Commentary

Hanson debut moved to Sunday

Updated: June 6, 2009, 11:21 AM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Daily Notes
It should be a weekend of firsts. Kelvim Escobar is slated to make his first start since 2007 against the Tigers on Saturday, and Matt Maloney of the Reds is all ready to make his big league debut against the Cubs. However, the much-ballyhooed Tommy Hanson will not be taking the mound Saturday after all. No, thanks to a Thursday rainout, the Braves have moved the monumental occasion to Sunday, when Hanson finally will get to strut his stuff against Manny Parra and the Brewers. To see how we expect these 2009 debuts to go, as well as the rest of our rankings, take a look below.

(Editor's note: Matchups have been updated to account for the Yankees/Rays pitching changes due to Friday's rainout, as well as the Mariners changing Saturday's starter to Jarrod Washburn and Jake Peavy's start being delayed to Monday as he recovers from an upper respiratory infection).

For starters

Selected notes for Saturday:

Roy Oswalt tops our Saturday list, thanks to a 13-6 career record and a 2.40 ERA against the now-Nate-McLouth-free Pirates. John Maine, with a 7-2 lifetime record against the Nationals, also is a solid starter to slide into your lineup. … We like Max Scherzer to have a repeat performance of his 10-strikeout game against the Padres earlier this season, and with Kevin Correia (0-4 versus the Diamondbacks) the likely San Diego starter, Scherzer should win the game as well. … Edwin Jackson has been phenomenal this season but has had trouble with the Angels in the past, as his 5.67 lifetime ERA against them indicates. He is facing Kelvim Escobar, who is pitching for the first time in two years, so it's hard to tell exactly how things will go. However, Escobar is perfect in eight lifetime decisions against Detroit. … Todd Wellemeyer has struggled a bit at home this season (5.35 ERA) but always has stepped it up against the Rockies, with a 3-0 record and a 2.87 ERA. Plus, Aaron Cook has never beaten the Cardinals, with a 6.63 lifetime ERA against the Redbirds. … Jeff Suppan's overall mark isn't pretty, but he actually is a much better pitcher away from Miller Park. On the road, he's 3-1 this season. Meanwhile, Javier Vazquez's history against the Brewers isn't great: 5-6 with a 5.01 ERA. … John Lannan is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA at home this season, and the Mets do have a lot of bats missing from their lineup. … Gavin Floyd already blew up once this season against the Indians, allowing eight earned runs in five innings of work. Expect a case of déjà vu. … And toward the bottom of the rankings, we have Jeremy Sowers, 0-3 with a 6.87 career mark versus the White Sox, narrowly ahead of Jonathan Sanchez, 0-4 with a 6.97 road record so far in 2009.

Selected notes for Sunday:

Expect Roy Halladay to get to 10 wins against the Royals. He's 8-3 with a 2.90 ERA against Kansas City for his career. … Dan Haren is starting to get some run support and doesn't need much against the Padres, against whom he's 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA. … Let's finally give Kevin Slowey his due. He's at 8-1, and it's time to realize this isn't a fluke. That's why we have him ahead of Tim Lincecum for this start. … Randy Wolf has 17 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched against his former team, the Phillies, to go along with his 2.25 ERA against them. … Erik Bedard has never fared all that well against the Twins, going 0-5 with a 4.80 ERA. However, he has managed to maintain a 9.0 strikes-per-nine-innings rate against them, so he still has plenty of fantasy value.… Matt Garza struck out nine Yankees in seven innings pitched earlier this season but is facing a surging Joba Chamberlain on the road. … Tommy Hanson has no history to cloud our judgment, just a lot of hopeful hype. We'll buy in against the Brewers and Manny Parra, who is 2-5 with a 9.09 ERA on the road this season. … Livan Hernandez is 9-5 with a 3.99 ERA against the Nationals, and Daisuke Matsuzaka is 3-0 with a 4.15 ERA facing the Rangers. That track record is what puts them in the same neighborhood as Vin Mazzaro and Antonio Bastardo, who did well in their first starts but have a long way to go before being counted on regularly. … Joel Pineiro, with his 8.10 ERA in three starts against the Rockies, is troubling, but he still is a far better bet than Vicente Padilla's career struggles (1-3, 5.40 ERA) against the Red Sox or Ian Snell's dismal 0-5 with a 5.54 ERA away from Pittsburgh this season. … Ricky Nolasco returns to the Marlins' rotation thanks to the return of Anibal Sanchez to the disabled list. Maybe he's worked out his early season woes that led to his demotion to Triple-A, but we're not going to gamble our team ERA and WHIP on it.

Now batting (Saturday)

Hitters' count:

Jim Thome, DH, White Sox: With three home runs and seven RBIs in only six at-bats against Jeremy Sowers, odds are looking good for Thome to do it again.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, Indians: Peralta could pack some power against Gavin Floyd. He's got a 1.167 career slugging percentage against him.
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves: I'd say a .700 career batting average against Jeff Suppan qualifies Larry for inclusion in our "Hitter's Count" section, don't you?
Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies: Two home runs in five at-bats off Todd Wellemeyer bodes well for Hawpe this fine Saturday.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners: Blackburn pitching in the dead of night … Beltre swings his bat and ball takes flight: eight at-bats, four hits, four RBIs.
Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Angels: With a .417 batting average facing Edwin Jackson, Guerrero is sure to drive a stake through the Tigers pitcher's heart.
Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Pirates: Sanchez is only 2-for-14 so far in June, making him all the happier to see Roy Oswalt, if we're to believe the .367 lifetime batting average.

Pitchers' count:

Casey Blake, 3B, Dodgers: It doesn't take Columbo to figure out you need to bench Blake against Joe Blanton. He's 1-for-21 lifetime against the right-hander.
Cristian Guzman, SS, Nationals: Guzman has never had a hit off John Maine. It doesn't take Scooby Doo to solve this mystery …
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds: Against Ryan Dempster, Phillips' average goes into the dumpster, down to a meager .167.
Joe Mauer, C, Twins: Look, Mauer has been fantastic and is hitting .636 for June. As good as he is, he can't keep that pace up, and he's bound to have an oh-fer in this series. We say it comes Saturday.
Brandon Inge, C/3B, Tigers: Inge is 0-for-10 lifetime against Kelvim Escobar. First start back or not, that's not a recommended matchup.
Carlos Lee, 1B, Astros: "Mahalo" means "Thank you." For Lee, Maholm means "No thanks." In 26 at-bats, he's managed only four singles and a .185 OBP.

If you're hardcore

Deep inside the matchups

How great should your expectations of Tommy Hanson be? And can you trust Jason Berken?
Click here to find out. Insider

Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets: Castillo is .444 with a home run and two RBIs against John Lannan.
• Gordon Beckham, SS, White Sox: OK, gang … you claimed him off your league's waiver wire. Time to put your money where your mouth is and put him in your lineup. Remember, he's eligible at shortstop only until he's played 10 games at a new position.
Frank Catalanotto, OF, Brewers: He's not an everyday player to be sure, but he would be if he always faced Javier Vazquez ... 10-for-26 (.385) lifetime.
Chris Burke, SS, Padres: Hard-core players, take note of Burke's solo home run the last time he saw Max Scherzer.
Juan Uribe, SS, Giants: Uribe is batting just a hair less than .300 and has a home run and four RBIs off Andrew Miller in five at-bats.
Edwin Maysonet, 2B, Astros: We apologize in advance for the pun, but … when the Kaz is away, the Maysonet will play, and he's 2-for-4 facing Paul Maholm.
David Murphy, OF, Rangers: He should get more action with Josh Hamilton hurt, and he's a .333 hitter against Jon Lester.

Now batting (Sunday)

Hitters' count:

Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees: Cano is hitting .357 lifetime against the Rays' Matt Garza.
Curtis Granderson, OF, Tigers: Curtis hits just grandly against Joe Saunders, with a .444 career batting average against the Angels' pitcher.
Marco Scutaro, SS, Blue Jays: Two home runs and an .800 batting average facing Kyle Davies? Yes, please.
Michael Young, 3B, Rangers: It's no dice for Mr. Matsuzaka against Michael Young, who owns a .625 batting average against the Japanese import.
Hunter Pence, OF, Astros: It's the sweet Snell of success for Pence, thanks to a .308 lifetime mark against the scheduled Pirates starter.
Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins: With two homers and 10 RBIs to go along with a .429 batting average against Erik Bedard, the Mariners will be screaming, "No more, Morneau!"

Matt Holliday, OF, Athletics: Trade rumors or not, the fact is, Holliday gets on base three of every four times he stands in the box against Rich Hill.
Coco Crisp, OF, Royals: Crisp is back in the Royals' lineup and in 38 at-bats against Roy Halladay is hitting .289, more than twice the .141 the Royals as a team have managed over the past three years.

Pitchers' count:

Jeff Francoeur, OF, Braves: His .217 batting average against the Brew Crew since 2006 makes us even less likely than usual to insert him in our lineup this weekend.
Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks: If Jake Peavy is healthy enough to start, Mark Reynolds is unlikely to do much in the way of finishing, thanks to a .143 career average against the Padres' ace.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies: Four strikeouts in six at-bats against former Philly Randy Wolf. I think the wolf knows something. Hooooowwwwwllll!
Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Cubs: Fukudome is a career 0-for-9 against the Reds' Bronson Arroyo.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians: So maybe we're overreacting to Choo's 0-for-2 against Bartolo Colon … but it's Bartolo Colon!
Edgar Renteria, SS, Giants: However poorly Ricky Nolasco has pitched this season, he never has failed to retire Renteria in 10 at-bats.

If you're hardcore

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies: He might strike out a lot, but he has power, and the Rockies didn't call him up to ride the bench.
Alex Cora, SS, Mets: He's hitting .321 on the season, and with Jose Reyes' injury, he's going to be playing just about every day.
Nick Green, SS, Red Sox: Green is 3-for-4 with a triple against the Rangers' Vicente Padilla.
Nick Hundley, C, Padres: With five hits in nine career at-bats against Dan Haren, expect to see him behind the plate Sunday.
Austin Kearns, OF, Nationals: Kearns has 11 RBIs in 27 at-bats against Livan Hernandez, which makes us want to be Livan him in the lineup.
Wes Helms, 3B, Marlins: If he can fight off the viral infection that has bothered him of late, he should be able to fight off Tim Lincecum. Helms has a double and two RBIs in three lifetime at-bats against him.

Triage

Injury list: Out

• Anibal Sanchez, P, Marlins (expected 15-day disabled list, shoulder)
Jose Reyes, SS, Mets (15-day disabled list, hamstring tear): The newly discovered tear could see Reyes out the entire month of June.
J.J. Putz, P, Mets (15-day DL elbow): will have surgery on Tuesday.
Kyle Lohse, P, Cardinals (15-day disabled list, forearm)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Shane Victorino, OF, Phillies (hip): Victorino hurt his hip Wednesday and should be available for pinch-hitting duties, if not back in the starting lineup this weekend.
Andy LaRoche, 3B, Pirates (knee): After getting hit by a Mike Pelfrey pitch, LaRoche might miss some time.
Travis Hafner, DH, Indians (shoulder): was activated from the DL and played Friday, but may not be ready to play every day.
Josh Willingham, OF, Nationals (illness): As soon as the viral infection passes, Willingham likely will still need a day or two to get his strength back.
Yorvit Torrealba, C, Rockies (personal): Torrealba is being given as much time as he needs to handle the aftermath of the kidnapping of family members in his native Venezuela.
Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays (hamstring): Reports have Longoria due back in the Rays' lineup by Saturday, but make sure to double-check before the games start.
Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Red Sox (calf): Swelling near his Achilles tendon has manager Terry Francona being very cautious with his first baseman.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers (hamstring): Cabrera was noticeably limping while running the bases Thursday and left the game shortly thereafter.
Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs (calf): No trip to the disabled list for Bradley, and he might even be able to play a full nine by this weekend.

Weather concerns

• The weekend's weatherproof games: Royals-Blue Jays, Twins-Mariners and Pirates-Astros.
• Wet weather is in the forecast all weekend for both Chicago and Florida.
• Saturday brings with it some showers in Oakland. It should be dry Sunday, but the temperature will dip to less than 70 degrees.
• Sunday won't be dry in Detroit, where showers are on the meteorological menu. Some isolated thunderstorms also threaten play in Atlanta, Cincinnati and St. Louis.

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

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