Commentary

Lewis among solid weekend starters

Updated: May 14, 2010, 5:58 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Colby Lewis just sounds like a reality television contestant. After bouncing around from team to team for several years, he made his way to Japan, where he was transformed into the strikeout king of the Hiroshima Carp for two seasons. His prize was a return to the Texas Rangers, who originally drafted him way back in 1999. Now Lewis is among the league leaders in strikeouts, and has proved himself to be more than just a survivor, but a solid fantasy force as well. If only the Colby still alive on this season of "Survivor" could be as successful this Sunday on the show's finale. We like the one in Texas' chances a whole lot better. As for the rest of our weekend rankings, here they are:

For starters: Saturday

Selected notes:

• Top of the Charts: Tim Lincecum once again should be dominant, especially against the Houston Astros, against whom he's 3-0 lifetime with a 1.37 ERA, including a win already in 2010. Adam Wainwright also has had success against Saturday's opponent this season. He defeated the Cincinnati Reds the last time they met, allowing only two earned runs in seven innings pitched.

James Shields is the top American League pitcher on Saturday. He's 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA against the Seattle Mariners, and struck out 10 batters in a win against them earlier this year. Roy Oswalt has pitched well against the San Francisco Giants (3.76 career ERA), but has lacked the run support to get victories so far in 2010. He comes in fifth on our list.

Ryan Dempster lost already against the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, but it was a quality start, and far more promising than his 5.37 lifetime ERA against them would indicate. Clayton Kershaw is 2-2 with a 3.96 ERA so far this season which, in a statistical quirk, exactly matches his career totals against the San Diego Padres.

• Rounding out the top 10: Jon Lester has had troubles with the Detroit Tigers in the past, to the tune of a 6.75 ERA. However, he has not lost in the past three weeks and his ERA has been less than 1.00. Jake Peavy is 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA against the Kansas City Royals and struck out nine in a victory against them earlier this month.

• Middle of the road options: Ricky Romero held the Texas Rangers to one run in seven innings in a no-decision earlier this season. Andy Pettitte has yet to taste defeat in 2010, but I wonder how long he can keep this pace up. Justin Duchscherer says his hip is fine, and if so, he should be able to handle the Los Angeles Angels. He's a perfect 6-0 against them with a 1.44 ERA in his career. But is the hip fine? That's the question.

• Streamers on alert: Ervin Santana has been a huge disappointment so far, but he's got a date with the Oakland Athletics, which usually results in victory. He's 10-2 with a 1.41 ERA against them. Chris Narveson is no Jeff Suppan, and so far, that's been a good thing. Be a little wary of the opponent, but at least this game isn't in that Philadelphia bandbox.

• Thanks, but no thanks: Rodrigo Lopez has never defeated the Atlanta Braves (0-3 for his career), Scott Feldman has a 5.90 career ERA against the Toronto Blue Jays and Dontrelle Willis is the not-so-proud owner of a 6.75 ERA against the Red Sox. These pitchers are tough sells without the poor historical performance, so don't try to overthink it with this terrible trio.

For starters: Sunday

Selected notes:

• Top of the Charts: A solid day for pitching, as any of our top seven names could easily have slotted into the top spot, but Matt Garza gets the nod thanks to his previous victory against the Seattle Mariners this year, allowing only two earned runs in eight innings. Dan Haren's history against the Braves reads much like his 2010 season so far. He's got a high ERA -- 5.40 -- but has managed to parlay that into a 3-1 record.

• Past success sometimes does give you a good feeling about the future. To that end, Barry Zito allowed only three hits in six shutout innings against the Astros last time he took the mound against them, Chad Billingsley has a career mark of 8-4 with a 2.71 ERA versus the San Diego Padres and Cliff Lee is 6-3 with a 2.53 ERA against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brad Penny also has had success against the Reds, with a 7-3 record and 3.27 ERA lifetime. He has already faced them twice this season, but things have not gone as planned, as he's 0-1 despite allowing only four earned runs in 13 innings pitched. Maybe the third time is a charm as he faces Bronson Arroyo, who has a 4.33 lifetime ERA against the St. Louis Cardinals.

• Rounding out the top 10: Cole Hamels is a fantasy yo-yo, and this start leaves me feeling more post-hyphen yo, thanks to his 4.50 ERA against the Milwaukee Brewers. John Lackey is 6-1 lifetime against the Detroit Tigers.

• Middle of the road options: Tim Hudson has never lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks (4-0, 1.61 ERA), but only one of those games has come since 2007. Joel Pineiro is a .500 pitcher against the Athletics in 16 career decisions, making him the epitome of a coin toss.

• Possible repeat offenders: Ted Lilly, Scott Olsen and Brian Bannister all lost to their Sunday opponents earlier this season. Brett Myers took a no-decision against the San Francisco Giants, though he allowed four runs on 12 hits in only six innings .

• Thanks, but no thanks: Gavin Floyd is 1-6 with a 5.29 ERA against the Kansas City Royals and he gave up 13 hits to them in a loss this season. Nick Blackburn usually gets lit up by the New York Yankees, with a 5.89 career ERA. David Hernandez hasn't won a game since the Nixon administration, or at least that's how it seems.

• The Detroit Tigers have yet to announce a starter for Sunday, as rainouts have made Rick Porcello unavailable. Odds are they'll go to the bullpen, perhaps with Alfredo Figaro or Eddie Bonine. There's also a chance they may recall Armando Galarraga from Triple-A. Regardless, you want no part of this overworked staff right now.

Now batting

Hitters' count: Saturday

Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs: Time to finally put up, Mr. Ramirez. Against Paul Maholm, the third baseman is a .348 hitter with two home runs in 23 at-bats. Let's hope this helps light a fire under the .159 hitter for 2010.

Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Rangers: Not only does "The Impaler" have nine hits in his past seven games to go along with nine RBIs, but he's also 5-for-6 lifetime against Ricky Romero.

Matt Wieters, C, Orioles: Wieters is batting .300 in his past five starts and gets right-hander Mitch Talbot on Saturday. The catcher's OBP is 84 points higher this season against righties.

Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets: Castillo is working on a five-game hitting streak and is 8-for-23 (.348) lifetime against Nate Robertson.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Red Sox: Beltre is still hitting .313 this season, despite a 1-for-11 mini-slump. Dontrelle Willis should provide the cure, as the third baseman is 7-for-9 against him for his career with five of those hits going for extra bases.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians: All he does is keep hitting. He's got a seven-game hitting streak going, and while the power seems to have disappeared -- no home runs since April 18 -- all those base hits do add up.

Pitchers' count: Saturday

Jim Thome, DH, Twins: While many of his teammates have done well against Andy Pettitte over the years, not so for Thome. He's a .214 career hitter against the Yankees' pitcher, with 10 strikeouts and zero home runs.

Hunter Pence, OF, Astros: Captain Underpants has finally put a solid week of games together -- 10-for-28 (.357) in his past seven games -- but nobody is expected to shine against Tim Lincecum. This is especially true for Pence, who is 2-for-14 against him lifetime.

David DeJesus, OF, Royals: His batting average has dropped 24 points to .263 after only a few weeks of May and he's never managed a hit off Jake Peavy in his career (0-for-7). Nothing to see here. Move it along!

Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks: He's hitting only .205 in May, and after averaging a strikeout nearly every other at-bat against the Braves in 2009, high even for Reynolds, this isn't a good sign.

Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals: This is completely counterintuitive, I admit. However, Mike Leake has yet to face Holliday, so I throw out his .381 average against the Reds so far this season and expect a new face to give him fits.

Torii Hunter, OF, Angels: Although he's showing few ill effects after fouling a ball off his knee last week, there's still some reason for concern today with Hunter. He's a .222 hitter against Justin Duchscherer and is hitting just .211 for May after a .314 April.

Hitters' count: Sunday

Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates: He went 2-for-3 with a double against Ted Lilly earlier this year. That could be just what he needs to get back into the swing of things after an 0-for-9 series against the Reds.

Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants: The outfielder was awful against the Padres -- 0-for-12 -- but then again, most hitters have been this season, so we won't hold that against him. Now he gets to hit against Brett Myers, and we expect base hits. Rowand is 4-for-9 lifetime against the Houston hurler.

Jorge Cantu, 3B, Marlins: Cantu usually gives the Mets fits, as he's got 14 RBIs against their current staff, including one RBI on two doubles that he touched Jonathan Niese for the last time they faced off.

Jay Bruce, OF, Reds: Bruce may have seen his recent six-game hitting streak come to an end, but a new one could well be under way this weekend. The Reds and Cardinals have already squared off several times this season, and Bruce is 3-for-6 against Brad Penny in 2010.

Casey Blake, 3B, Dodgers: He's certainly been lackluster lately, with a 4-for-19 stretch, but Wade LeBlanc has always been there for him, providing a friendly .333 batting average.

Ryan Spilborghs, OF, Rockies: He's oftentimes been the odd man out in the Rockies' outfield, but he needs to be in there against Scott Olsen. Few historical matchups have borne so much fruit, as he's 7-for-11 facing Olsen.

Pitchers' count: Sunday

Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays: Do you remember the last time Pena had a base hit before Wednesday, because I sure don't. A 2-for-38 run has rendered his bat impotent, and Cliff Lee on the mound won't help matters any. Pena is just .192 against Lee for his career.

Alex Gonzalez, SS, Blue Jays: It may not be the beginning of a completely disastrous nosedive, but there's a leak in Gonzalez's balloon after finishing the series against the Red Sox with an 0-for-8 run. Just to be safe, let's man the lifeboats.

David Eckstein, 2B, Padres: Eckstein has gotten the batting average up to .270 with a recent 7-for-13 streak, but we expect that to be short-lived, as the diminutive one has but a 4-for-19 career record against Chad Billingsley.

Corey Hart, Brewers: Hart usually leaves Philadelphia with a lump of Cole in his stocking after facing Mr. Hamels. The outfielder is only 3-for-15 against the Phillies pitcher for his career.

Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners: Figgins is 3-for-25 in the past week and went 0-for-4 against Matt Garza right before that stretch of the schedule started. This does not inspire confidence and, in fact, gives us the "Figgins Wiggins."

Eric Hinske, 1B, Braves: Hinske has been seeing more playing time as other Braves hitters have struggled, and he's done well -- going 5-for-10 in his past four games. However, don't get too excited. He's only 2-for-11 lifetime against Dan Haren.

Baseball Challenge Picks of the Weekend

Saturday: Adam Dunn, 1B, Nationals: Dunn loves to square off against the Rockies, as he's hit .333 against their current staff. Whether it ends up being Jason Hammel, Greg Smith or anyone else who actually takes the mound, Dunn should be able to add to his 13 career RBIs against all available arms.

Sunday: Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees: Jeter has been in a major slump, hitting just 1-for-20 in his past five games. Still, there's reason to be optimistic, as he faces Nick Blackburn. The Yankees' captain is a career .429 hitter against him, so this could be the day his bat perks back up.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Alfredo Aceves, P, Yankees (15-day DL, bulging disk)
Jack Wilson, SS, Mariners (15-day DL, right hamstring)
Matt Harrison, P, Rangers (15-day DL, biceps tendinitis)
Franklin Morales, P, Rockies (15-day DL, left shoulder)
Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers (15-day DL, strained rotator cuff)
Tim Stauffer, P, Padres (15-day DL, appendix)
J.J. Hardy, SS, Twins (15-day DL, left wrist)
Charlie Haeger, P, Dodgers (15-day DL, right foot)
Brian Schneider, C, Phillies (15-day DL, left Achilles)
LaTroy Hawkins, P, Brewers (15-day DL, right shoulder)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Mark DeRosa, OF, Giants (nerve in wrist)
Nick Swisher, OF, Yankees (biceps)
Brad Lidge, P, Phillies (elbow)
Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Mariners (back spasms)
Henry Blanco, C, Mets (bereavement list)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof games: Rangers at Blue Jays, Phillies at Brewers and Mariners at Rays. There will be some lingering thunderstorms from the recent run of bad weather in Denver on Saturday, but it should fade by Sunday. The entire weekend may be a washout in both Kansas City and Atlanta, as the storm clouds continue to hover above the stadiums in question.

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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