Commentary

Daily Notes for Tuesday: Hughes makes his 2009 debut

Updated: April 28, 2009, 3:15 PM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

After going 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA in Triple-A, Phil Hughes is the Yankees' choice to replace Chien-Ming Wang, who was recently placed on the disabled list with a hip "injury." Hughes has long dominated the minors. Now the organizational brass and fantasy owners alike are waiting for him to translate that potential into performance at the major league level. He won't be eased into anything, either, as he faces the tough Tigers offense on the road.

Other storylines of the day include Chad Billingsley looking to go 5-0 against the Giants and Cole Hamels looking for his first win after being forced from his last start when a line drive struck his pitching shoulder..

For starters

Selected notes: Kyle Lohse has allowed six runs -- five earned -- and 16 baserunners in his past two starts (10 innings), so don't expect the 2.42 ERA and 0.96 WHIP to last much longer. That said, he's backed by the most powerful offense in the majors (.868 OPS) and gets to face a middling Braves lineup that is now down Brian McCann, who, along with Chipper Jones, is the team's only power threat. Even a merely serviceable Lohse could pick up his fourth win as a result. … Between his 8-5 walk-to-strikeout rate and four home runs allowed in 15 innings, Brad Penny is a poor bet for success when he faces the Indians on the road. He struggled against the Twins in his most recent start and the Indians will be the best offense he has faced yet. If anything, it's surprising he's still owned in 13.1 percent of leagues. … Would Edwin Jackson's ownership have increased 7.9 percent in the past week if his ERA read 4.15 instead of its current 2.77? Jackson has allowed four unearned runs, including three in his most recent start; he's also allowed a whopping four home runs in 26 innings, raising another red flag. He could get bombed when he faces the Yankees. … The Tigers have been in the top five in OPS the past two seasons when hitting in the comforts of Comerica Park, so even though Phil Hughes is a lot better than his career 5.15 ERA suggests, there's no reason to take a chance and risk a blowup. … No team has hit Ricky Nolasco harder than the Mets: They hold a .341 average against and have pummeled him en route to leaving him with a 6.36 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in 10 starts. … Wandy Rodriguez struck out 10 Reds in a start earlier this month, but this time he has to pitch in Great American Ballpark, a place where he's had mixed success, with six home runs allowed in 25 1/3 innings. On the bright side, however, a lot of Rodriguez's past results against the Reds don't fully apply because this is now a much weaker lineup he's facing; Cincinnati finished 23rd in OPS last season, and its .683 mark this season ranks 27th. Considering how well Rodriguez has pitched to begin the season, you have to throw him out there. … It's been the home runs that have hurt Dave Bush when he faces the Pirates: Despite a 1.17 WHIP in 10 starts over the past three seasons, he still has a 4.67 ERA largely due to nine home runs in 61 2/3 innings. Fortunately for Bush, Nate McLouth is doubtful for the series, and he was 8-for-20 with a home run against Bush lifetime. … Don't automatically insert Paul Maholm in your lineup just because he's been productive in his four starts to date; his 3.38 K/9 rate isn't exactly inspiring. His ERA is nearly 150 points worse on the road, with a 1.53 WHIP attached, so don't be surprised if he gets touched up by the Brew Crew. … A large part of Francisco Liriano's struggles can be attributed to a rough schedule, but his 41-27 fly ball-to-ground ball rate and three home runs in 21 2/3 innings dictate a wait-and-see approach against the Rays.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Placido Polanco, 2B, Tigers: Although he's hitting only .257, eight of his 19 hits have gone for extra bases, and since he hasn't hit worse than .295 in the past six seasons, his average should rise soon. He's also a career .330 hitter in Comerica Park.
Jose Reyes, SS, Mets: Has owned Ricky Nolasco, going 13-for-29 (.448) against him, with three home runs, a double and a triple.
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds: Is just 5-for-23 against Wandy Rodriguez, but his hits have tended to go a long way, with two home runs and a triple. He's also walked six times and holds a .901 OPS against the lefty overall.
Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros: No one has hit more home runs off Aaron Harang than Berkman, who has a whopping six home runs in 45 at-bats against the right-hander. Despite a mediocre .244 batting average and striking out 10 times, Berkman is still slugging .689 against him.
Jason Giambi, 1B, Athletics: Has been massive trouble for Kevin Millwood, going 6-for-12 with two home runs against the right-hander.
Mark Ellis, 2B, Athletics: Ellis also has a history of success versus Millwood, with a .429 AVG/.484 OBP/.536 SLG line in 28 at-bats, although with three doubles and no home runs, it's been mostly just for average.
Mike Cameron, OF, Brewers: With 11 hits -- including three home runs -- in 18 at-bats when facing Paul Maholm, Cameron is licking his chops at the thought of another opportunity against the soft-tossing southpaw.
Jason Kubel, OF, Twins: Is 6-for-10 with a double and a home run against James Shields.
Alex Rios, OF, Blue Jays: He hasn't yet hit a home run off Gil Meche, but with 10 hits in 15 at-bats -- four going for extra bases -- it's probably just a matter of time.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners: Despite his struggles, Beltre's eyes light up with Bartolo Colon on the mound. He's been good for a .356 average, with 16 hits in 45 at-bats, including six doubles and four home runs.

Pitchers' count:

Deep inside the matchups

Get inside scouting knowledge from ESPN Insider. Will Paul Maholm finally give up a home run versus the powerful Brewers? Is Brad Penny a reliable option on the road versus Cleveland? Click here to find out. Insider

Jeff Francoeur, OF, Braves: Has just one hit -- a double -- in 10 career at-bats versus Kyle Lohse compared with four strikeouts.
Chris Duncan, OF, Cardinals: Even though he's been strangely productive against left-handers so far this season, hitting .320 with two doubles and a home run, he still has a 7-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, indicating it's probably closer to a fluke than an actual improvement. In 188 career at-bats against lefties, Duncan is hitting a woeful .213 and his slugging percentage drops 156 points.
Nick Markakis, OF and Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles: Have combined for four hits -- three of which were singles -- in 28 at-bats against lefty Joe Saunders, which translates to a .142 batting average.
Johnny Damon, OF, Yankees: Has been rendered ineffective versus Edwin Jackson, with just three singles and three walks in 19 at-bats against the righty.
Adam Dunn, OF, Nationals: Cole Hamels actually has something of a reverse platoon split, allowing lefties to slug .441 compared with .391 when facing right-handers, but that hasn't stopped Dunn from striking out five times in eight at-bats. He has just one hit (a double) and a walk against Hamels.
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds: Is 4-for-18 (.222) versus Wandy Rodriguez, with no extra-base hits, and also has struck out four times.
Jay Bruce, OF, Reds: Since a late-May call-up to the majors last season, Bruce has hit .183 against left-handers in 153 at-bats; versus Rodriguez specifically, he's struck out eight times in 12 at-bats and been limited to one single.

If you're hardcore

Brian Barden, 3B, Cardinals: After going 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs on Saturday, Barden is now 12-for-25 in his past 10 games. He's splitting time with Joe Thurston, but the longer he keeps this up, the more playing time he should earn. Double-check that he's in the lineup, but Barden normally plays against lefties, and the opposing starter Tuesday is Jo-Jo Reyes, who has allowed right-handed batters to slug .531 against him in his career.
Ty Wigginton, 3B/OF, Orioles: Faces a lefty for the second consecutive game, this time seeing Joe Saunders on the mound, whose slugging percentage allowed rises from .307 against left-handers to .427 against righties; for his career, Wigginton slugs .514 against southpaws.
Josh Anderson, OF, Tigers: Has been running wild on the base paths, with seven steal attempts since April 15, getting thrown out just once. He stole 10 of 11 bases in 136 at-bats last season, so he's aggressive on the bases; as long as he keeps hitting (currently at .364), he's a must-grab.
Bill Hall, 3B, Brewers: An eye-popping 14-for-25 (.560) with four doubles and two home runs against Pirates lefty Paul Maholm, Hall makes a perfect spot start. It also helps that he's much more potent against left-handers in general (career .282 hitter versus southpaws, .248 against righties).
Ryan Spilborghs, OF, Rockies: Another product of Coors Field: He hits .328 and slugs .522 in Denver, numbers that drop to .278 and .418, respectively, on the road. But that just makes him an effective spot start for half of his games, and he's a fixture in the top of the lineup.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Garret Anderson, OF, Braves (15-day DL, quadriceps)
Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks (15-day DL, hamstring)
• Brian McCann, C, Braves (15-day DL, eye)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs (calf; out until at least Thursday)
Jack Wilson, SS, Pirates (15-day DL, finger)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs (groin)
Chris Getz, 2B, White Sox (fractured finger; may be placed on the DL)
Carlos Guillen, 1B/3B, Tigers (Achilles)
• Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies (shoulder; probable)
Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers (rib cage; available to pinch hit)
Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs (neck spasms)
• Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals (knee; probable)
Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs (knee)
Joe Mauer, C, Twins (15-day DL; is expected to return by May 1)
• Nate McLouth, OF, Pirates (oblique; doubtful)
Brandon Morrow, RP, Mariners (shoulder)
Joakim Soria, RP, Royals (shoulder)
Jose Valverde, RP, Astros (calf)

Weather concerns

• There are three weatherproof games for Tuesday: Pirates-Brewers, Rays-Twins and Cubs-Diamondbacks.
• Arlington (Athletics-Rangers) and Cincinnati (Astros-Reds) have the highest chance of rain, with a 50 percent chance of showers for each. Cleveland (Red Sox-Indians) also has a modest chance of precipitation at 30 percent.

Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.

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