Daily Notes for Monday: Dempster-Billingsley will be high-K affair
One of Monday's most intriguing pitching matchups is between Chad Billingsley and Ryan Dempster, two relatively similar pitchers. Dempster has been the veteran surprise, with a 2.70 ERA (the last time he started games for a prolonged period of time, five years ago, he compiled a 6.54 ERA for the Reds), while Billingsley is the youngster showing off his stuff. The two have similar high-strikeout, high-walk styles, and both have been able to keep the ball in the ballpark this season. In fact, given Billingsley's peripherals (60 strikeouts, just two home runs allowed), you could switch Dempster's raw numbers with Billingsley, and most wouldn't blink. And although Billingsley is the superior pitcher, he is assigned the tougher matchup, and it'd be a success if he could last six innings.
Also, Brandon Webb goes for his 10th win against the emerging Jair Jurrjens, Bartolo Colon and Scott Kazmir try to continue their successful returns, and King Felix takes on the best offense in the league (the Red Sox). Let's get to the games.
|12:37 p.m.||Brett Tomko||R||2-5||5.76||1.46|| |
|1:00 p.m.||Brandon Webb||R||9-1||2.69||0.98|| |
|1:35 p.m.||Ben Sheets||R||5-1||2.92||1.05|| |
|1:35 p.m.||Darrell Rasner||R||3-0||1.89||0.84|| |
|2:20 p.m.||Chad Billingsley||R||4-5||3.76||1.41|| |
|7:05 p.m.||Javier Vazquez||R||5-3||3.43||1.17|| |
|7:05 p.m.||Jorge De La Rosa||L||1-2||7.78||1.73|| |
|7:10 p.m.||Ricky Nolasco||R||3-3||4.62||1.36|| |
|7:10 p.m.||Sidney Ponson||R||3-0||2.95||1.31|| |
|9:05 p.m.||Kenny Rogers||L||4-4||6.66||1.88|| |
|10:10 p.m.||Bartolo Colon||R||1-0||3.60||1.60|| |
All times are ET.
Garrett Atkins, 3B, Rockies (neck)
Hank Blalock, 3B, Rangers (carpal tunnel syndrome)
Ryan Church, OF, Mets (concussion)
Chone Figgins, 3B, Angels (hamstring)
Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox (hand)
Victor Martinez, C, Indians (finger)
Matt Stairs, OF, Blue Jays (neck)
Willy Taveras, OF, Rockies (knee)
Hitters: Paul Byrd has a massive difference between his versus-lefty and versus-righty splits this season. Lefties have hit .324, with a .356 OBP and .577 slugging percentage against him this season, while righties have a microscopic .183/.216/.280 line against him. Also, eight of his 11 home runs allowed have come against lefty batters. The White Sox have just three decent lefty bats -- Jim Thome, A.J. Pierzynski and Nick Swisher -- but they are second in the AL in home runs, and giving up homers has been a problem for Byrd. Start all your decent White Sox hitters, especially those with power. Even though he has struggled a bit against them this season (albeit in just 44 at-bats), Torii Hunter had a .900-plus OPS against southpaws each of the past three seasons. More importantly, he gets to face one of the majors' worst lefties (pitchers?) this season in the 43-year-old Kenny Rogers, who looks close to done.
Pitchers: With just one home run allowed in 61 1/3 innings, Jair Jurrjens has been a pleasant surprise for the Braves. The Diamondbacks have played much better when at home (.853 OPS) than on the road (.690 OPS) and are much tougher on southpaws than righties, so Jurrjens is a good bet to extend his streak of quality starts to nine. Thirty-three of Ryan Dempster's 53 strikeouts have come in his past four starts (26 1/3 innings), and he has dropped his ERA to a tidy 2.70. Although losing Andruw Jones to the disabled list will actually improve the Dodgers' offense, the team is still without its best player (Rafael Furcal) and has not hit well this month. Dempster won't resemble an elite pitcher much longer, but right now you can't argue with the results. The Cubs are third in the majors in OBP and sixth in slugging, so Chad Billingsley's walk rate of five per nine innings probably isn't going to fly. The Cubs are just too good offensively, especially at home, where they rank first in OBP and slugging. Scott Kazmir should be able to rack up plenty of K's against the Rangers. They are fourth in the majors in strikeouts, and they struggle significantly against southpaws (.736 OPS) compared to righties (.830).
Hitters: With four multi-hit games in his past six games, including three extra-base hits, Jason Giambi deserves notice, and unlike a lot of left-handed hitters, he's decent enough against southpaws to be worthy of an everyday player. The average will remain poor, but the strong secondary skills will stay; only a lack of health will prevent Giambi from being productive, and even that is no reason not to add him right now. Blake DeWitt has been on a hot streak and all, but he simply doesn't have enough power to become a viable fantasy threat at a corner infield spot. He hasn't had an extra-base hit since May 17 -- his slugging percentage is down to .485 -- and in the minors was never much of a power threat (career .444 slugging percentage). And in the long term, playing time is a concern for him, as Andy LaRoche could easily hit his way back to the majors while DeWitt slumps as pitchers adjust.
Chicago is expected to see isolated thunderstorms throughout the morning and early afternoon, which means rain could affect the Dodgers-Cubs affair. Considering it should be relatively clear by late afternoon, though, don't be too concerned. Scattered thunderstorms have a chance of affecting the White Sox-Indians game, especially since the weather is expected to worsen by nightfall. There's a decent chance that game could be postponed due to rain. Royals-Blue Jays, Rangers-Rays and Red Sox-Mariners are all weather-proof games.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com