Commentary

Holland poised for another good start

Updated: May 16, 2010, 9:51 PM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

Daily Notes

The Texas Rangers' Derek Holland is no longer officially a prospect, but that didn't stop 10 percent of the ESPN universe from snatching him up off the strength of his first start versus the Oakland Athletics. As recently as 2009, he was ranked the 21st-best prospect by Keith Law, so it's nice to see fantasy owners ignore his porous '09 and race to be the first to jump on the bandwagon. Strikeout potential just doesn't come along very easily, especially in the AL. How well do we expect Holland to perform in his second start of the season? Our daily pitching rankings are just around the corner:

For starters

Selected notes:

• OK, so the Rangers roughed him up, but you can't ignore a dream matchup versus the Seattle Mariners for Gio Gonzalez. Only five teams are hitting worst against left-handers and it's hard to find many AL pitchers who can strike out around a batter per inning. Gonzalez allowed four walks in four innings in his first start against the Mariners, but if he can keep the walks under control, he should have no problems posting at least a quality start.

• I ignored Derek Holland in his season debut versus the Athletics, which was quite the mistake considering how well he was pitching in Triple-A and the soft matchup afforded to him. He definitely won't be ignored this time around, as he's an elite pitching prospect with oodles of potential. That may be hard to stomach considering how awful he was last season, but I wouldn't hesitate to gamble on him against the Los Angeles Angels, an offense with few lethal bats. It's always smart to gamble on talent, and you never know, with another strong start he could force his way into the Rangers' rotation for good.

• A one-hit complete-game shutout will definitely open some eyes, and Johnny Cueto will have to keep up the superb pitching against the Milwaukee Brewers, one of the NL's top offenses. He has a 24-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio his past 26 innings, however, and when he's locked in, he's fully capable of shutting down nearly any offense. Cueto's inconsistency makes him a risky option, but on a day when there isn't a lot of great pitching options, he could be a worthwhile gamble.

Scott Kazmir still isn't pitching well, but it's hard to ignore his history against the Rangers. He's rarely been touched by the team, even in Rangers Ballpark, where he has a 2.03 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in five starts. He's not that guy anymore but it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect a reasonable facsimile, especially when the current Rangers roster is only batting .207 off him.

• You can make the case for Clayton Richard and Randy Wells as two decent, somewhat middling options for spot starts if you're so inclined. Richard gets another matchup against the light-hitting San Francisco Giants, this time at Petco Park, where he's done a fine job masquerading as a No. 3 starter. And Wells, if you exclude an admittedly inexcusable blowup against the Pittsburgh Pirates, has struck out eight, eight, six, five and seven batters in his past five starts. Fantasy players love strikeout potential, and facing the Colorado Rockies on the road isn't so scary.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Travis Snider, OF, Toronto Blue Jays: Snider is currently day-to-day with a wrist injury, but it's likely he'll be able to suit up by Monday. Good timing, too, because he's 4-for-5 with a pair of dingers off Monday's scheduled pitcher, Kevin Slowey.

Russell Branyan, 1B, Cleveland Indians: Branyan is the kind of bat that can suddenly get on tears, and he has hit three home runs in the past week. Only left-handed hitters have been able to give Jeff Niemann any semblance of trouble, and Branyan is 1-for-3 with a home run off Niemann, so keep him active and see what develops.

Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves: Much of the fantasy world is bailing on Jones, but I'm not ready to give up on him quite yet. A matchup against Mike Pelfrey could be the start of something, as he's 6-for-20 (.300) versus Pelfrey with nine walks and three extra-base hits, including two homers.

Hideki Matsui, DH, Los Angeles Angels: Surprisingly, Matsui has been more effective against lefties than righties this year, hitting .273 with three home runs in 44 at-bats against them this season. Toss in the fact that he's 4-for-7 with a couple of long balls versus Derek Holland, and it seems pretty evident he should be in your starting lineup.

Jose Lopez, 2B, Seattle Mariners: It's only 28 at-bats, but Lopez is hitting .357 against southpaws, and has a particularly good track record against Gio Gonzalez. With six hits in 12 at-bats, he hasn't had a problem putting the bat on the ball, even displaying good power with four extra-base hits.

Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers: Jackson should have fresh legs after a Sunday off and should be ready to run against Freddy Garcia and A.J. Pierzynski. Runners are 11-for-12 off Garcia the past two seasons, although just as much blame must fall on Pierzynski, who hasn't thrown out at least a quarter of would-be thieves since 2003.

Pitchers' count:

Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees: Benching a guy like A-Rod is a tough sell, but he's 1-for-16 versus Daisuke Matsuaka lifetime and has struck out in 32 percent of his plate appearances. Even last year, when Matsuzaka was far removed from his normal self, Rodriguez still went 0-for-4 against him, so don't get your hopes up.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Boston Red Sox: Phil Hughes has held Beltre to an 0-for-7 mark, striking him out four times to boot.

Jason Bartlett, SS, Tampa Bay Rays: Don't expect Bartlett to show any signs of life against Fausto Carmona. He's remained hitless through 15 at-bats; the only thing preventing zeros from showing up across the board is the one strikeout Carmona has picked up.

Jason Bay, OF, New York Mets: And we've got another 0-fer, this time Bay, who is also without a hit in 13 career at-bats against Derek Lowe.

Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers: It's notable that both of the two hits Kinsler has been able to muster off Scott Kazmir were for extra bases, including a home run, but otherwise 2-for-22 (.091) won't get it done.

Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs: Ramirez is showing few signs of life, and we might need to offer CPR after he steps into the batter's box with Aaron Cook. Yup, Ramirez has failed to reach base against Cook in 10 at-bats, picking up a strikeout along the way.

Chase Headley, 3B/OF, San Diego Padres: Headley has 29 strikeouts in 36 games and it's a safe bet he picks up some more versus Matt Cain. The Giants fireballer has fanned Headley five times in 14 at-bats, and even when Headley has made contact -- he has three singles -- he hasn't done much with it.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Brian McCann, C, Atlanta Braves: The All-Star backstop is 13-for-28 (.464 average) with a homer against Mike Pelfrey.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Brad Lidge, RP, Philadelphia Phillies (elbow)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Mike Cameron, OF, Boston Red Sox (15-day DL, abdomen): Word is Cameron is on target to rejoin the Red Sox on Monday, so expect to see him out there in center field. Keep in mind, however, that he is playing through a sports hernia that will need offseason surgery, so don't rush to add him.

Mark DeRosa, 3B/OF, San Francisco Giants (wrist): It looks likely that DeRosa will land on the disabled list in the near future, especially after he called his offseason surgery a "total failure." He's not getting any younger, either, so this could easily be a lost year at the plate for the 35-year-old.

Jim Edmonds, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (oblique)

Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (pinkie): Ethier is dealing with a fracture in his pinkie finger and he will be re-evaluated Sunday. He could land on the disabled list or be back in the lineup within a couple of days, so stay tuned.

Carlos Quentin, OF, Chicago White Sox (illness)

Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (15-day DL, calf): Rollins is expected back as soon as Monday.

Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B, San Francisco Giants (foot)

Travis Snider, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (wrist): Snider is out of Sunday's game with a sore right wrist, but MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweeted that Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston expects him back in the lineup Monday.

Josh Willingham, OF, Washington Nationals (groin)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof: Twins-Blue Jays and Indians-Rays. A strong chance of showers is on the forecast in Baltimore (up to 70 percent), Oakland (70 percent), Miami (60 percent) and Detroit (50 percent). St. Louis and Atlanta both have a 40 percent chance of rain, so hopefully they'll be able to dodge a bullet.

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

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