Commentary

Make room for Jhoulys

Updated: June 15, 2010, 6:16 PM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

Daily Notes
Don't look now, but Jhoulys Chacin has some serious sleeper potential for the second half of the season.

Somehow flying under the radar (5.6 percent owned) despite a dominant starting debut back in May and buzz as a top prospect, Chacin has struck out fewer than a batter per inning only once in his eight starts. We like him a lot Wednesday. If we're right, he'll probably be snatched up in a lot of your leagues in the near future.

Check our daily pitching rankings for the rest of the scoop:

For starters

Selected notes:

• You know, A.J. Burnett's three worst starts have come against three of the best offenses in the majors (the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays), so in that sense, at least he's predictably bad against strong opponents. Don't let his volatile nature scare you from starting him versus the Phillies, a team in offensive disarray that ranks second-to-last in OPS this month.

• With a whopping nine home runs allowed his past six starts, it's getting hard to trust Wade Davis. Sure he's faced some difficult offenses, but there is no excuse for that many home runs, especially when he's not striking out enough batters to make up for it. He's a risky start against a Braves offense with the second-best OBP in the majors against right-handers.

• Resist the urge to chase strikeouts by starting Gio Gonzalez against the Cubs. Not only does Gonzalez tend to struggle on the road (4.74 ERA, 1.61 WHIP), the Cubs can hit lefties (.773 OPS). The walks have really been catching up to Gonzalez in recent weeks, too (17 his last six starts), so there's a severe downside. When dealing with an up-and-down pitcher like Gonzalez, it's important to play it safe.

• Your thirst for strikeouts should, however, bring you to Chacin, who is widely available in the ESPN universe despite possessing a ton of talent and a high strikeout rate. He's running into the Twins at the perfect time, since the team is struggling to hit the ball in June (.630 OPS, last in the majors). Because of the high walk and strikeout totals from Chacin, pitching deep into ball games isn't his specialty, so don't be surprised if he's unable to net a win.

• It seems like the Indians couldn't hit a decent left-hander if their lives depended on it, and Jonathon Niese will be the next pitcher to put that theory to the test. The big lefty has impressed this season and has really been sterling his past two outings, combining for 16 innings of one-run ball and 12 strikeouts. He's surely brimming with confidence, and with Mitch Talbot starting for the Indians, Niese has a good chance at picking up a win, too.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Andruw Jones, OF, White Sox: Struggling immensely, Jones has begun to see his playing time diminish, so he needs a big game in the worst way against Zach Duke. He's hit four of his 10 home runs this season off lefties, and he has taken Duke deep before in 11 career at-bats, so the matchup doesn't get much better than this for Jones.

Juan Rivera, OF, Angels: With a career OPS 66 points higher against lefties than righties, Rivera seems like an ideal matchup versus Chris Narveson, a southpaw who right-handers are batting .316 AVG/.385 OBP/.550 SLG off him this season. With a five-game hit streak -- and hitting safely in 11 out of his past 12 games -- Rivera is set to take advantage.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Athletics: Since the month has flipped to June, Kouzmanoff has been on a tear, hitting .451 amidst a 13-game hit streak while chipping in three home runs and two doubles. Sustainable? Hardly, but such hitting can't be ignored until he cools off.

Marlon Byrd, OF, Cubs: Speaking of not sustainable, you would think Byrd would have long cooled down, but it's the middle of June and he's still batting .333. He has been unconscious in June (20-for-40 in 11 games) and is even better against southpaws, hitting an obscene .433 on the season.

Aubrey Huff, 1B/OF, Giants: Assuredly an obvious pickup by now, it's worth belaboring the point because of the batters hitting ahead of Huff. Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez both have OBPs above .400, so as long as Huff keeps hitting, he'll be immensely productive. He'll face Jeremy Guthrie, who is susceptible to lefties (.508 opponent slugging percentage).

Pitchers' count:

Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, Pirates: Four June home runs in 11 games may have owners hoping for a continued tear, but Jones runs into John Danks on Wednesday and has struggled against southpaws this season. He's slugging 51 points lower against lefties (.432) than righties (.483), and Danks is better than your average lefty. Look for better options.

Shane Victorino, OF, Phillies: Hitting just .226 against right-handers this season, it's an open question how well Victorino will do against A.J. Burnett, who has held Victorino to one hit in six at-bats lifetime. He isn't a bad bet to steal a base (whether it's Jorge Posada behind the plate for the Yankees or Francisco Cervelli, both are awful at controlling the basepaths) but isn't much of a power threat against Burnett.

Jay Bruce, OF, Reds: While Bruce has upped his numbers against lefties from the last time we checked in with him, he's still a career .214 hitter against them, making him an awful matchup versus Clayton Kershaw. Left-handers are "hitting" a microscopic .178 off Kershaw this season, so make sure to leave Bruce on your bench.

Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF, Twins: As his season-long slump continues, it's worth noting that Cuddyer is hitting just .262 against righties, providing a modest four home runs in 164 at-bats. He won't get any breathing room Wednesday against Chacin as righties are hitting below the Mendoza Line (.193 to be exact) against him.

Jose Guillen, OF, Royals: Twelve at-bats in and Guillen is still searching for his first hit off Roy Oswalt. He might not get it either, not with the way Oswalt is pitching. Guillen has struck out in four of those at-bats, so at the least you'll want Guillen inactive.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Victor Martinez, C, Red Sox: Although he has only one home run to show for it, Martinez has been scorching the ball this month, already swatting eight doubles in 42 at-bats. It makes sense to ride the hot hand when he faces Rodrigo Lopez, a middling pitcher that V-Mart is already 3-for-8 against with two home runs.

Triage

Injury list: Out

None

Injury list: Day-to-day

Orlando Hudson, 2B, Twins (15-day DL, wrist)
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves (finger)
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds (hamstring)
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees (hip)
Marco Scutaro, SS, Red Sox (neck)
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox (arm/back)

Weather concerns

There are still no weatherproof games, although only the cities of Boston (Diamondbacks-Red Sox) and New York (Phillies-Yankees) have a significant chance of showers. Boston has a 70 percent chance of rain, while the chance of rain in the Bronx is 50 percent.

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

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