Take a chance on Jeremy Guthrie


Can you ignore six consecutive quality starts? Jeremy Guthrie hasn't looked like a stud in doing it, but it counts all the same, and until he walked four Tampa Bay Rays in his last outing, he had allowed a combined three walks in his previous five starts. He's faced the Toronto Blue Jays twice, the Minnesota Twins, the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and Rays, so he hasn't had a slew of weak offenses either. So now that he draws one in the Seattle Mariners, how can you resist? He's a great spot starter for Wednesday.

For starters

Starting pitcher rankings for August 18

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.

Selected notes:

R.A. Dickey continues to confound, hurling a one-hit shutout in his rematch versus the Phillies, throwing egg on the face of yours truly in the process. Hey, it happens. I still don't trust Dickey as far as I can throw him, but after a performance like that you get some leeway.

John Lackey has a 1.88 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in two starts against the Angels, so maybe players really do play better against their former teams. That's the only reason Lackey ranks so highly today; most times I try to avoid him with a 10-foot pole.

• There are about six weeks left in the season. You're either a have or have-not. If you're a have, you probably don't have the roster space to support a flier like Derek Holland; if anything, you grab him so your league-mates can't grab him. If you're a have-not, you need to take chances, and it makes little sense at this point in the season to grab a youngster for his upside only to bench him until he gains your confidence. You just have to roll with it, for better or for worse, or not pick him up to begin with! I would pick him up, so therefore I must recommend him! The Rays haven't exactly lit the world on fire with their offense either, so it may not be as risky as it looks.

• Last week I told you James Shields might get touched up versus the Baltimore Orioles. But really, what does that tell you? My gut said he wasn't a good start, and I should've went with it; anything else is an attempt to save face. The last thing this world needs is another person who can't make up their mind, so let me apologize to anyone who was unimpressed by my lack of commitment. I do not agree with the nearly 5 percent of the ESPN universe that has dropped him in the past week, but at the same time it's a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately game. If you're in a shallow league and suspect he won't get picked up, sure, drop him! But don't do it because you think he's suddenly turned into a bad pitcher! He might get touched up versus the Texas Rangers -- they're hitting .370 off him as a team, albeit in just 81 at-bats -- but I still believe in Shields in the long-term.

• It was put-up or shut-up time for Edinson Volquez, and by golly, he put up! It wasn't the greatest outing -- he allowed eight hits, two walks and a home run in six innings, but struck out six and only allowed one run -- but it was, pardon the pun, a start. Wait to see him do it again before you really buy into him, however. The Arizona Diamondbacks are a pretty good offensive team at home, so I would be wary about throwing Volquez out there, but if he does it again, all bets are off.

Now batting

Hitter matchup ratings for August 18

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.

Hitters' count:

Jason Bartlett, SS, Tampa Bay Rays: When a player has been as uninspiring as Bartlett this year, even modest career lines like a two-walk, one home run, 2-for-4 performance against Derek Holland deserves mention. Actually, scratch that, as when a player has been as uninspiring as Bartlett, they're usually dropped with the quickness. Don't leave your draft without an elite shortstop kids!

Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: He's only faced Yovani Gallardo nine times, and he's struck out a third of the time, but as a whole he's still won the war. Rasmus is 4-for-9 (.444) with two walks and a homer against Gallardo, and his recent performance is gradually improving, so he should snap out of his slump soon.

Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Seattle Mariners: Sporting an ugly .219 AVG/.268 OBP/.316 SLG triple-slash line since the break, let's throw him a bone. Gutierrez is 2-for-5 with a double and a homer off Jeremy Guthrie, which is about the most power he'll ever demonstrate.

Pat Burrell, OF, San Francisco Giants: With five home runs in 74 at-bats since the All-Star break, Burrell is turning into a great source of power. He's 2-for-9 lifetime versus Joe Blanton but both of those hits left the park, so keep trotting him out there.

Carlos Lee, OF, Houston Astros: Let's give Lee some love on consecutive days, cause boy, he sure needs it! Lee has faced R.A. Dickey just seven times, but the results speak for themselves: five hits, five RBIs, three doubles and one home run.

Jason Kubel, OF, Minnesota Twins: He just took Gavin Floyd deep less than a week ago, so why not? That was his fourth career home run off Floyd in 32 career at-bats; he's batting .344 against Floyd lifetime.

Pitchers' count:

Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers: We really could put the whole Brewer team here, as Ryan Braun (.184), Prince Fielder (.171) and Casey McGehee (.083) have all been convincingly conquered by Adam Wainwright. Weeks himself is 4-for-24 (.167) against the ace, striking out five times.

Tyler Colvin, OF, Chicago Cubs: It seems the league has figured out Colvin, as he's cratered in August, batting .170 through 13 games. Feel free to dump him for the next hottest thing, but at least make sure you sit him against Clayton Richard, who has not allowed a home run to lefties all season long (.591 OPS against).

Adam Lind, OF, Toronto Blue Jays: There's no doubt that Lind is gradually getting back on track, but in this case it's unfortunate he's a left-hander, as Gio Gonzalez, a lefty himself, carves up southpaws: they're hitting .173 off him.

Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees: I never would have imagined that Jeremy Bonderman would prove capable of limiting Teixeira to a measly single in 15 career at-bats. Teixeira has struck out (three times) more often than he's reached base (twice).

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals: In 31 career at-bats versus Tim Hudson, the third baseman has just one extra-base hit, a double. Overall he's 5-for-31 (.161) with two walks and six strikeouts, and he's not the only one who struggles against Hudson: Josh Willingham is a brutal 1-for-20 (.050) off the right-hander.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Texas Rangers: Poor James Shields. He's a good pitcher and all but he gets another awful matchup, and the numbers Guerrero have put up against Shields are a good reason why. Vlad is 12-for-30 (.400) with four extra-base hits off Shields, including two home runs. He also hasn't earned a walk, which is bad for real-life value but great for fantasy!


Injury list: Out

Nelson Cruz, OF, Texas Rangers (15-day DL, hamstring): Cruz shouldn't miss much, if any, more than the minimum.

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox (15-day DL, side): Don't be surprised if Ellsbury misses the remainder of the season.

Manny Ramirez, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (15-day DL, calf): Pro-tip: don't get old guys. A supposedly minor calf strain has kept Manny out for a month, but he's set to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday.

Injury list: Day-to-day

Lance Berkman, 1B, New York Yankees (ankle)

Carlos Guillen, 2B/OF, Detroit Tigers (leg)

J.J. Hardy, SS, Minnesota Twins (wrist)

Bobby Jenks, RP, Chicago White Sox (back)

Derrek Lee, 1B, Chicago Cubs (back): Lee only thinks he'll miss a couple of days, and although a bulging disk in your lower back sounds like a big deal, he is a free agent after the season, so he has plenty of incentive to play through injury.

Matt Lindstrom, RP, Houston Astros (back)

Martin Prado, 1B/2B/3B, Atlanta Braves (finger): Prado was activated from the DL Tuesday.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees (calf)

Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, New York Yankees (forearm)

Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies (thumb): Utley was activated from the disabled list Tuesday.

Michael Young, 3B, Texas Rangers (neck)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof: Rangers-Rays, Mets-Astros and Reds-Diamondbacks. Showers are expected in both Baltimore and Philadelphia, although Philly's chances aren't expected to rise to 50 percent until a few hours after game time.

Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.