Commentary

Can Zack Greinke turn things around?

Updated: July 30, 2010, 1:41 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Daily Notes

The trade deadline is finally upon us, which means that after this weekend, we no longer need fear -- for the most part -- that the scheduled starters for the day will no longer be pitching for the teams we thought they would.

It will be a sad time for Zack Greinke owners if he indeed stays in Kansas City, even as many of his teammates get sent elsewhere. He certainly hasn't been his Cy Young self in 2010, but it can't be easy to continue to pitch at that level when you're getting only 3.47 runs per game in support. When quality starts leave you no room for error, it can be frustrating to say the least.

For now, Greinke is set to take the mound Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles -- 13th in the American League with 367 runs scored -- and we'll rank him accordingly. As for the complete lists, you can find them below:

For starters: Saturday

Selected notes:

• Top of the charts: Felix Hernandez has a 2.56 career ERA against the Minnesota Twins, including a 4-1, nine-strikeout victory earlier this season. … John Danks is a perfect 4-0 against the Oakland Athletics with a 1.62 ERA, and he hasn't lost since July 3.

Ricky Nolasco is 7-2 this season on the road, and Saturday's road trip takes him to San Diego. … Dan Haren should be able to make his start after taking a line drive off the forearm in his Los Angeles Angels' debut. Look for his second impression to be better than the first.

Dallas Braden put in a quality start and got the victory against the Chicago White Sox this week. … Tom Gorzelanny's Friday start was flipped with Ryan Dempster. The left-handed Gorzelanny has a 2.25 ERA on the road.

• Middle-of-the-road options: Daisuke Matsuzaka is 4-1 lifetime with a 2.64 ERA against the Detroit Tigers, making him an appealing option Saturday. … Jair Jurrjens has a 6.75 ERA against the Cincinnati Reds and Kevin Slowey's ERA facing the Seattle Mariners is 5.09. That's why they rank no higher, despite some success in their recent outings.

• Streamers on alert: Brett Cecil beat the Cleveland Indians back in May with a 10-strikeout gem. … Barry Enright topped the New York Mets in a one-run, eight-inning outing less than two weeks ago. … Jeff Suppan is always a risk, but that 14-3 career record against the Pittsburgh Pirates sure looks tempting. Nah, never mind.

• Thanks, but no thanks: Ross Detwiler is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA against the Philadelphia Phillies. … Scott Feldman may get bumped if Rich Harden is ready to come off the disabled list. … The Pirates are expected to call up Daniel McCutchen from Triple-A, where he was just 4-8 with a 3.99 ERA on the season. That's better than his 8.58 ERA in the majors, but not all that exciting.

For starters: Sunday

Selected notes:

• Top of the charts: Adam Wainwright has an unusually high ERA against the Pirates -- 5.07 -- but even so, he has a 6-2 record against them. He clearly gets run support, including an 11-4 victory back in May. … "Untouchable" Josh Johnson has a 1.59 ERA against the San Diego Padres this season. No need to expect anything different Sunday.

Cliff Lee is not new to winning against the Los Angeles Angels. He's 7-3 lifetime against them with a 3.07 ERA. … Clayton Kershaw's suspension ends in time for this start, which is why Chad Billingsley was moved to Saturday on short rest. … CC Sabathia shines against the Tampa Bay Rays, with an 8-3 record, including a 1.84 ERA so far in 2010.

• A trio of question marks round out the elite eight. Tommy Hanson looks to make amends for his last time out against the Reds, when he got crushed for eight earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. Jered Weaver is 1-1 against the Texas Rangers this season with a 5.09 ERA. Matt Cain has never defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers. He's 0-8 with a 4.32 ERA.

• Middle-of-the-road options: Gavin Floyd is 2-0 lifetime against the Oakland Athletics with a 1.33 ERA. He faces Gio Gonzalez, who is 2-0 over the last three weeks, though he does own a double-digit ERA against the White Sox. … Clay Buchholz defeated the Tigers back in May 7-2, going 6 1/3 innings.

• Streamers on alert: He hasn't shown much in 2010, but Jorge De La Rosa does have an 0.64 ERA against the Chicago Cubs in his career. … Jon Garland is 2-0 against the Florida Marlins this season, with a 1.42 ERA. … Rodrigo Lopez is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA against the Mets.

• Bullpen retreads Luke French and Wesley Wright offer up little for the fantasy player. … With Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list, the Nationals will turn to either Matt Chico or John Lannan to take the mound Sunday. To say either option is a huge step down is as big an understatement as one can make.

Now batting

Hitters' count: Saturday

Hunter Pence, OF, Houston Astros: So far, Pence is hitting .444 on this homestand, which continues with Dave Bush attempting to do better than the .400 batting average he's allowed the outfielder over his career.

Jose Lopez, 3B, Seattle Mariners: Lopez has had a balky hamstring, but he'll want to be back in the lineup to face Kevin Slowey, a pitcher whom he's roughed up for two homers and a .556 batting average.

Billy Butler, OF, Kansas City Royals: Butler has hit safely in 10 of 11 games and gets to face Brad Bergesen on Saturday, a pitcher he's hit .375 against in limited appearances.

Ronny Cedeno, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates: Don't look now, but Cedeno has hit .349 this month, albeit in the obscurity of Pittsburgh. His career OBP when facing Jeff Suppan is .615, so get ready for more fun on the basepaths.

Marlon Byrd, OF, Chicago Cubs: The Byrd is still the word in Chicago, as his average has remained above .310 for most of the season. There it should remain, at least for the weekend. He's 3-for-4 with three RBIs against Jason Hammel.

Pitchers' count: Saturday

Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants: The Panda has had a tough month, batting just .227 with only five extra-base hits in 88 at-bats. Don't expect him to find his kung fu against Billingsley, against whom he has only hit .211.

Delmon Young, OF, Minnesota Twins: No way anyone could keep up his torrid pace -- hitting .531 on this just-finished road trip. Plus, Young faces Felix Hernandez, who has retired the outfielder 83 percent of the time they've squared off.

Ty Wigginton, 1B, Baltimore Orioles: He's been a hot topic of trade rumors, but many potential suitors have backed off after watching Wigginton hit just .217 in July. If he's still in Baltimore, things don't get better for him against Greinke, against whom he's 2-for-11 in his career.

Will Venable, OF, San Diego Padres: Five at-bats against Ricky Nolasco have yielded four strikeouts. Venable has not been himself since he's been back in the Padres' lineup, hitting just .176.

Drew Stubbs, OF, Cincinnati Reds: Ownership of Stubbs has dropped below the 50 percent mark after his recent 1-for-25 stretch, and the .182 average against the current Braves staff, including 0-for-4 against Jurrjens may cause more folks to jump ship.

Hitters' count: Sunday

Jayson Werth, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, Werth will be able to focus on the here and now, which against current Washington pitching has yielded him a .479 batting average.

Jason Giambi, 1B, Colorado Rockies: In 11 career at-bats against Carlos Silva, Giambi has four hits and five RBIs. That could yield him a Sunday start, and a successful one at that.

Carlos Beltran, OF, New York Mets: He hit 5-for-12 against the St. Louis Cardinals, including his first home run of the season, so it looks like he's close to returning to form. He's still available in 17 percent of leagues -- if you're in one of those, now's the time to grab him.

Carlos Quentin, OF, Chicago White Sox: True, Quentin has been more down than up this season, but he is 3-for-4 with four RBIs against Gio Gonzalez. This could be a day to give CQ a chance.

Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland Indians: I've already recommended two Carloses -- Carli?-- so why not make it three? Santana went 2-for-3 against Jesse Litsch in their prior encounter.

Pitchers' count: Sunday

Carlos Pena, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays: With 17 strikeouts in 32 at-bats against Sabathia and a .125 batting average, this Carlos is on the outside looking in.

John Buck, C, Toronto Blue Jays: Color us completely unimpressed with Buck's .098 batting average when going up against the current Indians staff.

Bobby Abreu, OF, Los Angeles Angels: Abreu's .202 batting average in July will get little comfort from a meeting with Cliff Lee. The veteran is batting just .182 against the Rangers new ace.

Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: He has only one home run since July 7 and none in 27 career at-bats against Matt Cain. What has become of Matt Kemp?

Marco Scutaro, SS, Boston Red Sox: Scutaro was hot against the Angels -- 7-for-14 -- but Justin Verlander of the Tigers will put out that fire. Scutaro is hitting just .211 against him, with seven whiffs in 19 at-bats.

Baseball Challenge Picks of the Weekend

Saturday: Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals: Since 2007, Pujols has hit .369 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and with a Triple-A call-up on tap, there's few players we'd want in our lineups ahead of The Machine.

Sunday: Jhonny Peralta, 3B, Detroit Tigers: Welcome to Detroit, Jhonny. Now go out there and repeat your two-hit, two-RBI performance from the last time you faced Buchholz, and make your new teammates love you.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers (15-day DL, left groin strain)

Andrew Bailey, P, Oakland Athletics (likely 15-day DL, strained rib)

Stephen Strasburg, P, Washington Nationals (15-day DL, right shoulder)

Joel Pineiro, P, Los Angeles Angels (15-day DL, strained oblique)

Shane Victorino, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (15-day DL, left abdominal strain)

Ryan Rowland-Smith, P, Seattle Mariners (15-day DL, lower back)

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)

Orlando Hudson, 2B, Minnesota Twins (15-day DL, strained right oblique)

J.D. Martin, P, Washington Nationals (15-day DL, lower back)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Alex Gonzalez, SS, Atlanta Braves (flu-like symptoms)

Travis Hafner, DH, Cleveland Indians (shoulder soreness)

Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (shoulder soreness)

Ben Zobrist, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (back)

Jason Bay, OF, New York Mets (concussion)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof games: Indians at Blue Jays, Yankees at Rays and Brewers at Astros. On Saturday, there are showers in the middle of the country, from Minnesota to Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis, too. Those clouds stray eastward for Sunday, with New York and Washington the unlucky recipients of the rain. Denver is the lone city with the forecast calling for wet weather on both days of the weekend.

AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can follow AJ on Twitter or e-mail him here.

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