Commentary

Wandy will find way back

Updated: May 11, 2010, 6:49 PM ET
By Adam Madison | ESPN.com

In Wandy Rodriguez's last start versus the Diamondbacks, he was touched up for nine hits in 3 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs. Apparently that poor outing against what has been the NL's third-best offense caused 12.8 percent of Rodriguez's owners to jump ship in the past week, and the only question that comes to mind is: why? Would you not expect a struggling pitcher to put in a poor performance against a very good offense? Hopefully one of those leagues he was dropped in was yours, because what you read about him today is probably going to make you want to put in a claim. On to the rankings:

For starters

Selected notes:

• A road start against the Rangers may look like a red flag for Gio Gonzalez, but don't be so worried. The Rangers are 10th in home OPS, true, but they are flat-out awful against left-handers, ranking 27th in the majors. Gonzalez has done a great job of limiting his home runs, too, which is important considering how many batters he walks. It's a little bit higher variance than you would like, because Gonzalez can still be prone to inconsistency, but the strikeouts are real and the matchup is favorable, so what more can you ask for?

• How improbable was it coming into the season that we would have Gonzalez and Carl Pavano all near the top of the rankings? Like the first two hurlers, Pavano has been quietly consistent, pitching exceptionally well in all but one start. Pavano has caused so many nightmares for owners over the years that people are still gun-shy, but by the numbers it's hard to see why. Residence in the AL Central can do wonders for him, and indeed, he has a very good track record against the White Sox with the team hitting just .236 off him in 123 at-bats. Remember guys, matchups are everything.

• Call me a fool, but I'm still high on Wandy Rodriguez, as most of his problems are due to a ridiculously inflated .387 batting average on balls in play. He has a solid 19-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his past four starts (23 innings), has had success against the Cards (3.72 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in five starts last season, including a 2.65 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in three starts at Busch Stadium) and the Red Birds just aren't good against left-handed pitching (.657 OPS, 22nd). It's a mistake to be too results-oriented and bench Rodriguez while you wait for him to get back on track; instead, you want him to get back on track in your starting lineup, where he can balance out some of the damage he's caused.

• I don't care how well John Danks is pitching, when the numbers are this one-sided against a pitcher, you have to sit down and listen. The Twins as a team have a .306 AVG/.383 OBP/.502 SLG line off Danks, and because they are division foes they have racked up 229 at-bats against him, not exactly an insignificant total. Almost every key hitter in the lineup rakes versus Danks, including their vicious middle of the order. It's true that Danks owned the Twins in their first meeting, but it's also true that Danks posted a 5.17 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in five starts against the team last year and happened to miss Joe Mauer the first time around this year. Then you throw in the fact that it's a road start and it's a question of if you really want to risk your ratios based on the allure of Danks' to-date performance. Personally I have no qualms in benching a pitcher with a sub-2.00 ERA if that's what the matchups dictate I should do.

• It's a shame when a good pitcher has a tough matchup, because you might talk yourself into starting him when you shouldn't. There are very few starters I would feel comfortable starting in Fenway Park, and Shaun Marcum is not one of them. He doesn't strike out enough batters (6.75 K/9) to make it worth the risk, and his BABIP (.248) suggests he's been a bit lucky, too. Have no shame in leaving him on your bench this time around.

• Is Derek Lowe done? That's the question you have to ask yourself when a 36-year-old can't strike out anyone -- not that he ever could -- and keeps getting pounded. Worse is the fact that he's walking four and a half batters per nine innings, a rate he just can't survive with. Maybe he turns it around, but if he does, it probably won't happen on your team; cut bait if you haven't already.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Scott Rolen, 3B, Reds: Rolen has been very quiet since a big April, so hopefully a matchup against Zach Duke can get him going. Rolen's a robust 7-for-16 (.438) with a pair of doubles and a homer, and batters are hitting .305 off Duke this season.

< p>A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: Patience is a virtue. Pierzynski isn't a big home run hitter, but has two in the past week, and is batting a solid .286 in May. Expect the good times to continue against Carl Pavano, a pitcher he's 7-for-13 against lifetime with a pair of doubles and a triple.

Josh Willingham, OF, Nationals: He's 8-for-20 with five extra-base hits, including two homers, vs. Pelfrey.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Red Sox: So far Beltre has shown mostly just doubles power, but that could change against Marcum. A lifetime 7-for-15 (.467) average is handy enough, but it's the four extra-base hits -- two home runs and two doubles -- that make it seem like Beltre is in store for quite the day.

Miguel Olivo, C, Rockies: A lot of people are hopping off the Miguel Olivo bandwagon -- a .083 average in May will do that -- but hey, he is 7-for-15 (.467) with three extra-base hits against Jamie Moyer.

Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies: It's been only 18 at-bats, but it's nice to see that Hawpe is 6-for-18 with a pair of doubles and a home run against left-handed pitching this season. He rakes off Moyer, too, with three hits in seven at-bats -- all of the extra-base variety, including one home run -- so don't be shy about getting him in your lineup so soon after his return from the disabled list

Jose Guillen, OF, Royals: Guillen's been in the tank for a while, but his line against Fausto Carmona offers some hope: four hits over nine at-bats, including two doubles and a homer, giving him a nice, round 1.000 slugging percentage lifetime off the righty.

Pitchers' count:

Andruw Jones, OF, White Sox: Jones tends to be a boom-or-bust option, so make sure you get him and his 2-for-20 (.100) career batting line out of your lineup versus Pavano.

Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox: It's tough to bench someone who has hit as well as Konerko has all season, but the numbers are compelling: Pavano has limited him to two singles in 16 at-bats (.125), has not allowed any walks and has sent him down on strikes four times.

Adam Dunn, 1B/OF, Nationals: Of course, Dunn always has the potential to go deep, and has done just that against Mike Pelfrey before, but you probably don't want to risk the .158 average (3-for-19) that comes attached with that long ball potential.

Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays:In light of reports that Lind is struggling because pitchers now have a scouting report on him, well, maybe they should've just picked up a knuckleball and asked Tim Wakefield in the first place. With just a pair of singles against Wakefield in 12 at-bats, Lind has never had much success against the righty. To make matters worse, Lind is hitting a woeful .103 in the past week, so don't expect things to change for the better.

Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs: It's not just that Soriano is 0-for-9 against Chris Volstad but it's how Volstad has done it, whiffing Soriano four times. That should be enough to cool Soriano off at least temporarily.

Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels: Considering how well David Price is pitching and Morales' vulnerability to southpaws, this one seems like a no-brainer. Not that anyone has been able to touch Price, but lefties have been especially vulnerable, with Price striking out 14 in 43 at-bats and leaving them with a feeble .186 AVG/.217 OBP/.256 SLG.

Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals: Rasmus has struck out in nearly half of his at-bats against southpaws, hitting a weak .158 overall in 19 at-bats, so there's no need to chance it against Wandy Rodriguez.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Michael Cuddyer, RF, Twins: Cuddyer is just insane versus Danks, batting .515 over a span of 33 at-bats, belting out a whopping five homers and four doubles. There isn't a better option available.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers (15-day DL, shoulder)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers (elbow)
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (vertigo)
J.J. Hardy, SS, Twins (wrist)
Jason Heyward, OF, Braves (groin; probable)
Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals (groin)
Orlando Hudson, 2B, Twins (shoulder)
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves (groin): Lo and behold, guess who aggravated his groin injury! We'll know more in the coming days, but for now he's day-to-day, although since this is Chipper we're talking about, he's probably closer to doubtful.
Casey Kotchman, 1B, Mariners (ankle)
Bengie Molina, C, Giants (hamstring; probable)
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies (quadriceps): Tulowitzki's MRI didn't raise any red flags so he's still just day-to-day.

Weather concerns

Weatherproof: Braves-Brewers and Dodgers-Diamondbacks. The most serious risks of rain lie in St. Louis and Denver, with the Astros-Cardinals contests facing up to a 50 percent chance of rain while the Phillies-Rockies chance of precipitation is at a constant 60 percent throughout game time.

Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.

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