Commentary

Garza's numbers impressive in Fenway

Updated: May 8, 2009, 3:48 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Daily Notes

Saturday is "Southpaw Day" as 12 of the 30 scheduled starters are left-handers. So if your starting lineups have a lot of platoon players, be sure to make the necessary changes early. As for Sunday, the slate is a difficult one to figure out as no starting pitcher with more than one decision on the season is still undefeated. In fact,18 hurlers are at .500 or worse for 2009. Nevertheless, we've done our best to rank them for you, so you can still make it to the nearest florist to order those flowers for Mother's Day that you forgot. You're welcome. Here's our rankings:

For starters

Selected notes for Saturday: A no-brainer at the top, as we're riding shotgun on the Zack Greinke bandwagon until he gives us a reason not to do so. … Felix Hernandez has a career 2.23 ERA against the Twins, which gives him the nod over Francisco Liriano, who has certainly pitched better of late. … Cincinnati's offense is being ravaged by a flu bug and we're not sure what hitters will be healthy enough to face Kyle Lohse. … Scott Kazmir has a 2.88 career ERA at Fenway Park and the Red Sox's lineup is quite banged up, which is why we rank him so much higher than Jon Lester. … Doug Davis is going up against the Nationals, but is only 1-4 against them, even with a 3.09 ERA versus Washington. Run support is always an issue with the D-backs, and with John Lannan's career 0.69 ERA against Arizona, runs may be hard to come by on Saturday. … Ryan Dempster is 9-2 against the Brewers with a 2.63 ERA and Paul Maholm is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA versus the Mets, which is why they're both in our top 10. … Fausto Carmona has struggled this season, but he is 6-2 with a 3.57 ERA against the Tigers, so he might be worth a gamble. … Kevin Millwood is 1-4 career versus the White Sox, and we expect a high-scoring affair in that game, as John Danks has a 4.47 ERA at U.S. Cellular. … Sean Gallagher has a 7.88 ERA, and no career victories, facing the Blue Jays. … Rounding out the pack for Saturday, Jorge De La Rosa, who must have a fish allergy. The Marlins hit .390 against him and his ERA against Florida is 11.29 in five career appearances.

Selected notes for Sunday: There shouldn't be much surprise with the names at the top of our Sunday selections. Roy Oswalt is the odd man out of the top quartet, primarily because of some small lingering concern over his bruised index finger, but even so, his 8-2 career mark against San Diego gives us reason to still feel good about him. … Joba Chamberlain's most recent start against the Red Sox might have been the "light bulb" finally going off in his head on how to be a solid starter, and we expect the strikeouts to continue against the Orioles. … Matt Garza is 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA against Boston for his career, but don't give a loss to Josh Beckett just yet. After all, he did strike out 10 Rays at Fenway on Opening Day. … After that, it's really a crap shoot, but we liked what we saw in Brett Cecil's debut and are willing to take a chance on him against Oakland. … Bartolo Colon is actually historically decent against the Rangers, with a 17-5 record and a 3.44 ERA for his career. … Jeff Weaver should get the Giants out, but the Dodgers might not score up to their usual levels sans Manny Ramirez and facing Tim Lincecum, making a win more challenging. … Dallas Braden is ranked No. 22 primarily because the Blue Jays, hitting .292 for the season, are such a strong offense. … And of course, Brett Myers, with an 0-3 record and 9.00 ERA versus the Braves in his past three starts against them, narrowly avoids the cellar over Scott Olsen, with his career 8.47 ERA against the Diamondbacks. Those are ERAs only a mother could love.

Now batting (Saturday)

Hitters' count

Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays: A career .314 hitter at Fenway Park, Longoria is also hitting .333 against Boston starter Jon Lester.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers: Cabrera has seven career home runs at Progressive Field and two career blasts off Fausto Carmona.
Chris Iannetta, C, Rockies: Iannetta had two home runs and eight RBIs against Marlins pitching in only 17 at-bats last season.
Ryan Theriot, SS, Cubs: Miller Park means happy days for Theriot, who is hitting .411 in 56 career at-bats there.
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins: Han-Ram boasts a mighty 1.167 OPS against Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa and is a .340 hitter at Coors Field.
Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles: He's glad the Yankees are starting Phil Hughes. He's 4-for-8 against the youngster with two doubles and three RBIs.
Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies: Three home runs in 16 at-bats against Javier Vazquez bodes well for an Ibanez power surge at home. • Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees: Cano certainly doesn't mind the trip to Baltimore, where he has hit .311 with four home runs and 16 RBIs. Maybe it's Boog's ribs?

Pitchers' count

Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers: Braun has been hot since returning from his back problem, but is hitting only .118 against Ryan Dempster.
Gerald Laird, C, Tigers: He has as many hits in his past eight games as he does in his career against Fausto Carmona: one.
Jason Giambi, OF, Athletics: Giambi is only 1-for-10 against Toronto starter Brian Tallet, with three strikeouts.
Emilio Bonifacio, 3B, Marlins: With four strikeouts in seven at-bats against Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, there's little chance of him reaching base, where he'd likely just get caught stealing again anyway, as he's 0-for-May.
Cristian Guzman, SS, Nationals: Guzman is hitting only .154 at Chase Field, where no one else seems to have problems knocking the cover off the ball.
Dioner Navarro, C, Rays: The Rays' backstop is a meager 12-for 63 (.190) at Fenway Park, which, sadly, is an improvement over his 2009 to-date average.
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Padres: Not much pop against the Astros for the Kouz, with only a .378 slugging percentage against them for his career.

Deep inside the matchups

Get inside scouting knowledge from ESPN Insider, including Fausto Carmona's chances versus the Tigers and Kenshin Kawakami's matchup against the Phillies.
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If you're hardcore

• Chris Coghlan, 2B/OF, Marlins: Just called up, Coghlan was 20-for-36 with three HRs, 16 RBIs and 12 runs in his past 10 games for Triple-A New Orleans.
Ryan Spilborghs, OF, Rockies: Sure he may not be able to beat Colorado's mascot, Dinger, in a staring contest, but he's a .415 career hitter against the Marlins.
Josh Willingham, OF, Nationals: Yes, he's hitting only .171, but he loves him the Doug Davis, with a .364 career batting average.
Jeff Keppinger, 3B, Astros: Over the past three years, his best hitting month has been May (.372) and he is .333 in the few times he's met Kevin Correia.
Ramon Vazquez, 3B, Pirates: It's a very small sample size to be sure, but two at-bats and two hits, including a home run, off John Maine make him a hardcore selection.

Now batting (Sunday)

Hitters' count

Carl Crawford, OF, Rays: Crawford is hitting .296 against Josh Beckett, including 3-for-8 in their past three meetings, plus he has stolen 22 bases in a row without getting caught.
Jason Bay, OF, Red Sox: His four home runs against the Rays last season were his most against any American League opponent.
Bengie Molina, C, Giants: Molina is .316 with a home run in 19 career at-bats against Jeff Weaver.
Bill Hall, 3B, Brewers: Coming off a hamstring injury, Hall is 4-for-5 in his career against Sean Marshall, including three extra-base hits.
A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: The White Sox catcher has two home runs in 15 career at-bats against Texas starter Vicente Padilla.
Matt Holliday, OF, Athletics: In his past seven games (through May 8) Holliday has three home runs and eight RBIs. Now he's getting relatively untested Brett Cecil. Advantage: Holliday.
Jorge Cantu, 1B, Marlins: Since 2006, he's batting .414 against the Rockies and Aaron Cook isn't likely to change that trend.
Jason Kubel, DH, Twins: You know what the number 607 means? It's not only the area code for Binghamton, N.Y., but it's also the 2008 batting average for Kubel against the Mariners.

Pitchers' count

Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks: Upton hit only .182 versus the Nationals last season, and went 0-for-3 against Scott Olsen in their only prior meeting.
Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies: He struggled a bit in the first series against the Braves, going only 1-for-11 … and that was in Philadelphia.
Placido Polanco, 2B, Tigers: Has more strikeouts against the Indians over the past three seasons than against any other team, and that's saying something, since he rarely strikes out.
Chris Getz, 2B, White Sox: He's batting .190 for May through Thursday and only .250 at home this season.
Jason Varitek, C, Red Sox: Has a career average of .143 against Matt Garza, and we wouldn't be surprised to see Varitek given Sunday off as a result.
Carlos Delgado, 1B Mets: Only 2-for-9 against Ian Snell and four strikeouts to boot.
Jeff Francoeur, OF, Braves: It may be tempting to play Francoeur in Philadelphia, but the .206 career mark against Brett Myers says otherwise.
Hank Blalock, DH. Rangers: His batting average is neither big, nor fat against Bartolo Colon. In fact it's a hit-starved .162.

If you're hardcore

Mike Fontenot, 2B, Cubs: Milwaukee brings out the best in Fontenot, to the tune of a .360 batting average; plus he's 3-for-5 against Jeff Suppan.
David Eckstein, 2B, Padres: The Mighty Mite is owned in only 6 percent of ESPN Standard Leagues, but he owns a solid .303 average against Roy Oswalt.
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Twins: The 3 percent of you who own him might want to get him in the lineup against Erik Bedard, as Cuddyer is 5-for-15 against Bedard with three RBIs.
Juan Pierre, OF, Dodgers: With "Manny being Banny," Pierre should see a surge in ownership this week, and he's 3-for-9 career against Tim Lincecum.
Russell Branyan, 1B. Mariners: Still owned in just under half of ESPN Standard Leagues, Branyan has three home runs off current Twins pitchers, including one against Nick Blackburn.

Triage

Injury list: Out

• Manny Ramirez, OF, Dodgers (50-game suspension)
Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals (15-day disabled list, shoulder contusion)
Jose Molina, C, Yankees (quad): The New York Daily News reports manager Joe Girardi expects to have to place Molina on the 15-day disabled list.
Tony Clark, 1B, Diamondbacks (15-day disabled list, right hand)
Shawn Kelley, P, Mariners (15-day disabled list, oblique tear)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds (illness): The flu is making its way through the Reds clubhouse, with Phillips and Joey Votto the latest victims. They may be back by the weekend, but someone else in the lineup may be suffering by then.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox (neck): Ortiz joined fellow scratches Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury on the shelf Thursday with assorted aches and pains.
Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs (neck): Lee could be back in the lineup as early as Friday, but after a lengthy flight from Houston to Milwaukee, we don't anticipate the stiffness in his neck to be much better.
Anibal Sanchez, P, Marlins (shoulder): Sanchez left Thursday's start in the fifth inning with pain in his surgically repaired right shoulder. We should know more after the X-rays and MRIs are all done.
Shawn Riggans, C, Rays (shoulder): Riggans, who was expected back with the Rays as early as this weekend, had to leave a rehab assignment in the minors after a throw to first base.

Weather concerns

• The weekend's weatherproof games: Cubs-Brewers, Royals-Twins, Padres-Astros, Mariners-Twins and Nationals-Diamondbacks.
• The Marlins and Rockies are in for a cold and quite possibly rainy Saturday in Denver.
• Rain may linger in Baltimore and Philadelphia on Saturday, with some showers left over from Friday sticking around for the start of the weekend.
• Ohio is also headed for some wet times on Saturday as there's a slight chance of thunderstorms in both Cleveland and Cincinnati.
• Sunday should be clear skies across the country, except in Boston where it will be windy with possible showers.

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

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