Commentary

Can you really believe in Livan?

Updated: May 24, 2010, 5:31 PM ET
By Adam Madison | ESPN.com

Daily Notes

Look for an exciting Tuesday, as there's a great mix of elite hurlers, questionable plays and intriguing spot starts. Isn't micromanaging fun? And to save you the trouble, no, Livan Hernandez still can't get any respect. In the immortal words of Jay-Z, "We don't believe you, you need more people!" With that out of the way, let's get to the crème de la crème of Tuesday's matchups:

For starters

Selected notes:

Dallas Braden has been much more effective at home (2.14 ERA, 0.81 WHIP) than on the road (6.50 ERA, 1.39 WHIP), which is little surprise considering what a good pitchers' park Oakland Coliseum is. Fortunately the Baltimore Orioles are ill-equipped against solid left-handers since two of their better hitters, Nick Markakis and Luke Scott, are for the most part neutralized by southpaws. Toss in the fact that Braden has walked just two batters in his past four starts and it's tough to see how the Orioles would manufacture any runs, so until Braden cools off, keep throwing him out there.

Ryan Dempster is drawing the Los Angeles Dodgers at the perfect time; do you remember how much their offense slumped without Manny Ramirez last season? This time around, it's Andre Ethier who's out of the lineup, and like last season the Dodgers don't have any hitters who can come close to that kind of production, making the matchup a lot more palatable. A win might be hard to come by for Dempster, considering Clayton Kershaw will be throwing for the Dodgers, but one positive note in Dempster's favor: He's pitched at least six innings in all nine of his starts, and eventually that kind of innings-munching will pay off in the win department.

• Even in poor matchups, it's normally unwise to bench Jon Lester, considering his strikeouts and win potential, but can you really ignore the 5.90 ERA he's allowed against the Rays the past six times they've met? With 42 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings, he really hasn't pitched that poorly, and if this was a home start I'd probably roll with him, but Lester also has a career ERA about a run higher on the road. He's pitched too well in recent weeks to totally discount throwing him out there but it's definitely a big risk against a tough division foe (the Tampa Bay Rays) that is very comfortable against him.

• Apparently only 1.1 percent of the ESPN universe has noticed how well Jeremy Guthrie has pitched recently, so let's recap. After logging seven tough innings against the New York Yankees, allowing a reasonable four runs in the process, Guthrie allowed just five runs in his next three starts, a span of 20 2/3 innings. That includes two road starts against the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers, so drawing the Oakland Athletics at home this time around should be considered something of a break. He's pitched deep in all but one of his starts this season, gets a soft matchup and has a recent track record of success, so doesn't that sound like a perfect spot starter to you?

• Three poor starts in a row and you have to start obeying the numbers, and they say A.J. Burnett just isn't pitching that well. He's had a tough trio of offenses, sure, and will draw the Twins -- this time on the road -- for the second time in three starts, so that's still not much solace. With an ugly 12-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 16 runs allowed in his past 17 2/3 innings, be sure to keep him glued to your bench Tuesday.

• I wouldn't have a ton of confidence in Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister, but they've pitched well enough recently to merit starting as long as you can stomach some risk. Better bets for streaming head-to-head leaguers than rotisserie leagues. ... Meanwhile, I like Jhoulys Chacin, Ian Kennedy and Ervin Santana just fine, but they have intolerable matchups. You're playing with fire by risking throwing them out there, plain and simple.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Kurt Suzuki, C, Oakland Athletics: Not only is Suzuki a robust 5-for-10 versus Jeremy Guthrie, three of those hits have gone for extra bases, including a long ball.

Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves: Chipper's loss of power is quite frightening, but all that means is you have to ensure he's active those rare times he's demonstrated it, right? He's 2-for-6 with a dinger against Anibal Sanchez, with four walks.

Carlos Pena, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays: We might finally see this streaky hitter arisen from the dead, and in the most unexpected of matchups. Pena is normally atrocious against southpaws but sees dead-red against Jon Lester, taking him deep a whopping five times in 29 career at-bats, hitting .310 overall.

J.D. Drew, OF, Boston Red Sox: In 27 at-bats, Drew is batting a scorching .370 against James Shields, with six of his 10 hits going for extra bases. Four of those were doubles, but he's also taken Shields out of the park twice, a good ratio for Drew, so make sure he's not riding your bench.

Rod Barajas, C, New York Mets: It's surprising a catcher displaying this much power is so widely available. Don't be surprised if he keeps it up against Jamie Moyer, a southpaw he's already blasted two home runs against in 10 lifetime at-bats.

Dan Uggla, 2B, Florida Marlins: Uggla refuses to cool down, going deep Sunday after going 0-for-8 in his previous three games, and there's more where that came from: He's 3-for-6 against Kenshin Kawakami, taking him deep once and also swatting a double to go along with three walks.

Corey Hart, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: With six home runs since May 15, Hart has been streaking. He crushes Felipe Paulino too, with a career 4-for-8 mark that includes two round-trippers and a double. He's available in more than half of ESPN leagues, too, so Tuesday would be a great day to pick him up.

Pitchers' count:

• Nick Markakis, OF, Baltimore Orioles: Markakis is slugging just .427 this season but has pushed that up to .564 against lefties, a surprise considering his career mark is a middling .428 versus southpaws. Time will tell if it's sustainable, but benching him against Dallas Braden is mandatory nonetheless: Markakis is batting .071 through 14 at-bats while striking out six times.

Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Boston Red Sox: Youkilis has been virtually untouchable this year, and four of his nine home runs have come in the past week. Unfortunately, he runs into the buzz saw that is James Shields. He's left without an answer versus Shields, striking out three times as often as he's reached base via a hit, batting a weak .115 overall in 26 career at-bats.

Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Chicago Cubs: With just 11 at-bats this season against southpaws, the Cubs are very careful to protect Fukudome, so you can ensure he'll be on the bench against Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday. His replacement, Jeff Baker, is hitting .317 with five extra-base hits (two home runs) in 41 at-bats against southpaws, including a 4-for-8 mark off of Kershaw, so you can't blame the Cubs for going with what works.

Lance Berkman, 1B, Houston Astros: Remember when Berkman was perennially one of the best hitters in the league? Me neither. Keep him on your bench against the left-handed Randy Wolf, who has held him to a .125 average lifetime in 30 plate appearances.

Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF, Minnesota Twins: He's a so-so .266 hitter against righties this season, so don't expect any help from A.J. Burnett. Their matchups have been painfully one-sided in Burnett's favor, with Cuddyer flailing to a .125 average with six strikeouts in 16 career at-bats.

Jose Guillen, OF, Kansas City Royals: If you're one of those Guillen owners trying to catch lightning in a bottle, don't attempt it when he faces Rich Harden. Guillen has a measly single in 14 lifetime plate appearances, with Harden picking up four strikeouts along the way.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds: A one-man wrecking crew versus Paul Maholm, Phillips is 14-for-37 (.378) with four home runs. He also enters the contests in the midst of a five-game hitting streak.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Mark DeRosa, 3B/OF, San Francisco Giants (15-day DL, wrist): Word was DeRosa could be ready to return Tuesday, but the San Francisco Chronicle says that later in the week is a better bet.
Ivan Rodriguez, C, Washington Nationals (15-day DL, back)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Rafael Furcal, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (15-day DL, hamstring): Furcal is expected to be activated from the disabled list Tuesday.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies (wrist)
Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves (thumb)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs (thumb; doubtful): Ramirez is considered doubtful for the three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers as he lets his thumb heal but, just as importantly, works on his timing in the batter's box. It's probably a good thing in the long term.
Alfredo Simon, RP, Baltimore Orioles (hamstring): "I think it'll be good in a couple of days, maybe just a week," Simon said. Uh-oh. It's difficult to guess who will take over the role as closer, as Cla Meredith hasn't pitched very well and the Orioles like Will Ohman as a specialist, so keep a close eye on the situation the next couple of days.
Denard Span, OF, Minnesota Twins (shoulder)
Marcus Thames, OF, New York Yankees (ankle)
Koji Uehara, RP, Baltimore Orioles (forearm): Don't count on Uehara to fill the role left open by Simon's absence, as Uehara is expected to land on the disabled list after being diagnosed with a strained right forearm.

Weather concerns

Matchups between the Red Sox-Rays, Astros-Brewers and Tigers-Mariners will be weatherproof. Unfortunately, there's a 70 percent chance of rain in San Francisco, while in Kansas City, the Rangers and Royals will have to make due with a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms.

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

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