Commentary

Greinke's success should continue

Updated: May 30, 2009, 12:35 AM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Daily Notes

We all know that nobody is perfect, but when it comes to pitching, Zack Greinke has been about as close as you can get so far this season. He takes to the mound Sunday to try to get his ninth win of the season, and keep his ERA and WHIP below 1.00 for the season, as he faces the White Sox. On Saturday, though, we have three pitchers attempting to maintain an unblemished record on the season: Chris Carpenter, Matt Palmer and Shairon Martis. Will they all enter June with zero losses still to their name? We tend to doubt it, as our rankings below will indicate:

For starters

Selected notes for Saturday

Only one of our top four pitchers for Saturday has ever lost to the team he is facing: Mark Buehrle, who is still an impressive 11 games over .500 for his career against the Royals. Josh Johnson has the most wins of the bunch, with a 5-0 record and a 1.97 ERA against the Mets. … CC Sabathia returns to Cleveland, where he is 48-39 for his career with a 3.84 ERA. That should be enough for him to beat Fausto Carmona, who has struggled of late against the Yankees, with a 5.73 ERA in his past three starts against the Bronx Bombers. … We like Aaron Harang to win, as he has a decent track record at Miller Park with a 4-1 record and a 3.55 ERA, plus Dave Bush has a 6.54 ERA against Cincinnati for his career. … Gil Meche has always done fairly well against the White Sox, with a 7-3 career mark and a 3.93 ERA. Ditto John Maine against Florida, as he has a 4-1 record and a 2.49 ERA against the Marlins. … Francisco Liriano has struggled mightily this season, but is 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA facing the Rays, so perhaps a rebound performance is in the cards, especially if David Price has another pitch-eating, shortened outing. … Brad Penny is facing a strong Toronto lineup, but has never lost to the Blue Jays in three lifetime decisions, posting a 3.23 ERA. … Felix Hernandez has not looked very regal against the Angels. In his past three appearances against Los Angeles, he's 0-1 with a 6.27 ERA. … Javier Vazquez sees a slight uptick in the ERA whenever he goes to Chase Field; it's 4.19 there for his career. … Meanwhile, on the lower end of the recommended pitching spectrum, Eric Stults has a 6.23 ERA at Wrigley Field; Jeff Karstens has a 1-7 record at home in PNC Park; and Brandon McCarthy's lifetime ERA against the A's (11.57) gets an F.

Selected notes for Sunday:

It's no surprise that Zack Greinke tops our Sunday list. In his past three starts versus the White Sox, he is 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA. However, don't overlook John Danks, who has a lifetime 2.64 ERA against the Royals. First team to score two runs wins? … We like what we've seen out of Max Scherzer lately, and let's face it, Kris Medlen of the Braves has done little to show he's ready for the big leagues in his first two outings. … Yovani Gallardo historically has struggled against the Reds, with a 4.34 ERA, so we'll lower him a bit in our Top 10, but we'll still place him ahead of Jon Lester, who we hope will do a tad better than his 0-2 record and 7.31 ERA at the Rogers Centre. … Jonathan Sanchez has been Chris Carpenter-esque against the Cardinals, with no earned runs allowed in two victories against St. Louis. … In his past three appearances against the Astros, Paul Maholm is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA, plus, he's going up against completely unreliable Mike Hampton, assuming the aged lefty can make it to the mound in the first place. … Jamie Moyer seems to be running out of gas, but perhaps there's enough left in the tank to defeat the Nationals, as he has done 10 of 14 times in his career. Opposing pitcher John Lannan will make that task easier as he's 0-4 with a 5.97 ERA facing Philadelphia. … Edwin Jackson's career 12.46 ERA at Camden Yards frightens us, especially if Orioles' pitcher Jason Berken responds well to having a familiar face (Matt Wieters) behind the plate. … Nick Blackburn also might give you heartburn, as his ERA against the Rays is a whopping 8.64. … Phil Hughes has been more miss than hit in 2009, but he is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA against the Indians and will be going against Carl Pavano, who often struggles (5.28 ERA) against the pinstripes. … Chris Jakubauskas has done quite well against the Angels this year (1.59 ERA) but is already making his third start against them, and we worry that familiarity will breed multirun innings. As for Ervin Santana, we wish him all the best but expect more of the worst. Prove us wrong, Ervin.

Now batting (Saturday)

Hitters' count

David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Looking for any port in a storm with Big Papi. He has a .545 OBP against Brian Tallet, with a home run and three RBIs.
Alex Rios, OF, Blue Jays: Brad Penny brings out the best in Rios, who is a .625 hitter against the Boston hurler for his career.
Curtis Granderson, OF, Tigers: Granderson should be double trouble against Jeremy Guthrie, as in two doubles in five at-bats against the Orioles' starter.
B.J. Upton, OF, Rays: In need of a few good at-bats, perhaps he'll find them against Francisco Liriano, against whom he has a .714 OBP lifetime.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees: Teixeira is a .364 hitter facing Fausto Carmona, with a home run and three RBIs.
Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals: Let's see … seven RBIs in seven career at-bats against Barry Zito, three or four at-bats against the Giants pitcher on Saturday means … hmmmm.
Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers: A whopping .455 average when Ryan Dempster is on the hill for the Cubs leads us to believe Ethier will have a good day.
Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Pirates: Wandy Rodriguez has no magic power over Sanchez, who is a career .400 hitter against the Astros hurler.

Pitchers' count

Yunel Escobar, SS, Braves: In addition to the bad hip, there's the little matter of his .154 average versus Doug Davis to consider.
Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles: Four strikeouts in 12 at-bats against Justin Verlander? Doesn't bode well for Markakis and his .167 lifetime average against the Detroit starter.
Jermaine Dye, OF, White Sox: Dye and Gil don't quite Meche, as the low .308 slugging percentage in 39 career at-bats, along with seven strikeouts, tells us.
David DeJesus, OF, Royals: He has had plenty of chances to figure Mark Buehrle out over the years, but simply hasn't. In 56 at-bats, DeJesus has a sad .190 OBP.
Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies: Helton has had his struggles against Chris Young and is hitting only .200 against the San Diego starter.
Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins: Uggla whiffs nearly every other at-bat against John Maine, and doesn't make much contact the rest of the time, with a .200 career batting average against him.
Willy Taveras, OF, Reds: Taveras doesn't hit Dave Bush (.167, no walks) and if he's not on base, he's got nearly no fantasy value.

If you're hardcore

Deep inside the matchups

Get inside scouting knowledge from ESPN Insider on the battle between youngsters. David Price will try to rebound from a rough 2009 debut Saturday. Can he do so against the Twins?
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Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks: He tripled against Javier Vazquez earlier this year. Could it happen again? We say, why not.
Ben Francisco, OF, Indians: Francisco has doubled in three of his past four games, and also doubled off CC Sabathia earlier in 2009.
Mark Teahen, 3B, Royals: Teahen is batting .432 against Mark Buehrle, making the decision to start him on Saturday as easy as 1-2-3.
Chase Headley, OF, Padres: Hedy owners ("That's Headley!") will have no problem starting Chase on Saturday. He had two RBIs earlier this season against Jason Hammel.
Fernando Tatis, OF, Mets: Josh Johnson always beats the Mets, but Tatis has had the better of him, with a career 4-for-6, including a solo shot.
Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels: He's the King when facing Felix, with a .421 batting average and five RBIs in 19 at-bats.
Bill Hall, 3B. Brewers: Hall is owned in only 24 percent of ESPN standard leagues, but that won't stop him from haranguing Cincinnati on Saturday. He has three home runs and nine RBIs off of Aaron Harang.

Now batting (Sunday)

Hitters' count:

Johnny Damon, OF, Yankees: Carl Pavano delivers, and Damon sends it back, with a career .667 slugging mark against the Tribe's Sunday starter.
Michael Bourn, OF, Astros: Bourn is batting .340 against current Pirates' pitching and .500 against Paul Maholm.
A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: Zack Greinke makes most hitters cranky, but not this Chicago catcher, who is a career .387 hitter facing 2009's biggest surprise.
Pedro Feliz, 3B, Phillies: John Lannan must be like catnip for Pedro Feliz, as he goes berserk when he sees him. In 12 at-bats, Feliz is hitting .583 versus Lannan.
Mike Cameron, OF, Brewers: Cameron is titanic against Micah Owings, with two home runs and a 1.083 slugging percentage.
Jason Giambi, OF, Athletics: Kevin Millwood is sure to help boost Giambi's 2009 batting average, if the .438 lifetime mark and two career blasts are any indication of what is to come.
Orlando Cabrera, OF, Athletics: With 11 RBIs off of Millwood in his career, he also could have a big day Sunday for Oakland.
Bobby Abreu, OF, Angels: Abreu is hitting .336 against the current Mariners staff, which is a great reason to have him in your lineup Sunday.

Pitchers' count:

Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays: Lind does not like lefty Jon Lester. Look at the .143 average for evidence of this.
Aubrey Huff, 3B, Orioles: Huff puffs, but he can't seem to blow down Edwin Jackson's house, with a .167 slugging percentage against him.
Josh Willingham, OF, Nationals: The bat might be willing, but the results aren't there, with Josh a weak 2-for-23 against Jamie Moyer.
Joey Votto, 1B, Reds: The .360 batting average this season wasn't achieved in multiple appearances against Yovani Gallardo, who has retired Votto all but one time they've faced off.
Jorge Cantu, 1B, Marlins: Cantu cannot do when Livan Hernandez is throwing the ball his way. Cantu's only a .143 hitter against the former Marlins ace.
Jose Lopez, 2B, Mariners: Expect Lopez to creep closer down toward that darn Mendoza Line after facing Ervin Santana. Lopez is a lifetime .176 hitter against Santana.
Maicer Izturis, SS, Angels: When you've never had a hit off of a pitcher such as Chris Jakubauskas, it's time to take the day off.

If you're hardcore

Wes Helms, 3B, Marlins: Helms has a .385 average with five RBIs against the Mets' Livan Hernandez, who is supposed to get the call Sunday.
Angel Pagan, OF, Mets: Pagan is hitting .323 for the 2009 season and is getting a lot more playing time with the injuries the Mets have suffered of late.
Scott Podsednik, OF, White Sox: Nobody owns this guy? Get on it, folks. He's a .478 career hitter against Zack Greinke.
Scott Hairston, 3B, Padres: With two home runs in five career at-bats against Jorge de La Rosa, Hairston might be a nice play Sunday.
Pat Burrell, DH, Rays: The neck is still bothering him, and he might not play this weekend, but if he can give it a go, he's 2-for-3 facing Nick Blackburn in his career.
Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants: Rowand is a bit of a forgotten man, playing in San Francisco. Still, he doesn't forget how to hit when Adam Wainwright is on the mound. He has a .308 lifetime average against the Cardinals' starter.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Ryan Freel, OF, Cubs (15-day disabled list, left hamstring)
Carlos Zambrano, P, Cubs (6-game suspension)
Brett Myers, P, Phillies (torn labrum): If surgery is needed, Myers might be out for some time.
Koji Uehara, P, Orioles (15-day disabled list, hamstring)
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B, Dodgers (15-day disabled list, calf)
Xavier Paul (infection): Paul was released from the hospital, but will be out for several weeks recovering from a staph infection.

Injury list: Day-to-day

Matt Capps, P, Pirates (elbow): No fracture in his arm after getting hit with a line drive, and he might be able to pitch this weekend.
Rocco Baldelli, OF, Red Sox (hamstring): Let's hope this is only a hamstring issue and unrelated to the illness that sidelined him most of last year.
Felipe Lopez, 2B. Diamondbacks (hamstring): He has missed several starts, but might be back in the lineup by this weekend.
Coco Crisp, OF, Royals (shoulder): Crisp's sore shoulder has bothered him for a few weeks, but he hopes to be able to play this weekend.

Weather concerns

• The weekend's weatherproof games: Red Sox-Blue Jays, Braves-Diamondbacks, Twins-Rays and Reds-Brewers.
• Most of the weekend should be fine, but isolated thunderstorms do threaten play in Cleveland and Kansas City on Saturday and in Colorado on Sunday.
• Summer comes early to Texas, as the Athletics and Rangers will have to battle it out in temperatures expected to reach as high as 93 degrees.

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

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