Daily Notes for Wednesday: Greinke, Santana, Lincecum starting
It's a heck of a day for fantasy aces, as five of the 10 highest-ranked starting pitchers on the Player Rater (through Monday's games) will toe the hill. Leading the charge is Royals right-hander Zack Greinke, No. 1 on that list and owner of a streak of 43 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run (spanning six regular-season starts). Also scheduled to start on Wednesday are No. 3 Johan Santana and No. 6 Josh Johnson in a head-to-head matchup, as well as No. 7 Erik Bedard and No. 9 Javier Vazquez.
And that list excludes some other pretty talented starters set to pitch Wednesday: Tim Lincecum, the second starting pitcher selected in average ESPN live drafts; Jon Lester, who has a no-hitter to his credit in 2008; and Joba Chamberlain, owner of a 2.99 ERA and 9.4 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio in 15 career starts.
Starting pitcher rankings for Wednesday, April 29
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: Fausto Carmona got pummeled by the Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS, surrendering a 16.50 ERA and 3.17 WHIP in two starts. If you add those stats to his career regular-season numbers against Boston, he has a 11.25 ERA and 2.25 WHIP in six games (four starts). Opponent Jon Lester, by comparison, is 2-0 with a 4.03 ERA in four career regular-season starts versus the Indians. Gavin Floyd has an 8.10 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in five career games (three starts) against the Mariners, so that's another game in which the road starter -- in this case Erik Bedard -- makes for the far stronger fantasy choice. If Trevor Cahill couldn't handle the Rays' lineup in a home game in his last start (2 2/3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 HR), how is he to succeed at the bandbox that is Rangers Ballpark? Even though he has a down year by his standards, Brett Myers had a 2.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in four starts against the Nationals, winning two of them. Adam Wainwright apparently loves to face his old team, the Braves, who drafted him in the first round in 2000; he's 3-0 with a 1.12 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in six career games (three starts) against them. But with Javier Vazquez as his opponent, expect a low-scoring, pitching-rich affair. Another probable pitchers' duel: Mets-Marlins, the battle between Josh Johnson and Johan Santana, each of whom has a sub-two career ERA against his opponent. You know Santana is an obvious fantasy stud, but what you might not know is that Johnson is 5-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in six career starts against the Mets. Incidentally, the Mets' four most prominent hitters -- Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and David Wright -- are a combined 8-for-58 (.138 average) with one extra-base hit (a Delgado double) and 14 strikeouts in their careers versus Johnson. Between this and last season, Edinson Volquez is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in three career starts against the Astros. After back-to-back mediocre starts to begin his season, Tim Lincecum followed them up with a combined 25 strikeouts, 0.56 ERA and .179 opponents' batting average in 16 starts in turns Nos. 3 and 4. Nope, no longer any reason to worry about him.
• Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers: He's 7-for-15 with two doubles, one home run and one walk in his career against Ian Snell.
• Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pirates: Off to the hottest start in his career, LaRoche should keep things up versus Yovani Gallardo, against whom he's a lifetime 5-for-9 with one double, one home run and one walk.
• Garrett Atkins, 1B/3B, Rockies: Besides the fact that his lifetime OPS at Coors Field is 180 points higher than on the road, he's also 5-for-14 with three doubles, one home run and eight RBIs versus Kevin Correia.
• Khalil Greene, SS, Cardinals: Though he's slumping a bit and got the day off on Monday, he should be in the lineup on Wednesday, based on his 3-for-9, one-homer lifetime performance against Javier Vazquez.
• Victor Martinez, C/1B, Indians: He's 4-for-6 with a home run in his career against Jon Lester, and is on a ridiculous tear to begin the season, including an active seven-game hitting streak through Monday's games.
• David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Counting the postseason, he's 4-for-7 with one home run and two walks in his career against Fausto Carmona. He's also a .350 hitter (14-for-40) with three homers and a 1.063 OPS in 10 games at Jacobs Field since 2005.
• Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies: The Phillies, as a whole, own Nationals left-hander Scott Olsen -- their active players have a combined .905 lifetime OPS against him -- and Howard is the team's biggest standout of the bunch, going 11-for-24 with three doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs against the struggling starter.
• Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies: He's 6-for-13 with two doubles and two home runs in his career versus Olsen.
• Cristian Guzman, SS, Nationals: The Nationals fully intend to activate and start him in the leadoff spot on Wednesday. And with good reason, Guzman is 8-for-22 lifetime versus Brett Myers.
• Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals: He also has a good handle on Myers, going 11-for-30 (.367 AVG) with four doubles and a home run versus the right-hander.
• Kazuo Matsui, 2B, Astros: He's 3-for-6 with a home run lifetime versus Edinson Volquez, and was a .348 hitter in six games at Great American Ball Park in 2008.
• Lyle Overbay, 1B, Blue Jays: At this point the only hitters worth using against Zack Greinke are those who have historically hit him well, like Overbay, who is 5-for-10 with a home run in his career against the right-hander.
• Fred Lewis, OF, Giants: He's 5-for-6 with a double and two walks in his career against Eric Stults.
• Nate McLouth, OF, Pirates: Besides the fact that his oblique injury threatens his starting status, a less-than-healthy McLouth wouldn't warrant your attention facing Yovani Gallardo anyway. He's 2-for-10 with five strikeouts and no extra-base hits in his career versus the Brewers right-hander.
• Carlos Delgado, 1B, Mets: Just like McLouth, Delgado has health concerns, and he has no business being in the lineup against Josh Johnson if he's not 100 percent. He's 1-for-15 with four strikeouts in his career against the Marlins right-hander.
• Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins: He has hit one home run in his career against Johan Santana, but it's the only hit he has in 17 at-bats versus the Mets ace. Santana has dominated the slugger; Uggla has struck out 10 times in their past meetings.
• Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B, Marlins: He's 5-for-23 with eight strikeouts and no extra-base hits in his career versus Santana.
• Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners: He's hitless with three strikeouts in eight career at-bats against Gavin Floyd, and is off to a predictably cold start besides.
• Felipe Lopez, 2B, Diamondbacks: He's 4-for-23 with one home run and eight strikeouts in his career against Ryan Dempster.
• Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs: It's not the greatest of days for him to be back in the lineup; he's 2-for-11 (.182 AVG) without an extra-base hit against Doug Davis in his career.
• Kelly Johnson, 2B, Braves: He's hitless and has struck out twice in eight career at-bats against Adam Wainwright.
• Nick Johnson, 1B, Nationals: He's 4-for-21 (.190 AVG) with eight strikeouts lifetime versus Brett Myers, albeit with three doubles and one home run.
• Geoff Blum, 3B, Astros: Don't be fooled into the old "use-him-against-a-righty" idea; he's 0-for-9 with three strikeouts in his career against Edinson Volquez.
• Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays: If you're playing the career trends versus Zack Greinke -- and you should be -- then you should sit Wells, 2-for-13 (.154 AVG) with one extra-base hit, a double, lifetime against the right-hander.
• Michael Cuddyer, OF, Twins: He's hitless in 10 career at-bats against Scott Kazmir.
• Ryan Madson, RP, Phillies: With Brad Lidge nursing a knee injury and possibly unavailable, Madson might get a save chance Wednesday. He has a 3.09 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 124 relief appearances since the start of the 2007 season.
• Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins: He might not seem at all an option facing Johan Santana, but incredibly is 4-for-10 with three doubles and four walks versus the left-hander, only once striking out during that span.
• Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, Mariners: He's 3-for-7 with a double, a home run and six RBIs lifetime versus Gavin Floyd.
• Brian Giles, OF, Rockies: With his 2-for-5 performance in the series opener on Monday, he's a .302 hitter with a .960 OPS in 67 career games at Coors Field. He's also 17-for-45 (.378 AVG) lifetime versus Aaron Cook.
• Alex Cintron, SS, Nationals: He's no guarantee to sneak in a start at second base, but it's worth taking into account that in 10 career at-bats versus Brett Myers, he has four hits and two home runs. Check that early lineup!
• Josh Willingham, OF, Nationals: He's more likely than Cintron to sneak in a start against Myers, since he's 5-for-13 with a homer against the right-hander.
Deep inside the matchups
Get inside scouting knowledge from ESPN Insider. How does Carlos Gomez fare against Scott Kazmir? How good is Edinson Volquez against the Astros? Click here to find out.
Injury list: Out
• Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks (15-day disabled list, hamstring)
• Joe Mauer, C, Twins (15-day DL, back): Despite recent rumors that he might return sooner, he said Monday he remains on track to return from the DL on Friday
• Jack Wilson, SS, Pirates (15-day DL, finger)
• Carlos Ruiz, C, Phillies (15-day DL, abdominal): Might have suffered a setback Monday that'll delay his originally scheduled Wednesday return date
• Brian McCann, C, Braves (15-day DL, eye)
Injury list: Day-to-day
• Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs (groin): Was expected to return Tuesday
• Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets (back)
• Eric Chavez, 3B, Athletics (elbow)
• Carlos Delgado, 1B, Mets (hip)
• Chris Dickerson, OF, Reds (head)
• J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (hamstring)
• Chris Getz, 2B, White Sox (finger): Was planning to play one game of Tuesday's doubleheader
• Cristian Guzman, SS, Nationals (15-day DL, hamstring): Expected to be activated for Wednesday's game
• Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers (ribs): Might be DL-bound
• Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies (possible concussion): Status unclear
• Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs (neck): Might be back on Wednesday
• Brad Lidge, RP, Phillies (knee)
• Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs (knee): Was expected to be available Tuesday
• Nate McLouth, OF, Pirates (oblique)
• Brandon Morrow, RP, Mariners (shoulder)
• Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs (calf): Might be available Wednesday
• Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (hand)
• Joakim Soria, RP, Royals (shoulder)
• Jim Thome, DH, White Sox (heel): Likely limited to pinch-hitting duties
• Andres Torres, OF, Giants (hamstring): Likely DL-bound
• Jose Valverde, RP, Astros (calf)
• Wednesday's schedule features three weatherproof games: Pirates-Brewers, Cubs-Diamondbacks and Rays-Twins.
• Rain might present the most problems on the East Coast, as Angels-Orioles faces a 60 percent chance of precipitation; Marlins-Mets has a 40 percent chance, though mostly before noon; and Nationals-Phillies has a 30 percent chance. None of those games' forecasts appears dire, but they bear watching. Blue-Jays-Royals is also on that list, as there's a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in Kansas City.
• Wind might be an issue in the Yankees-Tigers game, as gusts of up to 18 mph are in the forecast.
• There is a 30 percent chance of rain in Cincinnati (Astros-Reds), and a 20 percent chance in Atlanta (Cardinals-Braves) and Texas (Athletics-Rangers). The Rangers game is more of a concern with the wind; it'll be 15 mph with gusts up to 20 mph.
Tristan H. Cockcroft is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and a two-time champion of the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) experts league. You can e-mail him here.