Will Arrieta build on first start?
With the recent flux of minor league talent into the majors (Stephen Strasburg, Mike Stanton and Carlos Santana), it would be a shame to overlook Jake Arrieta, a top Baltimore Orioles prospect who made his major league debut against the New York Yankees last week. He picked up a quality start and struck out six in six innings. He could start to fly off waiver wires if he backs that up with a strong performance against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday. Read on to see where he falls on the rankings:
Starting pitcher rankings for June 15
• CC Sabathia has struggled in spurts and a matchup versus the Phillies -- and Roy Halladay -- on paper seems to be pretty tough, but worry not. With Jimmy Rollins injured and Raul Ibanez unable to capture last season's magic, it's not quite as fearsome an offense. Sabathia has rebounded well in recent starts against the Orioles. He remains one of the day's best options.
• Gamble on Max Scherzer's massive potential against a nondescript Nationals offense? Scherzer's WHIP will likely never be pretty, but facing John Lannan he has win potential. Despite his 14-strikeout performance May 30, Scherzer has been the same up-and-down pitcher we have come to expect. But up against one of the weaker offenses in the majors, how can you resist the upside?
• Alternating good starts with bad, Joel Pineiro has been quite volatile recently, putting in solid performances against good offenses while struggling against statistically weaker ones. Overall, he's pitched well, but that leaves his owners with a tough decision versus the Brewers, a capable offensive team. But it's also a team that hits a lot of ground balls. Since Pineiro is at home (2.66 ERA, 1.13 WHIP this season), it 's an easy call.
• I was ready to call it quits on Justin Masterson a couple of weeks ago, but a two-hit complete game shutout against the Red Sox makes me double-take. He may never learn to be competent against left-handed batters but that's OK, too, at least for the time being -- the Mets are ill-equipped from the left side. And Masterson is at home, where his ERA has been two runs lower than on the road. Come on, Masterson, one time!
• It's hard to ignore Freddy Garcia's recent success (six quality starts out of seven outings) and soft matchup against the Pirates. He's available in more than 96 percent of ESPN leagues, making him a great spot start.
• I'm cautiously optimistic about C.J. Wilson's chances against the Marlins, although it's more of a gut call. If you're risk-averse, the fact that he'll face Josh Johnson, making it harder for him to pick up a win, may swing it toward benching him.
• It's hard to recommend a guy with nearly as many walks (eight) as innings pitched (9 1/3) since his return to the rotation, but it's a gut call on Carlos Zambrano. He has hopefully worked out any kinks and is ready to give it all in front of the home fans against a suspect offense right? That's the plan anyway, and it's hard to justify his presence on your roster if you don't start him in a situation like this.
• Felipe Paulino has quietly gone six or more innings in five consecutive starts, posting a 1.75 ERA and a respectable 27 strikeouts in 36 innings. He is usually good for about a strikeout per inning and is obviously in the midst of a good stretch, so he looks like a solid option against the Royals. It will be no walk in the park, however, as the Royals do possess a middle-of-the-pack .737 OPS against righties. Starting Paulino is a calculated risk.
Hitter matchup ratings for June 15
Juan Pierre, OF, White Sox: Running at every opportunity in recent weeks, you can be sure Pierre is going to be looking to test Ryan Doumit's arm (just four caught stealings out of 51 attempts).
Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees: Granderson is hitting only .244 in June, but his hits have been for a ton of power -- half of his 10 hits have gone for extra bases, including two home runs. He even hits well off of Roy Halladay, going 5-for-12 (.417) in his career with three extra-base hits (one home run).
Johnny Damon, OF, Tigers: Having strung together four multihit games out of his past five, you could say Damon is zoned in. He's a great option against John Lannan; lefties are hitting .409 off him, and Damon is batting .358 against lefties this season.
Cody Ross, OF, Marlins: Always a lefty-masher, Ross is batting .344 with three home runs in 61 at-bats against southpaws. Despite his recent slump, you have to start him against C.J. Wilson, who has been hittable in recent weeks.
Jason Kubel, OF, Twins: After a slow start, Kubel is gradually getting his numbers up there. He's now slugging .478 against right-handers this season. Last year, he hit 26 of his 28 home runs versus righties, so don't give up on him. Aaron Cook can be susceptible to lefties, too, allowing a .394 on-base percentage.
Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees: Gardner's had a tough time reaching base against Roy Halladay, batting .235 (4-for-17) with zero walks lifetime. He could nab a bag off Carlos Ruiz (eight caught stealings in 34 attempts), but you can probably find a better option for the day.
Jason Heyward, OF, Braves: Major league lefties have been tough on Heyward, holding him to a .229 average in 70 at-bats. And few are tougher than David Price. In the midst of a wicked slump, Heyward has struck out 21 times in 13 games this month.
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers: He's batting a mediocre .216 in June. Joel Pineiro has had the upper hand in their meetings, holding Braun to three hits in 17 at-bats.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Chris Young, CF, Diamondbacks: The versatile outfielder has already stolen more bases in June (six) than he did the first two months combined (four); facing noodle-armed Victor Martinez (18 percent caught stealing rate) shouldn't be much of a challenge. That's not even mentioning his prowess with the bat (.289 average, four home runs) this month, too. Ride him while he's hot.
Injury list: Out
Nate McLouth, OF, Braves (15-day DL, head)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Carlos Guillen, 2B/OF, Tigers (calf; available to pinch-hit)
Orlando Hudson, 2B, Twins (15-day DL, wrist): Hudson swears he'll be ready to play by Tuesday; expect him to be activated sometime this week.
Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers (back)
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves (finger): Jones' finger has flared up again and there's a good chance he ends up on the disabled list.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers (ankle)
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds (hamstring): Phillips will undergo an MRI on Monday, so stay tuned.
Magglio Ordonez, OF, Tigers (oblique): Manager Jim Leyland is hopeful Ordonez can return Tuesday, but if he can't he may soon land on the disabled list.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees (hip)
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies (groin)
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox (arm/back)
No weatherproof games Tuesday, and numerous Midwest cities have rain-threatening conditions. Cincinnati (Dodgers-Reds), St. Louis (Mariners-Cardinals), Cleveland (Mets-Indians) and Detroit (Nationals-Tigers) may see thunderstorms. Pittsburgh (White Sox-Pirates) also has a 50 percent chance of showers.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
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