- Sean Allen
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The holiday weekend continues with some terrific pitching matchups. Roy Halladay versus John Lackey promises to be a barn burner. Halladay is coming off yet another complete game, while Lackey's 1.44 ERA would lead the majors if he had enough innings to qualify. Jake Peavy versus Doug Davis doesn't make for a bad undercard, either.
Now if we can just get Mother Nature to cooperate.
Matchups for Saturday, July 5
Eric Byrnes, OF, Diamondbacks (hamstring)
Matt Capps, RP, Pirates (shoulder)
Eric Chavez, 3B, A's (shoulder)
Alex Cintron, 3B/SS, Orioles (hamstring)
Troy Percival, RP, Rays (hamstring)
Juan Pierre, OF, Dodgers (knee)
Humberto Quintero, C, Astros (concussion)
Chris Snyder, C, Diamondbacks (testicular fracture)
Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins (ankle)
Miguel Cabrera, 1B/3B, Tigers (hip)
Omar Infante, 2B/3B, Braves (hamstring)
Jason Isringhausen, RP, Cardinals (knee)
Duaner Sanchez, RP, Mets (knee)
Willy Taveras, OF, Rockies (thigh)
Michael Young, SS, Rangers (groin)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Mike Lowell is definitely a guy to start in this matchup. He is 11-for-19 (.579) with three home runs in his career against Mike Mussina. Troy Glaus against Ted Lilly? Forget about it. He is just 1-for-11. Shane Victorino is 5-for-14 (.357) in his career versus John Maine. Carlos Delgado is a brilliant 30-for-71 (.423) with eight home runs versus Jamie Moyer. Seventy-one at-bats? These guys have been around a long time. Justin Morneau is 5-for-7 versus Aaron Laffey. Normally someone to start against lefties, Alexi Casilla is 0-for-7 versus Laffey. Carl Crawford is a meaningful 0-for-10 against Zack Greinke, for what it's worth. Conor Jackson, normally a machine versus lefties, bucks that split against Padres ace Jake Peavy. Jackson is 8-for-25 (.320) with a home run and seven RBIs against the Padres ace. James Loney is just 1-for-11 versus Barry Zito. Miguel Cabrera started Thursday, but you still might want to hold him out; his hip isn't 100 percent.
Pitchers: Mike Mussina is in fine form this season, and has a career 3.80 ERA versus the Red Sox. Start the Moose as long as he is giving us reasons to. Ted Lilly really turned a corner in June (3.02 ERA), with his best starts all coming on the road. This is a road matchup against the Cardinals, whom he already beat with a quality start this season. The Cubs tagged Kyle Lohse for eight runs on May 3, marking his worst start of the season. I know he has been virtually lights-out of late, but Chicago is a tougher matchup than most. Sit him for this one. Despite some recent struggles, I'm in John Maine's corner. He is 4-0 with a 2.05 lifetime ERA versus the Phillies. Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are all sub-Mendoza-line batters versus Maine. After a couple of rough outings, Gavin Floyd found his command in his last outing, striking out 10 Indians. He has never faced Oakland but should fare well against their league-average lineup. His last outing was rough, but Zack Greinke's 12 quality starts this year is second amongst AL pitchers. The Rays are a tough matchup, but Greinke should get back on track. Armando Galarraga should have no trouble with the Mariners and their league-worst OPS versus righties.
Hitters: Mark DeRosa is a nice 6-for-13 (.462) versus Kyle Lohse, and DeRosa's multi-position eligibility should let you fit him in somewhere. For help at catcher, use Miguel Montero. If you think about it, going 4-for-12 with a home run against Jake Peavy is pretty darned good. Ramon Hernandez (20 percent owned in ESPN leagues) is another option, as he is hitting .360 with a pair of home runs over the previous week. At first base, look to Chris Davis or Chris Duncan for help. Davis has three home runs and seven RBIs in the last week, while Duncan has two home runs and seven RBIs in that same span. Those seeking to fill a hole at second base, might try Damion Easley. He should get the start versus Jamie Moyer because of his .349 average against lefties this season. Freddy Sanchez is another option thanks to his 7-for-16 (.438) hitting against Dave Bush. But if you are looking for a shortstop off the wire, try Maicer Izturis. He is 3-for-8 against Roy Halladay and had a red-hot June. Aaron Miles could be another option; he is hitting .357 over the last week. For help at third base, Pedro Feliz is 3-for-5 with a home run versus John Maine. Bill Hall, who is 9-for-15 (.600) with two home runs versus Paul Maholm, is another option. Waiver-wire help for the outfield includes the 15-percent owned Mike Cameron. He is 5-for-6 against Maholm. Marlon Byrd is an option. He is 1-for-3 against Brian Burres, but that "one" is a grand slam. Jonny Gomes is another recommendation for the outfield. He is 3-for-5 with two home runs versus Zack Greinke.
Pitchers: Here's a wacky call: Start Dave Bush. He is 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA in seven home starts this season, and prior to getting smacked around in Arizona, he had posted three straight quality starts. Justin Masterson has run into walk problems in his two most recent starts, which elevated his pitch count and earned runs. The Yankees are a patient team and could give Masterson fits if he can't find his early-June form. Jo-Jo Reyes had a slight hiccup against Milwaukee two starts ago but got back on track versus Toronto. He has turned into a quality-start machine lately, and there is no reason not to use him up against Chris Sampson and the Astros. Greg Smith is a must-start coming off his first career complete game against the Angels. None of the White Sox regulars hit better than .273 versus lefties this season, giving Smith the advantage. Not to mention that no one controls the running game as well as he does. With the Brewers' offense finding its gears lately, now is no time to start a lefty like Paul Maholm against them. Eric Hurley has been a nice surprise for the Rangers, and it's time for fantasy owners to get on board; especially when he starts against a weaker-than-average hitting club like Baltimore. Kevin Slowey is 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in his last four starts and is coming off a complete-game three-hitter. Can you dream of any reason not to start him? He is still owned in only 27 percent of ESPN leagues. I still don't like using Andy Sonnanstine for spot starts. I know his win-loss record is impressive, but his last outing was the first time in seven starts he pitched longer than 5 2/3 innings. I'm looking at Jorge De La Rosa as a deep-league option. The Marlins are susceptible to strikeout pitchers, which De La Rosa can be if he uses his slider effectively. Florida is also much weaker versus left-handed pitching. Finally, De La Rosa will be opposed by a rookie in Ryan Tucker who is making his first start at Coors Field. As long as the Dodgers are willing to find a spot for him, I am willing to recommend starting Chan Ho Park. He has a 1.20 ERA and has struck out 19 in 15 innings as a starter this season. The Giants don't pose any real threat against righties. Remember that any of Dan Wheeler, J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour, John Grabow or Damaso Marte could be in line for a save with Troy Percival and Matt Capps out of commission.
There is a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms for Baltimore (Rangers-Orioles) and Philadelphia (Mets-Phillies). The chance is the same for New York (Red Sox-Yankees), except the storms could be off and on. Scattered thunderstorms are also a possibility in Atlanta (Astros-Braves) and Denver (Marlins-Rockies). Weather-proof games include: Pirates-Brewers, Indians-Twins, Royals-Rays, Padres-Diamondbacks and Tigers-Mariners.
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.