Commentary

No shortage of high-quality starting options

Updated: April 15, 2010, 6:20 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Sometimes an entire major league pitching staff can be thrown into disarray simply because of the caterer. That's what's going on with the Texas Rangers, as a case of food poisoning kept scheduled starter C.J. Wilson out of action on Wednesday. That forced Colby Lewis to replace Wilson, and Matt Harrison was pulled from Friday's scheduled start against the New York Yankees (a bad matchup) to square off against the Cleveland Indians (a far easier time at the ballpark) on Thursday. Now Friday's starter could either be Wilson or Scott Feldman. We've placed Feldman in our grid below, but either way, we're thinking we can't stomach either pitcher against the pinstripers. Here's the rest of the complete rankings, fully inspected and salmonella-free:

For starters

Selected notes: We're going to start with CC Sabathia, owner of a 7-3 career record against the Rangers, not to mention a K/BB ratio of better than 2.00 in those games. … Felix Hernandez is another pitcher we like for Friday. The King has held court against the Detroit Tigers through the years with a 5-2 record and 2.68 ERA. … Chris Carpenter and his homer-happy self has gotten off to a shaky start this season. While we do expect him to turn things around eventually, he is 1-4 with a 4.80 ERA against the New York Mets. That's not great, but still better than Oliver Perez's 2-5 record with a 4.84 ERA against the St. Louis Cardinals. … Other top-10 tidbits: Scott Baker is 7-3 lifetime with a 3.16 ERA against the Kansas City Royals, and Jered Weaver is 5-1 with 9.00 K/9 facing the Toronto Blue Jays. … Mark Buehrle already held the Tribe to only three hits in seven innings pitched this season, but this second time around might be too soon for similar success. … Derek Lowe may be 2-0, but is doing so with smoke and mirrors. He has already walked 10 batters in those two starts. … Dallas Braden is 4-1 with a 1.32 career ERA against the Baltimore Orioles, and is facing Kevin Millwood, who gave up only one earned run in his first start and still lost! Run support might not be there for Millwood again Friday. … Carlos Silva isn't a pitcher to be trusted, though he does get to face the Houston Astros and was walk-free in his first 2010 outing. But that's if his sore shoulder allows him to pitch at all. Be wary here, though if he starts, he might well succeed. … Edwin Jackson is 0-2 with a 7.53 ERA against the San Diego Padres. Even in a pitchers' park like they have in San Diego, that kind of outing is not going to see much improvement. … Wade Davis may have a lot of potential, but we'll steer clear of him against the Boston Red Sox, a team that has scored eight runs on Davis in only 2 2/3 innings pitched. … Mike Leake is a complete conundrum after striking out five, but walking seven in his big league debut. It's probably best to see how he pitches over the next few outings before risking your WHIP on him. … Jamie Moyer is 13-4 with a 2.93 ERA for his career against the Florida Marlins. Of course, Jamie Moyer has been in the major leagues longer than the Florida Marlins franchise, so take that with a grain of salt. … Last, and certainly least, Felipe Paulino's lifetime 8.10 ERA against the Chicago Cubs makes it hard to fathom anyone wanting him starting for their fantasy team Friday.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs: In spite of his recent struggles and the fear he's on a steady decline, Soriano has more home runs (14) against the Astros in the past three years than any other team, including a blast in his only previous at-bat against Felipe Paulino.

Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox: Last season, Konerko hit .317 against Cleveland, and his 14 RBIs versus the Tribe were his best production against any team in the league.

Jorge Posada, C, Yankees: Assuming Scott Feldman does get the call, you may want to get Posada in your lineup. The catcher has a 1.400 slugging percentage against the Texas starter.

Scott Rolen, 3B, Cincinnati Reds: Not only has his power been on display early this season, with three home runs, but the .438 career batting average against Zach Duke is not too shabby, if you ask me.

Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: In his brief time in the big leagues, McCutchen has already shown a liking for Reds pitching, as his .333 batting average and .704 slugging percentage in 27 at-bats would attest.

Ryan Sweeney, OF, Oakland Athletics: Sweeney should be singing, "Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley" all around the bases thanks to a career .417 batting average against Kevin Millwood.

Pedro Feliz, 3B, Astros: Feliz has a batting average of .310 versus the current Cubs staff, so regardless of who ultimately ends up starting for them, he should be able to rack up the fantasy goodness this series.

Pitchers' count:

Jason Bay, OF, Mets: With 12 strikeouts in 26 career at-bats, and an .077 batting average to boot, we're not about to look to left field in the sad Mets lineup for run production against Chris Carpenter.

Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles: He's 0-for-11 against Dallas Braden. That's not a sign that he's about to turn things around from his lousy .207 start to 2010.

Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals: Holliday's bat actually tends to take one when he faces off with Oliver Perez. He's managed just two career hits in 16 at-bats against the Mets starter.

Hideki Matsui, OF, Los Angeles Angels: The crowd in Toronto won't be cheering for Matsui the way the Yankee Stadium faithful did, though they may well snicker at the veteran if he continues his 2-for-15 slide against Shaun Marcum.

Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins: He hits well against the Royals usually -- .281 last season -- but never has had a lot of success against ace Zack Greinke. A .167 lifetime average in 24 at-bats is better than some, but not what you want for your team.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Red Sox: Beltre has done a tad better this season at Fenway Park, but still, the .105 batting average in Boston since 2007 has me holding my breath each time he walks up to the plate.

Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers: When one has never had a hit off of CC Sabathia, and the pitcher is rocking a 0.85 WHIP, we're not going to look your way. Sorry, Mr. Hamilton.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies: Utley is a hitting machine on most nights, but against Anibal Sanchez, he really turns it up. In 18 career at-bats, he's hitting .389 with an OPS of 1.088. That makes for lots of total bases, an important part of the Baseball Challenge.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Brian Fuentes, RP, Angels (15-day DL, back strain)
Mike Gonzalez, RP, Orioles (15-day DL, strained left shoulder)
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies (15-day DL, calf strain)
Kelly Shoppach, C, Rays (15-day DL, right knee sprain)
Chris Young, SP, Padres (15-day DL, shoulder tightness)
Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays (15-day DL, right hamstring)
Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles (15-day DL, strained abdominal muscle)
Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks (15-day DL, right knee sprain)
Sean Green, RP, Mets (15-day DL, muscle strain)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Kelly Johnson, 2B, Diamondbacks (stiff back)
Drew Stubbs, OF, Reds (sore back)
Chris Coghlan, OF, Marlins (sore right side)
Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies (hip) : Werth is pinch-hitting and should be starting Thursday night, but may not be able to start two straight games.
Jo-Jo Reyes, RP, Braves (strained knee) : Reyes could well be headed to the disabled list after getting hurt Monday night.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies (hamstring)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof games: Angels at Blue Jays, Tigers at Mariners. After a relatively dry start to April, we finally may see some precipitation having some impact on the major league schedule. We have an 80 percent chance of light rain in Boston, and a 50 percent or higher possibility of thunderstorms in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and St. Louis. Possible showers may also appear in Cleveland and New York, but probably not enough for fantasy owners to be concerned.

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

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