Commentary

Daily Notes for Friday: Penny returns to mound

Updated: August 8, 2008, 9:35 AM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Brad Penny will make his first start in 55 days, having recovered from right shoulder tendinitis, and he'll face a familiar foe in the Giants, at that spacious ballpark in San Francisco. Meanwhile, both New York teams will be shuffling their rotations to make up for fresh injuries: The Mets will push up Oliver Perez by a day to fill John Maine's slot, while the Yankees will call on Ian Kennedy, with both Joba Chamberlain and Darrell Rasner ailing. Tough times for those squads, which play important, playoff-relevant games (Mets versus Marlins, Yankees versus Angels).

For those of you sleeper seekers, keep an eye on Indians-Blue Jays. Anthony Reyes will be making his first start for the Indians, and who knows, maybe a fresh outlook in a new organization will get his career back on track?

Matchups for Friday, Aug. 8

Time Visitors L/R Record ERA WHIP Home L/R Record ERA WHIP
2:20 p.m. Braden Looper R 10-9 4.29 1.36
@
Ted Lilly L 11-6 4.35 1.34
7:05 p.m. Luis Mendoza R 3-4 7.00 1.71
@
Jeremy Guthrie R 8-8 3.35 1.19
7:05 p.m. Dallas Braden L 2-2 5.10 1.53
@
Kenny Rogers L 8-8 4.98 1.56
7:05 p.m. Paul Maholm L 7-7 3.95 1.26
@
Joe Blanton R 6-12 4.94 1.42
7:07 p.m. Anthony Reyes R 2-1 4.91 1.30
@
David Purcey L 1-2 8.35 1.69
7:10 p.m. Randy Wolf L 7-10 4.60 1.47
@
Johnny Cueto R 7-11 5.00 1.36
7:10 p.m. Ricky Nolasco R 11-6 3.91 1.18
@
Oliver Perez L 7-7 4.12 1.39
8:05 p.m. Collin Balester R 2-3 4.55 1.39
@
CC Sabathia L 11-8 3.28 1.16
8:10 p.m. Kevin Slowey R 7-8 4.21 1.10
@
Kyle Davies R 5-2 4.41 1.56
8:11 p.m. Jon Lester L 10-3 3.14 1.31
@
Mark Buehrle L 8-10 4.07 1.34
9:05 p.m. Jake Peavy R 8-7 2.59 1.12
@
Glendon Rusch L 4-3 5.47 1.54
9:40 p.m. Jorge Campillo R 6-4 2.58 1.05
@
Doug Davis L 4-6 4.28 1.46
10:05 p.m. Ian Kennedy R 0-3 7.41 1.75
@
Jered Weaver R 9-9 4.37 1.30
10:10 p.m. James Shields R 9-7 3.63 1.11
@
Carlos Silva R 4-12 5.92 1.50
10:15 p.m. Brad Penny R 5-9 5.88 1.60
@
Barry Zito L 6-13 5.40 1.74

All times are ET.

Injury report

Out
Elijah Dukes, OF, Nationals (calf)
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles (foot)
John Maine, SP, Mets (shoulder)
David Murphy, OF, Rangers (knee)
Billy Wagner, RP, Mets (forearm)
C.J. Wilson, RP, Rangers (elbow)

Day-to-day
Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals (abdominal)
Michael Bourn, OF, Astros (ankle)
Milton Bradley, OF, Rangers (quadriceps)
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B/SS, Indians (ankle)
Carl Crawford, OF, Rays (hamstring)
David DeJesus, OF, Royals (back)
Cristian Guzman, SS, Nationals (thumb)
Jerry Hairston Jr., SS/OF, Reds (hamstring)
Maicer Izturis, 2B/3B/SS, Angels (thumb)
Andy LaRoche, 3B, Pirates (thumb)
Mark Loretta, 1B/2B/3B/SS, Astros (thigh)
Mike Napoli, C, Angels (shoulder)
Darrell Rasner, SP, Yankees (blister)
Shawn Riggans, C, Rays (chest)
Ivan Rodriguez, C, Yankees (knee)
Ryan Theriot, SS/2B, Cubs (foot)
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox (hand)

Start 'em, sit 'em

Hitters: Kosuke Fukudome is a .323 hitter with an .898 OPS in his home games, and he has already taken the Cardinals' Braden Looper deep once this season. ... The Tigers tend to clobber lefties, with an .828 team OPS against that side, and they annihilated the A's Dallas Braden twice in three meetings last season. Magglio Ordonez has two home runs against him in four career at-bats, Placido Polanco is 5-for-8 with a double and Marcus Thames is 3-for-5 with two doubles. In short, load up on right-handed Tigers. ... Seeing as the Pirates' Paul Maholm is a left-hander who dominates lefty hitters (.212 BA, .580 OPS allowed for his career), it's no surprise that Ryan Howard is 2-for-11 with four strikeouts and no extra-base hits lifetime against him. Not that you should sit Howard, especially not in a home game, but it says lean toward the right-handed side when picking Phillies. A standout: Pat Burrell, 4-for-11 (.364 BA) with a double and a homer in his career against Maholm. ... Not that it's all that surprising, but Lance Berkman has owned the Reds' Johnny Cueto so far this season, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and two walks against the right-hander. ... Josh Willingham is a lifetime .375 hitter (6-for-16) with two homers and a 1.358 OPS against the Mets' Oliver Perez. He's also a .333 hitter (21-for-63) with three homers, 17 RBIs and a .971 OPS in 19 career games at Shea Stadium. ... In spite of his respectable numbers against the Mets this season -- see below -- the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco does historically struggle against heart-of-the-order hitters Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright. They're a combined 23-for-46 (.500 BA) with three doubles and four home runs against the right-hander, so he'll need to retire the softer spots in their batting order to be successful. ... Part of the reason Jake Peavy has only a so-so track record at Coors Field -- as you'll read below -- is that the Rockies represent one of the few teams in baseball with several hitters who can handle him. Garrett Atkins is 10-for-24 (.417 BA) with an .898 OPS in his career against him; Brad Hawpe is 7-for-21 (.333 BA) with one homer and a 1.059 OPS; Matt Holliday is 8-for-22 (.364 BA) with one homer and a 1.017 OPS; Willy Taveras is 8-for-23 (.348 BA). Stick with your Rockies at Coors. ... Randy Winn is a lifetime .303 hitter (10-for-33) with four doubles, three home runs and a 1.040 OPS against the Dodgers' Brad Penny, who will be fresh off the DL. ... Right-handed hitters are batting .294 with an .848 OPS against the Giants' Barry Zito, and the Dodgers sure boast plenty of good ones. Matt Kemp is 9-for-18 (.500 BA) in his career against the left-hander; Jeff Kent is 8-for-16 (.500 BA) with a home run; Manny Ramirez has three home runs, 10 walks and a .992 OPS.

Brad Penny
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesBrad Penny draws a favorable matchup against the Giants for his first start off the DL.
Pitchers: Ted Lilly sure seems to love Wrigley Field, with a 15-8 record, 4.22 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 30 career starts there, and he has handled the Cardinals nicely throughout his Cubs career, with a so-so 3-2 record but a 3.52 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in seven meetings. That's a good enough track record to exploit. ... Jeremy Guthrie might be in the midst of a great, underrated season, but the previous time he faced the Rangers at home, on July 4, he won but allowed four runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. If you expect anything more than that this time, your expectations are unrealistic. ... Paul Maholm is another example of a pitcher having an underappreciated season yet whose matchup appears too risky to trust. Something to consider: Since the All-Star break, he has lost starts at both Coors Field and Wrigley Field, each time allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings. Third time's a charm. ... Ricky Nolasco has held his own in two starts against the Mets this season, and has a 3.21 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in three appearances against them, but limit his usage to NL-only or deep-mixed formats in what should be a pitchers' duel. ... Though Oliver Perez's most recent outing was a forgettable one, tack it on to his recent hot spell and he still has a 1.97 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and .205 batting average allowed in his past seven starts. Now he battles the Marlins, a team he beat on July 29, and one with the worst differential in team OPS against left-handers compared to right-handers (.074 worse against lefties). He's a solid start. ... CC Sabathia is 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in six starts so far for the Brewers, each one of them quality starts, and he battles the Nationals, a terrible offensive team. 'Nuff said. ... WHIP, schmip. Since his no-hitter on May 19, Jon Lester is 8-1 with a 2.62 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 13 starts. Are you going to complain that his WHIP could be better? Sure, it could be, but he's about as hot as they come the past three months, so I'm not about to fret about an assignment at U.S. Cellular Field. He's a must-start. ... Conversely, I'd sit Lester's opponent, Mark Buehrle. In his past six starts, opponents are hitting .308 with seven homers and an .833 OPS against him. Oh, by the way, he battles the Red Sox. They can sure hit. ... Though Jake Peavy's value should be knocked down a couple notches due to his being scheduled to pitch at Coors Field, where he's 3-3 with a 4.60 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in seven career starts, it shouldn't mean sit him outright. No, he can't be expected to toss a complete-game gem, but be aware that he has a 2.29 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and .232 BAA in 10 starts since returning from the DL in June. That's a tough hot streak to bench. ... Jered Weaver did match a career high by serving up four home runs to these Yankees this past Saturday, but he should feel a lot more comfortable in his first career home start against them. He's generally better at the "Big A" than on the road, with a 3.43 lifetime ERA there, so while he can't be expected to dominate, he'll at least be more useful this time. ... James Shields might be a whiz in his home games but only ordinary on the road; however, an assignment at Safeco Field against the Mariners really should make him feel right at home. He hasn't won either career start there, but in them he has a 1.69 ERA and 0.75 WHIP, and both outings were eight-inning quality starts. I'll bet he wins this time. ... I'm giving Brad Penny my OK even in his first start since June 14. It's a risk, for sure, but a 90-pitch cap is enough to make an impact, especially since it'll be against the Giants, a weak offensive team against whom he's 4-2 with a 2.99 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 14 games (13 starts) in his Dodgers career.

Waiver-wire pickups

Hitters: Luke Scott is an ideal matchups type, with great numbers both against right-handers (.267 BA, .871 OPS) and, most importantly, at Camden Yards (.301 BA, .966 OPS). This one's a home game against a so-so right-hander, the Rangers' Luis Mendoza, so you know what to do. ... Returning to that thought of using Phillies right-handed hitters against the Pirates' Paul Maholm, Jayson Werth is a must-start in my mind in any home game versus a southpaw. He's a .302 hitter with a 1.009 OPS against lefties, with .262/.813 home rates, this season. ... Adam Lind has hit safely in 16 of 18 games since the All-Star break, batting .333 (22-for-66) with 10 RBIs and a .961 OPS. He's well worth spot-starting in home games against right-handed starters like the Indians' Anthony Reyes. ... Though he has cooled off a bit as of late, Cody Ross has a phenomenal track record against the Mets' Oliver Perez, making him a solid fill-in. He has homered twice against the southpaw this season alone, and is a .350 hitter (7-for-20) with three homers, 10 RBIs and a 1.308 OPS in his career against Perez. ... Jason Kubel is a .304 hitter (14-for-46) with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 13 games since the All-Star break, and he's 3-for-5 with three walks in his career against the Royals' Kyle Davies. ... Jason Varitek might not hit anyone that well these days, but maybe he can handle the White Sox's Mark Buehrle. He's a lifetime .391 hitter (9-for-23) with two home runs and a 1.092 OPS against the left-hander. ... The Rockies' Glendon Rusch is the kind of guy that right-handed hitters tend to batter, and that type of pitcher working at Coors Field is a bad mix. For that reason, it's well worth looking at lefty-killing Padres hitters Scott Hairston (.291 BA, .944 OPS), Chase Headley (.340 BA, .880 OPS) and Kevin Kouzmanoff (.276 BA, .789 OPS). ... Chad Tracy starts practically every home game against a right-hander, probably because he's a .309 hitter with an .874 OPS in his career at home, and .305/.867 against righties. He gets my thumbs-up, even against the Braves' Jorge Campillo. ... Mike Napoli is due back off the disabled list on Friday, so if you're hurting for power and need a No. 2 catcher, he's not a bad pickup.

Kenny Rogers
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesIt's always a smart move to start Kenny Rogers against the A's.
Pitchers: If you're in the desperate-for-saves class, why not scoop up Frank Francisco in AL-only formats? He has a 1.71 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and .149 BAA in his past 20 outings, and could eventually get some looks if the Rangers declare themselves out of the wild-card race. At the very least Francisco should be a solid source of holds. ... My recommendation of Kenny Rogers against the A's in my Forecaster still stands; he's 10-1 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in his past 19 starts against them, dating back to 2002. By the way, the A's have averaged the fewest runs per game since the All-Star break (2.81). ... Since the Tigers are in good shape for a win at home, with Rogers on the mound and the A's their opponents, their closer sure seems to matter for Friday. Fernando Rodney snapped a string of four straight appearances of being scored upon by tossing three scoreless, hitless, dominating innings against the White Sox on Tuesday, and he's your top choice. But if you've got the bench space, I'd still be adding Joel Zumaya and Kyle Farnsworth as insurance, in that order. ... The Indians have the starting-pitching matchup on their side, even if it's mostly due to experience, so it's a good day to gamble on a save from them. Rafael Perez is my preferred pick over Masa Kobayashi, and the Blue Jays do boast enough left-handed hitters for him to get the call; on Sunday they actually batted Lyle Overbay, Adam Lind, Matt Stairs and Brad Wilkerson in succession. That's just begging a lefty reliever to come in to close the door. ... With Billy Wagner on the DL the Mets claim Aaron Heilman is their closer, but I don't buy it. He has an 11.32 ERA in 11 appearances since the All-Star break and almost blew a four-run lead on Tuesday. Unfortunately almost anyone from Duaner Sanchez to Pedro Feliciano to Joe Smith to Scott Schoeneweis could be "the guy" on any given night, and I'd probably rank them in that order, but the intriguing sleeper pickup to watch is rookie Eddie Kunz. Even if you don't use him Friday, he's worth stashing on your bench. ... Remember when the Royals were once a weaker offense against lefties than righties? No longer. They're a sub-.700 OPS team against righties these days, and were dominated by Kevin Slowey at home on May 29 (9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER). Expect another good start from him. ... Even though the Diamondbacks are heating up, with an .806 team OPS since the All-Star break, take the chance on the red-hot Jorge Campillo, 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in his past six starts. Keep in mind he has a 2.19 ERA in 17 road appearances for the season.

Weather concerns

Four Friday contests will be under cover: Indians-Blue Jays, Nationals-Brewers, Braves-Diamondbacks and Rays-Mariners. Other than that, the weather reports are favorable in all but a handful of cities in the Northeast. Detroit (A's-Tigers) and New York (Marlins-Mets) face a 30 percent chance of showers, while Philadelphia (Pirates-Phillies) is at 20 percent. And watch out for high winds in San Francisco -- particularly troubling for fly-ball pitcher Barry Zito -- perhaps up to 23 mph!

Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.

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