Daily Notes: Escobar goes for No. 17
Jake Westbrook, RHP (5-8, 4.30 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) versus
Javier Vazquez, RHP (11-8, 3.98 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Since allowing five runs in six innings against the Red Sox on July 23, Westbrook has a 2.31 ERA over nine starts, dropping his ERA nearly two runs. The White Sox have remained one of the worst offenses in the league (23rd in OPS since the All-Star break; 28th on the season) and Westbrook is owned in just 3.6 percent of ESPN leagues. Westbrook should continue his roll and is a great spot start. Vazquez has been pretty decent, with his only slip-up occurring when he allowed seven runs in six innings against the Red Sox; otherwise he has seven quality starts since the break. Asdrubal Cabrera is the only Indian hitting particularly well -- relative to his established level of performance. So, Vazquez makes a decent option, especially if you need strikeouts.
Carlos Silva, RHP (11-13, 4.34 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) versus
Gil Meche, RHP (7-12, 3.82 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Outside of a blow-up against the Indians, Silva has been steady and effective recently, averaging nearly seven innings an outing and he hasn't allowed more than three runs in a start since July 25. The Royals don't hit particularly well and Silva has already seen and done well against them twice; the lineup hasn't changed much since those performances took place, so there's no reason Silva shouldn't have another great outing. Meche has, quietly, been consistently good the past month, allowing more than two runs just once, though he still hasn't won a game since July 20. The Twins have been one of the few offenses worse than the Royals since the All-Star break, so Wednesday is as good a day for that streak to snaps.
Kelvim Escobar, RHP (16-7, 3.04 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) versus
Daniel Cabrera, RHP (9-15, 5.11 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
Game Story: The Orioles lineup is mostly filled with nondescript performers, especially now that Miguel Tejada is no longer playing at a superstar level. Nick Markakis has found some power recently -- seven of his home runs have occurred since Aug. 22 -- and Aubrey Huff hit eight home runs in August (though has since cooled off), but otherwise there aren't many notable players. Overall the offense is decent (16th in OPS since the break), but Escobar shouldn't have much of a problem with Baltimore's. Cabrera's copious walks and increased home run rate has led to a ton of inconsistency this season, making him far too risky against the Angels. Garret Anderson and Howie Kendrick have carried the offense even as Guerrero has been hobbled.
Edwin Jackson, RHP (4-14, 6.00 ERA, 1.75 WHIP) versus
Jon Lester, LHP (4-0, 4.47 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)
Game Story: Jackson has regressed back to his previously ugly form recently, first allowing four runs in six innings against the 29th ranked offense in the White Sox, and then allowing six runs against the Yankees (somewhat defensible) and seven against the Blue Jays (absolutely not). Before that, Jackson had allowed no more than two runs and went at least six innings in five straight starts; here's hope he regains that magic, but don't hold your breath. Three of Lester's eight starts have occurred against the Devil Rays. The D-Rays, fifth in OPS against left-handers, have come out ahead in those matchups, roughing him up in two starts. Akinori Iwamura (.326/.390/.486 line) and Jonny Gomes (.315 average, five home runs in 89 at-bats) are particularly adept against southpaws.
Edinson Volquez, RHP (2-0, 2.45 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) versus
Justin Verlander, RHP (16-5, 3.56 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Ivan Rodriguez, C (dizziness, day-to-day)
Game Story: The Rangers are hoping Volquez does well in the rotation and they can slot him in to begin next season, and if Volquez can limit his home runs he should be effective. He didn't allow one against either the Angels or A's, but to be fair the A's hit significantly more home runs off left-handers, and the Angels don't have much home run power as a team. Although the Tigers are eighth in home runs this season, they are only 17th since the All-Star break. They're a decent matchup and, given Volquez' strikeout potential, he doesn't make a bad spot start. Verlander has allowed just two runs in his past 21 2/3 innings, but the Rangers have been on fire: Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Brad Wilkerson and Hank Blalock are all surging.
Mike Mussina, RHP (8-10, 5.51 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Dustin McGowan, RHP (10-8, 3.90 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Game Story: Clemens' absence gives Mussina, who has been pitching in relief the past two weeks, another shot in the rotation. Despite it being an intradivision matchup, this will be Mussina's first start against the Blue Jay. On paper it's a good one for Mussina, since the Jays are inept against right-handers. This start will go a long way towards deciding if Mussina can contribute the rest of this season, and if he's anything less than decent, the answer is probably no. It's been 10 starts since McGowan has allowed more than three runs in a start, and he is coming off a 12-strikeout performance against the D-Rays. McGowan has also owned the Yankees in two starts this season; if ever you were to start a righty against them, Wednesday would be a good time.
Dan Haren, RHP (14-7, 3.03 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) versus
Miguel Batista, RHP (13-11, 4.73 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Richie Sexson, 1B (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Haren has spent the last couple of months regressing to the mean from his outstanding first half; he has a 4.46 ERA and 1.55 WHIP since the All-Star break. The Mariners haven't gave him troubles, though, both this season (2.33 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) and in his career (2.71 ERA, 1.16 WHIP), and his best start since the All-Star break came against the Mariners. Toss in the Mariners' teamwide slump and Haren has a strong matchup. Batista has been lit up often this season -- eight times he has allowed five or more runs -- and three such outings have occurred in his past four starts. Batista has otherwise interspersed solid performances, but he hasn't looked particularly good against the A's all season, and you don't need many reasons to sit a starter with a 1.55 WHIP.
Dave Bush, RHP (11-10, 5.25 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) versus
Tom Gorzelanny, LHP (14-7, 3.48 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
Game Story: With 14 home runs in 55 2/3 innings since the All-Star break, Bush has deserved his poor second half stats (5.98 ERA, 1.53 WHIP). Bush topped that off by getting torched by the Reds in his last start, allowing eight runs in one inning. Despite the fact that he faced the Pirates at the beginning of the month and netted a quality start, it'd be best to avoid Bush this time around. Adam LaRoche, Jack Wilson and Ronny Paulino are all performing well for the Pirates, and though Nyjer Morgan was taking time from Nate McLouth, who has hit well starting for the injured Jason Bay. Gorzelanny is facing the best offense in the majors against lefties (.863 OPS); Kevin Mench, Rickie Weeks and even Bill Hall are all solid options; that trio is very effective against lefties.
Joel Hanrahan, RHP (4-3, 5.63 ERA, 1.72 WHIP) versus
Byung-Hyun Kim, RHP (9-6, 5.47 ERA, 1.67 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: This should be one of the uglier pitching performances of the day; you could make a case neither of the starting pitchers deserve a roster spot on their respective team. Hanrahan has allowed seven home runs and has a 28-25 strikeout-to-walk rate. Expect Florida's best, including Jeremy Hermida (seven-game hitting streak) and Mike Jacobs (.343 AVG, 3 HR in September), to tee off on Hanrahan. Kim is coming off two decent (for him) starts against the Phillies, but he allowed three home runs in those two starts nonetheless. Kim's the better bet of the two starters; the Nationals are rather helpless against righties (.689 OPS, last in majors).
Kyle Kendrick, RHP (8-3, 3.78 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
Game Story: Rockies manager Clint Hurdle hasn't committed to a starter, but with Mark Redman and Ramon Ortiz the two options, it's simply a decision between the bad and the worse. The Phillies will be happy either way; their .294/.382/.497 line gives them the fourth-best OPS this month, and since the All-Star break they've been the only offense to come close to the Yankees. Kendrick's still getting by with a 3.33 K-9 rate, and in any start Kendrick's luck may run out. He should be able to keep it up against the Rockies, though, Colorado has one of the worst offenses in the league on the road, and they're already a bit banged up with Taveras and Matsui out.
John Smoltz, RHP (13-7, 3.02 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) versus
John Maine, RHP (14-9, 3.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Game Story: The Mets have been one of the few teams to get to Smoltz; in five starts Smoltz has a 3.66 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP, with three of his 13 home runs occurring against the Mets. The Mets offense is as good as it has been all season, led most notably by David Wright. The health of Moises Alou has helped a lot as well; his nine home runs since August are tied for second on the team behind Wright. It took four months, but Maine has regressed to the mean recently, with a 7.15 ERA in his past seven starts. The Braves have dropped to last in OPS in September, though, and Maine did put in a nice performance against them two starts ago. Given the offense behind him, he's not a bad option despite the ever-increasing ERA.
Mike Maroth, LHP (5-6, 6.87 ERA, 1.89 WHIP) versus
Bronson Arroyo, RHP (8-14, 4.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Game Story: Maroth was pushed to the bullpen after flopping in the rotation, but he hasn't been any better, allowing a whopping 15 hits in 3 1/3 innings. He has an 11.01 ERA and 2.42 WHIP for the Cardinals. Even though the Reds are vastly inferior against left-handers compared to their production against righties, the only thing Maroth has done recently is get bombed by everyone. Arroyo has a 3.25 ERA in his past five starts and his strikeouts have shot up, with 33 in 32 2/3 innings. The Cardinals also may have lost their second-best hitter for the rest of the season in Chris Duncan, though he's been anything but stellar recently. Arroyo's on a roll, though, and the Cards don't have enough of an offense to prevent a good performance by Arroyo.
Rich Hill, LHP (8-8, 4.02 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) versus
Troy Patton, LHP (0-2, 3.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Mark DeRosa, 2B (elbow, day-to-day)
Game Story: The Astros are decent against lefties, with a .770 OPS that puts them 14th. Outside of the obvious contributions by Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee, Ty Wigginton has continued to destroy lefties, hitting .287/373/.558 with nine home runs in 129 at-bats. Hill allowed five runs in five innings against the Astros earlier this month and followed that up by allowing six runs in six innings against the Pirates, so he's not a safe option. The Cubs hit a paltry .254/.315/.411 against southpaws, which places them 27th in the majors, and Patton took advantage of that and logged a quality start against the Cubs earlier in the month. The Cubs offense is essentially tied to their trio of Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, but unfortunately for Patton they all are red-hot right now.
Justin Germano, RHP (7-9, 4.38 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) versus
Derek Lowe, RHP (11-12, 3.80 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Milton Bradley, OF (oblique, day-to-day)
Game Story: The Dodgers' offense has been reduced to Matt Kemp and friends, and now Kemp is hitting third and hasn't slowed down all summer long. James Loney (.333 average, three home runs) has picked up the slack as Jeff Kent and Russell Martin have slipped in September, but it's still not enough to make the Dodgers even an average offense, and Germano's a decent option as a result. Lowe has been mediocre recently, allowing six home runs on his way to a 7.26 ERA in his past three starts. The Padres were one of those three starts, they lit Lowe up to the tune of six runs and two home runs in 4 1/3 innings. The Padres are much better on the road, too, so play Lowe with caution.
Brandon Webb, RHP (15-10, 2.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) versus
Jonathan Sanchez, LHP (1-3, 5.06 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Webb has been human recently, allowing his first home runs in eight starts and struggling against the Padres and Rockies. He will almost assuredly rebound against the moribund Giants, who are hitting to their established level of performance this month, which is to say not much. Sanchez is an interesting option against the equally susceptible offense of the Diamondbacks -- the D-backs' .694 OPS against lefties is second-to-last in the majors. Despite Sanchez's struggles he has 55 strikeouts in his 48 innings. Sanchez has a lot of potential but is just low on experience. As a high-upside spot start, Sanchez is a pretty good option if you're willing to accept the inherent risk attached.
Jake Westbrook, SP, CLE @ Chicago White Sox
Carlos Silva, SP, MIN @ Kansas City Royals
Gil Meche, SP, KC versus Minnesota Twins
Akinori Iwamura, 3B, TB @ Boston Red Sox
Jonny Gomes, OF, TB @ Boston Red Sox
Edinson Volquez, SP, TEX @ Detroit Tigers
Brad Wilkerson, OF, TEX @ Detroit Tigers
Jack Wilson, SS, PIT versus Milwaukee Brewers
Kevin Mench, OF, MIL @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA versus Washington Nationals
Mike Jacobs, 1B, FLA versus Washington Nationals
Kyle Kendrick, SP, PHI versus Colorado Rockies
Moises Alou, OF, NYM versus Atlanta Braves
Bronson Arroyo, SP, CIN versus St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Kemp, OF, LAD versus San Diego Padres
Jonathan Sanchez, SP, SF versus 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 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.