Daily Notes: Offense on the menu
Daniel Cabrera, RHP (9-16, 5.37 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Phil Hughes, RHP (3-3, 4.91 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Game Story: Cabrera has a 3.79 ERA against the Yankees in three starts this season, but a 1.42 WHIP and a 12-13 K-BB ratio suggest there was more luck involved than skill. The Yankees' offense has slowed down some -- Hideki Matsui is hitting .125, Melky Cabrera .204 and Robinson Cano an empty .275 in September -- but any remotely decent offense has a good shot to score on Cabrera. Hughes is coming off back-to-back quality starts for the first time in his career, and he's a solid bet to make it three in a row against a struggling (.723 OPS in September) Orioles offense.
Kenny Rogers, LHP (3-2, 4.50 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) versus
Paul Byrd, RHP (15-6, 4.34 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Ryan Garko, 1B (finger, day-to-day)
Game Story: Rogers has been serviceable since returning from the disabled list two starts ago, and though he allowed nine hits, he surrendered just two runs in 6 1/3 innings last Monday against the Blue Jays, one of the league's best offenses against southpaws. The Indians have been a totally different offense the past couple of months (24th in OPS since the All-Star break), and only Ryan Garko (.323 average, six homers against lefties) and Franklin Gutierrez (four homers, .337 average) are particularly great plays against Rogers. Byrd has been pretty generic all season, and his matchup against the Tigers isn't especially beneficial or worrisome, so expect a performance in the vicinity of a quality start or slightly worse.
Tim Wakefield, RHP (16-10, 4.68 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
Dustin McGowan, RHP (10-9, 4.01 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Game Story: Wakefield has dominated the Blue Jays this season, amassing a 2.77 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in four starts against them. But Wakefield has been torched by two mediocre offenses, the Devil Rays and Orioles, in his past two starts, allowing 13 runs in 6 2/3 innings. So, although it's fairly risky to play Wakefield given his recent performances, this matchup demands it. The Blue Jays have just a .705 OPS against righties, though, which is 29th in the majors. McGowan, meanwhile, was on a roll until he ran into the Yankees, and the Red Sox don't offer much breathing room either, ranking second in the majors (behind the Yankees) in OPS against right-handers. Jacoby Ellsbury is riding a 13-game hitting streak since being recalled in September, and McGowan was lit up by the Red Sox earlier this season.
Gavin Floyd, RHP (1-3, 5.79 ERA, 1.52 WHIP) versus
Kyle Davies, RHP (6-13, 5.65 ERA, 1.64 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: None.
Game Story: After three quality starts in a row, it looks like Floyd will stay in the rotation to end the season. He gets another light-hitting opponent in the Royals, the worst-hitting team in the division outside of maybe the White Sox. Alex Gordon is the only Royals hitter who has performed well for more than a couple of weeks; he's now hitting .340 in September with three home runs. Given Floyd's strikeout potential, he's a solid spot start. Davies hasn't shown yet why the Royals acquired him; he has been the same mediocre (at best) pitcher he was in Atlanta. It's the case of an unreliable pitcher against an equally poor offense, a case in which no one wins.
Edison Volquez, RHP (2-1, 4.24 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) versus
Kevin Slowey, RHP (3-0, 5.44 ERA, 1.63 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Volquez didn't do so well in a tough matchup against the Tigers, but he gets a soft matchup in the Twins (.707 OPS since the All-Star break, tied for last). The Twins have become one of the offenses fantasy owners covet -- based on matchup alone, almost any opposing starting pitcher is worth throwing out there against them. Michael Cuddyer's decline -- he has 13 HRs this season compared to 24 HRs last season -- has hurt the lineup significantly, though Jason Kubel (.348 average since August) might finally be living up to his potential. Slowey hasn't looked too great, but he should round into a quality third or fourth starter this season or next. But he must solve the gopher-ball problems (16 HRs in 48 innings) first.
Miguel Batista, RHP (13-11, 4.67 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) versus
Dan Haren, RHP (14-7, 3.11 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Richie Sexson, 1B (hamstring, out).
Game Story: This matchup is a rematch of this past Wednesday. Batista took advantage of a solid matchup (six innings, two earned runs and four strikeouts), while Dan Haren's fall from grace continued (6 2/3 innings, 12 hits, four runs). The switch from a home game to a road game hurts Batista and helps Haren, according to their home/road splits. At the plate, Mark Ellis and Nick Swisher are the hot-hitting A's, while recent call-up Daric Barton continues to start at first base so the team can see what he can do. So far so good -- he's hitting .346 in six games. The Mariners' offense has struggled in September despite solid play from Raul Ibanez and Jose Vidro (.365 since the break).
Edwin Jackson, RHP (4-14, 5.94 ERA, 1.75 WHIP) versus
Kelvim Escobar, RHP (17-7, 3.25 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Gary Matthews, OF (ankle, questionable)
Game Story: Jackson rebounded well against the Red Sox after getting bombed by the Yankees and Blue Jays; a quality start against an elite offense should be considered a success, especially when one considers that notched six strikeouts (in six innings). The Angels haven't been world-beaters on offense of late, not that we expected them to be. Casey Kotchman, Gary Matthews and Reggie Willits have contributed almost nothing in recent weeks, leaving just Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson to pick up the slack. Thus, Jackson isn't a bad option if you're hurting for last-minute strikeouts. Escobar, meanwhile, has allowed five or more runs in three of his past five starts, and the Devil Rays have actually picked it up lately (.852 OPS). Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton are doing most of the heavy lifting, although Brendan Harris has four homers this month.
Chris Seddon, LHP (0-0, 12.60 ERA, 2.00 WHIP) versus
Buddy Carlyle, LHP (8-6, 5.16 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: None.
Game Story: Seddon is basically fodder for the Braves offense; he's pitched miserably since being called up and was bombed for seven runs in three innings against the Nationals in his only start this season. As always, Matt Diaz is a great option against any left-hander (nine home runs, .352 average in 2007). The Braves haven't hit well this month (27th in OPS), but an offensive outburst on Monday wouldn't be surprising. Carlyle (6.79 ERA since August) has been figured out by the league and is devoid of value, and with the Marlins hitting well, this should be a high-scoring affair. Mike Jacobs and Jeremy Hermida have been the hot hitters to watch.
Orlando Hernandez, RHP (9-5, 3.75 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) versus
Mike Bacsik, LHP (5-8, 4.95 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
Game Story: When a pitcher who has been getting by on good luck and defense regresses to the mean, it can be an ugly thing to watch. Such is the case with El Duque, who has allowed 13 runs in his past six innings, boosting his ERA three-quarters of a run. Both opponents boast good offenses, but the Braves were struggling when he took the hill to face them. Normally Hernandez would be playable against the Nationals, but sometimes you have to get out of the way of a pitcher who doesn't have it, no matter the competition. If Hernandez is fallible once again, Wily Mo Pena and Austin Kearns should benefit the most. Bacsik is a mediocre lefty going against the Mets, which is pretty much a death sentence. Aside from the usual Mets, owners should ride Moises Alou's recent revival until his wheels fall off. Literally.
Bronson Arroyo, RHP (9-14, 4.31 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) versus
Rich Hill, LHP (9-8, 3.91 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
Game Story: Arroyo has been rolling in his past six starts, sporting a 3.06 ERA and a 38-6 K-BB ratio. The Cubs, with a healthy core and good role players, have an .806 OPS this month, good for 12th in the majors. Arroyo has had trouble with the long ball even during his recent stretch, and the Cubs' 23 home runs this month are second in the majors. But even if he gives up a long ball or two, Arroyo should be able to provide a solid start. Meanwhile, Hill shouldn't have any problem shutting down the Reds, who are horrible against lefties. Hill has a 1.50 ERA in two previous outings against the Reds this season.
Yovani Gallardo, RHP (8-4, 3.99 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) versus
Matt Albers, RHP (4-8, 5.79 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: None.
Game Story: Gallardo has had quite the easy schedule in his past five starts, facing the D-backs, Giants, Pirates (twice) and the Astros, only slipping against the Diamondbacks on the road. He gets the Astros again, this time on the road. But that slight detail might be enough of a reason to sit Gallardo this time. The Astros have a .761 OPS at home (15th in the majors) compared to a .710 OPS (26th) on the road, and Gallardo, like many of his teammates, is an entirely better player at home (2.50 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) than on the road (5.85 ERA, 1.75 WHIP). Albers' poor numbers say all that needs to be said there, especially given that the Brewers are baseball's hottest offense this month (.914 OPS). At least Gallardo should have a lot of run support.
Kyle Kendrick, RHP (8-4, 4.02 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) versus
Game Story: Kendrick has managed to be solid through 17 starts despite a nonexistent strikeout rate and a fair amount of home runs. The longer he keeps it up, the tougher it will be to write him off. But pitchers of that type are an ever-present risk to start, regardless of opposition. The Cardinals are banged up, and their offense has struggled this month (.740 OPS, 22nd) because of it. With Rick Ankiel stumbling and Chris Duncan hurt, it has once again has become Albert Pujols and the replacement-level gang. So Kendrick isn't a bad option. Saturday's doubleheader messed with the Cards' rotation, so you might see Mike Maroth (11.01 ERA in St. Louis) on the mound. Whatever mediocre pitcher the Cards throw out, the Phillies' hot-hitting offense should throttle him.
Kevin Correia, RHP (4-6, 3.47 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
Brandon Webb, RHP (16-10, 2.99 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
Game Story: This is another one of those same-team, same-pitching-matchup, different-park games between division foes. Correia was successful against the D-backs in his last start at home (5 1/3 innings, one run allowed), but things figure to be different in hitter-friendly Chase Field, where the Diamondbacks are actually a threat (.769 OPS, 12th). Correia will have enough trouble just making it through six innings, and it won't help that he's opposing Webb, who should be able to silence a Barry Bondsless Giants lineup, which resembles a Triple-A team's. If Webb doesn't have the best start of the day, he will have failed to meet expectations.
John Van Benschoten, RHP (0-5, 10.86 ERA, 2.17 WHIP) versus
Jack Cassel, RHP (0-0, 4.66 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Milton Bradley, OF (oblique, doubtful).
Game Story: It didn't take long for Van Benschoten's brief success (4.00 ERA through first four starts) to turn to absolute failure (28.88 ERA in four starts since). With results like that, you figure any remotely playable Padre hitter, including Mike Cameron and Kevin Kouzmanoff, Khalil Greene and Brian Giles, will have a good shot at a productive day. Cassel had a 1.56 WHIP in Triple-A at age 26, so he might not be too far behind Van Benschoten. The Pirates have continued to hit well as a team this month, led by Adam LaRoche (nine-game hitting streak) and Jack Wilson (four homers, .511 average).
Phil Hughes, SP, NYY versus Baltimore Orioles
Ryan Garko, 1B, CLE versus Detroit Tigers
Franklin Gutierrez, OF, CLE versus Detroit Tigers
Tim Wakefield, SP, BOS @ Toronto Blue Jays
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS @ Toronto Blue Jays
Gavin Floyd, SP, CHW @ Kansas City Royals
Alex Gordon, 3B, KC versus Chicago White Sox
Edison Volquez, SP, TEX @ Minnesota Twins
Mark Ellis, 2B, OAK versus Seattle Mariners
Matt Diaz, OF, ATL versus Florida Marlins
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA @ Atlanta Braves
Mike Jacobs, 1B, FLA @ Atlanta Braves
Moises Alou, OF, NYM @ Washington Nationals
Wily Mo Pena, OF, WAS versus New York Mets
Bronson Arroyo, SP, CIN @ Chicago Cubs
Kyle Kendrick, SP, PHI @ St. Louis Cardinals
Mike Cameron, OF, SD versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Adam LaRoche, 1B, PIT @ San Diego Padres
Jack Wilson, SS, PIT @ San Diego Padres
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, 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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