Daily Notes for Tuesday: Think twice about starting Max Scherzer
The biggest story of the day will be Max Scherzer's making his debut after beginning the season on the disabled list. He faces an equally intriguing pitcher in Chris Carpenter, who announced himself healthy with seven shutout innings versus the Pirates, but this follow-up may be even more important in terms of how he'll hold up for the whole season, and a matchup on the road is a stiffer test. In the AL, the White Sox and Tigers meet in the Central, as Rick Porcello attempts to bounce back from a poor debut, while A.J. Burnett and Matt Garza duel for supremacy in the East for the Yankees and Rays, respectively.
Starting pitcher rankings for Wednesday, April 8 (* all stats listed are from 2008)
Rk.: The author's ranking of that pitcher for that day only. T: pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. Record: pitcher's win-loss record. ERA: pitcher's earned run average. WHIP: pitcher's average number of walks plus hits surrendered per inning. K/9: pitcher's average number of strikeouts per nine innings. OPSA: pitcher's on-base plus slugging percentage surrendered to opponents. OPS: pitcher's opponent's composite team on-base plus slugging percentage. CT%: pitcher's opponent's success rate putting the ball in play (versus striking out).
Selected notes: Even as he got hammered against the Blue Jays (nine hits, two home runs and four earned runs), Rick Porcello managed four strikeouts in five innings. The White Sox tend to struggle offensively on the road, so Porcello has some upside if you're inclined to gamble on strikeouts. Unlike most Rangers pitchers, Brandon McCarthy has actually pitched better at Rangers Ballpark. More importantly, his counterpart, Alfredo Simon, has just two major league starts on his résumé, and his career 5.04 ERA suggests a beating, which gives McCarthy a golden opportunity to snipe a win. The Diamondbacks don't have a great offense, but Chase Field is a hitters' haven that tends to mask that fact. They finished second in strikeouts last season, though, so even if Chris Carpenter gets hit harder in his second start, he can erase a lot of the damage with K's. There is always some risk in activating a starter for his first game off of the disabled list, and Scherzer walked four batters in his rehab start. Even when healthy, Scherzer has pitched six full innings just three times, so you should probably let him get a start under his belt before you trot him out there yourself.
• Carl Crawford, OF, Rays: He's stolen a whopping 10 bases against A.J. Burnett in only 36 at-bats, hitting .361 along the way.
• Hank Blalock, 3B, Rangers: Even in his worst years Blalock has had a knack for producing at home, with his career .306 average 63 points higher than his average on the road.
• Jay Bruce, OF, Reds: Despite Bruce's career .190 average against left-handers, he's 2-for-7 with a double, a home run and a walk against Manny Parra.
• Coco Crisp, OF, Royals: He's off to a hot start in the power department with two doubles, a triple and a home run, and he wouldn't be the first to tee off on Carl Pavano.
• Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians: After hitting a scorching .343 with 11 home runs after the All-Star break last year, Choo has kept up his production to begin the season, with six hits, four runs, one home run and four walks to one strikeout in 17 at-bats. As long as he's facing righties, he's a good bet to stay productive, and the Royals' Kyle Davies isn't the most consistent of hurlers.
• Placido Polanco, 2B, Tigers: In 18 at-bats versus John Danks, Polanco has managed only four singles with no walks.
• Curtis Granderson, OF, Tigers: He has struggled his entire career versus southpaws, and is hitless in 12 at-bats versus Danks.
• Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays: One of his two hits against A.J. Burnett was a homer, but otherwise has just one single in 19 at-bats, including nine strikeouts.
• Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers: In 20 at-bats, Weeks has piled up 10 strikeouts to just one hit versus Bronson Arroyo.
• Mike Jacobs, 1B, Royals: Last season, 25 of Jacobs' 32 home runs came off of righties, with his average 34 points better against them (to a tolerable .268). He's often boom or bust, but a matchup with Carl Pavano on a travel day is about as good as it gets.
• Michael Cuddyer, OF, Twins: Given the lack of firepower from the Twins' lineup, Cuddyer is hitting third or fourth most nights. He faces a rookie Tuesday, and he tends to hit for good average against left-handers.
• Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays: Although normally facing a southpaw like Glen Perkins wouldn't be an ideal matchup for the left-handed-swinging Snider, Perkins is one of the rare left-handers with a reverse platoon split, with a .325 opposing batting average by lefties for his career.
Injury list: Out
• Willie Harris, OF, Nationals (15-day DL, ribs)
Injury list: Day-to-day
• Garret Anderson, OF, Braves (calf)
• Wladimir Balentien, OF, Mariners (wrist)
• Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B, Marlins (hand)
• Chris Getz, 2B, White Sox (triceps)
• Carlos Guillen, 1B/3B, Tigers (Achilles')
• Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY (wrist)
• The weatherproof games of the day: Angels-Mariners, Yankees-Rays, Reds-Brewers, Blue Jays-Twins and Cardinals-Diamondbacks.
• As for rain, only the White Sox-Tigers game looks likely to see delays or a rainout, with showers expected all day and night. That one is scheduled for the middle of the day.