- Sean Allen
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Wednesday's slate features three pitchers who are probably owned in too few ESPN leagues and could see their ownership shoot up with a good outing.
Jeremy Guthrie is only on a roster in 42 percent of ESPN leagues, but he has thrown 17 quality starts in 25 tries this season. The winner of four of his past five, Guthrie may get some more attention if he moves to 10-8 on the season with a victory over the Indians.
In Los Angeles, Joe Blanton and Brad Penny square off. Blanton, who is owned in just over a quarter of ESPN leagues, has thrown two straight quality starts. After a rough outing in his first game with the Phillies followed by a rainout, he has looked terrific over his past 14 innings, allowing just one earned run. Penny came off the DL to throw five innings of one-hit ball against San Francisco. Although his velocity wasn't there, the fact he allowed just one hit is notable. Given another good start or two, his ownership should climb from its current level of 32 percent in ESPN leagues.
Matchups for Wednesday, Aug. 13
All times are ET.
Marcus Thames, 1B/OF, Tigers (shoulder)
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B/3B/SS, Dodgers (knee)
Ken Griffey Jr., OF, White Sox (soreness)
Jerry Hairston Jr., SS/OF, Reds (hamstring)
Andruw Jones, OF, Dodgers (knee)
John Maine, SP, Mets (shoulder)
Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Pirates (shoulder)
Jack Wilson, SS, Pirates (shoulder)
Joey Votto, 1B/OF, Reds (bereavement)
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox (shoulder)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Rick Ankiel is back playing everyday as a left fielder. Get him back into your everyday lineup. ... Watch for Milton Bradley's return. His quadriceps has kept him out of the lineup for most of August, so approach with caution. ... Get Carlos Guillen back into your lineup. As expected, he returned Monday, going 1-for-3. ... Ken Griffey Jr. was back Monday after another "soreness" absence. He should be available Wednesday and start against righty Luke Hochevar. ... Howie Kendrick can have a seat Wednesday. He is just 1-for-12 versus Felix Hernandez. ... Raul Ibanez is the only bright spot for the Mariners when facing Ervin Santana. He is 6-for-19 (.316) with five of those hits going for extra bases. Ibanez has also walked fives times and struck out just three versus King Felix. ... Lefties fare much better against the Twins' Kevin Slowey than righties do, and sure enough, Melky Cabrera is 2-for-5 with a home run against him. Fellow left-handed bats Robinson Cano and Bobby Abreu have also each homered against Slowey despite just nine career at-bats between them. ... Chipper Jones is 4-for-6 with three solo home runs versus Jason Marquis. ... Conor Jackson lights up Jeff Francis like a Christmas tree. He's 12-for-32 (.375) with four home runs and 10 RBIs. Teammates Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds and Chad Tracy have averages better than .400 versus Francis. Start your Diamondbacks! ... Nate McLouth has three home runs (and five hits) in just nine at-bats versus Josh Fogg. ... If you are in a very shallow league, consider your backups for David Wright and Carlos Delgado. Wright is just 1-for-14 versus Jason Bergmann, and Delgado is 0-for-7.
Pitchers: CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, Ervin Santana and Justin Duchscherer are the only 100-percent owned studs taking the hill Wednesday. It's hard to believe that Sabathia's four complete games with the Brewers lead the NL. With Cleveland, he posted an eight-inning quality start while beating the Padres on June 15, striking out 10 in the process. Hernandez is coming off an eight-inning four-hitter and Santana has held the Mariners' lineup to a combined career .223 average against him. Even though Santana and Hernandez face each other, they are both worthy of a start. Duchscherer has been showing a few holes in his armor as the season wears on; that had to be expected from a converted reliever, but he has still been masterful at McAfee Coliseum, where opponents are hitting .165 against him. ... The wins are finally starting to come for Jeremy Guthrie. He has thrown quality start after quality start all season, but only moved to 9-8 after winning four of his past five starts. Hopefully the W's start earning him mixed-league respect, as he is still owned in just 42 percent of ESPN leagues. ... Jon Lester went 11 starts between losses and didn't even pitch that poorly in his most recent outing (seven innings, four earned runs). He's been in command of all his pitches and faces a Rangers team that hasn't been all that great on offense since the All-Star break (.787 OPS, 13th in majors). Josh Hamilton and Chris Davis won't be as scary to Lester, as lefties are hitting just .233 against him. ... He got the win, so it's easy to overlook the fact that Jorge Campillo didn't have his best stuff in his most recent outing. However, that did follow five straight quality starts (not counting a rain-delayed outing July 27), in which Campillo struck out 28 and walked just seven. The Cubs should give him a hard time, but he should help fantasy teams with strikeouts and WHIP, though you may take a hit in ERA. ... John Maine has a very favorable matchup as he comes off the DL to start in Washington. Washington has a .702 OPS since the All-Star break and Maine is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two starts against them this season.
Hitters: Mike Scioscia will see the splits for Gary Matthews Jr. and squeeze him into Wednesday's lineup. Matthew is a career 13-for-35 (.371) versus Felix Hernandez, with three home runs and 11 RBIs. ... Rocco Baldelli is certainly one of the more speculative adds out there right now. He will play as long as Carl Crawford is out, and he went 1-for-4 in his first game of the season on Sunday. Believe it or not, he is 1-for-3 against Justin Duchscherer with a home run. ... Nomar Garciaparra has been a pretty good fantasy bench player when healthy this season, and he is expected to return as the starting shortstop for the Dodgers this week. ... Originally expected to return Tuesday as a source of cheap fantasy steals, Luis Castillo has had his return pushed back. ... Freddy Sanchez is expected back with the Pirates this week. He is a .335 hitter over the past three Augusts. ... Gabe Kapler is a deep-league option for Ryan Braun owners while the slugger nurses a sore back. Kapler had four runs and a home run on Sunday and Monday while Braun was out. ... With all the talk about Jack Hannahan having the "worst fantasy baseball season," it seems stupid to recommend him as a spot-start for your team, but he is 3-for-8 with a double and two home runs versus the Rays' Andy Sonnanstine. ... Rich Aurilia has a solid history against Randy Wolf (7-for-23, .302 with two home runs) and is eligible at several positions. ... Ronnie Belliard can hit all day versus John Maine. In 13 career at-bats, Belliard has nine hits (.692 average). ... Billy Butler hits .357 against Mark Buehrle (5-for-14) and has two home runs and six RBIs against him. ... With a lefty on the hill for Arizona (Doug Davis), Chris Iannetta and Ian Stewart all warrant a start (both have an OPS better than 1.000 versus southpaws this season).
Pitchers: Get Randy Wolf into your lineup. He has allowed just three runs in two starts against the Giants this season (while with the Padres) for a 2.25 ERA. The Giants also have a lowly .624 OPS since the All-Star break and a .699 OPS this season versus southpaws. ... Left-handed hitters are the bane of Kevin Slowey (lefties have an .854 OPS against him this season), and considering the number of good ones that the Yankees boast, this is not a good spot start for the Twins sophomore. ... Conversely, left-handed batters can't touch Paul Maholm (.167 average), but righties get to him just fine (.287). In fact, Edwin Encarnacion (12-for-27, .444) and Brandon Phillips (10-for-26, .385 with three home runs) have done plenty of damage versus Maholm in the past. Maholm may be coming off his best outing of the season, but I have concerns about him versus the Reds. For the sake of full disclosure, I will note that Maholm has allowed just two runs in 12 1/3 innings versus Cincinnati this season. ... Andy Sonnanstine has poor history against the A's (1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in three starts), but Oakland has an improbably low .611 OPS since the All-Star break. "Mr. Deception" is coming off two good starts and should have a usable outing for AL-only. ... The Blue Jays can't hit lefties (.676 OPS, second-worst in majors this season) and haven't hit since the All-Star break (.707 OPS, fourth-worst in majors). Kenny Rogers should pull out of a recent funk and have a great outing. A lot of Toronto hitters have gotten the best of The Gambler in their careers, but the numbers are still in Rogers' corner. ... Counting two starts in Triple-A, Anthony Reyes is 3-0 since coming to the Indians from St. Louis, with a combined 2.33 ERA. You can argue, though, that the Blue Jays offense is about the same as some Triple-A clubs. In this matchup with the Orioles, Reyes certainly bears watching, as Baltimore has the second-best OPS in the majors since the All-Star break (.856). I don't think I'd start him, but a good game would lean me toward starting him next time. ... Braden Looper has been on a heck of a roll lately, but he's done it while allowing plenty of home runs. In fact, five of the seven earned runs Looper has allowed in his past four starts (26 innings) were solo jacks. I'd use him in medium-sized leagues if you can afford a hit in ERA, but want a boost to your WHIP. ... Looper's counterpart Wednesday, Ricky Nolasco, has also been great except for the long ball in recent starts. He's worth starting in medium-to-deep leagues for his strikeouts and ERA (he lasts longer into games than Looper). Don't bet on a win from either pitcher, though. ... You may want to start Mark Buehrle here, but note that just two starts ago, he allowed 14 hits and eight earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. ... Joe Blanton now looks like the No. 2 starter the Phillies traded for. In his two most recent starts, he has compiled 14 innings, allowing one earned run, striking out 12 and walking four. Keep marching him out there. ... Brad Penny looked pretty decent in his return from the DL, allowing just one hit through five innings. He walked three and struck out none, while his fastball was a little rusty. Given a longer leash this time (more than 76 pitches), he should have no trouble tossing a quality start. ... Super deep-league, gut-feeling recommendation here: Josh Banks has a heck of a pitch arsenal, and Milwaukee's lineup is full of young hitters. I'll bet he fools a few of them on the way to a quality start. He won't get a win against CC Sabathia, but Banks could strike out half a dozen and help your WHIP. I'm thinking of head-to-head owners who may have started Fausto Carmona or Justin Verlander and have a pretty big hole to dig themselves out of this week.
There is a 70 percent chance of rain in Atlanta, but it's supposed to be in the morning. So the Cubs-Braves game may be spared. ... A weather system in the Ohio Valley could affect four games. Keep an eye on the weather in Chicago (Royals-White Sox), Cleveland (Orioles-Indians), Pittsburgh (Reds-Pirates) and Detroit (Blue Jays-Tigers). ... There is also a chance of some precipitation in South Florida (Cardinals-Marlins) and Denver (Diamondbacks-Rockies). ... Weatherproof games will be played in Minnesota (Yankees-Twins) and Houston (Giants-Astros).
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
8hBy Ian O'Connor
11hFantasy Football Insiders