Kazmir, Penny to debut for new teams
Two pitchers will be making their debuts for new teams on Wednesday, and both of them will be doing so in road starts. Scott Kazmir makes his Angels debut in a game at Seattle's Safeco Field, a favorable matchup on paper, while Brad Penny makes his Giants debut at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, a matchup that appears unfavorable. Wednesday is also a day of big winners toeing the hill, as 15-game winner CC Sabathia takes on the Orioles in Baltimore, while 14-game winners Josh Beckett and Chris Carpenter take on the Rays and Brewers, respectively.
Starting pitcher rankings for Sept. 2, 2009
Selected notes: Not as if you need any more compelling reasons to keep Chris Carpenter active, but the last time he faced the Brewers, on May 25, he shut them out for eight innings, allowing two hits while striking out 10. Just as with Carpenter, you hardly need more support to justify keeping CC Sabathia active, but here it is anyway: He's 7-1 with a 2.55 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 12 career starts versus the Orioles, and 4-1 with a 3.07 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in the six of those that were pitched at Camden Yards. Ubaldo Jimenez has 10 consecutive quality starts, five of them at Coors Field, and he's 6-2 with a 2.51 ERA and 1.06 WHIP during that span. There's no reason to sweat a Coors matchup, especially against a patchwork Mets lineup. Counting the postseason, Matt Garza is 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 12 career starts versus the Red Sox, and he has four quality starts, a 2-0 record and 1.88 ERA in four meetings this season. Care to debate his ability as a big-game pitcher? Ted Lilly has won all three of his starts versus the Astros this season, compiling a 3.57 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in them, and he's now 6-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in nine career starts against Houston. It's also a home game, and he's 6-1 with a 1.92 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 10 starts at Wrigley Field this season. Though J.A. Happ might appear a far superior road pitcher (1.88 ERA in 16 games, 11 starts) than at home (3.77 in 14 and seven), going back through his game logs at Citizens Bank Park reveals that the only two starts there all year in which he wasn't sharp were against the Red Sox (June 14) and Cardinals (July 24). Accounting for the difficulty of matchup, can't we forgive those two? After all, the Giants rank 29th in team OPS since the All-Star break (.697), so it's not like this is at all a challenging matchup. Rick Porcello recently dominated the Indians in Cleveland behind the best start of his young career going by game score, managing a 72 thanks to eight innings of one-run, four-hit baseball on Aug. 1. Why wouldn't he be capable of something similar back at home? John Lannan has been a much more effective pitcher at home (5-1, 2.62 ERA in 14 starts) than on the road (3-8, 5.57 ERA in 13 starts), but if there's any road venue at which you can make an exception and use him, it's Petco Park. For one thing, the Padres sport baseball's worst team OPS versus left-handers (.667). For another, they have a .654 OPS in home games, by far the worst in the majors and the only sub-.700 team OPS at home. Though the matchup on paper looks good, Scott Kazmir's start at Seattle strikes me as more of a "trap" play than a favorable one. He was pounded at Safeco Field as recently as Aug. 9 (4 1/3 IP, 9 H, 7 ERs), and it's possible he'll have some jitters in his debut start for the Angels. Kazmir might be 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in five career starts at Safeco, but that he's going head-to-head with Mariners ace Felix Hernandez has me leaning toward a definite "no." Just to underscore the risk behind Josh Beckett in a road matchup at Tampa Bay, he has served up 12 home runs and allowed a .260 batting average and .982 OPS in his past four starts combined. He's also 4-2 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 10 starts versus the Rays between this season, last season and the 2008 postseason, so it's not like this is an automatic, ace-caliber matchup. If you're facing an innings/starts crunch, it might be better to avoid taking the risk. Sleeper alert: Trevor Cahill has three consecutive quality starts and the most recent one was the most impressive: seven shutout innings of two-hit baseball on the road to defeat the potent Angels offense. He already has a win against the Royals this year, going six innings and allowing two runs on seven hits on May 12, and Kansas City does have the sixth-worst team OPS since the All-Star break (.719). I can't believe I'm actually recommending Homer Bailey, owner of a 6.41 ERA in 30 career big league starts, but he has won back-to-back starts, one of them against the Pirates on Aug. 23, seven innings of one-run, four-hit baseball. Pittsburgh's offense has a .697 OPS since the All-Star break, third-worst in the majors, so NL-only owners and mixed-league matchups seekers need to take a look. Though Mark Buehrle was perfect on July 23, he has been far from it in seven starts since, with an 0-4 record, 5.77 ERA and 1.63 WHIP during that span. He has been pounded in both of his starts at the Metrodome this season, losing both with a 12.10 ERA and 1.76 WHIP, so temper your expectations.
• Scott Rolen, 3B, Reds: He's 5-for-11 (.455 BA) in his career versus Zach Duke, much of those numbers accrued during his days with the Cardinals in 2006-07.
• Joey Votto, 1B, Reds: One of the better left-handed hitters at hitting lefty pitching in the game, Votto is 6-for-9 in his career versus left-hander Duke, including 4-for-7 this season alone.
• Denard Span, OF, Twins: In another instance of lefty-versus-lefty domination, Span is a lifetime .412 hitter (7-for-17) with two home runs and two walks versus Mark Buehrle, including 5-for-11 with one homer this season.
• Carlos Gomez, OF, Twins: He's a lifetime .400 hitter (8-for-20) with two doubles, one triple and two home runs versus Buehrle.
• Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox: Limited action, yes, but it's tough to ignore that he has two home runs in three career at-bats versus Brian Duensing. Quentin also has three homers in nine career games at the Metrodome.
• Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Mariners: He's 4-for-9 with two home runs in his career against Scott Kazmir, including a 2-for-3, one-homer performance in their most recent meeting in Seattle on Aug. 9.
• Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels: He's a lifetime .409 hitter (9-for-22) with two doubles and one home run versus Felix Hernandez.
• Carl Crawford, OF, Rays: He's 4-for-7 with two doubles and one walk versus Josh Beckett this season alone, and has stolen successfully in both of his two chances against him. He's 10-for-30 (.333 BA) in his career versus Beckett.
• Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox: One of the few Boston hitters with a strong track record versus Garza, Ellsbury is 9-for-26 (.346 BA) in his career against the right-hander, and is a perfect 2-for-2 against him in the stolen-base department.
• Brian McCann, C, Braves: He's 5-for-9 with two doubles and one home run in his career against Rick VandenHurk.
• Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals: He feasts off Brewers strike thrower Dave Bush, with a lifetime .333 batting average (4-for-12) and three home runs versus the righty.
• Felipe Lopez, 2B, Brewers: He's one of the few Brewers hitters with any track record of success versus National League Cy Young contender Chris Carpenter (Prince Fielder is really the only other), as he's 7-for-19 (.368 BA) with two home runs and four walks in his career versus the right-hander.
• Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies: He's 7-for-14 (.500 BA) with one double and two home runs in his career versus Tim Redding.
• Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies: He's 3-for-9 with four walks in his career versus Redding, two of the hits home runs.
• Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: He and Chad Billingsley have been division rivals for their entire careers, and their past meetings were all Drew; he's 12-for-30 (.400 BA) with two doubles and one triple in his career versus the right-hander.
• Chris Young, OF, Diamondbacks: Now back with the big club, Young gets a favorable matchup versus Billingsley. He's 8-for-23 (.348 BA) with one double, one triple and one home run against the right-hander, though he also has 10 K's.
• Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds: In addition to being a playing-time risk due to a wrist injury, Phillips is 2-for-17 (.118 BA) in his career versus Zach Duke.
• Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros: He has had a whole host of problems with Ted Lilly over the years, batting .120 (3-for-25) with seven strikeouts in his career versus the left-hander. One of those hits, though, was a home run.
• Carlos Lee, OF, Astros: He hasn't been all that much more successful than Berkman, batting .219 (7-for-32) with one homer in his career against Lilly.
• Hunter Pence, OF, Astros: Ditto the previous two, as Pence is 4-for-20 (.200 BA) with six strikeouts in his career versus Lilly.
• Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners: If he indeed returns from the DL on Tuesday as expected, he'll face a rough matchup on his second day active. He's 2-for-12 (.167 BA) in his career versus Scott Kazmir, including six strikeouts.
• Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels: He's 2-for-18 (.111 BA) with four strikeouts in his career versus Felix Hernandez.
• Juan Rivera, OF, Angels: He hasn't been any more successful versus "King Felix" than Kendrick; he's 1-for-15 (.067 BA) with two strikeouts in his career.
• Pat Burrell, OF, Rays: It's almost impossible to build a case for him being active for fantasy teams in a game against Josh Beckett. Burrell is 9-for-44 (.205 BA) with 11 strikeouts in his career versus the right-hander, without an extra-base hit.
• Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays: He's another Rays hitter Beckett owns. Pena is 3-for-22 (.136 BA) with one home run but 13 strikeouts in his career against the righty.
• David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: He's hitless with four strikeouts in eight at-bats versus Matt Garza this season, and 2-for-18 (.111 BA) with nine K's in his career against the right-hander. Both of those hits, though, were home runs.
• J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox: He hasn't had a hit in 11 at-bats versus Garza this season, dropping his lifetime batting average versus the right-hander to .125 (2-for-16).
• Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles: He's only 2-for-12 (.167 BA) with two strikeouts and zero extra-base hits in his career against CC Sabathia.
• Melvin Mora, 3B, Orioles: Sabathia has given Mora even more trouble than he has Markakis; Mora is 3-for-29 (.103 BA) in his career versus the left-hander.
• Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins: He's a strikeout-prone right-handed hitter facing a right-handed strikeout artist in Javier Vazquez, which isn't at all a good matchup. Sure enough, Uggla is 1-for-9 with four whiffs in his career versus Vazquez.
• Jeff Francoeur, OF, Mets: He's 1-for-13 (.077 BA) in his career versus Ubaldo Jimenez, though the one hit was a home run.
• Russell Martin, C/3B, Dodgers: He's hitless with two strikeouts in seven career at-bats versus Max Scherzer.
If you're hardcore
• Brendan Harris, 2B/3B/SS, Twins: He's 4-for-12 (.333 BA) with two doubles and one home run this season alone versus Mark Buehrle.
• Mike Redmond, C, Twins: The Twins do occasionally give him the start behind the plate and shuffle Joe Mauer to the designated hitter role, and besides, between catching and DHing, Mauer has played all but two innings for the Twins in their past 36 games, meaning a rest could come at any point. Wednesday might be a good day for it; Redmond is a lifetime .457 hitter (16-for-35) versus Buehrle.
• Akinori Iwamura, 2B, Rays: If he was dropped earlier in the year due to his "season-ending" injury, scoop him up for this matchup. Iwamura is a lifetime .310 hitter (9-for-29) with two doubles and one home run versus Josh Beckett.
• Ross Gload, 1B, Marlins: With Nick Johnson on the DL, Gload has been getting most of the starts versus right-handers at first base for the Marlins, and he almost assuredly will versus Javier Vazquez. He's 12-for-29 (.414 BA) with two doubles and one triple in his career against the right-hander.
• Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins: In addition to being 4-for-9 with one double and one home run in his career against Vazquez, Hermida has batted .312 with an .855 OPS since the beginning of August.
Injury list: Out
• Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, Padres (foot, 15-day DL): He has a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot, likely ending his season.
• Russell Branyan, 1B/3B, Mariners (back, 15-day DL)
• Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (back, 15-day DL)
• Guillermo Mota, RP, Dodgers (toe, 15-day DL)
• Laynce Nix, OF, Reds (neck, 15-day DL)
• Chad Qualls, RP, Diamondbacks (kneecap, 15-day DL): He's out for the season and will likely have surgery with a timetable of three to four months for recovery.
Injury list: Day-to-day
• Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners (testicle, 15-day DL): He was expected to be activated by Tuesday.
• Ryan Church, OF, Braves (back)
• Mark DeRosa, 1B/2B/3B/OF, Cardinals (wrist)
• Troy Glaus, 3B, Cardinals (shoulder, 15-day DL): He was likely to be activated on Tuesday but might serve only as a pinch hitter in September.
• Cristian Guzman, SS, Nationals (foot): He missed Monday's game and was expected to sit out on Tuesday, too.
• Travis Hafner, DH, Indians (shoulder)
• Bengie Molina, C, Giants (quadriceps)
• Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds (wrist): He has been playing with a hairline fracture in his wrist, and while he's continuing to play with the problem, it's not unthinkable he'll sit on occasion in September or shut it down entirely.
• Oscar Salazar, 1B, Padres (knee)
• Gary Sheffield, OF, Mets (back): He's currently unable to start, leaving him a glorified pinch hitter for much of the next several days.
• Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs (knee): He had a cortisone shot in his left knee on Sunday, and those generally require a few days' rest. It's not unthinkable he could play Wednesday, but don't count on it.
• Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners (calf): He has been sidelined since Aug. 23, but the Mariners continue to describe his status as day-to-day.
• There are three weatherproof games on Wednesday: White Sox-Twins, Angels-Mariners and Red Sox-Rays.
• Rain is scarcely an issue outside of those three games, as only two cities have much of any chance of precipitation. One of those is Miami, as Braves-Marlins must deal with a 30 percent chance of rain, not surprising considering typical early-September weather in Florida. It's probably not enough to wash the contest out entirely, though, nor is the 20 percent chance in Texas.
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.