Commentary

Daily Notes for Monday: Webb and Beckett take the hill

Updated: September 22, 2008, 8:34 AM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

The final week of the season is upon us, and that means pitchers are making their last starts of the season. A couple of aces take the mound today, most notably Brandon Webb, who is seeking his third win in a row, and 22nd overall. The Red Sox will start Josh Beckett versus the Indians, still hoping for home field advantage in the playoffs, although their chances are rapidly fading. Only a handful of games have true playoff impact, with the Phillies hosting the Braves, and the Mets in Shea Stadium versus a Cubs team that just clinched a playoff berth. Both the Mets and the Phillies will be depending on rookies, with lefties Jonathon Niese and J.A. Happ on the mound, respectively.

Matchups for Monday, September 22

Time Visitors L/R Record ERA WHIP Home L/R Record ERA WHIP
1:10 p.m. Ricky Nolasco R 15-7 3.52 1.11
@
Aaron Harang R 5-16 4.70 1.36
7:05 p.m. Jair Jurrjens R 13-10 3.72 1.39
@
J.A. Happ L 1-0 4.24 1.37
7:05 p.m. Zach Jackson L 0-3 6.48 1.46
@
Josh Beckett R 12-9 3.96 1.18
7:05 p.m. Gil Meche R 12-11 4.08 1.32
@
Zach Miner R 8-4 4.16 1.41
7:05 p.m. David Price L 0-0 3.00 0.67
@
Brian Bass R 3-4 4.87 1.55
7:10 p.m. Jason Marquis R 10-9 4.39 1.42
@
Jonathon Niese L 1-0 4.09 1.73
8:05 p.m. Greg Smith L 7-15 4.09 1.35
@
Kevin Millwood R 9-9 5.15 1.61
8:15 p.m. Brandon Webb R 21-7 3.26 1.19
@
Todd Wellemeyer R 12-8 3.66 1.22
10:10 p.m. Ervin Santana R 15-6 3.33 1.12
@
Ryan Rowland-Smith L 4-2 3.53 1.36

All times are ET.

Injury report

Out
Carlos Guillen, 1B/SS/3B, Tigers (back)
Mike Lowell, 3B, Red Sox (hip)
Fernando Tatis, OF, Mets (shoulder)

Day-to-day
Jay Bruce, OF, Reds (hand)
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (back)
Yunel Escobar, SS, Braves (hamstring)
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds (wrist)
Chone Figgins, 3B, Angels (elbow)
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves (shoulder)
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels (hamstring)
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals (quadriceps)
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (shoulder)
Juan Rivera, OF, Angels (hip)
Michael Young, SS, Rangers (finger)

Start 'em, sit 'em

Hitters: Grady Sizemore is only 3-for-12, with six strikeouts, against Josh Beckett for his career. Victor Martinez has had similar struggles, with just two hits in 11 at-bats and four strikeouts, but one of his hits was a homer. Travis Hafner is the one Indian with extensive success against Beckett, with four hits in nine at-bats -- three of the extra-base variety, including one home run -- and three walks to zero strikeouts. … With six hits in 14 career at-bats, David DeJesus is one of the few Royals with much success against the Tigers' Zach Miner. Jose Guillen, on the other hand, is just 1-for-12 (.083) with three strikeouts, although his sole hit was a home run. … A number of Orioles regulars have struggled against Matt Garza: Kevin Millar is 3-for-14 (.214) in his career, Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts are both 3-for-17 (.176) and Melvin Mora is 1-for-15 (.067), with just two extra-base hits between them that belong to Millar (a double) and Roberts (a home run).

Pitchers: Since allowing eight runs in consecutive starts on August 10 and 16, Aaron Harang has allowed a total of nine runs in his past 42 innings (1.93 ERA). But it's tough to recommend Harang against the Marlins, whose bats have once again come alive in September; it's just a bad matchup for a homer-prone pitcher (31 in 172 1/3 innings) against a team that ranks third in the majors with 199 home runs on the season, and the most on the road, with 105. … It seems like the National League has finally caught up with Jair Jurrjens, who, despite allowing just three home runs in 70 1/3 innings since the All-Star break, has a mediocre 4.86 ERA and 1.51 WHIP to show for it. Jurrjens shut out the Phillies for eight innings July 25, but was touched up to the tune of five hits, five walks and four runs in five innings Wednesday. He's also pitched 38 more innings than he did last season, suggesting fatigue may be coming into play for the 22-year-old. … Josh Beckett's ERA is more than a half-run lower in September than it is in any other month, so maybe he really does love pitching under pressure. The Indians do have the majors' best OPS since the All-Star break (.817), but Beckett's track record in September (2.77 ERA) makes him worth the gamble. … Gil Meche is normally underrated and usually gets a thumbs up recommendation from me -- his 3.12 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 78 innings since the All-Star break speak for themselves -- but it'd be best to bench him in Detroit on Monday. The Tigers normally hit well in the confines of Comerica Park, and this year is no exception, with a .293 AVG/.356 OBP/.482 SLG line that ranks fourth in the majors. They're just one point behind the Indians for the best team OPS since the break, so they're a dangerous opponent who should be respected. … Despite a 2.77 ERA in his past 11 starts dating back to July 24, Todd Wellemeyer is a low-upside play versus the Diamondbacks. He's facing their ace, Brandon Webb, and his poor peripherals (10 home runs in 68 1/3 innings, 47 strikeouts to 23 walks) don't support such a low ERA.

Waiver-wire pickups

Hitters: Mark Teahen is hitting .364 with three home runs in September, and he's 3-for-7 with a home run against Zach Miner. … Taylor Teagarden inexplicably sat out for the fifth straight day Saturday, and if he doesn't get the start over Gerald Laird on Monday, with the left-handed Greg Smith on the mound, it's time to move on despite his hot hitting.

Pitchers: Check the lineups to make sure Chipper Jones sits but, assuming he's out, the remaining productive hitters in the Braves lineup number just two: Kelly Johnson and Brian McCann, the latter of whom struggles a bit against lefties. For NL-only, deep mixed leagues or just desperate owners, J.A. Happ, who struck out over 10 batters per nine innings in Triple-A this season, looks like a fair option to spot start. … Zach Miner has had quite a bit of success versus the Royals this season, with a 1.29 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 21 innings (three starts) this season, including consecutive impressive starts August 23 and 29. While you may be skeptical because, after all, it is Zach Miner, the Royals are tied with the Nationals for the worst OPS in the majors against right-handed pitching.

Weather concerns

The Angels-Mariners is the only weatherproof game, and just one game is under the threat of rain: the Diamondbacks-Cardinals, with a 40 percent chance of storms.

Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com

ALSO SEE