Hamels deserves one more chance
Starting pitcher rankings for Wednesday, July 1
Selected notes: Regardless of any recent bumps in the road, Justin Verlander should get plenty of strikeouts against Oakland and its AL-worst .312 OBP, so he gets top honors for the day, just ahead of Josh Johnson, who is 4-0 lifetime against Washington. Josh Beckett is 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA at Camden Yards in his career, putting that 10th win of the season well within reach. With 100-degree heat in Texas already starting to wear on the Rangers hitters (.221 average as a team in June), Jered Weaver should shine as bright as that Arlington sun. Weaver's mound opponent, Kevin Millwood, should also do well; he has a 3.86 ERA versus the Angels in his past three appearances against them. Johnny Cueto is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA against the D-backs, earning him a higher place in our rankings than two quality pitchers: James Shields (0-2, 4.09 ERA in his past three starts versus Toronto) and Adam Wainwright (0-2, 5.14 ERA in his past three versus the Giants). We're getting tired of giving Cole Hamels the benefit of the doubt, but we can't completely overlook the 4-1 record and 2.91 ERA at Turner Field, so we'll put him just ahead of his mound foe, Jair Jurrjens. The Tigers are hitting only . 260 as a team, which is the good news for Dallas Braden. The bad news is that he's 1-2 with a 9.13 ERA in his career against Detroit, so he's relegated to the middle of the pack. Jarrod Washburn has a career 2.56 ERA against the Yankees, but of course all bets are off in the new stadium. Still, it's more promising than Clayton Kershaw's 7.30 ERA against the Rockies. Andy Pettitte's win-loss record is deceptive, as he's only 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA in his past three starts, but we trust him more than Gil Meche, who has had "dead arm" issues, though he is expected to make his scheduled start against the Twins on Wednesday. Jose Contreras is quite an enigma, but we'll roll with him based on the track record at Progressive Field: 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA. Similarly, Brad Bergesen faces an uphill battle against Boston, but he is 5-1 with a 3.10 ERA at home. That's got to count for something. Jordan Zimmermann got plenty of run support when he went up against John Smoltz and pitched well in his most recent outing. Josh Johnson isn't likely to be as generous, which will make the going a lot more difficult for the youngster. Mike Pelfrey's 7.20 ERA against the Brewers is cause for concern, as are the excessive number of home runs Randy Wells has been giving up, even in recent victories. And Jon Garland has a career ERA of 6.17 against the Reds, earning him a spot in our bottom five.
• Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins: If Gil Meche gets the green light to pitch, then Morneau gets the green light to swing away. He's a .345 career hitter with two home runs and eight RBIs against Meche.
• Nick Johnson, 1B, Nationals: Nick has been the better Johnson when facing Florida's Josh, with a .556 batting average in their face-offs thus far.
• Torii Hunter, OF, Angels: Kevin Millwood has not had a lot of success getting Hunter out. Torii has a .406 batting average with nine RBIs lifetime against the Rangers starter.
• Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres: Teams have been trying to pitch around Gonzalez lately. Perhaps Brian Moehler should just walk the man who is hitting .500 against him for his career.
• Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies: Not only is he hitting .327 on the year, but he has an RBI in both games he's squared off against Clayton Kershaw.
• James Loney, 1B, Dodgers: He's hit .417 against the Rockies this season and has a home run in two career at-bats against Jason Hammel.
• Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves: Cole Hamels scares Larry not. Jones is slugging .882 against the Phillies pitcher.
• Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks: Upton has turned six at-bats against Johnny Cueto into three hits, two of them home runs, and as of Monday, he's hit five blasts in June.
• Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: June was not kind to Jones, with a .232 batting average, and July won't start any better as Josh Beckett has held him to a .214 average in their previous meetings.
• Bobby Crosby, SS, Athletics: Not only is his 2009 average below .200, but he's never had a hit with Justin Verlander on the mound.
• Victor Martinez, C/1B, Indians: V-Mart is only 3-for-25 lifetime against Jose Contreras, with all three hits being of the one-base variety.
• Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees: Cano has struggled against Jarrod Washburn and is hitting only .143 against the Mariners' starter.
• Marco Scutaro, 2B, Blue Jays: Scutaro is in the midst of a 1-for-16 slump and has only a .174 OBP against James Shields.
• Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies: Even given that his "forced rest" might have done him some good after an 0-for-19 stretch, Jair Jurrjens has held Rollins to a .200 batting average. Perhaps you should continue to rest Rollins on Wednesday.
• Randy Winn, OF, Giants: Winn tends to lose against Adam Wainwright, having never reached base safely against St. Louis' scheduled starter.
• Mark DeRosa, 3B, Cardinals: He's new to the Cardinals, but not new to facing Matt Cain, although the .111 average doesn't bode well for DeRosa.
If you're hardcore
• Luke Scott, DH, Orioles: Scott eats Beckett for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He's hitting .545 against him with a home run and three RBIs.
• Ryan Raburn, OF, Tigers: With four RBIs and a .500 average against Dallas Braden, Raburn could be a surprise standout performer Wednesday .
• Scott Podsednik, OF, White Sox: Not only did he hit .321 in June, but he also is a career .375 hitter against Jeremy Sowers.
• Chris Woodward, 1B, Mariners: With Adrian Beltre headed for surgery, Woodward -- hitting .364 this year -- could be the primary beneficiary in terms of playing time.
• Marlon Byrd, OF, Rangers: Byrd flies high when he hits against Jered Weaver, with a career 417 batting average to his name.
• Jody Gerut, OF, Brewers: He hasn't done much of anything since being traded from San Diego to Milwaukee, but is a career 6-for-9 against Mike Pelfrey of the Mets.
• Laynce Nix, OF, Reds: Nix is a .769 slugger against Jon Garland, including a 2-for-4 with a home run earlier this year.
Injury list: Out
• Nate Robertson, P, Tigers (15-day DL, elbow surgery)
• Antonio Bastardo, P, Phillies (15-day DL, shoulder strain)
• Josh Outman, P, Athletics (15-day DL, elbow surgery)
• Khalil Greene, SS, Cardinals (15-day DL, anxiety disorder)
• Aaron Miles, 2B, Cubs (15-day DL, elbow)
Injury list: Day-to-day
• Mike Lowell, 3B, Red Sox (hip): Lowell had fluid drained from his hip and if all goes well, he should return to the lineup Friday.
• Brandon Inge, 3B, Tigers (knees): Manager Jim Leyland told reporters he's going to rest Inge at some point this week, but was non-committal on the day. Check the Detroit lineup to avoid getting stuck.
• Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox (hit in head by pitch): He should be fine, but given how careful teams are with any head trauma, just make sure he's in the White Sox lineup before placing him in yours.
• Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (back): A late scratch Monday with back stiffness. It's a problem that's not going to go away completely for Crede, and he'll probably be sporadically scratched going forward.
• Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals (hiatal hernia): He should be fine now that a cause has been found for the constant stomach pain he had been experiencing .
• Jose Guillen, OF, Royals (muscle strain): With a stiff left side, Guillen was given Monday off, and might be rested for another day or two with the Royals, as a team, not having a day off for a few weeks.
• Wednesday's weatherproof games: Rays-Blue Jays and Mets-Brewers.
• Rain is pretty much an every-day occurrence in Florida, but nothing too heavy is expected in Miami on Wednesday. Isolated thunderstorms are on tap for Baltimore and New York.
• Cooler weather could chill players in the Ohio area, with temperatures in the high 60s due to accompany showers in Cleveland, Cincinnati and across the Pennsylvania border into Pittsburgh.
AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
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