Commentary

Daily Notes for Wednesday: Kershaw faces weak Nationals

Updated: May 6, 2009, 3:15 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

The Phillies visit the Mets' new home, CitiField, for the first time on Wednesday, and leave it to those Metropolitans to ensure they've lined up their ace for the contest, slotting Johan Santana into this marquee matchup against … Chan Ho Park?! C'mon, Phillies, you couldn't have aligned the rotation better? Still, the "Johan Jinx" of 2008 will be front and center in this NL East rivalry rematch, assuming, of course, the weather cooperates.

In other news, Kevin Slowey, in spite of his 5.17 ERA, will attempt to win a fifth consecutive decision to begin the season in a trip to Camden Yards; the Rays will make their first visit to the Yankees' new home, new Yankee Stadium, but face a guy who shut them down in Tampa Bay a few weeks back, A.J. Burnett; and Clayton Kershaw, who shut out the Padres for seven innings in his most recent start, will get a comparably favorable matchup to build upon when he and the Dodgers host the Nationals.

For starters

Selected notes: Though Johan Santana managed a quality start in each of his five starts against the Phillies in 2008, he won but twice, his games against his chief division rival as representative as any from a year ago of the impact of poor run and bullpen support on his record. Still, I play for ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, and none of those games showed even a hint of concern in those categories. … In defeating the Rays on April 14, A.J. Burnett went eight innings allowing only two runs on three hits and a walk, and striking out nine. He also presented problems for the defending American League champs last year, managing a 3.15 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 11.7 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio in three starts. … Jake Peavy has a mediocre track record against Arizona -- by his standards -- going 11-11 with a 4.80 ERA in his career. Breaking those numbers down since 2006, he's 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 12 starts, good enough to use in most formats but not exactly the elite-caliber numbers we've come to expect from him over the years. … Armando Galarraga already managed a quality-start performance against the White Sox on April 15 (6 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 ERs), and he's off to a hot enough start that he should be kept active regardless of a tough ballpark assignment. … No need for Coors Field fear with Randy Johnson, as he's 7-4 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 12 career starts there. That includes back-to-back victories in his past two starts at Coors, one apiece in 2007 and 2008, during which he combined to throw 12 innings, struck out 16 hitters and allowed two runs on six hits. … Call me crazy but I'm almost more intrigued by Jon Garland's matchup in that Diamondbacks-Padres game than I am his opponent Peavy. It makes sense; he's a fly ball pitcher and the venue is spacious Petco Park against a sluggish offense. Again, I stress the word almost, but that means I'm giving Garland the go-ahead. … Bronson Arroyo has already defeated the Brewers once this season, on April 14, and since 2006 he's 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 11 starts against them. Great American Ball Park has never bothered him all that much, so feel free to activate him. … Zach Duke actually defeated the Cardinals on April 8 (6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 ER), and has a 3.97 ERA in 10 career starts against them. It's not an elite matchup but NL-only owners can't be called crazy for leaving him in on Wednesday. … Though Mark Buehrle is 13-8 with a 2.98 ERA in his career against Detroit, let's break those numbers down to just since 2006: He's 2-3 with a 3.99 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in eight starts. We all know about the Tigers' penchant for crushing left-handers -- through Monday their team OPS against that side was 113 points higher than versus right-handers -- so don't be so convinced Buehrle will dominate as his past numbers suggest. … Ubaldo Jimenez might be a scary pitcher to use right now, but if you're in a deeper league, he's worth thinking about based on his track record both at Coors and against the Giants. His lifetime ERA at Coors is more than a run lower than it is on the road (3.70 to 4.84), and he has a 2.65 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in six career starts against San Francisco.

Now batting

Hitters' count

Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees: He's 6-for-15 (.400 BA) with a double, a triple and three RBIs in his career against Andy Sonnanstine, striking out just twice.
Hideki Matsui, OF, Yankees: He has belted two home runs and added a double in 10 career at-bats versus Sonnanstine, for a .300 batting average.
Carl Crawford, OF, Rays: Not only is he 14-for-39 (.359 BA) lifetime versus A.J. Burnett, he has stolen 10 bases on 11 attempts in his career against the right-hander, the one failed attempt on a pickoff play. Granted, all of those successful steals came in 2007 or earlier, but Crawford is running well thus far, much closer to his pre-2008 performance besides.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Start salivating, "Big Papi" owners, as despite its small sample size, his 3-for-5, one-double, one-homer performance in his career versus Carl Pavano is sure promising. So are the facts that it's a home game, and against a right-hander with an OPS almost 100 points higher versus lefties for his career.
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox: He's 5-for-8 (.625 BA) lifetime versus Pavano, and ditto the points with Ortiz. In fact, you should load up on Red Sox on Wednesday.
David Wright, 3B, Mets: He's 4-for-7 with two doubles in his career against Chan Ho Park, including 2-for-2 with a double and a walk in their May 1 meeting.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies: Johan Santana doesn't scare him in the slightest; he's 6-for-14 (.429 BA) with two home runs in his career against the left-hander.
Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies: Like Howard, Ibanez is a left-hander with success against southpaw Santana, going 12-for-34 (.353 BA) with one home run in his career.
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins: He's 9-for-17 (.529 BA) with five doubles and three walks in his career against Derek Lowe.
Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B, Marlins: He's 4-for-5 with two doubles lifetime versus Lowe.
Mark Teahen, OF/3B, Royals: The Royals as a whole hit Carlos Silva well -- their active hitters have combined to bat .316 against him in their careers -- but Teahen is one of their biggest standouts, going 8-for-23 (.348 BA).
Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners: He's 10-for-21 (.476 BA) with one double, one triple and two walks in his career against Sidney Ponson.
Magglio Ordonez, OF, Tigers: In one of Wednesday's most favorable matchups, Ordonez takes his lifetime .536 batting average (15-for-28), two doubles and two home runs in his career up against familiar foe Mark Buehrle.
Placido Polanco, 2B, Tigers: He's not bad against Buehrle, either, going 12-for-29 (.414 BA) in his career against the left-hander.
Jack Cust, OF, Athletics: Not only is he 4-for-11 (.364 BA) with two home runs in his career against Scott Feldman, he's not much of a worry in a home game either, seeing as he has a .954 career OPS at McAfee Coliseum.

Pitchers' count

Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays: One of the few pitchers who has dominated Longoria historically is A.J. Burnett; the Yankees right-hander has limited the defending rookie of the year to two singles in 13 at-bats, striking him out seven times.
Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays: He also has problems with Burnett, striking out nine times in 22 at-bats and managing only two singles and a home run (.136 BA).
B.J. Upton, OF, Rays: Ditto the previous two, only he has 10 K's in 18 career at-bats against Burnett. No wonder Burnett's best start of 2009 came against Tampa Bay!
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds: Amazingly he's hitless in nine career at-bats versus Manny Parra, and coupled with his slow start it gives you something to think about.
Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers: He's a mind-numbingly bad hitter in his career against Bronson Arroyo, going 1-for-20 with 10 strikeouts against the right-hander.
Bill Hall, 3B, Brewers: Banged up and comparably bad against Arroyo, having gone 3-for-19 with 12 K's lifetime against the Reds starter. Hey, at least he hit one homer.
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies: He's off to an atrocious start and is 1-for-17 (.059 BA) in his career against Mets ace Johan Santana.
Pedro Feliz, 3B, Phillies: No way he should be in anyone's lineup, considering Santana has limited him to a 3-for-19, six-strikeout career performance.
Miguel Tejada, SS, Astros: He's hitless in six career at-bats versus Rich Harden.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners: Off to a sluggish start, Beltre is also 1-for-13 (.077 BA) in his career against Sidney Ponson.
Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies: Randy Johnson has owned him to the tune of nine hitless at-bats with four strikeouts in their careers.
Bobby Abreu, OF, Angels: Back when they were AL East rivals, Abreu went 4-for-22 (.182 BA) with 10 strikeouts and no extra-base hits versus Roy Halladay in 2007-08.
Torii Hunter, OF, Angels: He has been similarly frustrated by Halladay historically, going 3-for-28 (.107 BA) in his career against the former Cy Young winner.
Juan Rivera, OF, Angels: He's hitless in 13 career at-bats against Halladay.
Chris Young, OF, Diamondbacks: Just 1-for-25 on the road this season through Monday, Young now heads to Petco Park to battle Jake Peavy, against whom he's 4-for-21 (.190 BA) with eight strikeouts in his career.
Chad Tracy, 1B, Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks shouldn't even bother using him on Wednesday, as he's 8-for-44 (.182 BA) with 15 K's lifetime versus Peavy.

Deep inside the matchups

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If you're hardcore

Jerry Hairston Jr., SS/OF, Reds: The Reds are almost guaranteed to play him every day with Edwin Encarnacion on the DL and Alex Gonzalez probably headed there, and Hairston is 3-for-6 with two home runs in his career against Manny Parra.
Craig Counsell, 3B/SS, Brewers: His 7-for-21 (.333 BA), four-walk career performance against Bronson Arroyo, coupled with Bill Hall's poor track record and health questions, make him a decent bet to crack the Milwaukee lineup. Another point in his favor: Counsell started the last time the Brewers faced Arroyo on April 14, albeit at shortstop.
Fernando Tatis, OF, Mets: He got the start against Chan Ho Park on May 1, granted in place of a nicked-up Carlos Delgado, but went 2-for-2 with a double and an intentional walk against the right-hander to bring his lifetime batting average versus Park to .583 (7-for-12, plus two home runs). Expect him to get a start at one of the corner outfield spots.
Geoff Blum, 3B, Astros: He's 3-for-7 in his career against Rich Harden, and of those hits, one was a double and one was a home run.
Mike Sweeney, DH, Mariners: Though many of the numbers were accrued several seasons ago, it's still tough to overlook that he's 13-for-25 (.520 BA) with three home runs and two walks in his career against Sidney Ponson.
Yorvit Torrealba, C, Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez doesn't exactly have a personal catcher, so the Rockies might see Torrealba's 6-for-19 (.316 BA) career performance against Randy Johnson and grant him a token start.
Jody Gerut, OF, Padres: You need to pick and choose your matchups with him, but this is a favorable one, as he's 6-for-19 (.316 BA) with three doubles and one home run in his career against Jon Garland.

Triage

Injury list: Out

• Jorge Posada, C, Yankees (hamstring): Placed on the DL with a hamstring injury
Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals (head): Likely to miss a few days and might require a DL stint after crashing into the wall headfirst on Monday
Doug Brocail, RP, Astros (15-day DL, hamstring)
Matt Capps, RP, Pirates (elbow): Likely out until the weekend • Alex Gonzalez, SS, Reds (oblique): Likely headed for the DL
Tom Gordon, RP, Diamondbacks (15-day DL, hamstring)
Carlos Guillen, 1B/3B/OF, Tigers (shoulder)
Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers (15-day DL, ribs)
Brandon Morrow, RP, Mariners (15-day DL, shoulder)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Joe Beimel, RP, Nationals (hip): Active and ready to assume the closer role
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox (hamstring)
Khalil Greene, SS, Cardinals (arm): Played defense on Tuesday and should start on Wednesday
Ken Griffey Jr., OF, Mariners (illness)
Gabe Gross, OF, Rays (personal): Was expected back Tuesday
• Bill Hall, 3B, Brewers (hamstring): Expected back Wednesday
Felipe Lopez, 2B, Diamondbacks (ankle)
Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies (foot)
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox (side)

Weather concerns

• Only one game Wednesday is weatherproof: Cubs-Astros.
• Rain continues to batter the East Coast, especially in the cities of Baltimore, Boston and New York, where the chance of precipitation is 70 percent across the board. With both the Mets and Yankees at home Wednesday and Thursday, that means four games threatened by rain: Twins-Orioles, Rays-Yankees, Phillies-Mets and Indians-Red Sox. One bright spot: All of those cities' forecasts call for the worst weather to come after midnight, and the chance of precipitation in each city during the day is no greater than 50 percent. Like on Monday, there's a possibility all four games might yet be squeezed in.
• The next-most jeopardized games by the weather are the ones in Cincinnati (Brewers-Reds) and Chicago (Tigers-White Sox), with the latter dealing with a 60 percent chance of rain all day. Wind will also be an issue in Chicago; winds of 10-15 mph are expected. In Cincinnati a 50 percent chance of rain drops to 20 at night.
• Wind might be a factor in Colorado (Giants-Rockies faces 6-14 mph winds gusting to 20) and San Diego (Diamondbacks-Padres might battle 10-15 mph winds gusting to 20).

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.

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