Olsen returns to Nationals rotation
Scott Olsen will return to the Washington Nationals after a lengthy stint on the disabled list. He had stiffness and inflammation in his surgically repaired shoulder, and has been out since May 23. So why should you care? For one thing, he's a left-handed pitcher in the National League, and there's no split more one-sided than the .238 batting average of lefty-versus-lefty on the Senior Circuit. But also, down the line, if Olsen follows Stephen Strasburg in the rotation, that could shave a run off his ERA. Keep an eye on this start, and be prepared to pounce should things go well.
Starting pitcher rankings for July 29
• Top options: Although things have not gone as smoothly for Ubaldo Jimenez lately, he is going up against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team he's 2-0 against with a 1.61 ERA in his career. That's the team Mat Latos just handled easily in his return to action after a brief DL stint, and the young ace has won six decisions in a row.
• C.J. Wilson held the Oakland Athletics to just one run and four hits over seven innings back in May and is facing Vin Mazzaro, who barely got through three innings against the Texas Rangers the last time he faced them.
• David Price has a 0.90 ERA against the struggling, injury-ravaged Detroit Tigers, while Derek Lowe is 6-5 lifetime against the Washington Nationals with a 3.86 ERA. ... Vicente Padilla has a solid history on his side against the San Diego Padres: 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA.
• The entire New York Mets rotation was moved up a day. R.A. Dickey takes the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals on one fewer day of rest, which is always risky for a knuckleballer. ... Freddy Garcia has a career ERA of 5.57 against the Seattle Mariners, which puts him in the risky category as well.
• Joe Saunders faces the Philadelphia Phillies in his first official start for the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's not the ideal getting-to-know-you affair, I fear, though he does at least get to go up against Kyle Kendrick, who has a 9.00 ERA this season versus the D-Backs..
• David Pauley hasn't been pitching all that poorly since joining the Seattle Mariners rotation. However, he took the loss the last time he faced the Chicago White Sox on July 19. ... Dustin Moseley is certainly a step up from Sergio Mitre, and believe it or not, he's 3-0 lifetime against the Cleveland Indians. However, expecting more than five innings may be pushing your luck.
Hitter matchup ratings for July 29
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Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Seattle Mariners: Ichiro's 8-for-24 lifetime mark against Freddy Garcia should go a long way in helping the outfielder snap out of his current 2-for-16 funk.
Stephen Drew, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks: The shortstop has hits in four straight games and owns a .556 slugging percentage against Kyle Kendrick.
Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Yankees: Can his recent mini-spurt of home runs continue? Perhaps it can against Mitch Talbot. They've only faced each other four times, but one of Granderson's two hits was a home run.
Bengie Molina, C, Texas Rangers: Molina has cooled off a bit with a 2-for-21 stretch, but that .429 batting average against Vin Mazzaro may reignite his bat.
Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: Holliday has just a .239 batting average against the current Mets staff, and despite an 12-game hitting streak, his batting average has actually dropped five points over the past week.
Jorge Cantu, 3B, Florida Marlins: Benching a guy because of concerns about his defense is not going to garner any trade offers. Neither is his .225 batting average in July. If he is still in town, sit him down.
Daric Barton, 1B, Oakland Athletics: Barton is incredibly frustrating to his owners, alternating multi-hit games with 0-fers without any rhyme or reason. However, he's never had a hit off C.J. Wilson, so perhaps that's a tipoff.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers: Believe it or not, he does have a game every now and again where he goes hitless -- it's happened three times this month already. It may well happen again against David Price, who is a perfect 4-for-4 in retiring Miggy.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Chris Getz, 2B, Kansas City Royals: Getz is 5-for-9 with three steals in his past three games, and should continue to get plenty of playing time now that Alberto Callaspo is gone. Plus, he's batting .450 against the Baltimore Orioles, his highest career average against any opponent.
Injury list: Out
Jamie Moyer, P, Philadelphia Phillies (15-day DL, left elbow)
Chris Coghlan, OF, Florida Marlins (15-day DL, left knee)
Rod Barajas, C, New York Mets (15-day DL, strained left oblique)
J.D. Martin, P, Washington Nationals (15-day DL, lower back)
Carlos Guillen, 2B, Detroit Tigers (15-day DL, strained right calf)
Magglio Ordonez, OF, Detroit Tigers (15-day DL, fractured ankle)
Ben Sheets, P, Oakland Athletics (15-day DL, strained right elbow)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (foot)
Jason Bay, OF, New York Mets (concussion)
Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (hip)
Jose Lopez, 3B, Seattle Mariners (tight hamstring)
Stephen Strasburg, P, Washington Nationals (inflamed shoulder)
Shane Victorino, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (strained oblique)
Jorge Posada, C, New York Yankees (knee)
Weatherproof games: Tigers at Rays. The coast is most definitely not clear, at least on the Atlantic side of things, as those pesky summer storms may cause some delays in New York, Philadelphia and Washington on Thursday.
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