Gorzelanny gets second chance
They say good things come to those who wait, so I'm crossing my fingers for Tom Gorzelanny. He was relegated to the bullpen at the beginning of June, and has pitched a grand total of 6 1/3 innings since. But Carlos Zambrano's dugout blowup gives him a new lease on life, so if Gorzelanny can continue to pitch as well he has been (3.41 ERA, 60 strikeouts in 58 innings), he could become quite the find, especially against his former Pittsburgh Pirates mates. And with few quality pitchers toeing the mound Wednesday, you might be surprised to find out where he lands on our rankings:
Starting pitcher rankings for June 30
• Four straight quality starts for Jeff Francis, but fantasy players still want little to do with him, as he's owned in fewer than 8 percent of ESPN leagues. That's reasonable in the grand scheme of things, as his lack of strikeouts prevents him from being more than a spot-starter in shallow leagues, but inexplicable when you consider a guy like R.A. Dickey is topping the most-added list. Francis has allowed only two home runs in 51 innings, a number that will go up considering he pitches half his games in Coors Field and allowed 21 dingers in 143 2/3 innings last season, but it shouldn't be a problem against a weak San Diego Padres offense in a glorious pitchers' park. He's a fantastic option for Wednesday.
• We may have to start rethinking how tough facing the Boston Red Sox is in the next couple of weeks considering just how banged up their offense has become. With Dustin Pedroia hitting the disabled list and Victor Martinez possibly joining him, they are out two of their very best hitters, especially problematic considering they are built more on depth than star power. It will also hurt their infield defense, with Bill Hall having to replace Pedroia at second. Matt Garza is a pretty darn good pitcher in his own right, so while he wouldn't be recommended if he were facing the Red Sox at full strength, now it seems likely he'll be just fine.
• Wednesday is not a good day for pitching, so if you're looking for some quality spot starts, you're mostly out of luck. You could go with Ben Sheets or Kevin Millwood, high-strikeout pitchers with decent matchups, but they are too inconsistent and homer-prone for my liking. Clayton Richard in Petco Park usually works out well, too, but the Colorado Rockies are a pretty good offense.
• I'll just come right out and say it: I don't trust Jair Jurrjens. It's still puzzling how he's had so much success at the major league level considering none of his strikeout, walk or ground-ball rates is very good, so I'm inclined to attribute his low home run rate more to luck than skill. He hasn't been very good in his rehab starts either, allowing eight runs in 13 innings in three starts. Jurrjens has an easy matchup, though, so if you like him, by all means start him, but I'm not touching him.
• Mike Pelfrey gets consistently bombed by the Florida Marlins (5.63 career ERA in 10 starts), a division foe that surely has a good read on what he likes to do. By the numbers, the team is batting .333 against him in 111 at-bats, and while Pelfrey has been much improved this year, he's still struggled, comparatively, on the road, a trend that has persisted throughout his career. For a guy who doesn't miss many bats, it's just too big a risk to keep him active.
Hitter matchup ratings for June 30
Hunter Pence, OF, Houston Astros: Since his awful start, Pence has been quite consistent the past two months, nothing exceptional but definitively above average. That pretty much encapsulates his history with Dave Bush, as he does have eight hits in 17 at-bats (.471), but with only one extra-base hit (a home run, thankfully) and zero walks, you still almost expect more. His owners will take it nonetheless.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks: Where's that summer hot streak at, LaRoche? The first baseman does have a season-high five dingers in June, but a season-low .222 average doesn't help much. Fortunately he'll run into Jeff Suppan on Wednesday, who is essentially batting practice to major league hitters nowadays. Over the past three seasons, left-handed hitters are batting .311 off him, and LaRoche is 8-for-24 lifetime against Suppan, with two home runs and a double.
Aubrey Huff, 1B/OF, San Francisco Giants: It only seems right that Huff slumps as soon as everyone decides to pick him up (6-for-29 during the past week), but fear not for he absolutely crushes Vicente Padilla: 8-for-14 (.571) with three doubles and a home run lifetime.
Ty Wigginton, 1B/3B/2B, Baltimore Orioles: Give Wigginton at least one more game before you dump him! For whatever reason, the utility infielder crushes Ben Sheets, hitting .364 against him lifetime, with six walks, two doubles and two homers.
Manny Ramirez, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: Manny's hot, with hits in nine of his past 10 games, and he means business versus Jonathan Sanchez. He's crushed the lefty in their previous meetings, going 6-for-10 with two doubles and home runs.
Russell Branyan, 1B, Seattle Mariners: As far as batter versus pitcher matchups go, it's hard to top the three home runs Branyan has launched off Javier Vazquez in just six at-bats. It seems apropos considering Branyan is a masher and Vazquez allows his fair share of long balls, so consider the slugger a must-start.
Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: Jones isn't doing much against lefties, batting .260 with three measly home runs in 100 at-bats. And Tom Gorzelanny's not too shabby against southpaws himself, as he's held them to .234 AVG/.301 OBP/.326 SLG over the past three seasons, and if anything, he is a better pitcher today than he was years ago.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego Padres: Gonzalez's numbers normally drop off a bit against lefties but rarely like this: He's just 4-for-26 (.154) against Jeff Francis. Worse, he's gone down on strikes 11 times, providing more than enough proof that Francis is indeed his kryptonite.
Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: Ah, the law of averages: Ethier is batting just .235 with one home run in June. Plus, it's really hard to be an elite hitter when you are terrible against left-handers. The trend continues this season, with Ethier batting .250 with one home run in 56 at-bats versus southpaws. Don't expect much against Jonathan Sanchez, who has limited Ethier to four hits in 20 at-bats, striking him out five times.
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox: Drew is normally quite adept versus right-handers, but Matt Garza has his number. Drew is hitting .143 in 21 at-bats against him, with twice as many strikeouts (six) as hits (three).
Jason Bartlett, SS, Tampa Bay Rays: Things have only gotten worse for Bartlett since April as he's combined for 10 RBIs, one home run and one steal since. It's doubtful his luck improves against Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has limited him to two hits (albeit two doubles) in 14 at-bats, fanning him five times.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Corey Hart, RF, Milwaukee Brewers: Can't stop won't stop: Hart's hitting streak is up to 13 games now, and he's been supplying a lot of power too, blasting eight doubles and one home run during the streak. He's unbelievable against lefties (.342 average and seven home runs in 73 at-bats) and, as you would expect, crushes Wandy Rodriguez (11-for-27 lifetime), so there may not be a better individual bet for the day.
Injury list: OutJason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves (15-day DL, thumb): This seemed inevitable, and the only shame is that it took this long. Heyward is targeting a return right after the All-Star break.
Victor Martinez, 1B/C, Boston Red Sox (thumb): It seems likely that V-Mart will hit the disabled list, but nothing has been decided just yet.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox (15-day DL, foot): The good news is Pedroia's foot won't need surgery, so he should remain true to his 4-to-6 week timetable.
Placido Polanco, 2B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies (15-day DL, elbow): Polanco said Sunday's cortisone injection merely worsened the injury, and there is talk that Polanco will need surgery at the end of the year.
Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies (thumb)
Joel Zumaya, RP, Detroit Tigers (15-day DL, elbow): Zumaya reportedly blew out his throwing arm Monday throwing one of his trademark fastballs. Maybe humans aren't meant to throw that hard or maybe Zumaya specifically is just injury prone; either way, he's expected to miss the remainder of the season at the least.
Injury list: Day-to-day
Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (shoulder): Manager Joe Maddon said Crawford could return to the team as a DH as soon as Tuesday.
Brad Hawpe, OF, Colorado Rockies (ribs)
Ryan Ludwick, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (calf; available to pinch hit)
Weatherproof: Astros-Brewers. Thunderstorms are expected in Atlanta (Nationals-Braves) for much of the day and most of the night, which could result in some rain delays or even postponement.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
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