Santana-Lowe showdown


Only four games on the slate on Monday, but we're still left with a prime time matchup when the Braves head to Citi Field in a battle of aces, Derek Lowe against Johan Santana. Santana has been unbelievable, holding right-handers to a .138 batting average, so the Braves' hitters will sure have their hands full. In San Francisco, Randy Johnson attempts to bounce back from his previous start, a pounding in Coors Field, against the improved offense of the Nationals, while Bronson Arroyo heads to Arizona in his quest to answer the question of just how long you can keep a winning record with an ERA north of seven. In the lone American League contest, Gavin Floyd tries to salvage what is quickly becoming a lost season against another one of the league's worst starters, the Indians' Carl Pavano.

For starters

Starting pitcher rankings for Monday, May 11

Rk.: The author's ranking of that pitcher for that day only. T: Pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. W-L: Pitcher's win-loss record. ERA: Pitcher's earned run average. WHIP: Pitcher's average number of walks plus

Selected notes: The final third of Gavin Floyd owners out there can ditch him too; the only reason to hold onto him is to hope his numbers eventually bear some semblance to last season's (3.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP), but his peripherals never supported such lofty numbers. A matchup against the Indians isn't as tough as it seemed a couple of weeks ago since Travis Hafner hit the disabled list -- a big reason why the Tribe is only slugging .369 in the past week -- but Floyd is just too hittable, and in 111 2/3 innings since the beginning of last season, his strikeout rate is a paltry 5.26 on the road (7.53 at home). Since tossing eight shutout innings on Opening Day, Derek Lowe has been a mixed bag, most recently getting touched up by the Marlins (six earned runs in five innings). The Mets are another tough matchup, with their .368 OBP ranking second in the league, and now the power is coming around, too: they're slugging .488 as a team in the past week. If Lowe was facing anyone other than Santana, you could probably throw him out there, but if there's little chance of a win, and he's not a strikeout pitcher, what's the point of throwing him out there -- on the road -- to face a really good offense? Since being torched by the Cardinals (seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings), Jon Garland has been decent, with a 3.13 ERA in his past four starts. He doesn't strike anyone out (16 in 38 innings), and he's too hittable to get away with that for long, but at least his offense has a chance to help him get a win facing the off-kilter Bronson Arroyo and the Reds' lineup, which, despite some recent improvement, is still in the bottom third of the league in OPS. With a .290 AVG/.371 OBP/.459 SLG performance from the team in the past seven days, led by Ryan Zimmerman and his 28-game hitting streak, the Nationals' offense has crept into the top 10 in OPS. On the other hand, Randy Johnson will be buffered by being at home, and 23 of his 30 strikeouts have occurred in AT&T Park this season en route to a 1.89 ERA and 0.63 WHIP in 19 innings there.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

" Jhonny Peralta, SS, Indians: Every hit off of Gavin Floyd has resulted in extra bases for the shortstop, as he's 4-for-9 with two doubles and two home runs.

" Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians: Floyd allowed 37 stolen bases last season, nine more than any other pitcher, and this season he's already allowed six, with zero caught stealing. In two previous at-bats in his career, Choo nabbed a base off of Floyd, and as the holder of a .411 OBP on the season, you have to like his chances to take another one on Monday.
" Jermaine Dye, OF, White Sox: Carl Pavano has allowed right-handers to hit a ridiculous .365 and slug .619, with three home runs in 63 at-bats. That bodes especially well for Dye, who has already swatted seven dingers on the year.
" Brian McCann, C, Braves: He's 4-for-7 since returning from the disabled list, and launched his first home run since his return on Saturday. He's 5-for-13 lifetime versus Johan Santana with a home run, and lefties have had some success against Santana (five extra base hits, .471 slugging percentage).
" Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds: He's 5-for-12 versus Doug Davis, and four of those hits (two doubles, two home runs) were for extra bases.
" Ramon Hernandez, C, Reds: A hot streak has raised his average 38 points since the beginning of May, but the power has been missing. That could change against Jon Garland, against whom he's 7-for-23 with a home run and two doubles.

Pitchers' count:

" Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets: Derek Lowe just has Beltran's number -- in 23 career at-bats, all Beltran has been able to muster are three singles, giving him a .130 average to go with four strikeouts.
" Jeff Francoeur, OF, Braves: The only surprising thing about Francoeur's numbers against Johan Santana (1-for-13) is that Santana has only struck him out three times. Francoeur is on a 10-game hitting streak entering Sunday night's game.
" Adam Dunn, OF, Nationals: In nine at-bats, he's failed to net a hit off of Randy Johnson, and as you might expect, he's gone done swinging often, with six strikeouts.

If you're hardcore

" Gary Sheffield, OF, Mets: Sheffy went 2-for-4 with an RBI on Saturday while the struggling Ryan Church (2-for-his-last-28) sat. Considering Sheffield's career success against Derek Lowe -- 8-for-17 with two doubles and two home runs -- it wouldn't be surprising if he earned another start.
" Laynce Nix, OF, Reds: According to Reds manager Dusty Baker, Nix has earned the everyday job in the outfield and is no longer platooning with Chris Dickerson. While it's hard to imagine Nix hitting lefties all of a sudden (career .182 average versus southpaws), you can't argue with his production to this point: .311, with nine of his 14 hits going for extra bases in 45 at-bats.
" Emmanuel Burriss, 2B/SS, Giants: Despite a .337 on-base percentage, Burriss is 8-for-11 in steal attempts, and with eligibility at both middle infield positions, that makes him an intriguing option. He has seven multihit games out of his past 10, and last season Daniel Cabrera finished tied for third in stolen bases allowed, with thieves ending up successful 78 percent of the time.


Injury list: Out


Injury list: Day-to-day

" Ramon Castro, C, Mets (quadriceps)
" Jesus Flores, C, Nationals (shoulder): Flores will be held out of Sunday's game as a precaution, but it remains to be seen if the injury is enough to keep him out for a couple of more games.
" Alex Gonzalez, SS, Reds (oblique): Gonzalez hasn't played since May 4th, and the Reds are deciding whether to place him on the disabled list. Considering he's only hitting .176, the team doesn't have much to lose.
" Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (flu)

Weather concerns
" Nothing threatening in the forecast, but only the Reds-Diamondbacks contest is a weatherproof affair.

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