<
>

Look for Slowey to stay hot

6/1/2009

The aces come out of the woodwork Tuesday. In fact, you could make a strong case that the top five pitchers of the day are the five best pitchers in baseball. The talent doesn't stop there, though, with the likes of Erik Bedard and Kevin Slowey close behind. Slowey is in the midst of an impressive hot streak and is going for his eighth win of the season, which would tie him with Roy Halladay (if he doesn't net a win of his own) and Zack Greinke for the major league lead. Those impatient owners who dropped Slowey after his rough start have to be kicking themselves.

Rookie sensation Rick Porcello has five consecutive wins of his own, and we will get to see just how talented he is when he faces one of the league's elite offenses, the Red Sox. Tuesday also marks the major league debut of the Phillies' Antonio Bastardo. He's filling in for Brett Myers, who will undergo major (perhaps season-ending) hip surgery later this week. There are rumors the Phillies are interested in acquiring veteran pitching, but their solution could be found in Bastardo, a 23-year-old southpaw who was cruising with a sub-2.00 ERA in the upper minors.

For starters

Starting pitcher rankings for Tuesday

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 hits surrendered per inning. K/9: Pitcher's average number of strikeouts per nine innings. OPSA: Pitcher's on-base plus slugging percentage surrendered to opponents. OPS: Pitcher's opponent's composite team on-base plus slugging percentage. CT%: Pitcher's opponent's success rate putting the ball in play (versus striking out).

Selected notes: A.J. Burnett went into Arlington on Wednesday and hurled six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out seven Rangers. Now that Mark Teixeira is his teammate, Burnett has done well against most of the Rangers' lineup; only Andruw Jones and Josh Hamilton are hitting better than .238 against him, and Hamilton is questionable because of a nagging groin injury. Burnett also has struck out at least a batter per inning in four of his five starts in May, and it's that strikeout potential that makes him worth the risk against a strong offense. … Ubaldo Jimenez is holding right-handers to a paltry .229 AVG/.308 OBP/.276 SLG line, so it is no surprise that he held the Astros, whose lineup is predominantly right-handed, to one run in seven innings in an earlier start this season. He also struck out four and didn't allow a walk or an extra-base hit, and he has proved that he doesn't have much of a problem shutting down mediocre offenses. … It's no surprise that in Manny Parra's last outing against the Marlins, he tied a season high with eight strikeouts. After all, no team in baseball strikes out more than the Marlins, a category they have led the past three seasons. Overall, only the Pirates and the A's have a worse OPS against left-handers. … The White Sox shuffled their rotation, and rather than starting Gavin Floyd on Tuesday, they chose to move him up a day and push Bartolo Colon back a day to Tuesday. Colon is still a smart gamble against the A's porous offense, and for that matter, so is Floyd. The White Sox offense has come alive recently, hitting .349 the past week, so a quality start would offer a good shot at a win. … A favorable schedule has helped mask Joe Saunders' poor peripherals -- a 33-19 strikeout-walk ratio and nine home runs allowed in 66 1/3 innings -- but the schedule starts to get tougher, starting with a matchup against the Blue Jays. It also doesn't help that maybe the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay, will make it hard for Saunders to have a chance at picking up a win unless he throws an absolute gem. … It was only a matter of time before Kevin Slowey's ERA decreased; his marvelous strikeout-to-walk rate and his inflated batting average on balls in play suggested regression. He has been impressive, nonetheless, with two runs or fewer allowed in four consecutive starts while facing the Yankees (1st in OPS) and Red Sox (3rd) along the way. The Indians, in comparison, don't seem so threatening. … Antonio Bastardo has 51 strikeouts to 32 hits in 47 2/3 innings while splitting time in Double- and Triple-A this season, but scouts indicate his stuff isn't nearly as dominant as those numbers suggest. But crafty lefties often can be productive in the majors, too, and beginning your major league career in the comforts of Petco Park can go a long way toward initial success. … Anibal Sanchez will come off the DL to face the Brewers, not Burke Badenhop as had previously been scheduled. ... 22-year-old righty rookie Vin Mazzaro makes his major league debut for the A's. He was 2-2 with a 2.38 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings for Sacremento of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Baseball America ranks him as the No. 8 prospect in the A's organization.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Curtis Granderson, OF, Tigers: Granderson is slugging .889 off Daisuke Matsuzaka thanks to four hits in nine at-bats, including two extra-base hits, a double and a home run.
Kelly Shoppach, C, Indians: He has been a boom-or-bust hitter versus Kevin Slowey, striking out five times with only two hits in 10 at-bats, but both of those hits went yard. Keep an eye on the status of Victor Martinez (knee) to see whether Shoppach is guaranteed a start behind the plate.
Travis Hafner, DH, Indians: It looks like Hafner might be activated from the disabled list in time for Tuesday's game. Hitting .288 with three home runs in 52 at-bats against right-handers before his injury, Hafner is 3-for-10 with a double and a home run against Kevin Slowey.
Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs: Bradley is 10-for-24 (.416) in his past eight games, blasting a home run and picking up a double and a triple, so it looks like he's ready to bust out of his early season slump.

Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals: Four of Ankiel's five hits against Bronson Arroyo have gone for extra bases, including three home runs. Overall, he's hitting .385 in 13 at-bats versus Arroyo, with an unruly 1.154 slugging percentage.
Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers: With seven hits in 17 at-bats versus Dan Haren, Ethier is hitting .412 off the Diamondbacks ace, roping two doubles and a round-tripper in the process.
Gary Sheffield, OF, Mets: His hitting streak up to eight games, Sheffield has been a force since Carlos Delgado went down. As is typically the case for him, he does his best work against left-handers, hitting .394 with two doubles and home runs in 33 at-bats this season, and he'll face the Pirates lefty Zach Duke on Tuesday.
Marco Scutaro, 2B/3B/SS, Blue Jays: After swatting five homers in 89 at-bats in April, Scutaro went homerless in 121 at-bats in May, but he managed to keep himself productive by hitting .322 with 12 doubles and four steals. He currently has seven consecutive multihit games, hitting .484 during that span, and he has a good shot to keep it up Tuesday, considering he's hitting .370 against lefties this season.
Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies: Helton is slugging .551 against right-handers, accumulating 13 of his 16 extra-base hits against righties, including all six of his home runs. He'll face Felipe Paulino, who is allowing left-handed batters to hit .357 and slug .661 against him, so the numbers indicate quite a favorable matchup for Helton.

Pitchers' count:

Magglio Ordonez, OF, Tigers: Ordonez has one hit in nine at-bats against Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has struck him out five times while allowing one walk.
Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets: He's just 2-for-15 (.133) versus Zach Duke, although he has stolen a base against him.
Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Yankees: Although Swisher has a home run off Vicente Padilla, that is his lone hit in 15 at-bats. He has worked two walks, but Padilla has struck him out five times.
Hank Blalock, 3B, Rangers: In 10 career at-bats versus A.J. Burnett, the only success Blalock has had is a single and two walks. Meanwhile, he has struck out three times.
Bobby Abreu, OF, and Torii Hunter, OF, Angels: The two outfielders have faced Roy Halladay a combined 64 times but have three combined extra-base hits. Abreu is batting .176 (6-for-34) and Hunter is at .133 (4-for-30), and they have combined to strike out 19 times.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, Indians: He is 2-for-11 (.182) with three strikeouts against Kevin Slowey.
Jayson Werth, OF, and Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies: Werth has been -- resisting the urge for a pun -- rendered helpless versus Jake Peavy, with just one hit in 11 at-bats while striking out seven times. Even more surprising is the fact that Utley is hitless in eight at-bats, with two strikeouts to one walk.
Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: Drew is hitting only .138 against southpaws this season and .258 for his career, so it's not surprising to note that he's 0-for-6 lifetime against Randy Wolf, striking out twice.
Aubrey Huff, 1B/3B, Orioles: Huff is hitting below the Mendoza Line against left-handers this season, so it's a good idea to sit him versus Erik Bedard, against whom he's 6-for-26 (.231) for his career, with four strikeouts.

If you're hardcore

• Andruw Jones, OF, Rangers: Josh Hamilton's injury woes give Jones an opportunity for more playing time, and he's 10-for-35 with two home runs and a .600 slugging percentage against A.J. Burnett. He was 1-for-4 with a double against him last week.

Kevin Millar, 1B, Blue Jays: After a strong April, Millar's play has tapered off, but he's worth a gamble against Joe Saunders, against whom he has six hits in 12 at-bats, including two dingers and a double.
Jason Giambi, 1B, Athletics: Gavin Floyd gives up his fair share of gopher balls, and Giambi has three hits, including a homer and a double, in six opportunities against him.
Matt Joyce, OF, Rays: After hitting .315 with five home runs in 41 games in Triple-A, Joyce was recalled for Sunday's game and went 2-for-3 with a home run. With Gabe Kapler and Gabe Gross not hitting well and Pat Burrell still sidelined, Joyce could play often against right-handers. He has some pop, slugging .519 with 14 homers in 233 at-bats against righties last season.
Scott Hairston, OF, Padres: In 59 at-bats against lefties, Hairston is hitting .393 with four home runs and three stolen bases. Phillies rookie call-up Antonio Bastardo might be in for a rude awakening when Hairston sets foot in the batter's box.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Travis Buck, OF, Athletics (15-day DL, oblique)
• Pat Burrell, OF, Rays (15-day DL, neck): Burrell is not yet comfortable enough for baseball activities, although he hopes to get into the swing of things soon. "I'm hoping to be playing some games -- somewhere -- hopefully by the end of this week or next week," he said.
Khalil Greene, SS, Cardinals (15-day DL, anxiety disorder)
• Kaz Matsui, 2B, Astros (15-day DL, hamstring)

• Brett Myers, SP, Phillies (15-day DL, hip): Myers is set to undergo surgery on his hip later in the week.
Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox (15-day DL, foot)
Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians (15-day DL, elbow): Sizemore's bothersome elbow has finally landed him on the disabled list; he should return sometime in mid-June.
Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (15-day DL, personal)

Injury list: Day-to-day

• Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets (stomach)
Casey Blake, 1B/3B, Dodgers (hamstring): Manager Jim Torre says it will "be a few days" before Blake returns, and he isn't expected to play Monday, so he's highly questionable for Tuesday.
Geoff Blum, 3B, Astros (hamstring): Blum missed his sixth straight game Sunday, and if his injury doesn't improve soon, he's a candidate for the disabled list.
Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (knee): Crede fouled a ball off his knee Saturday and missed Sunday's contest.
Coco Crisp, OF, Royals (shoulder): Crisp is available to pinch-run, but manager Trey Hillman doesn't want him throwing. He's questionable for Tuesday.
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Twins (finger)
Elijah Dukes, OF, Nationals (15-day DL, hamstring): Dukes is scheduled to return from the disabled list Tuesday.
• Travis Hafner, DH, Indians (shoulder): Hafner could be activated Tuesday, so consider him probable.
• Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers (abdominal/groin; available to pinch-hit): Hamilton's nagging groin injury now has affected his abdomen, too, and he is unable to run. He is awaiting MRI results.

Casey Kotchman, 1B, Braves (shin): Kotchman was hit in his shin by Max Scherzer on Sunday and is questionable.
• Victor Martinez, C/1B, Indians (knee): Martinez fouled a ball off his knee Saturday and missed Sunday's game with a bruised knee. Kelly Shoppach will see another start behind the plate if Martinez can't go.

Joe Mauer, C, Twins (leg; probable)
• Jake Peavy, SP, Padres (ankle): Peavy's ankle is at least partially to blame for the eight hits and four runs he allowed in 6 1/3 innings in his last start, but he is expected to take the mound Tuesday and feels "confident," according to manager Bud Black, it won't be a problem.
Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants (ankle): Rowand rolled his ankle on Sunday but the injury isn't considered serious, so he could be active Tuesday.

Weather concerns

• Tuesday will have five weatherproof games: Angels-Blue Jays, Royals-Rays, Rockies-Astros, Indians-Twins and Orioles-Mariners.
• Chicago has the highest chance of rain for the day, with a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms. Elsewhere in the Midwest, Detroit could see some thundershowers (40 percent chance), and in St. Louis, there's a 30 percent chance of storms.
• Thunderstorms could strike the nation's capital (40 percent chance), while in Miami, the Brewers-Marlins risk a 50 percent chance of storms.

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