Tough matchups for some top pitchers
While most fantasy owners start their best pitchers in all matchups, regardless of ease or severity, such a strategy may backfire Wednesday. Three normally top-flight starters have brutal matchups Wednesday and, as a result, don't even crack the top 10 of the day's rankings. It pays to micromanage, baby! Check out our rankings to see who falls short of fantasy viability:
Starting pitcher rankings for Aug. 4
• Brett Anderson was far from sharp in his return from the disabled list against the White Sox, allowing 10 hits and five runs in 5 1/3 innings, striking out just a single batter. The good news, however, is that he didn't allow a walk or a home run and only two of the 10 hits he allowed went for extra bases. He was allowed to throw 91 pitches, so chances are it was just an off game and not indicative of any further health problems. Surprisingly, Anderson is still available in more than a quarter of ESPN leagues, but he's a quality option in all but the shallowest of mixed leagues.
• The matchup is quite tantalizing, but for once I must praise the masses here for doing everything in their power to avoid Ian Kennedy. Despite his still-decent numbers on the season, he's owned in just 9.2 percent of leagues, which gets a hallelujah from me. Most of the time I am a slave to matchups, but more important than the matchup is the talent level of the pitcher. Right now, owning Kennedy is simply playing with fire. My sentiments are shared when it comes to Mike Pelfrey, which is why both are relatively buried on the rankings despite solid matchups.
• Incredibly, Phil Hughes has allowed 12 of his 16 home runs since June 13. How's that for a correction? It's really not much of a surprise considering he allows a ton of fly balls, induces few grounders and plays half of his games in a bandbox. Indeed, he has a 5.21 ERA at home compared to a 2.61 mark on the road. All of this evidence means you would have to be crazy to keep him active versus the Blue Jays, who have, to beat a dead horse, the most power in the entire majors. They have hit 35 more home runs than any other team in baseball, so Hughes could be in for a world of hurt.
• Sure, Shaun Marcum has been great in his past three starts (2.09 ERA), but come on, it's the Yankees! Lance Berkman is hitting seventh! If you're looking for facts instead of emotion, chew on this: As a team, the Bronx Bombers are living up to their name, combining for an absurd .358 AVG/.464 OBP/.704 SLG line in 81 career at-bats versus Marcum.
• In his past three starts, Ryan Dempster has looked like an entirely different pitcher, which in this case is not a good thing. He's walked more batters (13) than he's struck out (10) and allowed 24 hits and three home runs. If anything, he's lucky to walk away with a 6.75 ERA in the 16 innings he tossed. If he was facing a supremely weak offense, I'd recommend him anyway, but unfortunately the Brewers are one of the toughest matchups around as far as the National League goes. Dempster is no stranger to implosions, so make sure to stay far, far away.
Hitter matchup ratings for Aug. 4
Tyler Colvin, OF, Cubs: With hits in 13 of his past 15 games, Colvin has refused to slow down. Since the All-Star break, 10 of his 18 hits have gone for extra bases, including four dingers. He's normally not quite as adept against southpaws, but lefties have simply tattooed Manny Parra (.371 AVG/.423 OBP/.619 SLG), so it's a smart risk.
Jim Edmonds, OF, Brewers: Sure, he's hurt all the time, but he was raking even in a pinch-hitting role. Now that he's healthy, he's quite the underrated option against right-handers, against whom he's batting .299 with six homers -- but 17 doubles -- in 164 at-bats. He's gone deep four times in just 32 at-bats since the break, so pounce now before he cools off.
Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B, Giants: One of the biggest disappointments of the year has strangely been anything but when facing one of the biggest surprises of the year, Ubaldo Jimenez. Sandoval is 10-for-25 (.400) against Jimenez lifetime, including a 4-for-7 mark this season. With four extra-base hits (one home run) in those 25 at-bats, Sandoval makes a surprisingly strong option.
Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles: For a game at least, Markakis' lack of power won't frustrate his owners. In fact, he's displayed impressive power versus Ervin Santana, slapping him around to the tune of a .917 slugging percentage. He's gone 9-for-24 (.375) against Santana, with seven of those hits going for extra bases, including three long balls.
Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays: And here comes another pitcher uses Lind as a whipping boy, as Phil Hughes has limited Lind to just two hits -- albeit both went for extra bases, including a home run -- in 13 at-bats. That's a paltry .154 average, and Lind hasn't looked good doing it, either, striking out seven times.
Corey Hart, OF, Brewers: He's provided two home runs in 27 at-bats versus Dempster, but that's not enough considering he's mustered hits just two other times. Overall he's batting .148 lifetime against the right-hander, striking out eight times in the process.
Ian Stewart, 2B/3B, Rockies: Oddly enough, Stewart's on-base percentage is higher against left-handers (.367) than righties (.338), but he's otherwise significantly worse versus southpaws. He has just one home run in 74 at-bats, hitting .230 along the way. Make sure to bench him against Madison Bumgarner.
Johnny Damon, OF, Tigers: The newest White Sox pitcher, Edwin Jackson, has thoroughly dismantled Damon in their meetings. Damon is hitting a weak .154 in 26 at-bats, compiling just four hits, including one extra-base hit, a double.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians: Maybe you start him just for the stolen base potential, but if you have solid options otherwise, feel free to sit Choo against Jon Lester. Choo is slugging a mere .363 off southpaws this season with just one of his 13 home runs against them. Lester, of course, dominates lefties, holding them to a .585 OPS.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Jorge Posada, C, Yankees: With four home runs in 15 career at-bats off Marcum, this is an easy call. Posada has seven hits total against him, including a double for good measure, and should be in for a big day.
Injury list: Out
Martin Prado, 1B/2B/3B, Braves (15-day DL, finger)
Carlos Santana, C, Indians (15-day DL, knee)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Johnny Damon, OF, Tigers (back; probable)
Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies (rib/hip): The good news is an MRI showed nothing is broken in Fowler's body; the bad news is that word is he'll likely land on the disabled list anyway.
Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers (head; doubtful): Sadly, Gomez was hit in the head with a Casey Coleman pitch Monday, although he was able to walk off on his own power. We could be dealing with a possible concussion here, however, so Gomez may be on the sidelines for at least a few games.
Travis Hafner, DH, Indians (shoulder)
Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers (knee; probable)
Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies (15-day DL, back): Helton is wrapping up a rehab assignment and could be activated as soon as Tuesday.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies (ankle; doubtful)
Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies (wrist; probable)
Jose Lopez, 2B, Mariners (hamstring)
Joe Mauer, C, Twins (shoulder; available to pinch-hit)
Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays (foot; doubtful): The Rays sent down Jeremy Hellickson after his start Monday night and called up Dan Johnson, who will fill in for Pena in the meantime. It's becoming increasingly likely that Pena lands on the disabled list.
Juan Uribe, 2B/SS/3B, Giants (hamstring)
Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (wrist)
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox (thumb)
Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, Rays (back): "For me, I'm thinking definitely Wednesday," Zobrist said while discussing his eventual return from back stiffness.
Only games between the Twins-Rays and Nationals-Diamondbacks have the benefit of being weatherproof.
Storms are expected in Pittsburgh throughout the day and well into the evening, although since the game is scheduled in the afternoon, there should be more than enough time to complete it.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
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