Commentary

Weather could wreak havoc on staffs

Updated: May 12, 2010, 5:01 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Daily Notes

After a fairly uneventful April in terms of weather, May seems to have unleashed the wrath of the rain gods. Doubleheaders are starting to crop up, with the New York Yankees facing the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies facing the Colorado Rockies in twin bills Wednesday as they made up rainouts from Tuesday. Three of those four teams take to the field again Thursday, and if their bullpens are worn out from any extended innings of work, then you may see their managers leaving starters in for a few extra innings, even if they are ineffective. I'm not saying that means to steer clear of CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander or Jhoulys Chacin, as you'll see in the rankings list below. I'm just saying, if you're on the fence at all about the matchup, err on the side of caution and sit them because if there's a day when things could spiral out of control, today is that day.

For starters

Selected notes:

• At the top: Undefeated Chris Carpenter takes top honors on the day. Not only is he undefeated so far in 2010, but he faces the Houston Astros, whom he usually keeps in check with a lifetime ERA of 2.72. C.J. Wilson comes in second in the rankings. He's been phenomenal lately, 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his past three starts, and as a team, the Oakland Athletics are hitting only .249 over the past two weeks.

• Apart from CC Sabathia possibly not having any backup in the bullpen, he's also pitching against the Detroit Tigers, who have victimized him with the long ball more than any other team. That's why he comes in only third on the day, ahead of Josh Johnson, who entered 2010 undefeated against the New York Mets. However, the Florida Marlins pitcher did allow four earned runs in five innings pitched against the Mets in a loss earlier this season.

• One of these days Zack Greinke will win again, but historically, he's a below-.500 pitcher against the Cleveland Indians, at 6-8 with a 3.47 ERA for his career. Johan Santana is 6-1 versus the Marlins, with a 1.66 ERA, and he allowed just one run and four hits against them in a victory earlier in 2010.

• Streamers on alert: Jonathan Sanchez is 2-3 against the San Diego Padres, but with a healthy 2.56 ERA and he did strike out 10 over seven innings in a loss against them the last them they squared off. He faces Mat Latos, who shut out the San Francisco Giants for seven innings and allowed just four hits in an April victory.

Felix Hernandez has looked more fool than king of late. Yes, he's got skills, but they've not been on display for some time. Even with his having allowed no earned runs against the Orioles earlier this season, the outing was a shaky one as Baltimore had nine hits.

•Stay away: John Lannan returns to the mound Thursday, but likely will be held to a strict pitch count due to his elbow issues. Besides, his 7.41 ERA against the Colorado Rockies is a clear red flag, not to mention the game is at Coors Field. Winless Kevin Millwood's career ERA against the Seattle Mariners is 5.05, and he already gave up four runs in eight innings against them back in April.

• The biggest enigma on the day is Bud Norris, who has a 9.16 ERA in his past three outings. He's facing the St. Louis Cardinals, against whom he's been more Chuck Norris-like over the years: 3-0, allowing no earned runs in 18 innings pitched with 17 strikeouts. Both those stats are hard to ignore, but you can clearly see which one I'm putting more stock in.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Nick Markakis, OF, Baltimore Orioles: Markakis has 12 hits in his past six home games and is 13-for-26 in his career against Felix Hernandez, including a 3-for-4 earlier this year.

Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals: Butler is hitting .342 for the month of May so far, and had 10 RBIs against the Indians last season. He's also 3-for-6 against scheduled starter David Huff.

David Freese, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals: There's been practically no drop-off this month after an April in which Freese hit .324 and drove in 14 runs. He's already halfway to that total with seven RBIs in 10 May games. Plus, he went 1-for-2 against Bud Norris already this year.

Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Rangers: Before his 0-for-3 on Sunday, Vlad had been working on an eight-game hitting streak. Plenty of pop remains in his bat, and he's 7-for-18 (.389) with a home run for his career against Ben Sheets.

Jose Lopez, 3B, Mariners: Truth be told, it's hard to say too much positive about Lopez's 2010 season. He's floundering with a .214 batting average. But on a day with so many hitters off, maybe you take some solace in his 15-for-49 (.306) lifetime mark against Kevin Millwood.

Pitchers' count:

Carlos Lee, OF, Houston Astros: Lee is hitting just 7-for-34 (.206) against Chris Carpenter with 11 strikeouts. Considering that's actually a step up from his 2010 rate of production so far, it's probably not the day to suddenly put all your eggs in his basket.

Brandon Inge, 3B, Tigers: After a 14-RBI month of April, Inge has driven in but a single run so far in May and hit a paltry .179. The .149 (7-for-47) batting average against CC Sabathia doesn't raise the optimism level any higher.

Jhonny Peralta, SS, Indians: Peralta is currently in the midst of a seven-game streak -- not hits, but strikeouts. In fact, he has four more K's on the season than hits (24 to 20). With a lifetime 7-for-35 (.200) against Zack Greinke, the only "H" Peralta is likely to see today is in his strangely spelled first name.

Adam Dunn, 1B, Washington Nationals: Dunn hit only .238 against the Colorado Rockies last season, and that includes a 1-for-10 at Coors Field. This season, he managed only a 3-for-14 series at home against them. Don't expect much on the road.

Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets: It's been feast or famine for Reyes, who despite four multi-hit games in May is still only batting .214 for the month. He's managed to go only 4-for-16 against Josh Johnson, so this might not be one of the "on days" for Jose.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Oakland Athletics: Kouz hits six points lower on the road than at home and 13 points lower against lefties than right-handers. All the splits are telling you to tell Kevin to split for the day.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Brad Hawpe, RF, Colorado Rockies: Hawpe is back from his disabled-list stint due to an injured quad and already back in the swing of things with two hits in his return to action. Additionally, he's 4-for-9 for his career against John Lannan, including 2-for-3 with a home run earlier this year.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Franklin Morales, P, Colorado Rockies (15-day DL, left shoulder)

Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (15-day DL, strained rotator cuff)

Tim Stauffer, P, San Diego Padres (15-day DL, appendix)

J.J. Hardy, SS, Minnesota Twins (15-day DL, left wrist)

Charlie Haeger, P, Los Angeles Dodgers (15-day DL, right foot)

Brian Schneider, C, Philadelphia Phillies (15-day DL, left Achilles)

LaTroy Hawkins, P, Milwaukee Brewers (15-day DL, right shoulder)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Mark DeRosa, OF, San Francisco Giants (nerve in wrist)

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies (sore right quad)

Ronny Cedeno, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (left wrist)

Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (elbow)

Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves (right groin)

Brad Lidge, P, Philadelphia Phillies (elbow)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof games: None. Even though there are only eight games on the Thursday schedule, half of them may feel the wrath of Mother Nature, who is not taking the day off. Baltimore is set for some light showers, and St. Louis is expected to see some scattered storms. Texas is forecast for five days of isolated thunderstorms beginning Thursday, so once the rain starts, we're not sure it will stop. Detroit should also be quite damp, with an 80 percent chance of heavy rain.

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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