Daily Notes: Johan's final start?
Joe Saunders, LHP (8-4, 4.05 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) versus
Luis Mendoza, RHP (1-0, 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Saunders is a very hittable pitcher, and after a quick start, he has been a rather poor pitcher. Saunders has allowed at least four runs in four of his past six outings, which has led to a 5.72 ERA in that time frame. The Rangers' .822 OPS this month ranks fifth, with Hank Blalock and David Murphy posting surprisingly good performances. Against a left-hander, Sammy Sosa (.325/.404/.590 line against southpaws) should also get a start. Mendoza has a career 4.66 K-9 rate in the minors, so don't count on much from him. The Angels rarely strike out as it is and thrive on putting the ball in play and utilizing their team speed, so the Angels should do well offensively, even though outside of Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero no one has impressed this month.
Joe Blanton, RHP (14-10, 3.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) versus
Jon Lester, LHP (4-0, 4.45 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
Game Story: Before being roughed up by the Indians a bit in his last start, Blanton had four straight starts, and six out of seven, in which he went at least seven innings and allowed three runs or less. He hasn't faced the Red Sox since June, but at least he gets to face a weakened version likely without Ramirez or Youkilis. Even without Ramirez, the Red Sox have been the majors' seventh-best offense, according to team OPS, much credit of which goes to Jacoby Ellsbury, who has a hit in 19 of his past 20 games and is hitting .372 overall. Lester hasn't been consistent enough to be an option, and the A's are solid against lefties. Mark Ellis destroys them (11 HR, .971 OPS) and Jack Cust is recently coming off home runs in three straight games.
Johan Santana, LHP (15-13, 3.29 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) versus
Jair Jurrjens, RHP (3-1, 3.90 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: After allowing three home runs to the White Sox in his last start, Santana has now allowed a whopping 33 home runs on the season. That gives him the highest home run rate of any pitcher with an ERA below 4.00. The Tigers are pretty good against left-handers -- their .827 OPS is fourth, though a lot of that damage came before their offense struggled the past couple of months -- so Santana is no lock for a good start. Jurrjens hasn't been as impressive as his numbers look, failing to last more than 5 1/3 innings in a start this month. But facing the Twins, who have arguably the worst offense in the majors, Jurrjens is a decent spot start.
Ryan Feierabend, LHP (1-5, 7.33 ERA, 1.84 WHIP) versus
Fausto Carmona, RHP (18-8, 3.03 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Feierabend's ERA and WHIP pretty much speak for themselves, but throwing out other numbers is fun, too. Feierabend also has a 27-21 strikeout-to-walk rate in 46 2/3 innings, with nine home runs allowed. The Indians offense has struggled, but even they should have no problem roughing Feierabend up. Ryan Garko and Franklin Gutierrez are the Indians' best hitters against lefties, so definitely start them. Carmona has been nearly untouchable this month, with a 1.27 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP, and the roll should continue against the Mariners, who have collapsed as a team and, despite hitting .288 as a team, are still just 22nd in OPS this month.
Roy Halladay, RHP (15-7, 3.71 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) versus
Victor Zambrano, RHP (0-2, 6.41 ERA, 1.98 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Corey Patterson, OF (ankle, questionable)
Game Story: Halladay has allowed two earned runs combined in his past two starts, which came against the Yankees and Orioles. The Orioles have the second-lowest OBP in the majors this month, so Halladay should be every bit as good against them Wednesday as he was two starts ago. The Blue Jays offense isn't much better -- they rank 27th in OPS this month, just one spot ahead of the Orioles -- but they shouldn't get embarrassed by Zambrano again. Zambrano shut out the Blue Jays for four innings 10 days ago, but he was cut from the Jays for a reason: In just 10 2/3 innings earlier this season, Zambrano allowed five home runs and 11 walks. Russ Adams is hitting well this month and Matt Stairs is the best Blue Jay against righties, so expect good games out of them.
Cleveland Indians @ Seattle Mariners
Jeremy Sowers, LHP (1-6, 6.93 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) versus
Jarrod Washburn, LHP (10-15, 4.36 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: This will be Sowers' first start since being sent down in June, and though he pitched better in the minors -- it would be hard not to -- he still wasn't great, with a 4.10 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. The one thing the Mariners offense can do is hit lefties, with Jose Guillen (1.062 OPS), Yuniesky Betancourt (.924 OPS) and Kenji Johjima (.903 OPS) having the most severe platoon splits, though Raul Ibanez (.667 OPS) doesn't fare so well against them. Sowers is a hittable pitcher, though, so most Mariner bats are good bets to do well. Washburn has been inconsistent recently but it has averaged out to about his seasonal numbers. He has yet to face the Indians this season, but the Indians have hit lefties better than righties, and Washburn's not exactly a good pitcher anyway.
Chien-Ming Wang, RHP (18-7, 3.72 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) versus
J.P. Howell, LHP (1-5, 6.80 ERA, 1.75 WHIP)
Game Story: This is an interesting matchup, because, although the Devil Rays' offense initially struggled after the team traded away Ty Wigginton, it has come on strong of late -- their .810 OPS this month ranks 10th -- and overall since the All-Star break, they rank a surprising ninth in OPS. The loss of Crawford hurts, though, as he had an .878 OPS since the break and may miss the rest of the season. Wang has a worrisome 12-11 strikeout-to-walk rate this month and has pitched much worse since the All-Star break, so he is a risky start. Howell has a couple of things going for him in that he's a lefty, which is major Yankees' weakness, and has 45 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. But that hasn't stopped the rest of the league from pasting him, making hard to think the Yankees won't follow suit.
Billy Buckner, RHP (1-1, 4.50 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) versus
Jon Garland, RHP (9-13, 4.42 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Like a lot of pitchers you see this time of year due to roster expansion, Buckner is another mediocre minor league pitcher starting due to injuries. Buckner hasn't embarrassed himself in his four major league starts, but with 14 walks to 13 strikeouts and four home runs in 28 innings, he's not someone you will think about starting. At best, Buckner could net a quality start against an offense as poor as Chicago's, but there's too much downside to take that risk. Garland has been superb recently, with a 1.80 ERA and 1.03 WHIP this month. He faced the Royals in his last start, allowing three runs in eight innings, and in three starts against them this year, he has a 1.54 ERA, making him one of the strongest spot starts out there.
Livan Hernandez, RHP (11-10, 4.85 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) versus
Matt Morris, RHP (9-11, 5.02 ERA, 1.54 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Jack Wilson, SS (personal, day-to-day)
Game Story: In 21 starts since June, Hernandez has allowed two runs or less -- essentially what is, on average, a great start -- just four times, and he has allowed five runs or more six times. Even as a spot starter every now and then, that's a poor return on a fantasy player's investment, even against the weaker offensive teams. The Pirates have been without Jack Wilson for the past week, which has resulted in the offense tapering off. Wilson has been a monster when he's played -- he has five home runs with a .481 average this month -- and could be ready by Wednesday. Nate McLouth is still hitting well so don't forget about him, either. The D-backs have hit well this month, led by Mark Reynolds' five home runs and Conor Jackson's solid hitting. Morris should again be lit up.
Tim Hudson, RHP (16-9, 3.34 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) versus
Kyle Lohse, RHP (8-12, 4.71 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Hudson went through a brief three-start stretch in August during which he allowed 14 runs in 16 innings, but since then he has a 2.32 ERA in his past three starts. The Phillies are obviously a tough matchup, and in four previous starts Hudson's numbers -- 4.39 ERA, 1.39 WHIP -- reflect that. On the other hand, the Phillies (from a fantasy perspective) haven't been that great this month -- just 12th in OPS -- and when combined with Hudson's recent plus pitching, I'd lean closer to a start than benching him. Lohse was pitching well until his last start against the Nationals, when he allowed six runs in two innings. The Braves, despite their immense offensive talent, have struggled all month long to the tune of a .730 OPS, and if you're trying to catch up on innings, beggars can't be choosers.
Jason Marquis, RHP (12-8, 4.35 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) versus
Daniel Barone, RHP (1-3, 5.30 ERA, 1.63 WHIP)
Game Story: After being bombed by the Pirates to the tune of seven runs in 2 2/3 innings, Marquis' ERA for the month went from 2.88 to 4.88. His 5.23 ERA in the past four months, though, is much closer to Marquis' talent level anyway. The Marlins have one of the game's elite offenses; their .813 OPS since the All-Star break is third in baseball, so don't expect Marquis to bounce back. Jeremy Hermida, and especially Mike Jacobs (five home runs with a .338 average this month) have continued hitting well and still remain underrated. The Marlins will have to score a lot to support Barone, who has allowed a whopping 10 home runs in 37 1/3 innings.
Juan Gutierrez, RHP (1-1, 4.96 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
Tom Shearn, RHP (3-0, 3.94 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Game Story: The Reds have, once again, been wracked by injuries -- up to five would-be regulars may miss Wednesday's game -- so their once-powerful lineup has taken a hit this month (OPS: .787, 16th). Joey Votto's production (.339 average, two home runs) has meant the loss of Scott Hatteberg hasn't been felt, and Edwin Encarnacion (four home runs, .362 average) has been on fire this month, so the offense isn't completely helpless. Gutierrez had a quality start against the Brewers last time out, but with a shaky minor league track record and pitching for a mediocre offense, he's not anyone worthy of spot start consideration. Shearn may be, however; he has quality starts in three of his past four outings, and the Astros are inept away from home.
Shawn Hill, RHP (4-5, 3.42 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) versus
Philip Humber, RHP (0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Dmitri Young, 1B (neck and head, questionable)
Game Story: Hill's ERA and WHIP on the season are deceiving; he has a 6.30 ERA in his past five starts, and he never had quite the track record to substantiate his hot pitching earlier in the season. Carlos Delgado is back for the Mets, which gives them another plus bat, and with David Wright and Moises Alou playing out of their minds the past two months, they really didn't need much else. This will be Humber's first career start, and has long been one of the Mets' top pitching prospects. Humber was solid in Triple-A this season, and the beneficial effects of Shea Stadium and the Mets' outfield defense should be a good combination for Humber's skill set. For the desperate, Humber can deliver a decent spot start.
Brad Thompson, RHP (7-6, 4.96 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) versus
Carlos Villanueva, RHP (8-4, 3.97 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Game Story: Thompson has been thrust back into the rotation, but he's not a valid option there. Any pitcher who has allowed 23 home runs in 123 1/3 innings (1.68 HR/9) is a serious risk, and the Brewers have hit the most home runs in the major leagues by a significant margin. Villanueva has been great since joining the rotation in September, with a 1.50 ERA and 1.25 WHIP this month. His peripherals haven't been great, and in the long term he's not a great bet, but with less than a week left in the season only results matter. The banged-up Cardinals aren't explosive enough offensively to project a poor start for Villanueva, so you may as well ride Villanueva's streak.
Josh Fogg, RHP (9-9, 4.99 ERA, 1.52 WHIP) versus
Derek Lowe, RHP (12-13, 3.93 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Game Story: Fogg is a decent enough pitcher to keep his team in games (most times) but is rarely effective enough to sustain any fantasy value, even against the weaker offenses in the league. James Loney lit aflame in September and has seven home runs on the month; he had just six beforehand. That performance, combined with Matt Kemp and Jeff Kent, has given the Dodgers an above-average offense in recent weeks. Lowe has struggled the past couple of months, with a 5.31 ERA since July, and in his previous start, the Rockies lit him up for six runs in three innings. Lowe has been a much better pitcher at home, though, while the Rockies are not that effective road, so Lowe should still be pretty solid.
Jake Peavy, RHP (18-6, 2.36 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) versus
Patrick Misch, LHP (0-3, 2.75 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Game Story: With the Padres losing two of their best hitters for the rest of the season, every game Peavy pitches is that much more important. Besides allowing eight runs against the D-backs early in September, Peavy has been consistently lights out, and against a Bondsless Giants on Sept. 16, he struck out 10 and allowed one run in 7 1/3 innings. With a 0.68 ERA against the Giants in two starts this season, Bonds or not, the Giants will be lucky to score a run off of him. The Padres should be able to provide enough runs to net Peavy another win; the Pads do hit lefties considerably better than righties. Scott Hairston will take over in left, and for his career he hits lefties quite well, and he is currently hot.
Sammy Sosa, OF, TEX versus Los Angeles Angels
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS versus Oakland Athletics
Mark Ellis, 2B, OAK @ Boston Red Sox
Jack Cust, OF, OAK @ Boston Red Sox
Ryan Garko, 1B, CLE @ Seattle Mariners
Franklin Gutierrez, OF, CLE @ Seattle Mariners
Russ Adams, 3B, TOR @ Baltimore Orioles
Matt Stairs, OF, TOR @ Baltimore Orioles
Jon Garland, SP, CHW versus Kansas City Royals
Nate McLouth, OF, PIT versus Arizona Diamondbacks
Mark Reynolds, 3B, ARI @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Mike Jacobs, 1B, FLA versus Chicago Cubs
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA versus Chicago Cubs
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, CIN versus Houston Astros
Joey Votto, 1B, CIN versus Houston Astros
Moises Alou, OF, NYM versus Washington Nationals
Carlos Villanueva, SP, MIL versus St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Kemp, OF, LAD versus Colorado Rockies
James Loney, 1B, LAD versus Colorado Rockies
Scott Hairston, OF, SD @ San Francisco Giants
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.