allowed fewer than four earned runs in a start; overall, he has allowed at least four runs in 10 of his past 11 starts. All Rockies are good to go, including underrated Troy Tulowitzki, who is hitting .333 on the month with three homers and a steal. Jimenez's performance against the Padres was quite surprising, and his strikeout rate in the majors (9.10) is considerably higher than his minor league rate (7.78). The Pirates offense has been decent -- Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche, in particular, are hitting well -- and it was just one start, but any pitcher who can strike out a batter per inning is worth watching.
Yovani Gallardo, RHP (4-3, 4.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) versus
Doug Davis, LHP (10-10, 3.92 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Gallardo's tough schedule has caught up to him, as he has faced the Cardinals, Rockies and Phillies -- all teams in the top third of offensive categories since the All-Star break -- in his past four starts and it has resulted in 23 earned runs in 19 innings. The D-backs have been decent offensively recently, with only Chris B. Young (11 home runs and 10 steals since the break) standing out. The downside is that the game is in Arizona; the Brewers don't play well on the road -- Gallardo himself has a 7.56 ERA on the road -- and Chase Field is a hitters' park where the D-backs hit better, as well. The Brewers crush lefties -- Kevin Mench and Bill Hall hit them quite well -- so Davis is of no use, either.
Jack Cust, DH, OAK @ Toronto Blue Jays
Tim Wakefield, SP, BOS @ Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, SEA @ Minnesota Twins
Raul Ibanez, OF, SEA @ Minnesota Twins
Gil Meche, SP, KC @ Chicago White Sox
Billy Butler, DH, KC @ Chicago White Sox
Phil Hughes, SP, NYY @ Los Angeles Angels
Melky Cabrera, OF, NYY @ Los Angeles Angels
Mike Jacobs, 1B, FLA vs. San Francisco Giants
Josh Willingham, OF, FLA vs. San Francisco Giants
Josh Hamilton, OF, CIN vs. Atlanta Braves
Matt Diaz, OF, ATL @ Cincinnati Reds
Tim Redding, SP, WAS @ Houston Astros
Ryan Church, OF, WAS @ Houston Astros
Felipe Lopez, SS, WAS @ Houston Astros
Adam LaRoche, 1B, PIT @ Colorado Rockies
Bill Hall, OF, MIL @ Arizona Diamondbacks
Kevin Mench, OF, MIL @ Arizona Diamondbacks
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 stints 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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