Can Ricky Nolasco be trusted?
What do fantasy owners do with Ricky Nolasco? Last weekend, he was diagnosed with a torn meniscus is his right knee and will need offseason surgery to repair the injury. However, the pain he was feeling has diminished and the swelling has gone away to the point where Nolasco is planning on taking the mound on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves with Andrew Miller standing by, just in case. Hey, he's 9-2 since June 23 with a 3.45 ERA, and if we'd never heard of the injury in the first place, nobody would blink at his No. 5 ranking for Saturday. I guess the best course of action is to keep him in your lineup until he proves he can't make it to the mound every fifth day -- and keep those fingers crossed.
For starters: Saturday
Starting pitcher rankings for Aug. 28
Top of the charts: Hard to argue with CC Sabathia based on both his recent run of starts and the lifetime 15-4 against the Chicago White Sox. Tim Hudson is 8-3 with a 3.02 ERA against the Florida Marlins, and if Ricky Nolasco does stumble, his odds of winning skyrocket. Johan Santana may have to pitch a complete game to have a chance at a victory, but does have an ERA of 3.00 against the Houston Astros, so there's hope.
Zack Greinke has already beaten the Cleveland Indians twice this season. Clay Buchholz and Matt Garza battle it out in Tampa Bay with the Boston pitcher getting the nod based on his 0.82 ERA this season against his Saturday foe, versus Garza's 4.94.
All of it came in relief, but Brandon Morrow has 12 strikeouts in 10 career innings against the Detroit Tigers. There's been nothing but quality starts for Daniel Hudson since being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Barry Zito has a 4.70 ERA facing the Snakes.
Don't cross the streams: Randy Wells has lost his past three decisions, but has a 2.45 ERA against the Cincinnati Reds this season. His opponent, Bronson Arroyo, is 2-0 against the Chicago Cubs in 2010, having not allowed an earned run against them in 13 innings pitched. This could be a low-scoring affair.
Thanks, but no thanks: Jon Garland has never won against the Philadelphia Phillies, with a 7.94 lifetime ERA. Joe Blanton, with a career 6.75 ERA against the San Diego Padres, allowed five earned runs and 11 hits in five innings against them back in June. Zach Duke has a 9.60 ERA in three decisions against the Milwaukee Brewers this season.
For starters: Sunday
Starting pitcher rankings for Aug. 29
Top of the charts: What is past is prologue -- at least we can hope that's the case for Adam Wainwright, 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA against the Washington Nationals, and Josh Johnson, 4-2 with a 2.64 ERA facing the Braves. Colby Lewis, on the other hand, hopes only half of history repeats itself. His 2.77 ERA against the Oakland Athletics in 2010 is nice, but the 0-2 record is not so pretty.
Matt Cain has already defeated the Diamondbacks twice this season, with no earned runs allowed in 17 innings of work. Cole Hamels has been getting bubkus in terms of run support lately, but did keep the Padres to two runs in eight innings the last time he faced them, which of course, was a loss. Ted Lilly doesn't need run support if he holds the Colorado Rockies to another two-hit shutout as he did last week.
Don't look now, but Clayton Richard has won his past five decisions, and his past four home appearances. On the flip side of things, although John Lackey is 11-3 lifetime against the Tampa Bay Rays, he has a 5.94 ERA against them this season.
Streamers on alert: Bud Norris topped the Mets, allowing only two runs in seven innings pitched earlier this season. I'm not usually a Dave Bush fan, but he is facing the Pirates, against whom he already has two victories this season and a 3.63 ERA.
Tread lightly: I'm still concerned with Fausto Carmona, who has a 6.30 ERA against the Kansas City Royals in 2010. Edinson Volquez might get shipped off to the bullpen rather than get the call on Sunday. Bruce Chen is 2-0 against the Indians this year, but that comes with a 7.04 ERA. No need to get cute, gang.
Hitter matchup ratings for Aug. 28
Hitters' count: Saturday
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers: With 15 hits in his past 10 starts, Braun is primed and ready to tackle Zach Duke, against whom he's a career .412 hitter.
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, Royals: Another hitter who has stayed hot all summer long, Betancourt is actually slugging .618 for this past month and has five extra-base hits against the Indians in 2010.
Brendan Ryan, SS, Cardinals: Success is relative, but when a .224 hitter for the year is batting .282 in August, you have to take a look. If you do, you'll see he's 5-for-7 lifetime against Livan Hernandez.
Danny Valencia, 3B, Twins: Valencia has hit .385 against the Mariners this season and is coming off a series in which he had four hits in four games against the Rangers.
Pitchers' count: Saturday
A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: A.J. has been unconscious with 11 hits in his past six games, but he's never been able to solve CC Sabathia. He's 4-for-24 lifetime against the Yankees ace.
Chris Johnson, 3B, Astros: Johnson is hitting just .125 against the current Mets staff, including an 0-for-13 stretch in the last series they squared off.
Cody Ross, OF, Giants: He's had a nice start to his Giants career (4-for-9), but has hit only .222 in 36 at-bats against the current Diamondbacks collection of arms.
Michael Brantley, OF, Indians: He's had hits in both games since returning from an ankle injury, but considering his history against Zack Greinke (0-for-6) this streak should end before it really gets going.
Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Marlins: Sanchez has managed only a .143 average against Tim Hudson and has hit just .258 on the road versus .324 at home.
Hitter matchup ratings for Aug. 29
Hitters' count: Sunday
Johnny Damon, DH, Tigers: He's happy to be staying in Detroit, and even happier to be hitting .417 against the Blue Jays in 2010.
Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates: He's not going to have six RBIs every series, but he is 3-for-5 against Dave Bush, so maybe he drives home a few more against the Brewers.
Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets: The second baseman is talking it up how he wants to be traded. Escaping from New York may well be enough motivation for Castillo to start bringing it at the plate.
Pitchers' count: Sunday
Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks: Parra was in the midst of a 3-for-22 slide when he had his three-hit game on Thursday. The .091 batting average against Matt Cain makes us doubt he'll do that again.
Brian McCann, C, Braves: Similarly, one good game does not mean a hitter's slump is over. After a 2-for-16 week, McCann had four hits against the Rockies. Let's see him do it against Josh Johnson -- against whom he's hitting .207 lifetime -- before we do cartwheels.
Cliff Pennington, SS, Athletics: Colby Lewis has retired Pennington in all but one at-bat in which they've squared off, and the shortstop is in a 1-for-16 tailspin.
Willie Harris, OF, Nationals: He's actually had hits in each of his past four starts, but is 0-for-11 when going up against Adam Wainwright. Pass.
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds: Hitting only .191 against the Cubs staff, even though results on his X-rays came back negative -- which is positive -- wrist injuries are always worrisome.
Baseball Challenge Picks of the Weekend
Sunday: David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Big Papi has always been streaky, and it's time for another "hot one" to begin, as he's a .400 career hitter against James Shields, with 11 RBIs in 30 at-bats and a .933 slugging percentage.
Injury list: Out
Manny Corpas, P, Rockies (expected 15-day DL, elbow soreness)
Ross Ohlendorf, P, Pirates (strained shoulder)
J.J. Putz, P, White Sox (15-day DL, left knee)
Matt Thornton, P, White Sox (15-day DL, sore forearm)
Jim Edmonds, OF, Reds (15-day DL, right oblique)
Stephen Strasburg, P, Nationals (15-day DL, right forearm)
Jeff Clement, 1B, Pirates (15-day DL, sore left knee)
Scott Feldman, P, Rangers (15-day DL, right knee)
Guillermo Mota, P, Giants (15-day DL, left leg)
Travis Schlichting, P, Dodgers (15-day DL, right shoulder)
Maicer Izturis, 2B/3B/SS, Angels (15-day DL, right shoulder)
Ron Mahay, P, Twins (60-day DL, right shoulder)
Kevin Slowey, P, Twins (15-day DL, right triceps)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Weatherproof games: Tigers at Blue Jays, Red Sox at Rays, Pirates at Brewers and Twins at Mariners. Cooler temperatures start to rule the day on the West Coast, but from a precipitation point of view, there's nothing to pay attention to this weekend.