Daily Notes: Blackburn a good spot-start versus Cleveland
Friday's starters are cut down the middle between your haves -- No. 1 and No. 2 starters -- and your have-nots, those who can be found sifting through your league's waiver wire. A couple of those haves, such as Fausto Carmona and Edinson Volquez, are off to awful starts and will be closely watched as they take the mound. Carmona faces a familiar opponent, the Twins, a team against which he's had mixed results, while Volquez tries to find his command versus the Braves, a team against which he rung up 16 strikeouts in two starts in 2008.
A couple of top pitching prospects, Trevor Cahill and Rick Porcello, however, shouldn't be lost in the shuffle. Porcello goes on the road to face Royals ace Zack Greinke, while Cahill attempts to dance around his 5-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio while battling the Rays in Oakland.
Starting pitcher rankings for Friday, April 24
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.
Selected notes: Nick Blackburn has a strong history of success against the Indians, with a microscopic 1.71 ERA in 31 2/3 innings in his career; as a team, the Indians have a measly .605 OPS against him. He probably is not worth the gamble in shallow mixed leagues -- he has just five strikeouts on the season -- but otherwise should be started in AL-only leagues or can be spot-started in head-to-head leagues. Everyone is in love with Joba Chamberlain's potential, but it's easy to forget he's pitched more than six innings just three times in 14 starts and never more than seven innings. You can't expect him to last much longer than five innings against the Red Sox, who know how to take walks. Zack Greinke just keeps getting better and better, and he's particularly nasty against the Tigers. Only Brandon Inge and Miguel Cabrera have had notable success against him, and he's allowed 41 hits to 31 strikeouts; as a team, the Tigers have an OPS south of .700. Don't be too worried about Edinson Volquez, because even though he has 13 walks in 15 1/3 innings, he still is striking out a batter per inning and is getting a ground ball 60 percent of the time. A home start versus the Braves could be his coming-out party. The Padres have been the majors' worst offensive team when hitting at home for the past three seasons, and they were second-to-last in 2005, so Ian Snell should be good for a quality start at least. The Twins' lineup is so weak without Joe Mauer that there's no harm in taking a chance on Fausto Carmona. It also will be his first home start of the season, where his WHIP is 15 points less for his career. Although the Blue Jays have been hitting the cover off the ball this month, Mark Buehrle historically has done very well against their hitters, allowing a .232 BA/.271 OBP/.374 SLG line in 198 at-bats. The only hitter he hasn't seen often is Travis Snider, who is weak against left-handers anyway.
• Kelly Shoppach, C, Indians: He's faced Nick Blackburn only five times, but Shoppach's three hits, including a double and a home run, speak for themselves. It also helps that first baseman Ryan Garko, the man he effectively would replace in the lineup, is 4-for-13 with no extra-base hits and three strikeouts against Blackburn.
• Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles: Simply crushes Vicente Padilla -- 10 hits in 15 at-bats, including five doubles, along with four walks.
• Johnny Damon, OF, Yankees: Damon usually is worse off against southpaws but hasn't had trouble hitting Jon Lester, with five hits -- including a home run -- in 12 at-bats.
• Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays: Locked in when facing Mark Buehrle (17-for-32 with three doubles and a home run). There's a good chance we could see Wells' seventh multihit game of the season.
• Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B, Marlins: Cantu opened his season with hits in eight of nine games, but a wrist injury has slowed his momentum, and many times, nagging injuries can trigger a slump in a streaking player. Fortunately, Cantu is 5-for-10 with two doubles and a home run versus Brett Myers, and doctors determined his injury is nothing more than a bruise, so let's hope he resumes hitting.
• Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cardinals: For his career, Ludwick has had a reverse split, hitting right-handers much better than lefties, which helps explain his success versus Ryan Dempster -- 7-for-13 (.538) with two doubles and a home run.
• Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs: Is hitting 9-for-23 (.391) versus Adam Wainwright, including three doubles, a home run and just one strikeout.
• Randy Winn, OF, Giants: Is hitting 14-for-38 (.368) against Doug Davis, with two walks, home runs and doubles; he also is a career .358 hitter at Chase Field.
• J.J. Hardy, SS, Brewers: It's been only 10 at-bats, but Hardy has been retired by Brett Myers in every single one, giving him zeros across the board.
• Carlos Delgado, 1B, Mets: Proof that his struggles versus lefties extend to all types, even mediocre ones: Scott Olsen has held him to seven hits in 29 at-bats, piling up seven strikeouts in the process.
• Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins: Other than two doubles, Morneau has had his power limited by Fausto Carmona, slugging just .353 with three walks versus the right-hander.
• Magglio Ordonez, OF, Tigers: Is owned by Zack Greinke; in 27 career at-bats, he has more strikeouts (five) than hits (four), has yet to earn a walk and has one extra-base hit, good for a .185 slugging percentage.
• Curtis Granderson, OF, Tigers: Has had trouble making contact versus Greinke, hitting .190 with four strikeouts in 21 at-bats against him. But unlike Ordonez, Granderson has had some success against Greinke when he's made contact, hitting a home run and a triple.
• Alex Rios, OF, Blue Jays: Buehrle's success against Rios (2-for-20, albeit with one home run) helps cancel out how hard Wells hits him.
• Lyle Overbay, 1B, Blue Jays: Overbay does so poorly against Buehrle that there's a good chance he'll be benched; he's 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts against the southpaw.
• Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins: Can work a walk versus Brett Myers (three in 17 plate appearances), but that's it; otherwise, he has one hit and seven strikeouts against the righty.
• Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs: Hitting just .188 (3-for-16) against Adam Wainwright with five strikeouts; although he has five walks, unfortunately he hasn't attempted a stolen base with Wainwright on the mound.
• Russell Martin, C, Dodgers: In 18 career at-bats against Aaron Cook, Martin has only a single and two walks to his name. Martin's OPS (.198) isn't even above the Mendoza Line.
• Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: Has struck out in eight of his 20 at-bats versus Tim Lincecum, and two hits -- even if they were both doubles -- won't cut it.
Deep inside the matchups
Get inside scouting knowledge from ESPN Insider. Will Brett Myers be able to keep the ball in the yard against Florida? Can Fausto Carmona turn things around against the Twins? Click here to find out.
• Mike Jacobs, 1B, Royals: He is streaking right now and went 1-for-2 with a home run off Fausto Carmona a little more than a week ago.
• Jason Kubel, OF, Twins: One of fantasy's hottest pickups, Kubel has raked versus Carmona, with a walk and seven hits in 15 at-bats.
• Alex Gonzalez, SS, Reds: With 12 hits in 31 career at-bats versus Javier Vazquez, Gonzalez has remained a thorn in his side. Six of those hits have gone for extra bases, including one homer.
• Luke Scott, OF, Orioles: While Scott is only 1-for-9 with a double against Vicente Padilla, that's too small a sample size to hold much stock, considering Padilla has allowed a whopping .903 OPS to left-handers the past three seasons, while Scott slugs .516 against righties for his career.
• Josh Anderson, OF, Tigers: Has seven hits in his past 13 at-bats and has earned regular starts against right-handers; more importantly, he also has three steals in that span. Last season, left-handers hit .287 against Zack Greinke, and neither Miguel Olivo nor John Buck is great at throwing runners out.
• Clint Barmes, 2B/SS, Rockies: Worthless on the road (.228) or against right-handers (.250), Barmes comes alive when playing at Coors Field (.300) or against lefties (.302); fortunately on Friday, he gets to face a left-hander at home.
Injury list: Out
Injury list: Day-to-day
• Garret Anderson, OF, Braves (quadriceps; migt be placed on the disabled list)
• Russell Branyan, 1B/3B, Mariners (back)
• Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B, Marlins (wrist)
• Nomar Garciaparra, SS, Athletics (calf; expected to play)
• Andruw Jones, OF, Rangers (knee)
• Jose Valverde, RP, Astros (calf)
• Friday has two weatherproof games: Brewers-Astros and Giants-Diamondbacks.
• High winds of 20 to 30 mph are expected in Kansas City (Tigers-Royals), Chicago (Blue Jays-White Sox) and St. Louis (Cubs-Cardinals), but that is the extent of any weather difficulties for the day.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
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