Sheets, Latos fit in among other aces
Compared to Monday's set of starters, there are plenty of great pitchers going Tuesday that you want to keep active. Most of them are obvious names, which may or may not include Mat Latos, one of this week's hottest adds. It's no secret we like him, but just how much? And then there's the case of Ben Sheets, who has tossed consecutive gems and could be next week's Latos if he can make it three straight. Survey says?
Starting pitcher rankings for May 18
• In his past two starts Mat Latos has allowed three hits in 17 innings while striking out 17 batters, allowing zero earned runs in the process. It's a great sign that both of those starts came on the road, albeit against middling teams. But considering Latos pitches half his games in the great pitchers' haven that is Petco Park, taking care of business against light-hitting teams on the road will give him a chance at a lot of success. Consider him an elite option in the rematch versus the San Francisco Giants.
• Make sure to keep a very close eye on Ben Sheets, who has been superb in two consecutive starts, settling down from a rough start to the season. His strikeout rate has escalated and has long been known for immaculate control so expect that to soon follow, and like Latos he too pitches in a pitcher-friendly home park He's still available in two-thirds of ESPN leagues and makes a great option when he faces the Seattle Mariners.
• Despite an up-and-down May and two prior poor starts versus the Boston Red Sox this season, CC Sabathia is still a must-start Tuesday. When he's on he's fully capable of shutting down any offense, and indeed, he posted an impressive 2.22 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in four starts against the Red Sox last season. It's true that he's not pitching at his best right now, but he could snap out of his funk at any time, and when he does you'll definitely want him in your lineup.
• Despite peripherals that lag behind his solid ERA, C.J. Wilson still makes a great option versus the Los Angeles Angels. We've seen how effective pitchers can be their first time through a league and that is likely a large ingredient in Wilson's surprising success this season. Fortunately, despite being division rivals, this will mark Wilson's first start versus the Angels, so now's not the time to be conservative and leave him on your bench.
• Kevin Millwood has allowed a whopping 10 home runs in 53 2/3 innings this season but has otherwise pitched well enough to merit starting versus the Kansas City Royals. While Millwood likely will stay prone to the long ball all season, regression to the mean should ensure he allows fewer dingers in the future, and he otherwise has a solid strikeout rate combined with an ability to pitch deep into games, ingredients of a worthy spot start.
• A tough matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays may compel you to bench Carl Pavano, who has pitched well this season but against mostly mediocre competition. Don't forget he is still prone to getting lit up, and the Jays crush right-handers, as their .507 slugging percentage leads the majors by a whopping 51 points. There's no need to play with fire here.
Hitter matchup ratings for May 18
• Jose Guillen, OF, Kansas City Royals: The streaky Guillen is currently ice cold, but has always done well versus Kevin Millwood, collecting 14 hits in 32 career at-bats (.438).
• Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Chicago Cubs: Fukudome is nearly worthless against southpaws but is gold against righties, batting .323 with 13 extra-base hits (five home runs) in 96 at-bats. He's sat two of the past three games as the Cubs have faced left-handers, so make sure he's back in your lineup against Jhoulys Chacin on Tuesday.
• Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays: If Snider's wrist injury really is minor then he should be in store for a good day against Carl Pavano, a pitcher against whom he's gone 5-for-7 with three doubles.
• Jason Kubel, OF, Minnesota Twins: Kubel has had a conspicuously quiet start to the season, one that likely will continue against Shaun Marcum. Marcum has been a terror to lefties this season, limiting them to a .153 AVG/.197 OBP/.216 SLG line in 111 at-bats. Kubel is only 2-for-9 versus Marcum lifetime, too, so don't expect him to be the lefty that breaks this trend.
• Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks: Reynolds has gone down swinging in five of his six at-bats versus Josh Johnson, making it easy to overlook the fact that Reynolds did go deep the one time he put the ball into play.
• Dustin Pedroia, 2B and Adrian Beltre, 3B, Boston Red Sox: The two have combined for two hits (one double) in 35 lifetime at-bats versus CC Sabathia, including 12 strikeouts. Beltre edges out a slight lead in batting average, batting .063, so do your best to find replacements.
• Nate McLouth, OF, Atlanta Braves: McLouth may be showing some sign of life with four extra-base hits in the past week but you'll need to sit him against Johan Santana. McLouth is just 2-for-13 (.154) against Santana and has struggled immensely against left-handers this year with a lowly .457 OPS.
• Nelson Cruz, OF, Texas Rangers: Cold since coming off the disabled list, the outfielder has struck out in seven of his 12 at-bats this month. The K's will keep coming versus Jered Weaver, as Cruz has already fanned seven times in 21 at-bats against him. Overall he's hitting .190 with no extra-base against Weaver.
• Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego Padres: All seven of Gonzalez' homers have come off of right-handed pitching; he's batting just .235 with zero extra-base hits in 34 at-bats against lefties. That average lowers to .214 against Jonathan Sanchez, who has also struck him out 10 times in 28 at-bats.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Vernon Wells, CF, Toronto Blue Jays: He's slowing down but a matchup against Carl Pavano should help him rebound. He's 7-for-18 (.389) with three homers lifetime versus the righty, the kind of track record worth banking on.
Injury list: Out
Injury list: Day-to-day
Mike Cameron, OF, Red Sox (15-day DL, abdomen)
Adam Dunn, 1B/OF, Nationals (illness)
Jim Edmonds, OF, Brewers (oblique)
Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers (pinkie)
Scott Hairston, OF, Padres (hamstring)
Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox (illness)
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies (15-day DL, calf)
Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B, Giants (foot)
Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians (knee)
Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays (wrist)
Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Yankees (biceps)
Only the Twins-Blue Jays and Indians-Rays contests are weatherproof. Many cities could have a smattering of rain but only the Bronx (60 percent chance) is truly at risk. Other cities, like Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Miami and Baltimore never see their risk of rain rise higher than 40 percent.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
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