Will Kennedy, Sanchez start regressing?
As sports fans become more educated, it's getting a lot harder to pull off your classic sell-high, buy-low deals. When smart people at ESPN start pointing out how Ian Kennedy's FIP is much higher than his ERA, thus implying that regression is forthcoming, you're just not going to get the same value for him as you might have a week ago. But owners can overcorrect for regression, too: C.J. Wilson has been bombed often in the past month, but he should still be owned in more than 41 percent of ESPN leagues.
Nowadays it's all about micromanaging to get that extra edge, which is why it's important to keep reading to learn about a certain pitcher owned in a 100 percent of leagues who has a particularly brutal matchup Wednesday:
Starting pitcher rankings for June 9
• Despite convincing results to the contrary, Jonathan Sanchez is not quite an elite pitcher. Elite pitchers don't walk more than four batters per nine innings, for example. Indeed, for someone who has allowed just four home runs in 68 1/3 innings, Sanchez's fly-ball percentage is awfully high (33 percent, where he is sandwiched between the Jeremy Guthries and Homer Baileys of the world). In other words, he, too, will suffer a severe regression in the coming weeks or months. While I still like him, and always have, there's no way I'm starting him on the road against one of baseball's best offenses, the (gulp) Cincinnati Reds. And have you seen the Big Red Machine at home? Only the New York Yankees have a better mark than their .844 OPS. Don't play with fire.
• Do you bench a struggling pitcher who draws an easy matchup, or do you cut your losses and keep him glued to your bench? That's the dilemma C.J. Wilson's owners have Wednesday when he faces the Seattle Mariners. On one hand, Wilson has a bloated 8.57 ERA in his last four starts; on the other, he still has a solid strikeout and groundball rate, and the Mariners are a worse offensive team than any team he faced in that four-start stretch. I don't think he's as good as he showed in his first seven starts or as bad as he's been recently, so I would still throw him out there with confidence.
• I'm sure all you've been reading in recent weeks how Ian Kennedy is pitching over his head and is due for some regression, but now that everyone has read the same thing, you can't sell high on him. Now you're left with a dilemma. The Atlanta Braves are an above-average offensive team and Kennedy just allowed three home runs in his last start. So do you start him? Allow home field advantage to be your guide, because in this particular case it's a pretty good one. Kennedy's ERA is a run lower at home and his WHIP drops nearly 50 points. And one look through his game log will tell you it's not because he's faced a bunch of cupcakes at home. The Arizona Diamondbacks as a team also hit much better at home, while the Braves struggle on the road. And since Kennedy's facing Kenshin Kawakmi and not a Tommy Hanson, a good performance should net him a win. Maybe afterward you can sell him off.
• Aaron Harang isn't a bad option versus the San Francisco Giants, especially if you anticipate Sanchez getting touched up a bit, something that would increase Harang's chances at a win. Harang allows way too many homers but does offer a solid strikeout rate and has a good chance to go three consecutive starts without allowing a home run -- the Giants are 12th in the National League in home runs. He may not be for the faint of heart but hey, spot starting rarely is.
Hitter matchup ratings for June 9
J.D. Drew, OF, Boston Red Sox: Justin Masterson makes most left-handed hitters look like batting champs, as they're batting .370 off him, and Drew has been more than competent against righties. That will surely equate to some juicy RBI opportunities with Drew hitting behind the likes of Victor Martinez.
Jonny Gomes, OF, Cincinnati Reds: Another lefty, another recommendation. Gomes has nearly as many extra-base hits against lefties (nine) as he does against righties (10), but he's needed half the at-bats to do so. Jonathan Sanchez has been great, but you don't have Gomes on your roster to bench him against his biggest strength.
Jose Bautista, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays: The odd thing about Bautista's dream season is that he hasn't been all that great against lefties, where the brunt of his offensive contributions came from in previous seasons. But he's been good enough against David Price to warrant a mention, batting .333 with a home run in 12 career at-bats, including a 2 for 6 mark this season.
B.J. Upton, OF, Tampa Bay Rays: The main thing keeping Upton's value alive is a plethora of steals. So it's important to note the opportunities for theft he'll have against Blue Jays catcher John Buck, who has thrown out just six of 30 attempted stealers. There's a good chance Upton nabs another one if he makes it to first base. Shaun Marcum is a tough pitcher to reach base against, but Upton is 2 for 4 with a double off him this season and possesses a career .357 on-base percentage against him, so it's not impossible.
Marlon Byrd, OF, Chicago Cubs: Just as many people were ready to give up on him, Byrd is once again scorching hot, going 10 for 17 (.588) with five doubles in his past four contests. That spells trouble for Randy Wolf, especially considering Byrd's .417 average against southpaws.
Alberto Callaspo, 2B, Kansas City Royals: He's off to an impressive start in June (3 for 21) but just slaps Carl Pavano around, racking up 11 hits in 23 career at-bats. He's hit for plenty of power, too, piling up five extra-base hits, including two home runs.
Raul Ibanez, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: It's surprising that a 38-year-old hitting .230 is still owned in so many leagues, which is probably an ode to the monster season Ibanez had last year. But only this year's stats count, and with Ibanez off to a 2-for-20 start in June, it doesn't look like a rebound is likely. He's awful against Josh Johnson as well, with one hit against four strikeouts in 11 career at-bats.
Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B, Florida Marlins: Not that it's too difficult to find hitters who struggle against Roy Halladay, but Cantu has the worst numbers of anyone else on the Marlins: three hits (all singles) in 20 at-bats.
Luke Scott, OF, Baltimore Orioles: Although Scott still has a lot of power against lefties -- he's hit three home runs in 35 at-bats off them this season -- he definitely doesn't see the ball as well, considering his lifetime average is a good 30 points worse against southpaws than right-handers. A 1-for-7 mark versus CC Sabathia won't get it done, although curiously enough his one hit was a home run.
Michael Bourn, OF, Houston Astros: Not only has Bourn been awful against Aaron Cook in his career, mustering one hit in 10 at-bats, even if he reached base he'd have immense trouble picking up a steal: Miguel Olivo has the second-highest caught-stealing percentage of anyone in the majors with a whopping 55 percent.
Kurt Suzuki, C, Oakland Athletics: For whatever reason, Joe Saunders owns Suzuki: In 24 career at-bats, Suzuki has only a pair of hits to his name, including one home run. He's only struck out one time, so it hasn't been raw dominance, but a .080 batting average speaks for itself.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Jose Lopez, 3B, Seattle Mariners: With at least one hit in 13 of his past 14 games, Lopez appears to be gradually breaking out of his slump. And considering his robust history of success versus C.J. Wilson -- they've faced each other 15 times and Lopez has seven hits and two walks, batting .538 overall -- the stage could be set for a big breakout game, especially when Wilson's recent struggles are factored in.
Injury list: Out
Orlando Hudson, 2B, Minnesota Twins (wrist; doubtful)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (legs; probable)
Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves (finger)
Nate McLouth, OF, Atlanta Braves (toe)
Bengie Molina, C, San Francisco Giants (elbow)
Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins (illness)
Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (calf)
Domes will make contests between the Braves-Diamondbacks, Cubs-Brewers and Blue Jays-Rays weatherproof. Numerous East Coast cities have probable forecasts of showers, as Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Washington D.C. all have at least a 60 percent chance of storms.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
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