What will Strasburg do for encore?
Certainly the second start of the second coming of Walter Johnson is the most highly anticipated outing of this interleague weekend, but we've done our best to put the hype aside and rank him and the rest of this weekend's pitchers accordingly.
Here are the complete Saturday and Sunday lists for your viewing pleasure:
For starters: Saturday
Starting pitcher rankings for June 12
• Top of the Charts: Cliff Lee already has a win against the San Diego Padres in 2010. ... Dan Haren is 3-0 lifetime against the St. Louis Cardinals, including a victory this year, though he did allow seven earned runs in that high-scoring affair. ... Matt Garza is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA lifetime against the Florida Marlins.
• Concern about Barry Zito's recent struggles aren't completely assuaged by an 0-4 record against the Oakland Athletics with an 8.85 ERA. ... Derek Lowe has had a decision in each of his 13 starts this season and has won three of his last four. ... Although Fausto Carmona has not won since May 12, he's had four quality starts since then.
• Rounding out the top 10: Carlos Silva has a 5.52 ERA against the Chicago White Sox, but he's proven time and again this season he's a different pitcher in 2010. ... Ricky Nolasco is 2-1 against the Tampa Bay Rays, but with that comes a gaudy 6.88 ERA.
• Middle-of-the-road options: Brian Bannister has allowed only four hits in eight innings against the Cincinnati Reds for his career. ... Javier Vazquez has a great matchup against the Houston Astros but poor history, with a 4.41 career ERA. ... Although he didn't get the win, Johnny Cueto did not allow an earned run against the Kansas City Royals in their only prior showdown.
• Streamers on alert: Jason Hammel is 2-0 lifetime against the Toronto Blue Jays, though the 5.87 ERA is a tad high. ... Wade LeBlanc lost to the Seattle Mariners earlier this season but only allowed three runs over eight innings of work.
• Thanks, but no thanks: Wandy Rodriguez faces the New York Yankees for the first time since allowing five runs over five innings to them in 2008. ... Mark Buehrle has a 4.58 ERA against the Chicago Cubs. He just hasn't been the same pitcher this season as in past years. ... Manny Parra needed Dave Bush to bail him out last time he took the mound. That's not good.
For starters: Sunday
Starting pitcher rankings for June 13
• Top of the Charts: Chris Carpenter simply owns the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 4-0 record and a 2.09 ERA. ... Typical Matt Cain against the Athletics. His ERA is 2.44, but he is 2-5 lifetime including an inexplicable loss earlier this season despite allowing no earned runs and only five hits.
• Felix Hernandez did lose to the San Diego Padres a few weeks back, but he is still the owner of a 3.69 ERA against them for his career. ... Jered Weaver has a 2.94 ERA when going up against Joe Torre's Los Angeles Dodgers.
• Rounding out the top 10: Mike Pelfrey is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA against the Baltimore Orioles. ... Unbeaten Jeff Niemann has allowed only one run in six innings facing the Florida Marlins. ... Then there's Zack Greinke, who has just about used up all of his Cy Young capital.
• Middle-of-the-road options: Clayton Richard is 2-0 with an 0.69 ERA against the Mariners, including a win in 2010. ... Kevin Slowey beat the Atlanta Braves, allowing only two runs in six innings, in his only prior outing against the team. ... Ted Lilly is 5-2 against the White Sox, but that's thanks to his hitters, as the ERA is 5.94.
Streamers on alert: Cole Hamels, in my opinion, is no longer an automatic start, but he's always done well against the Boston Red Sox: 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA. ... Gavin Floyd gave up only one run in seven innings the last time he faced the Cubs. ... Jeff Francis is the owner of a 1.50 ERA against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Thanks, but no thanks: Winless Kevin Millwood? The adjective says it all, no? ... Brian Moehler is 3-6 with a 5.09 ERA facing the Bronx Bombers. ... Vin Mazzaro is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA against the San Francisco Giants.
Hitter matchup ratings for June 12
Hitters' count: Saturday
Mike Cameron, OF, Boston Red Sox: His starts have been spotty lately, but he should find his way into the lineup against Joe Blanton, as he has three home runs in nine at-bats when facing the Phillies hurler.
A.J. Pierzynski, C, Chicago White Sox: The catcher has hit safely in six of seven starts in June, plus he has two home runs to go along with a .296 career batting average against Carlos Silva.
Dioner Navarro, C, Tampa Bay Rays: He has a slightly stiff neck, but he can't sit out forever. The last time he faced Ricky Nolasco, he touched them all.
Pitchers' count: Saturday
Jerry Hairston Jr., SS, San Diego Padres: Not only is he in an 0-for-14 slump, but he's facing Cliff Lee against whom he's 1-for-9 lifetime.
Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: Hitting a meager .226 for June, he is 0-for-11 against Cardinals pitching so far in 2010.
Torii Hunter, OF, Los Angeles Angels: Considering how often the Angels and Dodgers get together, you would like to see better than a .250 batting average from a veteran like Hunter against them. Sadly, that's all he's managed since 2007.
Lance Berkman, 1B, Houston Astros: He's slowly but surely bringing his batting average back to respectability, but the lifetime .208 against Javier Vazquez might put his march on hold for a day or so.
Cody Ross, OF, Florida Marlins: The batting average is once again back under .300 for seesaw Ross, and he's 0-for-6 lifetime against Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Hitter matchup ratings for June 13
Hitters' count: Sunday
Ramiro Pena, SS, New York Yankees: With A-Rod possibly sidelined for the weekend, Pena will get some whacks against the Houston Astros. The switch-hitter is far better against right-handers, so Sunday is the day to roll the dice.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants: He has eight hits in his last six games and a .400 batting average against Vin Mazzaro. For today, the Kung Fu Panda is back in my good graces.
Jason Kendall, C, Kansas City Royals: Sure he went 0-for-12 against the Minnesota Twins. But this is the Cincinnati Reds he's facing now. Over the past three seasons, Kendall is hitting .301 when facing the Ohio players.
Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays: If Hill can't get it together at Coors Field, against a staff he's hitting a combined .300 against, then it's probably time to cut bait once and for all.
Pitchers' count: Sunday
Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland Indians: The hot prospect is likely to be making his debut in this series against the Nationals, but in today's battle of rookies, we're all in on Stephen Strasburg.
Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: Certainly, the dropoff from a .453 May batting average was expected, but the reason to sit Ethier today is the .143 average against Jered Weaver.
Jose Lopez, 3B, Seattle Mariners: With a 4-for-25 stretch over the last week, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel for Lopez, who is 0-for-6 against Clayton Richard.
Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds: Only one home run so far this month, and the slugging percentage is steadily dropping -- .500 in April, .440 in May and .400 in June.
Baseball Challenge Picks of the Weekend
Saturday: Johnny Damon, DH, Detroit Tigers: Damon is hitting 13 points higher at home than on the road, and while his opportunity to hit Pittsburgh Pirates pitching is limited due to his being an American League player, he does have a .357 career batting average against them.
Sunday: Derrek Lee, 1B, Chicago Cubs: With annual games against the Chicago White Sox, Lee is very familiar with this interleague opponent. Since 2007, he has hit .327 against the other team in Chicago.
Injury list: Out
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs (15-day DL, sore thumb)
Ryan Perry, P, Tigers (15-day DL, biceps tendinitis)
Orlando Hudson, 2B, Twins (15-day DL, left wrist)
J.J. Hardy, SS, Twins (15-day DL, left wrist)
Mike Sweeney, DH, Mariners (15-day DL, lower back)
Charlie Haeger, P, Dodgers (15-day DL, sprained toe)
Doug Fister, P, Mariners (15-day DL, right shoulder fatigue)
Oliver Perez, P, Mets (15-day DL, right knee)
Carlos Maldonado, C, Nationals (15-day DL, fractured thumb)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Red Sox (back spasms)
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees (groin)
John McDonald, 2B, Blue Jays (bereavement)
Kurt Suzuki, C, Athletics (bereavement)
Magglio Ordonez, OF, Tigers (left oblique)
Nate McLouth, OF, Braves (concussion)
Weatherproof games: Marlins at Rays, Rangers at Brewers and Cardinals at Diamondbacks. It never rains in Southern California, but with the exception of the Pacific coast, look for wet weather to be front and center all weekend long in all outdoor venues. Of course, as this is an interleague weekend, they'll likely wait it out as long as possible before calling games off.
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