Thursday brings some fantasy baseball conundrums to the forefront as Washington is "home on the road" in Houston, when the two teams finally get around to completing the game suspended by rain on May 5, with the score tied 10-10 in the bottom of the eleventh. Joel Hanrahan is in line for a victory if the pinch-runner for the since-demoted Elijah Dukes comes around to score when the game resumes, even though Hanrahan now pitches for Pittsburgh. Of course, if you own Hanrahan, there's no need to rush to get him into your lineup to take a shot at a risk-free victory. Why? Because in most leagues, these stats are "retroactive," meaning whatever happens today either gets put into the stat pool as if they took place on May 5, and in head-to-head leagues, they may not even count at all. It's enough to make your head spin. So let's just focus on the games we know will count toward your fantasy totals. Here are our pitcher rankings for July 9.
Note: ESPN.com standard leagues (both rotisserie and head-to-head leagues) will have the stats of the completed game backdated to the originally scheduled date of the game, May 5, and standings will be retroactively run over the next couple of days and be updated by Saturday.
Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday, July 9
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: Let's give some love to Tim Lincecum, who not only faces a Padres team with very little pop, but who has been lights out lately, with a 3-0 record and an 0.36 ERA in his past three outings. We'll see if Roy Halladay wants to use this start as his first audition to get out of Toronto. He's 8-3 with a 3.29 ERA for his career at the Trop and we expect the phone to start ringing off the hook with offers after this outing. Felix Hernandez has had his difficulties in the past against the Rangers, with a 4-9 record and a 4.35 ERA, but we still have faith in the King. Joel Pineiro has never lost to the Brewers and has a 3.26 lifetime ERA against them, so we'll rank him just ahead of Aaron Cook. Cook has a 1.80 ERA in his past three starts, but Coors Field is always a bit more hitter friendly than the road, which is where he's been for four of his past five victories. Randy Wolf is 11-5 against the Mets, and these Mets continue to struggle mightily to win games. Not to mention Livan Hernandez, New York's starter, is 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in his past three starts. John Lannan goes up against an Astros team whom he has owned -- 3-0, 3.71 ERA -- and if the suspended game goes long, who knows what sort of lineup they'll trot out. We'll see how Tommy Hanson takes to Colorado, but so far, there's been very little to dislike with the young Braves starter. On the reverse end of the age spectrum, Jamie Moyer has been reinvigorated of late, going 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA in his past three outings. His mound opponent, Micah Owings, will need to bring his bat in order to keep this game close if he has a repeat of his earlier outing versus the Phillies this season, when he allowed five runs in only three innings. Clayton Richard and his 6.61 ERA against the Indians is something to be concerned about, but not as much as Alfredo Aceves' lack of endurance. He's been thrust into the starting role left vacated by the injury to Chien-Ming Wang. He might give you a few solid innings, but expecting more than that at this point of the season is asking a lot. We don't think Josh Geer will win going up against Lincecum, but his 2.57 ERA against the Giants might be able to keep his team close for awhile, at least long enough to outperform Manny Parra or Anthony Swarzak, who has a 5.52 ERA in his past three. Finally, David Price going up against the Blue Jays? We're not buying it. That Price's ERA is 9.82 in his past three starts makes him simply unstartable right now.
• Nyjer Morgan, OF, Nationals: In addition to his .400 average against Russ Ortiz, it seems likely that he'll be the designated pinch runner for Elijah Dukes in the resumption of the suspended game. One steal and a base hit and you may get some cheap stats, depending on your league rules.
• Carl Crawford, OF, Rays: Crawford has had success against Roy Halladay, with a .313 average, two home runs and nine RBIs in 67 at-bats.
• Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Padres: He's 5-for-12 in his past three games and is a .357 hitter facing Tim Lincecum.
• Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks: Reynolds has hit safely in eight of his past nine, and has three career RBIs off of Andrew Miller.
• Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros: He's hitting .450 since June 24 and an even better .571 against Nationals pitcher John Lannan.
• Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees: Tex likes what he sees in Minnesota pitching, with a .406 average against the Twins since 2006, and a .545 average so far in 2009 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.
• Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves: That groin of his is acting up again, but perhaps he'll fight through the discomfort to face Aaron Cook, against whom he has a .348 batting average.
• Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers: Furcal is starting July strong with a .429 batting average and shouldn't slow down against Livan Hernandez. He's hit four home runs off the veteran, with a slugging percentage of .580.
• Chris Getz, 2B, White Sox: He's hitting only .214 against the Indians this season, and let's face it
even for Getz, where the expectations aren't great, that's a disappointing number.
• Cody Ross, OF, Marlins: Ross is hitting 30 points lower on the road this season and failed to hit a home run against the D-backs in a four-game series at home in May.
• Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox: With distractions coming from concern over his wife's pregnancy, we're just not sure he's going to be totally focused this week. Just something to consider if you're on the fence.
• Denard Span, OF, Twins: Span's hitting only .200 against the Yankees this season, and only .194 lifetime against the current New York pitching staff.
• Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals: Rasmus is 11-for-22 in July, but was only .158 against the Brewers before this latest series started. There's bound to be a bad day in here somewhere.
• Bill Hall, 3B, Brewers: I was all set to throw Hall into the hard-core recommendations, and then I remembered he's not named Casey McGehee. Seriously, why are 2 percent of ESPN standard league owners still holding out hope for Hall?
• Fernando Tatis, 1B, Mets: Randy Wolf is on the mound for Los Angeles, which means Tatis will turn into a frightened bunny rabbit at the plate. He's only 2-for-28 against Wolf.
• Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B, Reds: With an OBP of .250 against Jamie Moyer, who himself is pitching as if he were 20 years younger as of late, we'll take a one-day pass on Hairston.
If you're hardcore
• Gabe Gross, OF, Rays: Not too many folks are hitting Roy Halladay at Gross' success rate of .571.
• Ben Francisco, OF, Indians: Hitting .563 in July, Francisco is also a .429 hitter against Clayton Richard.
• Austin Kearns, OF, Nationals: He hasn't played much of late, but with Adam Dunn already "out" of the suspended game, he's bound to see some action if the game goes a few innings. He also has two career home runs off of "Game 2" starter Russ Ortiz.
• Josh Willingham, OF, Nationals: When the suspended game resumes, Willingham is the scheduled hitter, with a man already on base. That's a guaranteed head start to an RBI, again, assuming it will count for you today.
• Ryan Freel, 3B, Royals: He's back in the American League, and is a .421 lifetime hitter against Brad Penny.
• David Murphy, DH, Rangers: July has been good to Murphy, hitting .583 so far this month, and he is a .318 hitter against Felix Hernandez.
• Greg Dobbs, OF, Phillies: He has two home runs in six career at-bats against Micah Owings, and with Raul Ibanez' return date imminent, but still not certain, this could be Dobbs' last fantasy hurrah for some time.
Injury list: Out
Injury list: Day-to-day
• Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Angels (knee): Playing in right field for only the second time all season, Vlad pulled up while fielding a single in the eighth inning on Tuesday, and may miss a few games as a result.
• Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles (illness): He's been battling an upper respiratory infection for some time now, and is hopeful that a new medication will finally clear things up.
• Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (hip flexor): He's been unable to take batting practice due to soreness in his right hip, and if he can't swing the bat, he can't help the Marlins.
• Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Pirates (back strain): Perhaps the Pirates' lone All-Star hurt himself carrying this team on his back? He's hopeful to play later this week, but it's not definite.
• Thursday's weatherproof games: Blue Jays-Rays, Yankees-Twins, Cardinals-Brewers, Nationals-Astros, Marlins-Diamondbacks and Rangers-Mariners.
• While the games at Citi Field and Citizens Bank Park should be able to avoid the rainfall that seems to have been an almost daily occurrence in the Northeast, Fenway Park will not be so lucky as showers are in the forecast for the game between the Red Sox and the Royals.
AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.