Commentary

Daily Notes for the Weekend: D-backs should score for Haren this time

Updated: May 1, 2009, 4:35 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

It appears a wet weekend is ahead for the East Coast, but we refuse to let the weather put a damper on our baseball enjoyment. There are a lot of good matchups on tap, including the Mets taking on the Phillies in the City of Brotherly Love and the Red Sox visiting the Rays down in Florida. But our favorite pitching showdown is the "Battle of the Chads" -- Chad Gaudin attempts to hang fewer pitches than Chad Billingsley -- on Sunday. Here's the complete breakdown of which pitchers to claim and which to send packing for the first weekend of May:

For starters

Selected notes for Saturday: Dan Haren has been nothing short of lights-out this season but has a 2-3 record as a result of near-zero run support. He should improve on that mark Friday against the Brewers and Braden Looper, who has a 5.62 ERA in Miller Park. … The Nationals are 11th in the National League in runs scored, which is why we predict Joel Pineiro will improve to 5-0. … Jason Marquis is 3-1 in his career against the Giants, who have hit only .182 against the Rockies starter. … Anibal Sanchez's value is boosted a bit because Ted Lilly is 0-4 with a 5.53 ERA against Florida. … Brian Bannister is a surprise entry into the top 10, aided by his 3-1 lifetime mark against the Twins. … In four starts against the Phillies last season, Oliver Perez was 1-0 with a 0.35 ERA, which is why he's going to be on the mound at the start of Saturday's game and not in either the bullpen or the minors. However, he can't be completely trusted, as evidenced by his 2009 stats. … Tim Wakefield is due for a bad outing, and was 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA against the Rays last season. … And finally, Chris Young avoids the bottom spot, but the 1-3 record and 5.71 ERA in seven starts at Dodger Stadium isn't what you'd call pretty.

Selected notes for Sunday: Obviously we like Mr. Billingsley in the "Battle of the Chads," and the 6-3 record and 2.43 ERA certainly are strong reasons for that. … Carlos Zambrano is 4-1 with a 3.05 ERA against the Marlins in his career, and might well provide his own run support, as he's batting .286 for good measure. … Yes Brad Penny's ERA is pretty high, but James Shields traditionally struggles against Boston (2-5, 5.59 ERA), so Penny might have a lead to work with. … John Maine is 5-0 with a 2.54 ERA against the Phillies, and Joe Blanton isn't exactly Cy Young Award material. … We still have faith in Ricky Nolasco, although we admit there's little statistical support right now for our position. … Scott Baker has been awful in 2009, but with the expected return of Joe Mauer behind the plate this weekend, we're hoping he'll be more like the Baker of old, who is 5-2 with a 2.60 ERA against the Royals in his career. … John Lannan might not beat Kyle Lohse and the Cardinals, but he does have a career 2.84 ERA against St. Louis in his career. … We're not quite buying Johnny Cueto just yet, but we won't be surprised if he beats Jeff Karstens, who is 1-5 with a 5.06 ERA at PNC Park. … And finally, let's discuss Justin Verlander. He's 4-10 with a 6.70 ERA against the Tribe in his career, and 0-3 with an 8.62 ERA in his past three starts against Cleveland. He very well could be placed lower than No. 21 on our list with that track record.

Now batting (Saturday)

Hitters' count:

Jorge Cantu, 1B, Marlins: Cantu "can do" of late, with five home runs in his past seven games. And at Wrigley Field, he's 8-for-27 (.296) in his career.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres: He's a career .375 hitter against Randy Wolf, and has been red-hot with four home runs and a .393 average over the past week.
Alexei Ramirez, 2B, White Sox: At Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Ramirez is .429 lifetime and has stolen three bases despite having only 14 at-bats. Not too shabby.
Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies: Ibanez apparently loves his new home: He's a career .419 hitter at Citizens Bank Park. Also, he homered off Oliver Perez when the two squared off in interleague play last year.
Chris Davis, 1B, Rangers: It's hard to recommend a .200 hitter, but Davis traditionally hits better at home. So far this season he has hit 68 points better in Arlington than elsewhere, and he's a career .435 hitter versus the White Sox.
Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs: Soriano has two career home runs against Anibal Sanchez, and has hit two home runs already this week. Why not add to the count?
Billy Butler, DH, Royals: Glen Perkins beware! Butler is a career .347 hitter at the Metrodome.
Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins: Morneau is a .389 hitter against Brian Bannister, with a .722 slugging percentage.

Pitchers' count:

Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays: He has yet to solve the mystery that is Tim Wakefield, with a career line of just 4-for-30 (.133) against the Red Sox pitcher.
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers: Braun has yet to face Dan Haren, but if the day goes anything like the rest of his career at-bats versus Arizona, it's not going to end well for Braun. He's a career .135 hitter against the D-backs.
John Baker, C, Marlins: Baker apparently isn't a big fan of playing at "The Friendly Confines," at least if we go by the 1-for-12 line at Wrigley for his career.
Emilio Bonifacio, 3B, Marlins: Second verse, same as the first! Wrigley Field isn't very welcoming to Bonifacio, either. He's only a .154 hitter within those ivy-covered walls.
Miguel Tejada, SS, Astros: He has been in a modest slump of late, and given the lifetime .257 average at Turner Field, we're not expecting much this weekend.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, Indians: He's 2-for-24 over the past week, and it's little wonder his ESPN ownership has dropped by almost seven percent over that time.
Geovany Soto, C, Cubs: Soto, a career .222 hitter against the Marlins, hasn't even managed to do even that well of late, with a .100 average in his past 20 at-bats.
Jack Cust, OF, Athletics: Just say no to Safeco. In 41 career at-bats in the Seattle stadium, Cust is a pathetic .171 for his career.

Deep inside the matchups

Get inside scouting knowledge from ESPN Insider. Is his matchup versus the Nats mean an automatic win for Joel Pineiro? How will Scott Baker do against the Royals? Click here to find out. Insider

If you're hardcore

Fernando Tatis, OF, Mets: The Mets need to keep Tatis' bat in the lineup in Philadelphia, especially given his career .538 average in games at "The Bank."
Yorvit Torrealba, C, Rockies: He's more than just a guy whose name is a cross between Joe Torre and Jessica Alba; he's a .353 career hitter against Matt Cain. Holla!
Ben Francisco, OF, Indians: Zach Miner allows Indians hitters to reach base at a .431 clip, which could mean it's a good time to give Ben Francisco one last shot at proving his worth.
Craig Monroe, OF, Pirates: He has had a base hit in every game he has started, and has a .364 average. If you notice he's in the lineup, rush to your computer.
Mike Fontenot, 2B, Cubs: Fontenot is a career .381 hitter against the Marlins, and could be a nice sleeper start Saturday.
Nick Punto, SS, Twins: We know, we know, it's Nick Punto. But did you know he's a career .282 hitter in May, best of any month? Now you do.

Now batting (Sunday)

Hitters' count:

Carlos Guillen, OF, Tigers: Guillen averages an RBI every five at-bats against Cliff Lee, and he's a career .303 hitter against the Indians.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox: James Shields and Pedroia have battled 12 times, and each has won six times. Yup, a .500 average for Pedroia, so "Advantage: Pedroia."
Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies: He has had three home runs and eight RBIs this past week alone, and owns a .318 batting average against scheduled Mets starter John Maine.
Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins: Uggla is a Marlins hitter who actually does hit well at Wrigley Field and against Carlos Zambrano. He's a career .325 hitter with three home runs at Wrigley, and has a .429 OBP against Zambrano.
Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers: The 1.350 OPS against Yusmeiro Petit is one reason we like Fielder on Sunday. Petit's 8.62 ERA is another.
Jose Guillen, OF, Royals: Guillen is a career .337 hitter in 86 at-bats at the Metrodome. Maintaining that would raise his .212 average quite a bit this weekend.

Pitchers' count:

Jay Bruce, OF, Reds: Bruce is 1-for-13 in his career at PNC Park, and has never gotten a hit off Pirates starter Jeff Karstens. Not the greatest combination of stats.
Ryan Garko, 1B, Indians: Garko is a .217 career hitter off scheduled Tigers starter Justin Verlander.
Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies: After Sunday, Hawpe might wish he had gone on the disabled list after all. He's bound to feel ill after facing Barry Zito, whom he has a .091 average against in his career.
Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros: He has been all sorts of lousy this season, batting just .162, and frankly, we're not so sure Jo-Jo Reyes is the cure. Berkman is only.125 lifetime against the southpaw.
Michael Young, 3B, Rangers: Young and John Danks are like oil and water. Danks has struck out Young four out of the seven times they've faced.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees: At some point in 2009, we do hope to see the Teixeira we remember from seasons past. However, Joe Saunders knows how to get him out; Tex has hit just .222 against his former teammate.
Brian Giles, OF, Padres: He hit .163 in April, and May not start much better. He's only a .167 career hitter against Chad Billingsley in 24 at-bats.

If you're hardcore

Nyjer Morgan, OF, Pirates: Morgan went 2-for-3, including a triple, against Cueto in their only meeting, and if there's one thing that you can count on from Morgan, it's speed.
Landon Powell, C, Athletics: With all the injuries in the Oakland infield, Powell might get some playing time at first base this weekend, and the Mariners' Chris Jakubauskas isn't exactly an ace. Hey, we said "if you're hardcore."
Mark Teahen, 3B, Royals: Owned in only 15.4 percent of ESPN leagues, Teahen is a lifetime .304 hitter against Scott Baker.
Omir Santos, C, Mets: The catcher has endeared himself to manager Jerry Manuel, and has shown a little more pop in his bat than expected. In a hitters' park such as Citizens Bank, could he be worth a gamble? Sure.
Alex Cintron, SS, Nationals: Another selection not for the faint of heart, but the shortstop who has yet to get a hit in 2009 might have his best chance to do so against Kyle Lohse, against whom he's 4-for-6 with two doubles and three RBIs.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Brendan Ryan, SS, Cardinals (15-day disabled list, hamstring)
Mark Ellis, 2B, Athletics (15-day disabled list, calf)
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B, Athletics (15-day disabled list, calf)
Eric Chavez, 3B, Athletics (right elbow): He might soon become the third A's infielder on the disabled list, as he's been out since April 24.
Travis Hafner, DH, Indians (15-day disabled list, shoulder)
Jeff Baker, 2B, Rockies (15-day disabled list, left hand)
Mike Rivera, C, Brewers (15-day disabled list, ankle)
Roy Corcoran, P, Mariners (15-day disabled list, neck)

Injury list: Day-to-day

• Joe Mauer, C, Twins (back): Mauer is expected back in the lineup Friday, but it's unclear whether he'll be catching back-to-back days right off the bat.
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (wrist): John Maine hit him with a pitch Monday, and he hasn't felt comfortable since.
• Khalil Greene, SS, Cardinals (forearm): He's now able to pinch hit and might get a start this weekend.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs (calf): Ramirez looks like he'll avoid the disabled list, but there's still no clear indication of when he'll return to the lineup.
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (quad): Drew was back in the Boston lineup Thursday, but that nagging quad makes that return a tenuous one for now.
Augie Ojeda, SS, Diamondbacks (groin): Josh Wilson has been starting in his place.

Weather concerns

• This weekend's weatherproof games: Diamondbacks-Brewers, Royals-Twins, Athletics-Mariners, Red Sox-Rays and Orioles-Blue Jays.
• Expect a wet weekend in both Pittsburgh and New York, with intermittent showers Saturday that should last all the way through to Sunday.
• In fact, the whole East Coast can pretty much echo that forecast, with Washington and Philadelphia also with a 60-70 percent chance of rain for the first few days of May.
• There's a possible isolated thunderstorm in the forecast for Saturday in both Atlanta and Arlington, and some steady light showers in San Francisco possible on both days.

AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.

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