Pineiro a solid matchups play
All right, call me a Joel Pineiro fan boy, but it strikes me as odd that the guy was dropped in 11 percent of ESPN.com leagues during the past week. Sure, he was bombed in Yankee Stadium, but isn't that almost expected from the juggernaut that is the Yankees' offense? In fact, if you take out his numbers versus the Yankees, Pineiro now has a 3.85 ERA in 112 1/3 innings. Obviously, you can do that with many pitchers, but that's the point: Matchups matter. And that's what we're here for: to dissect what you should and should not care about, and maybe provide a little snark along the way. Fortunately, Pineiro is somewhat rescued for Wednesday's rankings:
Starting pitcher rankings for July 28
• Although Randy Wells has just two wins in his past seven starts, he's gone at least six innings all seven times and has hurled seven-plus frames five times. Consistently pitching deep into ballgames is an underrated skill, and considering his sterling numbers this month -- a 1.26 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 28 2/3 innings, including 3.43 strikeouts per walk -- if he continues to pitch like that, it's safe to say that many wins will be in his future. There's a good chance he'll win Wednesday. The Astros have the league's worst offense in terms of OPS, and Wells' counterpart, Bud Norris, has an ERA north of 6.00.
• All in all a successful return on Friday for Josh Beckett, who allowed one run and three walks in 5 2/3 innings, throwing 63 percent of his pitches for strikes. He'll face a stiffer test this time around, the Angels on the road, but almost any team would be more challenging than the Mariners. It may not be the season most were expecting when they drafted him, but it seems the team's cautiousness has paid off, as Beckett looks healthy and primed for a strong stretch run.
• Joel Pineiro allowed more than three runs for the first time in seven outings in his latest start, and he'll draw the Red Sox next. The beginning of a slump? If his home numbers have anything to do with it, hardly. He sports a sterling 2.37 ERA and 1.11 WHIP at Angel Stadium. He's allowed just three home runs in 76 innings, and that's apropos when you consider the ground balls on which he relies. The Red Sox are a bit healthier but still not quite back to their juggernaut status; I'd roll with Pineiro.
• Despite that bloated 7.13 ERA this month, I'm still going to start Clayton Richard versus the Dodgers. I always believe in the magic of Petco Park, and it's not as if the Dodgers have shown to be a capable offense; they're especially putrid against left-handers (.682 OPS). We're dealing with a soft-tossing lefty who obviously hasn't been on his A-game in recent weeks, so it's definitely high-variance and not for the faint of heart, but most of the time, being a slave to the matchup is a good idea.
• A strong part of me is tempted to sit Trevor Cahill and his middling strikeout rate when he heads to Arlington to face the Rangers. And even though Cahill has the lowest batting average on balls in play in the majors -- he's about 70 points below the league average and 16 points below second-place Tim Hudson -- you can forgive some of it because he's a ground-ball machine and plays in front of one of the best defenses in the majors. Relying so much on your defense means you will get touched up every now and then, making Cahill a marginal play, but he has yet to prove he shouldn't be trusted.
• We'll learn quickly just how legitimate Travis Wood is, because he gets a tough matchup against the Brewers on Wednesday as he hopes to rebound from a mediocre outing. It may be a surprise that the Brewers have the best team OPS of any team in the league, even if they aren't exceptional in any one category. A young pitcher on the road against a team that packs a punch doesn't sound like a recipe for success, however.
Hitter matchup ratings for July 28
Tyler Colvin, OF, Cubs: Not that much explanation is needed when Colvin is set to face a hurler with an ERA above 6.00, but Bud Norris is allowing left-handed hitters to slug .491 this season. That's just fine for Colvin, who is slugging .549 against right-handers and has hit 12 of his 15 home runs off them.
Jonny Gomes, OF, Reds: An easy call considering how atrocious Chris Narveson has been versus right-handed hitters. Fifteen of the 16 home runs he's allowed have come by right-handers; overall they boast an impressive .327 AVG/.383 OBP/.581 SLG on the season.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Ortiz has somehow been dropped in 1.7 percent of ESPN.com leagues in the past week, so a couple of good matchups in a row should alleviate any concerns. On Wednesday, it's Joel Pineiro's turn to be swatted around a bit; Ortiz is 11-for-25 (.440) with three dingers off the right-hander.
Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees: One of the biggest disappointments to date this season, Granderson is doing his best to change that quickly, with four hits -- three of them home runs -- in his past two games. And now the baseball gods see fit to hand him Fausto Carmona on a platter. The right-hander has allowed Granderson to bat .412 in 34 career at-bats, including seven extra-base hits and two home runs.
Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles: I'd bet Shaun Marcum is the only pitcher in baseball off wom Markakis has hit five home runs, and he needed only 26 at-bats to do it. Teammate Miguel Tejada (10-for-22 with three home runs) has also been a beast against Marcum, who despite his successful season has actually struggled versus righties (.308 opponent batting average).
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Blue Jays: Don't look now, but Encarnacion is batting .341 since the break, and although he's yet to go deep, he has five doubles in the past week. He's been terrible against left-handed pitching this season, but he's shown great power against righties, especially for a guy available in 98 percent of ESPN.com leagues. He's 4-for-11 (.364) with a pair of doubles and a long ball versus Jeremy Guthrie, so feel free to gamble on Encarnacion.
Juan Rivera, OF, Angels: A pair of singles in 18 career at-bats against Josh Beckett isn't going to get it done. We're still waiting for that massive hot streak from Rivera. He is hitting .378 (albeit with one walk) since the All-Star break, but it's doubtful his breakout comes Wednesday.
Josh Willingham, OF, Nationals: Few matchups are more one-sided than this one, as Willingham is a putrid 1-for-20 (.050) in his career against Tim Hudson, striking out seven times. Teammate Ryan Zimmerman (4-for-28) isn't much better.
Ike Davis, 1B, Mets: A month ago or so, Davis had great numbers against left-handed pitching, albeit in a limited number of at-bats. But his struggles in June and July -- he has a sub-.300 OBP, the Mendoza Line equivalent for on-base percentage -- have caused a correction, and now he's sporting a mediocre .274 AVG/.322 OBP/.417 SLG in 84 at-bats against lefties. Now that the scouting reports have made their rounds, expect Jaime Garcia (.591 OPS allowed against left-handed batters) to dominate this matchup.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals: It would've been nicer if I had pointed out the past two days that Rasmus was set to face a slew of lefties, and his brutal July (.233 average with zero home runs and 17 strikeouts against two walks) has led shallow mixed-leaguers to even start dropping him. Obviously, we know by now that Rasmus is quite the streaky hitter, so keep him on your bench and remain patient until he can find his stroke against some right-handers again.
Chone Figgins, 2B/3B, Mariners: Don't expect this free-agent flop to put up a fight against Mark Buehrle, who has dominated him. Shockingly, Figgins has more strikeouts (six) than hits (four); all four of those hits were singles, too, leaving him with a .133 average in 30 at-bats.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Jim Thome, DH, Twins: With his .393 on-base percentage and .540 slugging percentage -- more than half his hits have gone for extra bases -- Thome is still quite productive. He's absolutely lethal against Brian Bannister, going 9-for-26 (.346) in his career with three homers and doubles; this season he's gone 1-for-2 with a double.
Injury list: Out
Injury list: Day-to-day
Andrew Bailey, RP, Athletics (back): Manager Bob Geren hopes to have Bailey back as early as Tuesday. If he's unavailable, Michael Wuertz is prepared to snipe another save.
Russell Branyan, 1B, Mariners (back; probable)
Rajai Davis, OF, Athletics (hamstring)
Jim Edmonds, OF, Brewers (Achilles)
Corey Hart, OF, Brewers (wrist)
Geovany Soto, C, Cubs (foot)
Denard Span, OF, Twins (illness)
Weatherproof: Cubs-Astros, Reds-Brewers, Orioles-Blue Jays and Tigers-Rays.
Storms in Cleveland and Arlington could be enough to delay or ostensibly even postpone the Yankees-Indians and Athletics-Rangers contests, so keep an eye out for that. Meanwhile, the Mariners and White Sox may have a bit of a slick field to contend with to start, with storms expected for much of the afternoon before they taper off in the evening.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
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