Can Silva remain undefeated?
Carlos Silva is the first Chicago Cubs pitcher to start a season 5-0 since Greg Maddux accomplished the feat in 2006. However, with those five victories, he has already matched his win total for the past two seasons combined. Certainly, Silva has to be given credit for taking advantage of his change in scenery and posting one of the more impressive turnarounds of 2010, and yet still I'm not ready to buy in. First, the Cubs have given Silva incredible run support: 7.24 runs per game in his starts, and never less than four. Second, a closer look at his May outings and you'll see a not-so-impressive set of results, despite three straight victories. Hits allowed in each start: 8, 10, 7 and 6. Total home runs allowed this month: 5. Not only that, he's yet to see the end of the seventh inning. Sorry, Mr. Silva. I'm still not buying in. As for the rest of my weekend rankings, read on below:
For starters: Saturday
Starting pitcher rankings for May 22
• Top of the Charts: Phil Hughes is a 5-0 pitcher I do trust, especially given his 1.33 ERA so far this season on the road. ... Jeff Niemann is also undefeated, and all of his victories have come away from home, where he has a 2.22 ERA in 2010. ... Matt Cain rounds out the top trio. Cain has a lot of experience against the Oakland Athletics, and a 2.89 career ERA against them, though he's just 2-4 in those games.
• Randy Wells has also been far better on the road this season, with a 3.86 ERA, and more importantly, no home runs allowed. ... Derek Lowe has never lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, with a 7-0 lifetime record and a 2.89 ERA.
•Rounding out the top 10: For his career, Chris Volstad is six games under .500 at home, but three games over .500 on the road. He should be able to handle a Chicago White Sox team batting only .233. ... Clayton Richard had six scoreless innings in a victory in his only other outing against the Seattle Mariners and hasn't lost since April 14.
• Middle-of-the-road options: Mike Pelfrey has been one of the few solid pitchers on the New York Mets this season, but has had troubles against the New York Yankees in the past, with a 5.40 ERA. ... Johnny Cueto is 1-0 with a 2.33 against the Cleveland Indians.
• Streamers on alert: Dana Eveland has thrown 5 1/3 shutout innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks over the years, but this is his first start against them. ... Kevin Slowey is 3-0 for his career with a 2.43 ERA when facing the Milwaukee Brewers. ... Armando Galarraga makes only his second start of the season, but did hurl seven shutout innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2008.
• Thanks, but no thanks: Avoid the Kyles! Kyle Lohse has a career ERA of 6.19 against the Los Angeles Angels. Kyle Davies' lifetime numbers facing the Colorado Rockies are even worse: 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA. Kyle Kendrick is 0-2 against the Boston Red Sox with a whopping 16.20 ERA.
For starters: Sunday
Starting pitcher rankings for May 23
• Top of the Charts: With the Houston Astros batting a sad .228 for 2010, David Price is a pretty easy choice to top our Sunday list. He edges out Chris Carpenter, who has had some minor difficulty against the Angels in the past, as evidenced by his 3.88 ERA against the Halos. Josh Johnson gets the day's bronze medal. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings and allowed four runs the only other time he faced the White Sox, but that was back in 2007.
• Roy Halladay and interleague play means a return to lineups that are quite familiar with what he has to offer. This is especially true with the Red Sox, who are 14-14 against Doc and have averaged 4.28 runs per game while he's been on the mound. ... CC Sabathia and the Mets go great together, at least from his point of view. The big man is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA against the crosstown rivals.
• Rounding out the top 10: Jered Weaver has allowed three earned runs in three innings pitched against the St. Louis Cardinals, and might have been ranked higher if not for the 4.94 ERA on the road this season. ... Shaun Marcum just edges out Zack Greinke for the final spot in the top 10, primarily because if Zack even gives up only three runs, he likely won't win.
• Middle-of-the-road options: The Kansas City Royals have the second-lowest strikeout total in the AL, so Jhoulys Chacin's upside for the day isn't as high as it might be otherwise. ... Felix Hernandez is 2-1 lifetime against the San Diego Padres with a 3.94 ERA, but hasn't looked good in almost a month. ... Johan Santana is 4-2 against the Yankees, but along with that record comes a 4.40 ERA.
• Streamers on alert: Ben Sheets has been erratic in 2010, but does have a career ERA of 2.36 against the San Francisco Giants. ... Kevin Millwood is 15-5 lifetime against the Washington Nationals, so history is on his side toward perhaps earning his first victory of the season. ... Similarly, Tim Wakefield has yet to win in 2010, but has had past success against the Philadelphia Phillies. He's 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA against them over the years.
• Thanks, but no thanks: Freddy Garcia faces the Florida Marlins, and I don't expect an improvement on the 5.91 career ERA against the Fish from him. ... David Huff has a 13.50 ERA against the Reds, while his opponent, Homer Bailey, has a 6.91 ERA against the Indians. Expect Cincinnati to win this one, 13-11.
Hitter matchup ratings for May 22
Hitters' count: Saturday
• Xavier Nady, OF, Chicago Cubs: Nady should be getting some extra at-bats as the designated hitter for the Cubs on the road in Texas. He has hit .308 against the Rangers with a.934 OPS since 2007.
• Casey McGehee, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers: Not only is McGehee killing it during the month of May, with a.348 batting average and 18 RBIs, but he also went 1-for-2 with a double against Kevin Slowey in their prior encounter.
• James Loney, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers: In spite of a 2-for-18 stretch, Loney is a far better hitter at home (.333) than on the road (.269) this season. Expect a few hits against Armando Galarraga of the Tigers at Dodger Stadium.
• Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox: He's ready to return to the Red Sox lineup after a successful rehab stint. Ellsbury hit .385 against the Phillies last season, so it's a good matchup for him to get in his first at-bats since April 11.
• Yunel Escobar, SS, Atlanta Braves: Although he's only 3-for-21 since returning from the disabled list, Escobar has a .364 lifetime batting average against the current Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff.
Pitchers' count: Saturday
• Jason Bay, OF, New York Mets: We're all still waiting on that power, as Bay's only home run of the year came on April 27. He's just 1-for-6 against Phil Hughes in his career, with four K's.
• Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Seattle Mariners: Going 5-for-19 isn't cause for alarm, but it is below the norm for Ichiro. He has grounded out every time he's hit against Clayton Richard, so we'll leave it up to you if you think those balls will find the holes Sunday.
• Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Oakland Athletics: Kouzmanoff is hitting.185 since May 14 and things may well get worse before they get better. He is a mere 4-for-25 (.160) lifetime against Matt Cain.
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals: Molina is 5-for-37 (.135) since a 4-for-5 game on May 7 and his average has plummeted 50 points. No miracle turnarounds expected Saturday.
Hitter matchup ratings for May 23
Hitters' count: Sunday
• Travis Hafner, DH, Cleveland Indians: He's hit .379 during his current eight-game hitting streak, and .357 against the current Reds staff, including 2-for-5 versus Homer Bailey.
• John Buck, C, Toronto Blue Jays: Very quietly, Buck has put together a 10-game hitting streak and is now hitting .370 for the month of May. As catching options go, he's one of the better ones these days.
• Dan Uggla, 2B, Florida Marlins: Uggla has hit three home runs in the past five games, and is 2-for-6 with a home run against Freddy Garcia. Let the power numbers continue!
• Ramon Hernandez, C, Cincinnati Reds: He's in and out of the lineup, but has still managed to produce all May, with a .316 batting average. He's 4-for-5 with a home run facing David Huff, so expect him to play -- and play well.
Pitchers' count: Sunday
• Andruw Jones, OF, Chicago White Sox: He's in a 2-for-17 slump and has hit just .235 against Josh Johnson, with six strikeouts in 17 at-bats.
• Pedro Feliz, 3B, Houston Astros: Talk about a bad month! Feliz is 10-for-59 in May (.169) and now goes up against David Price, against whom he's 0-for-3 lifetime with two strikeouts.
• Melvin Mora, 2B, Colorado Rockies: If Colorado does turn to Mora for an extra bat, it would be a shock. He's a pathetic 1-for-14 (.071) facing Zack Greinke.
• Juan Rivera, OF, Los Angeles Angels: Rivera's month has been quite empty. He's hitting just .269, in spite of hitting safely in 13 of 15 games. He's 0-for-4 against Chris Carpenter, so he should ride the pine in your lineup Sunday.
• Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees: Not that there isn't a chance for some A-bombs from A-Rod, but he is only a .217 career hitter against Johan Santana.
• Adam LaRoche, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks: LaRoche has scored seven runs in his past six games, but be wary of the .167 batting average against the Toronto Blue Jays, including just .111 against the current members of their staff.
Baseball Challenge Picks of the Weekend
Saturday: Todd Helton, 1B, Colorado Rockies: Helton is 8-for-13 on the current Rockies road trip, and is 4-for-6 in his career against Kyle Davies. Who needs Coors Field to thrive?
Sunday: Adam Dunn, 1B, Washington Nationals: Dunn feasts on the pitching of Kevin Millwood. Not only is he a lifetime 8-for-17 against him, but six of those hits were home runs. It's hard not to start a guy with a legitimate 1.529 slugging percentage against Sunday's scheduled pitcher.
Injury list: Out
Kyle Blanks, OF, San Diego Padres (15-day DL, elbow strain)
Jorge Posada, C, New York Yankees (15-day DL, fractured foot)
Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians (15-day DL, left knee)
Josh Beckett, P, Boston Red Sox (15-day DL, back strain)
Jonathon Niese, P, New York Mets (15-day DL, hamstring strain)
Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (15-day DL, fractured finger)
Jim Edmonds, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (15-day DL, left oblique)
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Cleveland Indians (60-day DL, fractured forearm)
Mark DeRosa, OF, San Francisco Giants (15-day DL, nerve in wrist)
Travis Snider, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (15-day DL, sprained right wrist)
Scott Hairston, OF, San Diego Padres (15-day DL, left hamstring strain)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Nate Schierholtz, OF, San Francisco Giants (sore shoulder)
John Maine, P, New York Mets (right arm)
Tommy Hanson, P, Atlanta Braves (dizziness)
Manny Ramirez, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (toe)
Jody Gerut, OF, Brewers (personal: birth of child)
Weatherproof games: Rays at Astros, Blue Jays at Diamondbacks, and Padres at Mariners. Cleveland may see a few Saturday showers, but that storm system should move eastward, hitting Pittsburgh by the evening and lingering over Pennsylvania into Sunday, when thunderstorms start to threaten play in Philadelphia and Washington as well.
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