Commentary

Weak pitcher options to choose from

Updated: May 18, 2009, 12:51 PM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

Daily Notes
Monday is an off day for 12 major league teams, and apparently a lot of fourth and fifth starters are facing off for the teams that do play. Dan Haren and John Lackey are the only must-start pitchers, and there's something to be said when perhaps the best pitching matchup of the day is Lackey against the Mariners' Jarrod Washburn. But that's one of the great things about fantasy baseball: You don't necessarily need great pitchers (or hitters) to play the matchups and gain an advantage. With that, here are Monday's notes:

For starters

Selected notes: The Twins are much more adept against right-handed pitching than against left-handed pitching because three of their best hitters (Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel) bat from the left side. Andy Pettitte has held southpaws to a sub-.300 OBP over the past three seasons and is pitching at home, so expect a strong performance. … Ross Ohlendorf has pitched at least six innings in five consecutive starts, picking up four quality starts along the way, so at first glance you might view him as an option since it's not a strong day for pitching. And if he was facing a weak offense, you could be right. But for the first time in their history, the Nationals actually have a legitimate offense, and that's too much to risk for a guy with a career 5.22 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. … John Lackey moves up in the rotation and gets the start after throwing just two pitches in his 2009 debut on Saturday. He draws a great matchup in the the Mariners, who are last in the majors in on-base percentage (.305). … Derek Lowe had his start moved up to Monday thanks to Sunday's rainout. He'll be going after his fifth straight win as he faces a Rockies team that is just an average offense away from Coors Field. … As bad as Ricky Nolasco has been this season, that's as good as he has been against the Diamondbacks for his career. Only one Diamondbacks batter is hitting over the Mendoza Line against him; take out Stephen Drew and the team is just 8-for-78 (.102) against Nolasco, which is nearly unbelievable. For that reason, it's tough to rank Nolasco, especially since the Diamondbacks' once-atrocious offense has come alive recently, slugging .481 with a .341 OBP in the past week. Nolasco still has 35 K's in 41 2/3 innings, hence the favorable ranking, but Monday is a weak day for pitching -- after Jurrjens, everyone is questionable, to an extent -- so don't take it too seriously. … For the most part, Jarrod Washburn turns the Angels' impatience against them -- they have a .289 OBP lifetime against him in 300 at-bats -- although there's always the risk Washburn just won't have anything in him, like when the Angels pasted him for eight hits and six runs on April 26. A few weeks before that, though, Washburn limited the Halos to two runs in six innings, and he has pitched at least six innings in every start except that aforementioned pounding, so it should be safe to trust him the third time around. … Randy Wolf has allowed only three runs in his past four starts, striking out 21 batters in 23 1/3 innings along the way, and his ownership has increased 14 percent in the past week. Left-handers have been helpless against him, batting under .100, but the problem is the Mets don't have many left-handers; their best hitters are either right-handed (David Wright) or switch hitters (Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran). As a result, they have a league-best .346 average/.415 OBP/.554 slugging line against southpaws in 280 at-bats, so all you owners who rushed to the waiver wire to grab Wolf might have done so at the wrong time.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Marco Scutaro, 2B/3B/SS, Blue Jays: Much of his damage has come against left-handers (.359 average, two home runs in 39 at-bats), and he's 2-for-3 with a home run against Clayton Richard in his career.
Scott Rolen, 3B, Blue Jays: He's hitting .421 with eight extra-base hits in 38 at-bats against lefties (such as Richard) this season compared to .292 with five extra base-hits in 89 at-bats against right-handers.
Jim Thome, DH, White Sox: Scott Richmond is holding right-handed bats to a .172 average but is getting tattooed by lefties, with 17 extra-base hits allowed -- including all six of his home runs -- and a .304 opposing batting average against in 92 at-bats against them.
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves: If history is any indication, a home run is in store for Chipper. He's hitting .500 off Jason Marquis in eight at-bats, and three of those four hits have left the park.
Delmon Young, OF, Twins: It's hard to argue with nine hits in 14 at-bats, Young's lifetime success off Pettitte, and at this point he could use any success he can get. Just cross your fingers that Young returns in time for Monday's game.
• Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: The only D-backs hitter with more than two hits against Nolasco, he's actually 6-for-13 with three home runs and a double.

Pitchers' count:

Felipe Lopez, 2B, Diamondbacks: You could put a number of D-backs hitters in this space, but Lopez is owned in most leagues and has faced Nolasco more often than any other Diamondback, with little success to speak of (he's 1-for-14).
Chris Young, OF, Diamondbacks: An easy target here since he has struck out 33 times in 36 games and is hitting below the Mendoza Line for the season. But he's also 0-for-9 in his career against Nolasco.
Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B, Marlins: He's 4-for-17 (.235) versus Dan Haren lifetime, and after a great start in April, Cantu's bat is cold in May, with just four hits in his past 32 at-bats.
Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers: He's only 1-for-9 with a single against Joel Pineiro in his career.
Chone Figgins, 3B, Angels: It doesn't get much worse than Washburn's domination of Figgins, who has just three hits in 29 at-bats and has struck out eight times against Washburn.
Bobby Abreu, OF, Angels: Aside from two doubles, Abreu also has been conquered by Washburn, going 3-for-22 with six strikeouts, failing to even work a walk against him. Also, lefties are hitting only .163 with 18 strikeouts in 49 at-bats against Washburn this season.
Jason Kubel, OF, Twins: A career .235 hitter against southpaws, Kubel should always be benched against lefties of Pettitte's caliber.

If you're hardcore

A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: After starting May hot, Pierzynski has cooled down in the past week, but considering he's a lefty bat facing Scott Richmond (1.016 OPS allowed versus lefties) and he's hitting more than 100 points higher against right-handers than lefties, he should have a productive game.
Willy Aybar, 1B/3B, Rays: He's 10-for-27 (.370) in his past eight games, hitting fifth in the lineup. He's also 3-for-4 with a double and a triple off Sean Gallagher lifetime.
Ben Zobrist, SS/OF, Rays: Zobrist is still raking (.294 with three home runs and two steals in 34 at-bats in May), but is owned in just 6.8 percent of leagues despite qualifying at shortstop. That is somewhat understandable since he doesn't start every day, but if he keeps this up, more playing time will be on the way, and you would figure he would start Monday since he has hit .370 with six extra base-hits (two home runs) in 27 at-bats against southpaws this season.
Khalil Greene, SS, Cardinals: He has been awful for much of the season, but if you own Greene, it's because of his cheap pop out of the middle infield slot. Against Braden Looper, he's 4-for-12 with two home runs, so give him a start.
Gary Sheffield, OF, Mets: With four consecutive multihit games, Sheff's getting hot at the right time since Carlos Delgado's injury opens up playing time. Plus, since left-handers are hitting just .095 off Randy Wolf this season, there's a good chance manager Jerry Manuel will sit one of left-handers Daniel Murphy or Ryan Church and start Sheffield. Heck, even Fernando Tatis (2-for-25 versus Wolf in his career) would be a good option to bench for Sheffield.

Triage

Injury list: Out

• Carlos Delgado, 1B, Mets (15-day DL, hip)
Jesus Flores, C, Nationals (15-day DL, shoulder)
Frank Francisco, RP, Rangers (15-day DL, biceps)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Pat Burrell, OF, Rays (neck): Burrell sat out Friday's and Saturday's games after receiving a cortisone shot, and while his status is still questionable, he's expected to avoid the disabled list.
Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (back): Crede has a long history of back problems, but the Twins say the injury isn't serious. Consider him questionable for Monday's game.
Elijah Dukes, OF, Nationals (hamstring; available to pinch hit)
Nomar Garciaparra, SS, Athletics (15-day DL, calf): Closer to probable than day-to-day, he could return on Monday.
Nyjer Morgan, OF, Pirates (hamstring): Morgan tweaked his hamstring Friday and missed the rest of the weekend, and since he depends on his speed, don't expect him back until he's fully recovered.
Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox (heel)
• Jose Reyes, SS, Mets (calf)
• Delmon Young, OF, Twins (personal)

Weather concerns

• Three weatherproof games on the docket for Monday: White Sox-Blue Jays, A's-Rays and Angels-Mariners.
• A downpour is expected in Miami, with showers expected to begin in the afternoon and last the entire day. A delay (or two) seems likely, and a postponement could be in the cards.

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

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