Commentary

Garcia, Kennedy among top options

Updated: May 19, 2010, 12:25 PM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

Daily Notes

Baseball will forever be a game of luck, matchups and streaks. No one would've guessed Jaime Garcia would contend for a Cy Young Award this season, so count your blessings if you're one of his lucky owners. And matchups and streaks are the reasons why I'm placing two starters who have combined to allow 63 runs in 84 1/3 innings in the top 10 of today's rankings. Fortunately there's a method behind the madness, and the worst-case scenario is you have to wait only a day to find out how right or wrong I am. Let's get on with the show!

For starters

Selected notes:

• Despite three straight quality starts and an above-average strikeout rate, Ian Kennedy is getting no love in fantasy leagues. Sure, he allows too many homers, but he's shown improvement, with only three allowed in his past 28 innings. He shouldn't have a problem picking up his fourth straight quality start against the scuffling San Francisco Giants.

• At this point in his career, Rich Harden is a matchups starter, as getting pasted by the underrated Toronto Blue Jays offense in his last outing proved. Fortunately the Baltimore Orioles don't pack nearly the punch of the Blue Jays; they're second-to-last in OPS against right-handers. Harden is as capable of dominating light-hitting teams as he is of getting lit up by strong ones, so don't let his last putrid performance tempt you into benching him this time around.

A.J. Burnett's inconsistency is especially annoying because he can dominate good offenses while getting lit up by poor ones. So even though he's allowed 10 earned runs in his past two starts (11 innings), it's tough to bench him versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Last year, he had his way with the Rays, posting a 1.97 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in five starts. It's tough to argue with that, so despite recent evidence to the contrary, stick with him.

Aaron Harang is quietly turning around his season, logging at least six innings in four consecutive starts while totaling 26 strikeouts and 11 earned runs. He's faced the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in three of those four starts too, so he's not exactly performing well against cupcake opponents. Those in need of strikeouts should take a long look at Harang when he faces the Atlanta Braves.

• Despite a ridiculously bloated WHIP (1.82), it's hard for me to give up on Justin Masterson. He's striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings while inducing ground balls 60 percent of the time, a masterful combination no other starter in the major leagues has accomplished (save the injured Jorge De La Rosa). So why has he been knocked around so much? Well, his batting average on balls in play is floating at an extreme .404, so stick around and your faith may well be rewarded. And how can you say no to a home matchup versus the Kansas City Royals?

Clay Buchholz has faced a number of tough offenses this season, but it doesn't get any easier when he draws the Minnesota Twins. They rank second in the majors in on-base percentage, and Buchholz's middling peripherals (a 10-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his past four starts) don't inspire any confidence. It may get worse before it gets better.

• It's unsurprising that Dallas Braden was a bandwagon add after his perfect game, but don't feel as if you have to justify your new pickup by starting him against the Detroit Tigers. He's been a terrible pitcher on the road with a 6.50 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, and had significantly worse stats on the road last season, too. The Tigers are no walk in the park -- they rank fourth in on-base percentage -- and Braden is not an overpowering pitcher, so don't be surprised if he gets knocked around.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Russell Branyan, 1B, Cleveland Indians: The average isn't there and never will be, but you've gotta respect the power. With four home runs since May 11, Branyan is worth taking a chance on, especially when lefties are hitting .338 versus Gil Meche.

Jeff Francoeur, OF, New York Mets: Why are 34.5 percent of ESPN owners still holding on to Francoeur? Your guess is as good as mine, but while they have him they should at least start him against Livan Hernandez. He's roped six hits off Hernandez in 15 at-bats, four of them going for extra bases, including one home run.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Boston Red Sox: Beltre has cooled off recently but has a history of success against Scott Baker, going 7-for-22 (.318) with three doubles and a homer.

Bobby Abreu, OF, Los Angeles Angels: Abreu is batting below the Mendoza Line against southpaws this season but has crushed John Danks in his career, going 4-for-9 with a pair of homers. He's also picked up six walks, so he could swipe a couple of bases to boot with noodle-armed A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate for the Chicago White Sox.

Manny Ramirez, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: Ramirez is still stuck on two homers, but he could change that versus Jon Garland. He just kills Garland, batting .500 in 30 at-bats, including four doubles and three home runs.

Pitchers' count:

Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs: Ramirez went deep in his last game, so maybe he's ready to heat up ... but not against Jamie Moyer, whom he's 1-for-11 against lifetime.

Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals: While Butler sports an impressive batting average, he has provided little power, and he won't even have the average to stand on against Justin Masterson. He's mustered just a single in 10 career at-bats against his division foe.

B.J. Upton, OF, Tampa Bay Rays: It's hard to believe that in 37 plate appearances, Upton has yet to pick up an extra-base hit against A.J. Burnett. He's just 6-for-31 (.194), giving him a batting average that matches his slugging percentage, and has fanned a whopping 15 times.

Nate McLouth, OF, Atlanta Braves: While McLouth does have a double off Aaron Harang, that's about all he's able to say. He's reached base just three times in 23 plate appearances versus Harang, batting .048 and striking out nine times.

Kendry Morales, 1B, Los Angeles Angels: Morales' OPS drops 342 points against southpaws, and he's 1-for-6 versus John Danks lifetime. Bench him if you have alternatives.

Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles: Jones has an awful 31-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio against right-handed pitching in 125 at-bats, so you can expect Rich Harden, who has held right-handers to a .203 average this season, to have a feast.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Travis Hafner, DH, Cleveland Indians: The great thing about these picks of the day is that you're married to the player you choose for just one day, so why not take advantage of some tasty batter-pitcher matchups? Hafner may look done, but he's actually hitting .283 with three home runs (and a .943 OPS) in 60 at-bats against righties. He's a career .290 hitter against Gil Meche, who's been awful this year, especially against southpaws. A big game for Hafner certainly isn't out of the question.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B/SS, Cleveland Indians (15-day DL, arm): Cabrera is expected to undergo surgery on his fractured left forearm. He'll be out for a couple of months.

Mark DeRosa, 3B/OF, San Francisco Giants (15-day DL, wrist): DeRosa plans to be ready when he's eligible to be activated next Tuesday.

Jim Edmonds, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (15-day DL, oblique): It seems as though Edmonds is perpetually injured, so this is no surprise. This is retroactive to May 16, so Edmonds could be back at the very end of May.

Rafael Furcal, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (15-day DL, hamstring): Furcal still isn't quite 100 percent, and may not be activated until next week.

Scott Hairston, OF, San Diego Padres (15-day DL, hamstring)

Freddy Sanchez, 2B, San Francisco Giants (15-day DL, shoulder/knee): The saga of Sanchez continues to have twists and turns. Sanchez was expected to be activated by now but now may not be ready until Wednesday or even later.

Travis Snider, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (15-day DL, wrist): Snider was hot before he injured his wrist, so let's just hope there are no lasting effects; wrist injuries can linger and sap power.

Injury list: Day-to-day

Bobby Abreu, OF, Los Angeles Angels (back)

Adam Dunn, 1B/OF, Washington Nationals (illness; available to pinch hit)

Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (pinkie)

Jorge Posada, C, New York Yankees (foot)

Carlos Quentin, OF, Chicago White Sox (illness; probable)

Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks (illness)

Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians (knee): An MRI is scheduled for Sizemore on Wednesday. With the way he's hitting, a trip to the DL might provide his owners a break.

Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, New York Yankees (biceps; probable)

Ryan Theriot, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs (elbow)

Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies (illness)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof: Rockies-Astros, Giants-Diamondbacks and Blue Jays-Mariners. Rain is expected in Boston (Twins-Red Sox) throughout the day and most of the night (50 percent chance), while Arlington (Orioles-Rangers) has a moderate 40 percent chance of scattered storms.

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

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