- AJ Mass, Fantasy
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"You know I never, I never seen you look so good."
Perhaps Bret Michaels and the boys from Poison were talking about a certain pitcher who went 5-0 in June and has yet to lose this season at home, the location for Thursday's start. Throw in a 2.97 career ERA against his opponent and there's no doubt he's deserving of the spot at the top of our chart. Who am I talking about? "CC, pick up that baseball and talk to me!" For the complete list, read on:
Starting pitcher rankings for July 1
Rk.: The author's ranking of that pitcher for that day only. T: Pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. Opp: The pitcher's opponent for the day. Rating: The starting pitcher's matchup rating -- separate from the author's ranking -- which accounts for past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days), opponent and ballpark. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. W-L: Pitcher's win-loss record. ERA: Pitcher's earned run average. WHIP: Pitcher's average number of walks plus hits surrendered per inning.
• At the summit: Jered Weaver had a shaky outing against the Texas Rangers the last time they met -- a no-decision despite allowing seven runs in less than five innings -- but that was in Arlington, and Weaver has a 1.96 ERA at home. Johan Santana needs to get his groove back, and the Washington Nationals have always been generous to him, as evidenced by his 6-2 lifetime record with a 3.23 ERA against them.
With four straight quality starts and an unblemished record in June, C.J. Wilson has turned himself into a fairly reliable fantasy option. Shaun Marcum has been hurt slightly by some poor defense, as he's allowed unearned runs in three of five June starts, but the Cleveland Indians are not exactly a juggernaut.
Against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are batting just .238 as a team, it's hard not to believe in Cole Hamels. But with all those injuries and the makeshift lineup behind him, will he get enough run support to win? Carl Pavano has won four in a row, including two straight complete games. Perhaps it is his turn to no-hit the Tampa Bay Rays?
• Rounding out the top: Look at Trevor Cahill since May 21 -- 6-0 with a 2.24 ERA and a batting average against of .198. At some point this egg might well crack, but he's already handled the Baltimore Orioles once this season.
• Streamers on alert: Jon Garland is 3-1 for his career facing the Houston Astros and held them to two hits in seven innings in a victory earlier this season. Carlos Silva has lost two in a row, and the Cincinnati Reds are hitting .295 against him in 2010 in two prior starts. Justin Masterson may be worth a roll of the dice, as he has a 2.89 ERA when facing the Toronto Blue Jays, who are still next-to-last in the American League in hitting.
• Stay away: Randy Wolf is going on start No. 3 against the St. Louis Cardinals this season and has allowed seven runs in 13 1/3 innings versus Albert Pujols & Co. That's far better than Ryan Rowland-Smith's career stats against the New York Yankees: 17 innings pitched and 10 earned runs.
The Reds are expected to recall Travis Wood to start in what was the demoted Sam LeCure's spot in the rotation. He's a southpaw with a 8.9 K/9 rate in Triple-A this season.
Hitter matchup ratings for July 1
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. "LHB" and "RHB" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies: Not only has Howard hit safely in 12 of his past 13 games, but so far he's the only Phillies infielder to be immune from injury in 2010.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres: After he drove in 23 runs in June, it's clear that Gonzalez has a lot more support in his lineup than in seasons past. Not that he needs a lot of help against Brian Moehler, against whom he's hitting .417 for his career.
Coco Crisp, OF, Athletics: Though he's been limited by injury this season, Crisp is nevertheless hitting .414 and in the past three seasons, there's no team he has stolen more bases against than the Orioles.
Adam Lind, DH, Blue Jays: True, he has been far more of a "designated misser" this season, with 26 strikeouts in 23 games this past month. Yet we're willing to wipe the slate clean, and hope the .303 batting average against the Cleveland Indians' current staff kick-starts Lind.
Erick Aybar, SS, Angels: The balky knee behind him -- one hopes -- Aybar is 4-for-14 since returning to action but is a mere 1-for-11 lifetime against C.J. Wilson.
Ivan Rodriguez, C, Nationals: Only five hits in his past 36 at-bats (.139) is bad. Ten strikeouts and a .225 batting average in 40 at-bats against Johan Santana isn't much better.
Casey McGehee, 2B/3B, Brewers: June was not kind to McGehee, as he hit only .209 for the month, but July might not be much better. The Brewers' wunderkind is hitting just .217 against the Cardinals so far in 2010.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
David Wright, 3B, Mets: Wright started June batting only .269 and now leaves it at better than .300. With a .333 batting average in 36 career at-bats against Livan Hernandez, including four home runs and 10 RBIs, July should begin with a bang.
Injury list: Out
Placido Polanco, 3B, Phillies (15-day DL, left elbow)
Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies (15-day DL, sprained thumb)
Joel Zumaya, P, Tigers (15-day DL, right elbow)
Jeff Fulchino, P, Astros (15-day DL, right elbow)
John Grabow, P, Cubs (15-day DL, knee sprain)
Tyler Walker, P, Nationals (15-day DL, right shoulder)
Victor Martinez, C, Red Sox (15-day DL, fractured thumb)
Jason Heyward, OF, Braves (15-day DL, bruised thumb)
Mike Sweeney, DH, Mariners (15-day DL, back spasms)
Carlos Zambrano, P, Cubs (restricted list)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Manny Ramirez, OF, Dodgers (right hamstring)
Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks (knee)
Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies (back spasms)
Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies (ribs)
Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates (concussion)
Bobby Crosby, SS, Pirates (concussion)
Weatherproof games: none. Despite the lack of "indoor baseball" on the schedule, there should be no weather concerns at all for Thursday.