- AJ Mass, Fantasy
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Matt Cain seems quite capable of being a perennial 20-game winner, and yet his lifetime record is a mere 46-55. In this case, it is clearly all about run support, something that pitchers really can't control. For his career, in games in which the San Francisco Giants have scored two runs or fewer for Cain, he has held opposing hitters to a .227 batting average and has posted a 3.17 ERA, but his record is 6-35. Imagine how much better Cain's fantasy value would be if the Giants had scored even one more run in half of those contests. Alas, until he doesn't take the mound knowing he has to be all but perfect to even stand a chance at victory, Cain will remain a good, but never great, pitcher. The rankings for Friday, including Cain at No. 10, are as follows:
Starting pitcher rankings for May 28
Rk.: The author's ranking of that pitcher for that day only. T: Pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. Opp: The pitcher's opponent for the day. Rating: The starting pitcher's matchup rating -- separate from the author's ranking -- which accounts for past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days), opponent and ballpark. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. W-L: Pitcher's win-loss record. ERA: Pitcher's earned run average. WHIP: Pitcher's average number of walks plus hits surrendered per inning.
• At the top: Chris Carpenter shines brightest in the night sky, thanks in large part to a 9-3 record to go along with a 2.81 ERA against the Chicago Cubs. ... David Price might have claimed the top spot, but his lone loss this season was to the Chicago White Sox (three earned runs over five innings on April 20.)
• The matchup is good for Shaun Marcum, though he does have a 5.68 ERA against the Baltimore Orioles. Keep in mind he hasn't lost since April 16. ... Phil Hughes hasn't lost against the Cleveland Indians, but the 4.09 ERA in games against the Tribe is a bit gaudy.
• Cliff Lee has been attending the Janet Jackson school of pitching. Her motto: control. With just a single walk on the season, we're surprised the wins aren't coming as frequently. ... Yovani Gallardo has an 0.69 ERA against the New York Mets and a K/9 rate of 13.2. If only he weren't going up against Johan Santana, he'd be in the top 5 for sure.
• Rounding out the top 10: Though not completely extinguished, the early-season glow is fading with Colby Lewis. ... Similarly, Randy Wells has not won all month long. It's time for a statement game from both.
• Derek Lowe is a different pitcher when facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he'll need to be, given the 5.30 ERA so far in 2010. For his career, Lowe is 8-0 with a 2.96 ERA against the Bucs, including a victory against them earlier this season.
• Middle-of-the-road options: Clayton Richard held the Washington Nationals to a single run on four hits in his last meeting with them. ... Wandy Rodriguez has yet to follow up a Roy Oswalt gem (allowing two runs or less) with a victory this season, but he does have a 3.89 career ERA against the Cincinnati Reds.
• Streamers on alert: Chris Volstad can apparently keep the Philadelphia Phillies somewhat in check, if you believe his 3.21 career ERA against them. Edwin Jackson has pitched a little bit better of late, and has a 3.38 ERA against the San Francisco Giants. Tim Wakefield is always a bit of an enigma, but is 11-6 lifetime against the Kansas City Royals with a 3.84 ERA. He had a no-decision against them earlier in 2010, allowing two earned runs in seven innings.
• Stay away: John Lannan has never defeated the San Diego Padres. Winless Kevin Millwood is 2-5 with a 4.80 ERA against the Toronto Blue Jays. ... Kyle Kendrick's career ERA against the Florida Marlins is 6.46.
• For true gamblers only: Dontrelle Willis has never allowed an earned run against the Oakland Athletics in 11 innings pitched. ... Jeff Francis has looked fantastic in two starts since returning from surgery, but those were against the Nationals and Royals. The Los Angeles Dodgers, leading the National League in batting average, are a much tougher test.
Hitter matchup ratings for May 28
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. "LHB" and "RHB" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. "Steals" is a base stealing matchup rating, which accounts for the opponent's catchers' ability to gun down opposing base stealers.
• Carlos Lee, OF, Houston Astros: He's had eight RBIs since May 16, even though his average is still sitting below .200 for the season. Since 2007, he's a .330 hitter at Great American Ballpark. It's time for the season to turn around for Lee.
• Jorge Cantu, 3B, Florida Marlins: Not only is Cantu hitting .424 since May 17, but he's 5-for-9 lifetime with two home runs in his last four at-bats against Kyle Kendrick.
• Seth Smith, OF, Colorado Rockies: Smith went 4-for-11 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in their first series of 2010 and is rocking a .920 OPS for the month of May. Owned in less than 1 percent of ESPN standard leagues, it's time to grab him off the wire.
• Luis Durango, OF, San Diego Padres: With Everth Cabrera's hamstring making him an on-again, off-again proposition, speedy Durango likely will get to lead off against lefties like John Lannan. If he can get on base, he may just swipe a few bases for you.
• Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Chicago Cubs: The outfielder is just 3-for-17 in his past four full games and carries a weak stick against Chris Carpenter. How weak? Try 0-for-10.
• Gordon Beckham, 2B, Chicago White Sox: A brief three-game hitting streak had many fantasy owners convinced it was finally time for Beckham. Then he went 0-for-7. He's 0-for-his-career against David Price. Face it, Beckham has not yet turned the bend.
• Nyjer Morgan, OF, Washington Nationals: Where's the speed? Morgan has been caught stealing more times than he's been successful in May. His OBP is only .290. No wonder over 10 percent of owners have cut him over the past week.
• Luis Valbuena, 2B, Cleveland Indians: Not that many people are counting on Valbuena, but in the interest of making sure you don't try to get cute, he's 3-for-35 this month and is now the only player in the majors with double-digit RBIs and a batting average under.150 for the season.
• Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles: Batting only .224 in May, we're still waiting on Wieters, who is hitting only .167 for his young career against the current Toronto Blue Jays staff.
• Casey McGehee, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers: He's is just 4-for-24 over his last few games and I don't expect much improvement against Johan Santana, who has retired McGehee in every single at-bat, save one.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Injury list: Out
Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland Athletics (15-day DL, right intercostal)
Edgar Renteria, SS, San Francisco Giants (15-day DL, strained hamstring)
Alfredo Simon, P, Baltimore Orioles (15-day DL, left hamstring)
George Sherrill, P, Los Angeles Dodgers (15-day DL, tight back)
Steve Pearce, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates (15-day DL, sprained ankle)
Homer Bailey, P, Cincinnati Reds (15-day DL, right shoulder)
Ivan Rodriguez, C, Washington Nationals (15-day DL, back strain)
Scott Olsen, P, Washington Nationals (15-day DL, left shoulder)
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (15-day DL, right calf)
Brad Penny, P, St. Louis Cardinals (15-day DL, strained right lat)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Brian McCann, C, Atlanta Braves (sore quadriceps)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs (thumb)
Carlos Ruiz, C, Philadelphia Phillies (shoulder)
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox (sore left side)
Luke Scott, DH, Baltimore Orioles (left shoulder)
Andy LaRoche, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates (back)
Paul Janish, SS, Cincinnati Reds (bereavement)
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, Kansas City Royals (dizziness)
Weatherproof games: Orioles at Blue Jays, White Sox at Rays, and Mets at Brewers. Outside of a few isolated thunderstorms in the southeast that might impact Miami and Atlanta, the local weatherman for the rest of the home teams should be twiddling his or her thumbs with nothing to do.
10hBy Jackie MacMullan