- Sean Allen
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Mark your calendars, quite the pitching matchup is on tap for Chase Field. Former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy brings the second-best ERA in the National League (2.61) into Arizona to face Dan Haren and his league-best WHIP (1.03). This should be an absolute battle of barn-burning proportions. I don't know if there are any "must-start" hitters in this game.
Matchups for Wednesday, Aug. 20
Maicer Izturis, 2B/3B/SS, Angels (thumb)
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers (groin)
Mike Lowell, 3B, Red Sox (oblique)
Kazuo Matsui, 2B, Astros (back)
Brandon Moss, OF, Pirates (ankle)
Troy Percival, RP, Rays (knee)
Gregor Blanco, OF, Braves (ankle)
Milton Bradley, OF, Rangers (back)
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (back)
Jesus Flores, C, Nationals (knee)
Cristian Guzman, SS, Nationals (thumb)
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B, Pirates (bereavement)
Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers (thumb)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Start your sluggers in the Red Sox-Orioles matchup in Baltimore. The Orioles (.906) and Red Sox (.856) have the two best OPS in the league in August, and Camden Yards has been the most home run-friendly ball park in the majors this season. Sorry Clay Buchholz, this isn't a game to help you win back a starting job. ... J.D. Drew left Sunday's game with back pain. Uh-oh! Watch this situation closely. ... Ian Kinsler is headed to the DL with a sports hernia and could be done for the season. For now, owners can plug in his real-life replacement, Ramon Vazquez (.308 BA). ... Brian McCann has a .545 batting average, a .615 on-base percentage and a .909 slugging percentage in 13 career plate appearances against Mike Pelfrey. ... Mark DeRosa is 7-for-15 versus the Reds' Bronson Arroyo. ... Brandon Phillips is a mere 1-for-15 versus the Cubs' Ted Lilly and can be benched if you have another option.
Pitchers: The Diamondbacks have a combined 254 at-bats versus Jake Peavy and have just 50 hits (.197 BA), while Dan Haren is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts against the Padres. Barn burner indeed. ... Francisco Liriano is up to a 3-0 record and a minuscule 1.45 ERA since being recalled from Triple-A. You can't argue with results like that. ... Gavin Floyd gets an asterisk next to his name for this matchup. He has terrible numbers in his career against Seattle, and that includes a start this season. Floyd is 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA versus Seattle and the Mariners' combined lineup hits .400 against him with an OPS of 1.233. ... Gil Meche is rocking and rolling lately, striking out 31 batters in his past four starts (25 1/3 innings). He is also 4-0 dating back to July 2. ... Brett Myers is 4-for-5 in quality starts since returning from the minors in late July. He's a different pitcher than he was at the start of the season, posting a 2.48 ERA over that span with his strikeout total going up in every start (eight in his most recent outing). ... We have a team of 30 scientists and mathematicians working on the "Predicting Matt Garza Matrix," but in the meantime, you can roll your own dice. He's coming off a brilliant two-hit shutout of the major's best offense (Rangers), but gave up 10 hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings against one of the major's worst offenses (Mariners) in his outing before that. When he's on, he's on, but this is another tall matchup, as he faces the Angels, who own the major's best record. ... Jair Jurrjens is coming off five straight quality starts and is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against the Mets already this season. He seems safe, despite the lack of run support he has been getting lately. ... Jurrjens' counterpart, Mike Pelfrey, is in tough against Atlanta. Despite his recent stretch of solid outings (9-2 in last 13 starts), the Braves gave Pelfrey fits earlier this season. In two starts, Pelfrey allowed 11 runs in 9 1/3 innings. In Pelfrey's corner though, is his 2.81 ERA at Shea Stadium this season. ... Careful with Ted Lilly. He is 0-2 against Cincinnati this season and most recently surrendered four runs on two homers and six hits in 2 2/3 innings versus the Reds on July 10.
Hitters: While Mike Lowell is out, Sean Casey gets ample RBI opportunities in the Boston lineup. He historically hits lefties very well and has rookie Chris Waters on the slate. ... Erick Aybar is an everyday shortstop while Maicer Izturis is on the DL. He will hit second and could be a boon to the runs category in the short term. ... Twins outfielder Denard Span is particularly dangerous against southpaws (1.002 OPS), so feel free to spot-start him against the A's Dallas Braden. Similarly, if you ever want to use Nick Punto for some stolen bases, use him against lefties, where his .316 average doesn't kill you. ... Emil Brown is never a bad start against lefties, even if the pitcher is of Francisco Liriano's caliber. Brown is hitting .302 against lefties this season with an .806 OPS. (Sure enough, Brown is 2-for-2 against Liriano). ... Ryan Garko has a solid history against Gil Meche. He's 7-for-16 (.438) with a home run and two doubles. Garko also has 13 hits in his past nine games (entering Tuesday). ... You can bet Lyle Overbay (2-for-21 with six strikeouts) and Matt Stairs (0-for-9) won't start against Andy Pettitte, and if they do, you want no part of them. Kevin Mench might get a rare start, as he is 8-for-19 (.421) versus Pettitte. ... The Reds' Chris Dickerson is 9-for-22 (.409) with a home run and a stolen base since being recalled Aug. 12 after the Adam Dunn deal.
Pitchers: Grant Balfour walked three batters while retiring just one in Sunday night's game, and Dan Wheeler came in for the one-out save. I'd lean toward Wheeler when trolling for saves. ... Todd Wellemeyer has been back on his game since a June DL stint. Coming off four straight quality starts, he gets the limp offense of the Pirates, who have a lowly .642 OPS since August 1. ... Wandy Rodriguez doesn't even look safe to start at home anymore, let alone on the road against a Brew Crew notorious for raking southpaws. WayRod's counterpart may not be any more appealing. Manny Parra has struggled of late and Houston's offense is top 10 in OPS in August (.825) and versus left-handers for the season (.785). ... Like fellow reclamation project Anthony Reyes, the Indians' Zach Jackson should be watched but not necessarily used just yet. In his first start of the season, Jackson managed five innings in Baltimore, allowing three runs. He didn't allow a home run, though (a feat in itself in Camden Yards this season), and had 12 ground balls compared to seven in the air. If he can keep the ball down like that, he could has spot-start value in September. ... It should be an impressive duel between left-handers at Rogers Centre and David Purcey may have some deep AL-only value, but Andy Pettitte and the Yankees should come away with the victory. The Blue Jays have a lowly .684 OPS against lefthanders, with the fewest home runs and runs scored against southpaws this season of any major league team. Purcey has a respectable 3.86 ERA in three starts at home, but his prospects of winning this game are weak.
Keep a close eye on the game in Arlington. The forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of showers or isolated thunderstorms during the Tigers-Rangers game. ... There is a 30 percent chance of showers in Baltimore (Red Sox-Orioles), Philadelphia (Nationals-Phillies) and New York (Braves-Mets). ... Weather-proof games will be played in Minnesota (A's-Twins), Milwaukee (Astros-Brewers), Toronto (Yankees-Blue Jays), Tampa Bay (Angels-Rays) and Arizona (Padres-Diamondbacks).
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
Sean Allen looks at Wednesday's games for fantasy matchups to exploit and avoid.