Commentary

Johan heads to Yankee Stadium

Santana has pitched well against the Yanks, but how will he fare at the new park?

Updated: June 12, 2009, 3:27 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Daily Notes
Time for another round of interleague play, with several natural rivalries taking center stage. The Mets visit the Yankees, the A's visit the Giants, and, of course, who won't be glued to their seats for the long-awaited Nationals-Rays showdown?

As always, two National League teams miss out on all the reindeer games, and this time it's the last-place Diamondbacks hosting the tied-for-last-place Houston Astros. Still, baseball is baseball, and there are a lot of solid pitchers taking the mound this weekend. From Jake Peavy all the way down to Tomo Ohka, we've ranked them below. Have a great weekend and good luck to you all!

For starters

Selected notes for Saturday

Jake Peavy tops our Saturday slate of pitchers, thanks in large part to the high K/9 rate and the recent hitting struggles of the Angels, who have seen their team batting average decline each month of the season. … Zach Duke gets one fewer big-league-caliber bat in the Tigers' lineup with the team losing its DH, and Detroit is 10th in the AL in home runs and batting average to begin with. … Jason Marquis is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA against the Mariners in his career, and we think he'll get run support from a Rockies team that is likely happy to be home, at least enough to win his duel against a sizzling Erik Bedard, who is 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his past three starts. … Joe Saunders has had a rough go of it lately, with a 6.50 ERA in his past three starts, but the Padres' .236 team batting average doesn't scare us. … Two unrelated matchup notes: Bronson Arroyo has a 2.79 lifetime ERA against the Royals, and Andy Pettitte has an 8-4 career record against the crosstown-rival Mets. … Oakland doesn't exactly have the greatest lineup in the world. In fact, it's the absolute worst in the AL. Even a somewhat tired Randy Johnson should do well here. That said, Oakland pitcher Josh Outman should be able to keep his team in the ballgame. … True, Scott Feldman has been far better on the road than at home, where he's only 1-1 with a 4.37 ERA. But since the Dodgers aren't familiar with him, we're going to give him some leeway here in our rankings. … Roy Oswalt would be higher, but we are still concerned that his start has been pushed back a few days even though he has a 7-1 career record against the Diamondbacks. Consider us cautious, just as we are with Rich Harden, who will be activated from the DL on Saturday in time to face Minnesota's hot bats. … As for the bottom half of things, Rich Hill hasn't looked terrific this season, but he's 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA against the Braves in his career. … Jon Garland has an 0-3 record with a 9.00 ERA in his past three starts, but the Astros hit 22 points worse as a team against right-handed pitching. … Sean West has alternated good and bad outings, suggesting he could be in for a bad outing against the Blue Jays. … Antonio Bastardo has performed well so far in 2009, but he hasn't started a game at his hitter-favorable home park -- until Saturday. On top of that, he faces a Red Sox lineup that appears to be getting its groove back. And as for his mound opponent, Daisuke Matsuzaka? That ERA and WHIP kind of speak for themselves. … We're not getting excited over one good game by Jose Contreras, especially given his 5.94 ERA in interleague play. … Rounding out things, Fernando Nieve likely will make the emergency start for the disabled John Maine, and he'll face Tomo Ohka, who has thrown just 10 big league innings over the past two seasons.

Selected notes for Sunday

Chad Billingsley won his first two starts in June, and his lineup has given him an average of 5.2 runs per game in support, which sure takes the pressure off Billingsley, who knows he doesn't have to be perfect with every pitch. … As you know, Johan Santana is an elite pitcher, and he has a 4-1 career record against the Yankees. We have no doubt he'll bring his A-game to the new Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Still, he has been giving up the longball a lot more lately, and in that park? We couldn't make him the No. 1 for the day. … Josh Johnson has a 1.59 ERA against the Blue Jays in his career and has been one of the most consistent pitchers so far in 2009. … Jered Weaver pitches like an All-Star at home, with a 22-9 career record at Angel Stadium. Throw in the Padres as the opponent, and he's a must-start. … Derek Lowe has a 2.76 ERA in 16 appearances at Camden Yards and Ted Lilly is 3-1 with a 3.52 lifetime ERA against the Twins, which is why the two veterans rank so high on our list for Sunday. Nine-year veteran Josh Beckett is also in our top 10, with an 8-3 mark against the Phillies. … Matt Cain is a bit lower than you'd probably expect, only because of his career struggles against his crosstown rivals. Cain is only 1-4 against the A's in his career. … Chris Carpenter has been showing some cracks of late, with a 2.57 ERA in his past three starts after a perfect first four outings. Plus, his career numbers against the Tribe (2-2 with a 5.96 ERA) are not good. Cliff Lee, on the other hand, sports a 3.00 ERA and is undefeated against St. Louis. … Scott Baker hasn't been stellar in 2009, but he has won three of his past four outings, making him a better bet than A.J. Burnett, who is 2-6 lifetime against the visiting Mets. … Chris Young has been more Hyde than Jekyll of late, with an 0-3 record and a 4.76 ERA in his past three starts. Still, there's always a chance the formula wears off, and the good doctor makes an appearance. … Philadelphia's J.A. Happ, like Saturday's starter Antonio Bastardo, has been good on the road, but his only start at home was against the Nationals. The Red Sox hit better than the Nationals. … Jason Hammel's career ERA at Coors Field (8.53) looks atrocious, until you see what Jason Vargas' ERA there looks like: 24.30. Hammel's likelihood of winning the game still is good enough for only 23rd on our list, though. … Finally, we feel bad for always putting Dontrelle Willis last, so we're throwing him a bone this week and letting Derek Holland bring up the rear. You're welcome, Dontrelle!

Now batting (Saturday)

Hitters' count

Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals: Pujols is always a top fantasy option, but we were still impressed to learn he was a career 7-for-14 against Tomo Ohka, with a .929 slugging percentage.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers: Miggy goes "wiggy" when Zack Duke is on the hill, with five hits, including four doubles, in nine career at-bats.
Andruw Jones, OF, Rangers: With three career home runs and seven RBIs against Randy Wolf, perhaps some deep blasts are on Saturday's agenda for Mr. Jones.
Ken Griffey Jr., OF, Mariners: He's a career .400 hitter against Jason Marquis, and even with no DH, he might play some outfield this weekend with Franklin Gutierrez hurting.
Orlando Cabrera, SS, Athletics: A .300 average against 300-game-winner Randy Johnson merits inclusion in our list of Saturday favorites.
David Wright, 3B, Mets: Wright has seen plenty of Andy Pettitte over the years, and has two homers and a .444 batting average against the lefty.
Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: Roy Oswalt's start was pushed back to the Arizona series, which had to make Drew smile. He's a lifetime .357 hitter against the Astros' ace.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees: I'd say A-Rod likes playing the Mets; he has hit eight home runs against them, to go along with a .311 average, since 2006.

Pitchers' count

Casey Blake, 3B, Dodgers: Blake does have a hit in his past four starts, but he's 0-for-5 in his career against Scott Feldman. The streak ends here.
Joe Crede, 3B, Twins: Crede is only a .154 hitter against Rich Harden, which isn't exactly cause for celebration.
Jeff Francoeur, OF, Braves: Has seven strikeouts in 12 career at-bats against Rich Hill and only a measly single on the positive side of the ledger. Sit, Ubu, sit.
Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies: Dice-K has been a thorn in Ibanez's side historically; Raul has just a .182 batting average against the Boston pitcher.
Mike Jacobs, DH, Royals: For one thing, he hasn't been playing much lately, and another, he has hit only .186 against the Reds in his career.
Ivan Rodriguez, C, Astros: In 43 at-bats against Jon Garland, Rodriguez has only a .186 batting average. I-Rod should stay on the bench and listen to his iPod.
Bobby Abreu, OF, Angels: He has more strikeouts than hits against Jake Peavy and only a .250 batting average (with no extra-base hits) to show for his efforts.

If you're hardcore

Josh Fields, 3B, White Sox: With Paul Konerko struggling to remain pain-free, Fields might actually get a start at first base. He's worth a gamble anyway.
Josh Barfield, 2B, Indians: Barfield is 2-for-3 against Brad Thompson of the Cardinals. It's not a lot to go on, but that's what being hardcore is all about.
Frank Catalanotto, OF, Brewers: He has had plenty of experience against Jose Contreras, with a .357 batting average in 14 at-bats.
Don Kelly, OF, Tigers: Called up to replace the struggling Clete Thomas, Kelly, who was hitting .339 at Triple-A, will get some starts against Pittsburgh.
Ryan Spilborghs, OF, Rockies: He already has a home run and three RBIs to his name against Erik Bedard.
Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins: Hitting .324 in June, Hermida is a perfect 2-for-2 against Casey Janssen.
Alberto Gonzalez, SS, Nationals: He's rocking a .455 batting average in June, and in the one game he didn't get a hit, he still managed to score a run.

Now batting (Sunday)

Hitters' count

Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees: He doesn't seem to mind facing Johan; Cano has a career .400 batting average against Santana.
Aubrey Huff, 1B, Orioles: Huff is quite familiar with Derek Lowe, and has nine RBIs and a .313 batting average against him in 32 career at-bats.
Hunter Pence, OF, Astros: He has hit .319 against the Diamondbacks in his career, giving us no reason to even hesitate putting him in our lineup this weekend.
Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners: Not too many pitchers allow Ichiro to hit at a rate that doubles his current batting average of .360, but that's exactly what Jason Hammel has done.
Lyle Overbay, 1B, Blue Jays: If the 1.269 OPS for June doesn't impress you, very few things will.
Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Angels: It's a good thing there will be a DH in this series; otherwise, Guerrero and his .588 career average with four home runs against Chris Young would go to waste.
Gary Sheffield, OF, Mets: In the new Yankee Stadium and having posted a .607 slugging percentage against Yankees starter A.J. Burnett, we like Sheff's chances …

Pitchers' count:

Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets: … on the other hand, Beltran and his .250 slugging percentage against Burnett leaves us quite unimpressed.
Willy Taveras, OF, Reds: Taveras has gone 0-for-June. That's reason enough for us to look elsewhere.
Ryan Howard, 1B. Phillies: Josh Beckett has Howard's number, averaging a strikeout every other at-bat against the big bopper.
Matt Holliday, OF, Athletics: Although he has had a couple of home runs against Matt Cain, he's not in Colorado anymore, and the .214 batting average stands out a bit more from the stat line.
Bobby Crosby, SS, Athletics: Crosby, a new father, likely will continue to call Matt Cain "Daddy" based on his .071 lifetime batting average against him.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox: His shoulder reportedly has been bothering him lately, and although he's expected to play, he's not likely to be at full strength this weekend.
Jim Thome, DH, White Sox: With this weekend's games in Milwaukee, the "DH" next to Thome's name likely stands for "doesn't hit."

If you're hardcore

Josh Anderson, OF, Tigers: In his career against Pittsburgh, Anderson is a .600 hitter, with five RBIs. That's what we like to see in a spot starter …
Craig Monroe, OF, Pirates: … and in the other dugout, Monroe has homered off Dontrelle Willis before, and could do it again.
Bobby Scales, 2B, Cubs: Chicago sent Jake Fox down and kept Scales, who has hit safely in his past two starts.
Pablo Sandoval, 1B, Giants: He has a five-game hitting streak and a .394 average in June, and somehow is still a free agent in 17 percent of ESPN standard leagues.
Jamey Carroll, 2B, Indians: For his career, Carroll is a .357 hitter against Chris Carpenter.
Barbaro Canizares, 1B, Braves: He was second in the International League with a .344 average, eight homers and 37 RBIs. Now he's hitting fourth for Atlanta. You do the math.
Laynce Nix, OF, Reds: He has a .958 OPS in June with three home runs, and is owned in only 1.5 percent of leagues. Go figure.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Felipe Paulino, P, Astros (15-day disabled list, groin)
• John Maine, P, Mets (15-day disabled list, shoulder)
Greg Norton, 1B, Braves (15-day disabled list, hamstring)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Rob Johnson, C, Mariners (foot): He has been out since Sunday, but since the team is expected to cut either Guillermo Quiroz or Jamie Burke on Thursday, Johnson must be ready to give it a go.
Denard Span, OF, Twins (dizziness): Now this is getting scary. A battery of tests has not yet revealed the cause of Span's dizziness, and until the team knows why he's suffering, there's not a chance they'd risk playing him.
• Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox (thumb): He might play at some point this weekend, but he missed Thursday's game and still appears to be in pain.
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (groin): It looks like Ramirez will be given days off from time to time to rest his bothersome groin, so while he "should" play all weekend, you never know when he'll need an unplanned day off.
• Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Mariners (knee): After fouling a pitch off his knee Wednesday, Gutierrez was not in the lineup Thursday. While Seattle is hopeful to have him back no later than this weekend, without a DH spot, there's really no rush.
Frank Francisco, P, Rangers (shoulder): He says he's getting better but still is being called "unavailable to close" by Ron Washington.
Nick Hundley, C, Padres (wrist): X-rays came back negative after Hundley was hit by a Chad Billingsley pitch on Tuesday, but he's still very sore and as a catcher, he can't exactly rush back behind the plate with a bad wrist.

Weather concerns

• The weekend's weatherproof games: Marlins-Blue Jays, White Sox-Brewers, Nationals-Rays and Astros-Diamondbacks.
• Scattered thunderstorms are in the forecast all weekend for the Mariners-Rockies series.
• Saturday also has heavy rains possible in Chicago and Pittsburgh, but both should be dry Sunday. Precipitation is expected in Kansas City on Sunday.
• Sunday also brings a few light showers to the Northeast, but likely not enough to spoil the Boston-Philadelphia or Yankees-Mets series finales.
• Temperature-wise, you can take your pick from the 50s in the Bay Area to the heart of Texas, where the mercury might reach triple digits.

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

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