- Sean Allen
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A couple of American League hurlers pitching Tuesday couldn't be faulted for using the famous lament of the late Rodney Dangerfield, "I get no respect," in reference to their ownership in fantasy leagues. John Danks and Justin Duchscherer are both below the 50 percent threshold in standard ESPN leagues. Danks has thrown four quality starts this season, and although his past two starts didn't meet the six-inning requirement for a quality start, he met the other criteria by allowing just two runs. In fact, only one of his seven starts could be considered a bad one for fantasy purposes. With Duchscherer, I was actually surprised more folks weren't excited about his transition from the bullpen into the rotation. Until his 2007 season was derailed by injury, Duchscherer was a lights-out, late-inning guy for the A's. Once he gets stretched out as a starter, he should approach a strikeout per inning and rack up the quality starts.
Matchups for Tuesday, May 13
Jeremy Accardo, RP, Blue Jays (forearm)
Wilson Betemit, 3B, Yankees (hamstring)
Chris Denorfia, OF, A's (back)
Chone Figgins, 3B, Angels (hamstring)
David Eckstein, SS, Blue Jays (ankle)
Johnny Estrada, C, Nationals (elbow)
Paul Lo Duca, C, Nationals (hand)
Nick Punto, 2B/3B/SS, Twins (hamstring)
John McDonald, SS, Blue Jays (ankle)
Richie Sexson, 1B, Mariners (suspension)
Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays (wrist)
Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets (quadriceps)
Ray Durham, 2B, Giants (hamstring)
Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers (back)
Kason Gabbard, SP, Rangers (legs)
Jose Guillen, OF, Royals (neck)
Ramon Hernandez, C, Orioles (wrist)
Orlando Hudson, 2B, Diamondbacks (hamstring)
Mike Jacobs, 1B, Marlins (thumb)
Julio Lugo, SS, Red Sox (concussion)
Angel Pagan, OF, Mets (shoulder)
Manny Ramirez, OF, Red Sox (hamstring)
Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles (foot)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Manny Ramirez was able to pinch-hit Sunday, so expect him to be back by Tuesday. Damion Easley doesn't have a heck of a lot of fantasy value, so hopefully Luis Castillo's quad isn't a major issue. Jose Guillen is still worth starting as he is able to DH for the Royals while his neck heals. Rafael Furcal missed a fifth straight game with a sore back Sunday. While it's frustrating to watch a team not put a player on the DL, it's encouraging that he could be back soon. Don't plan on him for the early part of the week, though. Julio Lugo has no timetable for a return; Alex Cora is a decent fantasy play in his stead for batting average alone. Ramon Hernandez (wrist) and Brian Roberts (foot) both missed Sunday's game for the Orioles. Have a backup option ready for the next few days until we learn more about their injuries. Still no sign of Mike Jacobs in the Marlins lineup as of Sunday. Have another first baseman ready to go. Consider your options with Bobby Abreu; he is 1-for-13 (.077) against Edwin Jackson.
Pitchers: Not too many ace pitchers to choose from on this slate, but Josh Beckett, Chien-Ming Wang, Brad Penny, Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke are all 100 percent owned in ESPN leagues and don't have any red flags coming up in their matchups. I can't lump Edinson Volquez in with the stud pitchers because of his matchup with Florida. The Marlins are still leading the way in OPS versus right-handed pitching (.827). If Volquez walks six batters like he did in his last outing, the Marlins will make him pay. If you can't afford a torching, Volquez isn't worth the risk in this matchup. It hurts because he has been so solid, but leave him on the bench for this one. Jered Weaver has allowed only one earned run in two career starts versus the White Sox. Chicago's lineup is a combined 8-for-42 (.190) against him. With his offense behind him, look for Weaver to go to 3-0 versus the White Sox. When Matt Cain keeps the walks to a minimum, he has a decent outing. With Houston near the bottom of the ranks in drawing bases on balls this season, things certainly bode well for Cain to have a quality start. The Colorado Rockies lineup is a combined 20-for-101 (.198) versus Randy Johnson. Not a single member of the Rockies has ever hit a home run versus him. Although his home ERA is troubling (8.04), I'll have him active for this matchup. John Maine doesn't always protect your WHIP, but he does what he needs to do to get a win. I expect a near-quality start as he takes on the Nationals for the second time this season, but he'll get the win, too.
Hitters: Ronnie Belliard is a ridiculous 9-for-13 (.692) against John Maine. If you need some middle-infield help, he's widely available. Eric Hinske is becoming more useful in fantasy as the season wears on. He happens to be 12-for-27 (.444) versus Chien-Ming Wang, so if you were looking for an excuse to pick him up, this is it. Jay Payton might be in for a start for the Orioles based on his 8-for-21 history against Josh Beckett. Brandon Inge is another bench player who could wind up starting. Inge is 7-for-22 (.318) with two home runs versus Zack Greinke. With Wilson Betemit and Alex Rodriguez out of the picture right now, Morgan Ensberg will once again pick up the majority of at-bats at third base. He has some deep-league value in that lineup. Ray Durham was able to pinch-hit on Sunday, but still doesn't appear ready to start for the Giants or your fantasy team. Erick Aybar was back in the Angels lineup on Sunday and went 1-for-5. Get him back in your fantasy lineup if you were using him. Angel Pagan (shoulder) appeared as a pinch-hitter on Sunday, but still doesn't represent much fantasy value with Moises Alou back. With Vernon Wells out for more than a month, Kevin Mench and Brad Wilkerson are not bad fantasy replacements as well, if you play the matchups. Mench has a .304 career average against left-handed pitchers and stole a bag in his first game as a Blue Jay. Wilkerson will be given a chance to lead off on occasion and has both power and speed (to go with a low average). Considering the matchup for Tuesday (Kevin Slowey, a control right-hander), I'd go with Wilkerson. Still no Orlando Hudson for the Diamondbacks, as he struggles with his hamstring. Consider Augie Ojeda as his fantasy replacement. Ojeda has been a real sparkplug filling in for Hudson, with five hits in his past five games.
Pitchers: Justin Duchscherer should be owned in more than 30 percent of ESPN leagues. His pitch count might not be high enough to consistently go six or more innings, but I will get there. Once Duchscherer is throwing 100 pitches a game, only the best offenses will prevent him from throwing a quality start. Start by using him in this matchup with Cleveland, which has a .687 OPS away from home. Available in 60 percent of ESPN leagues, consider John Danks another great spot-start candidate. With four quality starts logged already this season, Danks should be able to catch the Angels by surprise. Only Torii Hunter has had an at-bat against him before (and he is 0-for-8). A matchup with Boston is enough to scare me off recommending Jeremy Guthrie. He's been useful of late, but considering the Red Sox lineup, I'm taking a pass. A soft-tosser like Phil Dumatrait could be in for some trouble against the Cardinals' home run-hitting lineup. In a start against the Cardinals late last season while with the Reds, Dumatrait allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings. The St. Louis batters now have a combined 12-for-24 (.500) history against him. Walks are still the concern I have with Jo-Jo Reyes. He hasn't been bad with his command in his two outings so far this year, but he needs to be spot-on to be effective. I need to see more from him before getting on board. Only southpaws have been able to find solace in the Yankees lineup so far; righty Edwin Jackson could be in for a rough day. He has a win and a loss under his belt versus New York this season, but with an .803 OPS over the past week, the Yankees have been hitting well. Jesse Litsch is coming off three straight quality starts and the Twins don't pose a serious offensive threat to him. I'll bet on a fourth straight quality start (though considering the Jays offense, I won't say anything about a win). The Reds, Diamondbacks and Mariners are all top-10 offenses versus left-handed pitching, making it difficult to recommend Mark Hendrickson, Jeff Francis or Kason Gabbard. The Mets, however, have quickly tumbled down the ranks of teams who hit well versus lefties. John Lannan already has a quality-start win versus the Mets this season and doesn't make a bad deep-league gamble here. Only the Boston Red Sox (.938) have a better OPS over the past week than the Pittsburgh Pirates (.854). Kyle Lohse makes a dangerous start considering how hard the Pirates have been hitting. I like Kevin Slowey versus the Blue Jays. His great command will minimize base runners, and Toronto is a team looking for a new identity. So many changes (Frank Thomas is gone, Scott Rolen is back, Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench are new additions, both shortstops are injured and Vernon Wells is out for a month) make the Jays seem vulnerable right now. Nate Robertson hasn't allowed fewer than four earned runs in any of his seven starts this season. That's not going to change now. As I said before Jon Lieber's last start (when the Reds rocked him for four home runs in an inning), he will still have some good spot-start opportunities if Rich Hill stays in Triple-A. Tuesday's contest against the Padres might be the best one. San Diego's atrocious .650 OPS means just about any pitcher should be able to handle it easily. Look for six innings and a win from Lieber. Paul Byrd has too many troubling matchups against the individual A's hitters to consider him for a start; Mark Ellis has two home runs in 21 at-bats, Jack Cust is 4-for-9 (.444), Bobby Crosby is 6-for-18 (.333), Emil Brown has six RBIs in 20 at-bats and Daric Barton is 3-for-4 with two walks. Atlanta narrowly trails Florida for best OPS versus righties. There is no way I would try Kyle Kendrick against them. If he doesn't hit his spots exactly, he has troubles with weak offenses. Carlos Villanueva is not one of my favorites to recommend, but his matchup with the Dodgers does look pretty good. L.A. has an OPS almost .200 points lower versus righties. It's been a while since we've seen much of Shawn Estes in the majors. He has been doing a solid job in the minors this season, compiling a 4-2 record with a 3.67 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 34 and a third innings. His walks (7) and home runs allowed (3) are also down. Now, a matchup with the Cubs (.798 OPS versus left-handers) is not one for which I'll recommend Estes, but like Lieber, I could see some spot-starts coming his way this season. Brandon Backe's matchup with the Giants might be a bit of a trap. While San Francisco has been one to prey on for pitching matchups, that is not necessarily true in recent days. The Giants have an .808 OPS over the past week, good for sixth-best in the majors. I'd wait until they cool off a bit to test them against weaker pitchers.
Missouri is in for some showers and thunderstorms Tuesday, and unfortunately it threatens two ball games. St. Louis has a higher chance of precipitation into the evening than Kansas City does, but be prepared to have your Tigers, Royals, Pirates and Cardinals miss some action or suffer from a wet field. The forecasted storm has 30 percent chance of affecting the game in Arlington as well. So watch your Mariners and Rangers. Weather-proof games include: Yankees-Rays, Dodgers-Brewers, Blue Jays-Twins and Rockies-Diamondbacks.
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
Sean Allen previews each of the matchups for Tuesday's major league schedule.