Commentary

Johnson takes first crack at No. 300

Updated: June 2, 2009, 4:15 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Daily Notes
Wednesday's headliner, naturally, is Randy Johnson and his quest for his 300th career win. Interestingly, his first try at win No. 300 will come against the very franchise that drafted him and for whom he recorded career win No. 1, the Washington Nationals (then the Montreal Expos). The "Big Unit" has fallen on hard times more recently, though, with a current 5.71 ERA that would represent a career high. Fortunately, he has tossed 11 1/3 innings and allowed two runs in his past two starts combined.

Although the Yankees plan to pitch Andy Pettitte on Wednesday as his back allows, they'll have Chien-Ming Wang in reserve to stand in if needed. If it's Wang's first start back in the Yankees' rotation, he should be watched closely but not activated. After a horrible start to his season, he has managed back-to-back standout relief appearances.

For starters

Selected notes: Josh Beckett was 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in five starts in May, and three of those starts came on the road (including one at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium). Keep riding that hot streak. … Twelve of Chad Billingsley's past 13 starts at Dodger Stadium have been quality starts, and that Arizona offense ranks 25th in the game in team OPS (.716). … The only blemish on Jered Weaver's score sheet against the Blue Jays on May 7 was an Aaron Hill home run. Outside of that, he allowed only two other hits and no other runs, and he struck out eight Blue Jays (back when Toronto was considered one of the best, if not the best, offenses in baseball). He's 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in five career starts versus Toronto, and again, Toronto is no longer as scary a matchup as it once was. … Cliff Lee has a streak of nine consecutive quality starts, during which he has a 2.11 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, and he's 7-3 with a 3.78 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 16 career starts versus Minnesota. Need I say more? … Although the Cardinals hammered Johnny Cueto in his only two starts against them in 2008 (16.20 ERA, 3.30 WHIP), he mastered them for a victory on May 8, tossing seven innings of one-run, five-hit baseball. That's much closer to the "real" Cueto than either of his forgettable performances of last year. … The only time in his career when Mike Pelfrey previously pitched at PNC Park, he tossed seven shutout innings for a win on Aug. 15, 2008. I tend to prefer him in home games, but I'll make an exception for him working at a pitcher-friendly ballpark against a Pirates team ranked 23rd in team OPS (.728). … J.A. Happ is quite the spot-start gem for Wednesday. Not only is it a start at spacious Petco Park against a poor Padres offense (26th-ranked .713 team OPS), but he also has a 1.16 ERA and 0.64 WHIP in 23 1/3 career road innings. … Maybe you'll find it relevant to Randy Johnson's matchup, maybe not, but consider that not one of the past six pitchers to win 300 career games picked up win No. 300 on his first attempt, Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information reports. Tom Seaver was the last to do it, on Aug. 4, 1985, and the six pitchers to notch their 300th career wins since have needed 2.8 starts on average to do it. Johnson did defeat the Nationals on May 11 in San Francisco, but he didn't look great doing it, and it's not as if Washington's offense is any pushover this season (eighth-ranked .777 team OPS). Count me among those who believe that Johnson won't make history Wednesday. … If only that Josh Outman matchup versus the White Sox were in Oakland, I might have been more apt to chance it, though to be fair, he did pitch well at Rangers Ballpark this past Friday (6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 9 K). AL-only owners need to consider using him, because Chicago's offense isn't remotely threatening, but I would lean toward a "no" in mixed leagues. … No matter how good you think Armando Galarraga looked in his most recent start, there's no way you can use him in a matchup against the Red Sox regardless of venue. Even during his breakout 2008 he managed his fourth-worst game score of the season in his only start against Boston, and yes, it was also at home.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs: One of the few successful Cubs against Derek Lowe, Lee has batted 11-for-28 (.393 average) with one home run against the right-hander.
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox: He has three career at-bats against Armando Galarraga, and in two of them, he has hit home runs. (He struck out the other time.)
Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees: He has hit two home runs in six career at-bats against Scott Feldman and has hit five of his seven home runs this season at the new Yankee Stadium. There, he has an OPS 106 points higher than on the road so far.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals: Three different Nationals homered off Randy Johnson in their May 11 meeting in San Francisco (Ronnie Belliard and Josh Willingham were the others), and Zimmerman was 2-for-3 against Johnson in that game.
Randy Winn, OF, Giants: In that very same Nationals-Giants game, Winn was 2-for-3 with a double against Jordan Zimmermann. Winn also batted .314 in May.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pirates: He's a perfect 3-for-3 in his career against Mike Pelfrey and has hit far better at PNC Park (.333 BA, .994 OPS in 23 games) than on the road (.154 BA, .603 OPS in 24 games) this season.
• Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays: He already has taken Jered Weaver deep once this season and is 4-for-9 with two doubles versus the right-hander in his career.
Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays: He's 3-for-9 in his career against Brian Bannister. One of those hits is a double and another is a home run.
Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros: It sure would be nice if he would begin hitting sometime, wouldn't it? How about on Wednesday versus Jason Marquis, against whom he's a .511 hitter (23-for-45) with 14 walks?
Hunter Pence, OF, Astros: Although I recently wrote in my batting average on balls in play column that Pence's batting average has been driven in part by good fortune, Wednesday isn't exactly the time to expect him to cool. After all, he's 8-for-18 in his career against Marquis.
Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals: Although he has been nothing but disappointing since his return from the disabled list, Ankiel offers his fantasy owners some promise in a matchup versus Johnny Cueto, against whom he's 3-for-4 with a double and a homer in his career.
Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies: He's 4-for-11 (.364 BA) with two home runs in his career against Chris Young, and don't let Petco Park scare you off, either. Utley is a .317 hitter with an .898 OPS in 17 career games there.
Casey Blake, 1B/3B, Dodgers: Familiar with Jon Garland from their days as American League Central rivals, Blake has hammered the right-hander to the tune of a .286 batting average (12-for-42) and four home runs in their careers.
Orlando Hudson, 2B, Dodgers: The "O" in "O-Dog" stands for offense on this day; he's 8-for-23 (.348 BA) with two homers in his career against Garland.
Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: Although Drew has yet to take Chad Billingsley deep, he is 10-for-27 (.370 BA) in his career against the right-hander.

Pitchers' count:

Garret Anderson, OF, Braves: He's 3-for-22 (.136 BA) in his career against Ted Lilly, with but one double and seven strikeouts.
Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs: Somewhat familiar with Derek Lowe from their days in the National League West, Bradley has struggled against the ground-baller, going 1-for-9 without an extra-base hit in his career.
Curtis Granderson, OF, Tigers: He's 1-for-8 with six strikeouts in his career against the red-hot Josh Beckett, but the one hit was a triple.
Hank Blalock, 1B/3B, Rangers: The Rangers might want to consider sitting him against left-hander Andy Pettitte, against whom he's 2-for-11 in his career.
Adam Dunn, OF, Nationals: Hot start to 2009 or not, Dunn is 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts and zero extra-base hits in his career against Randy Johnson.
Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays: He can barely touch Jered Weaver, going 1-for-12 lifetime against the right-hander.
Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins: He's 2-for-16 (.125 BA) with one double and four strikeouts in his career against Braden Looper.
Delmon Young, OF, Twins: Not that anyone should be excited to use Young on most days, but certainly you shouldn't on Wednesday. He's 2-for-18 (.111 BA) lifetime against Cliff Lee, with eight strikeouts and nary an extra-base hit.
Pedro Feliz, 3B, Phillies: He's 2-for-15 (.133 BA) in his career against Chris Young, not to mention a .198 hitter with a .557 OPS in 37 career games at Petco Park.
Chris Snyder, C, Diamondbacks: He's 2-for-14 (.143 BA) with four strikeouts in his career against Chad Billingsley, but one of the hits was a home run.

If you're hard-core

Marlon Byrd, OF, Rangers: He's 5-for-7 with one triple and one home run in his career against Andy Pettitte and is batting .500 (8-for-16) with three doubles, two home runs and five RBIs in his past four games.
Lyle Overbay, 1B, Blue Jays: Though held hitless in their May 7 meeting, Overbay is still a lifetime .357 hitter (5-for-14) with two doubles and one home run against Jered Weaver.
Matt Joyce, OF, Rays: The ideal type of matchups play to snatch up for this game, as he's 2-for-6 with a double in his brief career against Brian Bannister, not to mention he has a career OPS 142 points greater versus right-handers than left-handers. Meanwhile, Bannister has allowed an OPS 127 points greater to lefties than righties.
Clint Barmes, 2B/SS, Rockies: He's 3-for-8 (.375 BA) with two doubles and one home run in his career against Brian Moehler.
Joe Crede, 3B, Twins: If he can work his way back into the lineup Wednesday, it would suit him well; he's 10-for-28 (.357 BA) in his career against defending Cy Young winner Cliff lee.
Skip Schumaker, 2B/OF, Cardinals: Always a more appealing choice against right-handers, Schumaker is predictably 4-for-7 in his career against Johnny Cueto, a righty.
Adam Rosales, 3B, Reds: The Cardinals will be trotting out to the mound a pitcher who probably isn't quite 100 percent, Kyle Lohse. Plus, Rosales is already 3-for-6 against the right-hander in his brief big league career.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Rafael Betancourt, RP, Indians (groin, 15-day DL)
Travis Buck, OF, Athletics (oblique, 15-day DL)
Coco Crisp, OF, Royals (bereavement): Out until at least Friday, maybe longer
Angel Pagan, OF, Mets (groin, 15-day DL)
Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians (elbow, 15-day DL): Might require surgery that would keep him out for an extended period
Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (stress-related/inner ear infection, 15-day DL)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets (stomach illness)
• Casey Blake, 1B/3B, Dodgers (hamstring): Was likely to play Tuesday
Geoff Blum, 3B, Astros (hamstring)
Mike Cameron, OF, Brewers (knee): Was hoping to play Tuesday
Alex Cora, 2B/SS, Mets (thumb, 15-day DL): Was expected to be activated Tuesday
• Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (knee)
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Twins (finger)
Elijah Dukes, OF, Nationals (hamstring, 15-day DL): Was expected to be activated Tuesday
Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers (groin/abdominal): Awaiting MRI results
Wes Helms, 1B, Marlins (viral infection): Might be available to pinch hit
Casey Kotchman, 1B, Braves (shin)
• Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals (forearm): The Cardinals expect him to start on Wednesday, but it's hard to imagine how his fortunes improve by being pushed back just one day after a game he was "50-50 at best" to start.
Felipe Lopez, 2B, Diamondbacks (hamstring): Might not yet be 100 percent and could require a day off in the near future
Joe Mauer, C, Twins (ankle)
• Andy Pettitte, SP, Yankees (back): He's on track to start Wednesday's game, but the Yankees have reserved Chien-Ming Wang to pitch just in case.
Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals (ankle): Said he would be able to play Tuesday
Chad Qualls, RP, Diamondbacks (forearm): If he's unavailable, Tony Pena would be the most likely candidate to close
Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants (ankle)

Weather concerns

• A whopping one-third of Wednesday's scheduled games will be played under a roof (or at least a retractable one): Angels-Blue Jays, Royals-Rays, Rockies-Astros, Indians-Twins and Orioles-Mariners.
• Unfortunately, the weather in the other two-thirds of the games isn't ideal; there's a risk of postponement in New York in particular. There's an 80 percent chance of rain, including thunderstorms with heavy rain, threatening Rangers-Yankees.
• Washington (Giants-Nationals) has a 50 percent chance of rain that is expected to remain somewhat steady throughout the afternoon into the evening.
• The chance of rain in Pittsburgh (Mets-Pirates) is 60 percent, but it's somewhat lesser during the day.
• St. Louis (Reds-Cardinals) has a 60 percent chance of rain during the day that drops to 30 percent around game time, meaning the biggest threat in that city is that the field will reach unplayable conditions before the game even starts.
• Interestingly, San Diego actually forecasts a chance of rain, though only a drizzle and a minimal chance of it. Don't worry, Padres fans, it's not as if that's a city in much jeopardy; San Diego's last rainout came on April 4, 2006. Only 16 rainouts have happened in 41 years of baseball in that city, in fact.

Tristan H. Cockcroft is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and a two-time champion of the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) experts league. You can e-mail him here.

ALSO SEE