Joba Chamberlain, one of the league's most hyped and top prospects, makes his second major league start, but another top prospect takes the mound Sunday too: Boston's Justin Masterson. Masterson is a huge (6-foot-6, 250) righty, two years out of college, whose sinker has resulted in just eight home runs in 229 2/3 career minor league innings. The less-heralded Masterson can have an immediate impact, too, though the upside definitely lies with Chamberlain.
Matchups for Sunday, June 8th
All times are ET.
Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals (knee)
Jeremy Bonderman, SP, Tigers (shoulder)
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox (wrist)
Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays (concussion)
Manny Ramirez, OF, Red Sox (knee)
Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants (hip)
Dmitri Young, 1B, Nationals (flu)
Michael Young, SS, Rangers (finger)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Edgar Renteria (.375 average with two home runs in 32 at-bats) has been great against lefties, but awful against righties; he faces the former, and not a particularly good one (Jeremy Sowers) at that. Edwin Encarnacion has been a pretty streaky player, but has been hot recently, getting on base in six straight games, with two home runs, four walks and a triple. Randy Winn just continues to rake, with seven hits in his past four games. Hitting .333 in June, he's continuing his torrid May pace, and a hot streak is a hot streak. Doug Mathis has been torched by the Indians and Twins, two of the worse offenses in the AL, so the chances are slim Mathis will be successful against the Rays, one of the better hitting teams. That includes, as Tristan Crockoft noted Friday, Eric Hinske, who's in the lineup against right-handers indefinitely and is slugging .617 with 10 home runs against them. Jeff Kent is finally snapping out of his slump, with three home runs off five hits in June already. He hit well to end May, too and all in all he has hits in nine of his past 10 games.
Pitchers: Jeremy Bonderman might not make his scheduled turn in the rotation as Bonderman reportedly had his shoulder examined for blood circulation problems Friday. Dontrelle Willis would likely step in, although with 16 walks in 10 innings, you want nothing to do with him. The Marlins are one of four teams with an .800 OPS against right-handers. Aaron Harang's propensity for the long ball (12 home runs in 88 2/3 innings) is bad news considering the Marlins also rank second in slugging; firmly plant him on your bench. Despite his ace-like stature, Erik Bedard has pitched like his pre-2007 mediocre self, but with a ballooning home run rate (1.28 HR/9). He tossed a gem a couple of weeks ago against the Red Sox, but he'll be hard-pressed to repeat that against such a great offense. The loss of David Ortiz doesn't hurt here either, as he was only hitting .163 against left-handers. Gavin Floyd hasn't looked impressive recently, with three home runs and 12 runs (nine earned) in his past three starts against mediocre or worse offenses. The Twins are too light-hitting to sit Floyd, but as he continues to regress to the mean, he could be in for some poor starts as the weather heats up in a risky home park. Pedro Martinez tossed 30 more pitches than he was expected to in his first start back, and said he wasn't even sore as a result. So far so good: A start in San Diego's Petco Park is just too good to pass up. Brad Penny facing the Cubs, with as poorly as he's pitching now, is about as poor a matchup as you can ask for.
Hitters: Marcus Thames has five home runs in 29 at-bats against lefties this season, and is true to his role of lefty masher (.828 slugging). Facing left-hander Jeremy Sowers, who rarely strikes out anyone, should help Thames' normal problems making contact. Lyle Overbay has stepped his game up since a poor April; four of his home runs came in May and he's now hitting .294 with five homers against righties. He's also a much better hitter at home, so expect a strong game. With both Johnny Estrada and Paul Lo Duca on the disabled list, Jesus Flores is getting an opportunity to continue his hot hitting in a full-time role. So far it's working, as he's on an eight-game hitting streak. Considering how weak the catcher position is and his age (24), he's worth a pickup at catcher.
Pitchers: Zack Greinke allowed a whopping four home runs in his most recent start, which gives him 11 in 81 innings, a fairly high home run rate. Many right-handers have been tossed around by the Yankees, and Greinke has a 6.10 ERA in 31 innings against them, so it could get ugly.
With 62 pitches in his first major league start, one can expect Joba Chamberlain to get to around 80 pitches this time around. Facing the AL's worst offense also means there's not much that can go wrong, and one only needs five innings to qualify for a win.
Even though he's logged three quality starts in a row -- with an 11-to-2 strikeout-to-walk rate -- now is not the time to pick up Adam Eaton. The Braves are just too good offensively. Eaton also still allows too many homers.
With a surprising 36 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings, Jorge Campillo is something of a surprise story. He's had recent trouble with blisters, and struggled in his most recent start against the Marlins; combined with Sunday's opponent, the potent Phillies, Campillo's too risky to spot start.
It won't be sexy, but Phil Dumatrait looks like a pretty safe spot start, good enough for at least a quality start. The loss of Eric Byrnes (and maybe Conor Jackson) hurts the Diamondbacks a lot against lefties; the offense has already dropped off, and the team has been a fraud away from home (.677 OPS).
Justin Masterson has struck out 14 batters and pitched at least six innings in each of his first three major league career starts; that alone makes his call-up a success. Toss in a young pitcher with upside, an especially poor offense, and strong run support, and there's no reason not to start Masterson.
Since rejoining the rotation in May, Barry Zito has allowed more than three runs just once, a span of six starts. While that's not particularly impressive, it is decent, and decent makes a strong spot start when the opponent is the worst offense in the league (.653 OPS).
Kyle Lohse has managed to lower his ERA by more than a full run in his past four starts; he's walked just one batter and allowed one home run in that span. Facing the Astros for a third time this season, he's already held them to two earned runs in 12 innings -- it's a tempting combination.
Wandy Rodriguez has been superb at home, with 18 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings and a microscopic 0.98 ERA. The success dates back to last year, high strikeout rate and all (88 in 95 innings, 2.94 ERA). Rodriguez is a viable long-term pickup, not just a random spot starter.
With 25 strikeouts in his last 24 1/3 innings, Jeff Francis is a pitcher to watch, as he has potential beyond his current numbers. The matchup against the Brewers is a good test, an underachieving team that normally hits lefties at Coors Field.
Isolated thunderstorms are expected in a plethora of cities in the afternoon and on. Detroit, Miami, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Arlington are all expected to see some rain, although only the Reds-Marlins game has more than a 30 percent chance of precipitation. Even though some rain is expected, though, all of the above games are expected to see temperatures around 90 (or more). Chicago tosses 20-plus mile per hour wind into the mix, although the wind will be blowing in for the most part. Denver also has thunderstorms on the forecast, with a 30 percent chance of precipitation throughout the evening. Orioles-Blue Jays and Cardinals-Astros are weather proof.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com