Commentary

Daily Notes for Sunday: Can King Felix trump Peavy-Webb?

Updated: April 26, 2008, 12:37 PM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

For all the hype of Felix Hernandez 's career, by the numbers, King Felix has never pitched as well as he did when he first cracked the scene and was called up in 2005. But now through five starts, Hernandez has put together the best month of his career, only matched by his summer debut: a 1.67 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Brandon Webb and Jake Peavy are scheduled to face off Sunday in what should be a classic pitcher's duel, but with the talent Felix has, the other pitching duel on the West Coast, between Joe Blanton and Hernandez, holds a fair amount more intrigue, and possibly even the best pitcher.

Matchups for Sunday, April 27

Time Visitors L/R Record ERA WHIP Home L/R Record ERA WHIP
1:05 p.m. Chien-Ming Wang R 4-0 3.94 1.25
@
C.C. Sabathia L 1-3 10.13 2.17
1:10 p.m. John Smoltz R 3-1 0.78 0.91
@
Nelson Figueroa R 1-1 4.05 1.20
1:35 p.m. Ted Lilly L 1-3 7.30 1.62
@
John Lannan L 1-2 3.42 1.44
1:35 p.m. Brett Myers R 2-1 4.78 1.31
@
Paul Maholm L 1-2 4.22 1.50
1:40 p.m. Josh Beckett R 2-1 5.12 1.03
@
James Shields R 2-1 3.30 1.40
2:05 p.m. Daniel Cabrera R 2-0 4.40 1.34
@
Jose Contreras R 1-2 4.68 1.40
2:05 p.m. Ricky Nolasco R 1-2 5.91 1.36
@
Manny Parra L 1-1 5.40 1.80
2:05 p.m. Livan Hernandez R 3-0 3.55 1.27
@
Vicente Padilla R 2-2 4.97 1.69
2:10 p.m. Jesse Litsch R 2-1 6.16 1.84
@
Gil Meche R 1-3 8.00 1.78
2:15 p.m. Brandon Backe R 1-2 4.15 1.73
@
Kyle Lohse R 2-0 2.54 1.24
4:05 p.m. Brandon Webb R 5-0 2.31 0.97
@
Jake Peavy R 3-0 2.00 1.00
4:05 p.m. Edinson Volquez R 3-0 1.21 1.25
@
Barry Zito L 0-5 5.61 1.79
4:10 p.m. Jeff Francis L 0-2 5.68 1.46
@
Esteban Loaiza R 1-2 4.32 1.02
4:10 p.m. Joe Blanton R 1-4 4.32 1.37
@
Felix Hernandez R 2-0 1.67 1.19
8:05 p.m. Jered Weaver R 1-3 4.50 1.40
@
Justin Verlander R 1-3 5.93 1.38

All times are ET. Statistics are from the 2008 regular season.

Injury report

Out
Yunel Escobar, SS, Braves (finger)

Day-to-day
Michael Bourn, OF, Astros (groin)
Milton Bradley, OF, Rangers (hamstring)
Eric Byrnes, OF, Diamondbacks (legs)
Sean Casey, 1B, Red Sox (hip)
Jermaine Dye, OF, White Sox (groin)
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B/3B, Dodgers (calf)
Troy Glaus, 3B, Cardinals (vision)
Carlos Gomez, OF, Twins (calf)
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B, Royals (back)
Carlos Guillen, SS/1B, Tigers (knee)
Andruw Jones, OF, Dodgers (calf)
Jason Varitek, C, Red Sox (flu)
Brad Wilkerson, OF, Mariners (hamstring)

Start 'em, sit 'em

Hitters: Hank Blalock is a streaky player, but a couple of things have been consistent in his career: He rakes at home (career .892 OPS at Ameriquest Field) and can't hit lefties (.224 in his career). He gets the best of both worlds Sunday, as Twins right-hander Livan Hernandez is no one to fear (and has allowed four home runs already). ... Esteban Loaiza re-joins the Dodgers rotation Sunday in place of Hong-Chih Kuo, and it's always a bit of a wild card while a pitcher regains that endurance and gets into the swing of things. And after a cold start, the Rockies bats have come alive -- the team is hitting .296/.368/.500 the past week -- led by Garrett Atkins, who is in the midst of a 10-game hitting streak (six multi-hit games). ... Ryan Doumit's production (he's hitting .359) is garnering him more and more playing time, and currently has hit in five straight, four of which have been multi-hit games.

Pitchers: It took three weeks, but C.C. Sabathia finally did it: he made it to the seventh inning. Last week's six-inning shutout (including 11 strikeouts) against the Royals was long forthcoming, but Sabathia still sports an ERA north of 10. The Yankees are normally tough, but have susceptibility to a southpaw. The odds are Sabathia has figured it out, so place your faith in the "start your studs" mantra here. ... Edinson Volquez has struck out 23 in 22 1/3 innings and, perhaps most importantly, has yet to allow a home run after allowing 14 in three seasons prior (80 innings). Facing the Giants, Volquez is a certain must-start. ... The Tigers recently finished scoring 37 runs in a three-game series versus the Rangers. In his past two starts, Jered Weaver has allowed 10 hits a piece, and seven runs in 11 innings; with Weaver being this hittable, there is no way you can take a chance at starting him in Detriot. ... Brett Myers' eight home runs look worrisome, but the fact is he's just a homer-prone starter. He otherwise has ace-quality stuff, and against the Pirates -- who, besides Jason Bay and Ryan Doumit, are in a team-wide slump -- that's about all you need.

Waiver-wire pickups

Hitters:. Jayson Werth has been the hottest player in the majors in the past week, with four home runs and four multi-hit games in the past seven days. He's also facing a left-hander in Paul Maholm on Sunday; Werth hits .291 with 16 home runs in 302 career at-bats against lefties, but only .251 versus right-handers. ... Matt Stairs is just coming off an 11-game hit streak which ended Thursday, and he's still hitting right-handers well. And without Frank Thomas around, it's worth noting Stairs hits fifth, behind Alex Rios and Vernon Wells.

Pitchers: Nelson Figueroa has been decent filling in for Pedro Martinez, but there's almost no upside. Worse, the Braves are fourth in team OPS in April (.810), including third in slugging percentage (.460). ... It's been a rough beginning for Ted Lilly, who allowed 19 runs in his first four starts. But he did hold the Mets to just four hits (and one run) in his last start, and for the most part, the Nationals are punchless. ... Manny Parra has averaged less than 4 2/3 innings in his four starts this season; Parra's a very good prospect, but that inefficiency taxes a mediocre bullpen, substantially minimizing the chances of netting a win. ... Gil Meche has been bombed like few others this April (three starts with five-plus earned runs), and with 14 walks and five home runs allowed in 27 innings, it's time to get worried. The Jays haven't hit well this month (.256/.346/.369 team line, 20th in the majors) and have trouble dealing with right-handers, so Meche should be looking at a bounce-back start. ... The Astros have finished 29th, 25th and 22nd in road OPS the past three seasons, and are 27th so far this season. While "confident" and "Kyle Lohse" don't quite belong together yet, it's tough to be too down on Lohse's chances Sunday. And Dave Duncan, the Cardinals' pitching coach, has been known to work magic via smoke and mirrors before. ... Barry Zito's numbers look ugly, but his schedule has been tough, too. I believe Zito can still be a profitable spot starter, and Sunday is a good place to start: not much offense occurs in AT&T Park and the Reds are susceptible to southpaws. ... Although Jeff Francis is sporting a 5.68 ERA and has allowed seven home runs, he's one of the day's better spot starts. Most of the damage occurred versus the Diamondbacks (six of the homers), which is forgivable; he's been better since then, and has managed to last six-plus innings three times nonetheless. Francis' career numbers against the Dodgers are also eye-popping, including a 2.33 ERA in four starts last season.

Weather concerns

The Orioles-White Sox game could see a rain delay through the afternoon, as showers are expected. But the weather is expected to clear up. ... St. Louis is expecting showers Sunday morning; expect a wet field. ... Red Sox-Rays, Marlins-Brewers and Athletics-Mariners are weather-proof.

Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.

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