Commentary

Can Cliff Lee turn things around?

Updated: August 30, 2010, 5:07 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Daily Notes

There's no questioning that Cliff Lee is a talented pitcher and you cannot argue with his stellar K-BB ratio of 13-1. However, since his trade to the Texas Rangers, his record stands at 2-5 with an ERA of 4.50. That's a far cry from the 8-3 pitcher with a 2.34 ERA who arrived from the Seattle Mariners. Yet, as long as he continues to maintain that elite control, you still have to like his chances of regaining that early-season mastery. He ranks third among Tuesday's options. Where do the rest fall into place? Read on:

For starters

Selected notes:

• Top options: Chris Carpenter has a career ERA of 2.82 against the Houston Astros, which is more impressive than Felix Hernandez's 4-7 record and 4.34 ERA against the Los Angeles Angels. The St. Louis Cardinals' ace gets the nod, especially since his opponent, Wandy Rodriguez, is 1-2 this season with a 6.06 ERA against the men from Missouri.

Brian Duensing continues to impress and the Minnesota Twins keep winning for him. He has a 2.28 lifetime ERA against the Detroit Tigers. ... Dan Haren's 3.01 ERA when going up against the Seattle Mariners is good enough for us to keep him in our top 5, just ahead of Ryan Dempster, who has already lost twice this season to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

• Rounding out the top: Phil Hughes dominates the Oakland Athletics, with a 0.77 ERA. Anibal Sanchez is 4-0 against the Washington Nationals with a 2.66 ERA. Both of those pitchers seem more reliable today than Yovani Gallardo, who has had troubles over the past few weeks.

• Break out the streamers: Ian Kennedy has a 1.59 ERA against the San Diego Padres in 2010. ... Edwin Jackson is 5-1 over the years, with a 2.56 ERA when taking the mound versus the Cleveland Indians. ... Brian Matusz has held his own against the Boston Red Sox, with a 2.41 ERA facing them this season.

• Not with an 11-foot pole: Madison Bumgarner has gone 0-2 this season with a 5.73 ERA against the Colorado Rockies. ... Kyle Kendrick's career 8.14 ERA versus the Los Angeles Dodgers is scary bad. ... Kevin Correia already has made four appearances this season against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and has a 6.86 ERA to show for it.

Hitters' count:

Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers: Fielder closes out a positive month at the plate (.312) and is hitting .333 against Aaron Harang in 36 at-bats.

Blake DeWitt, 2B, Chicago Cubs: He's hitting .295 since joining the Cubs and is a perfect 6-for-6 lifetime against Jeff Karstens.

James Loney, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers: Loney is batting .545 against Kyle Kendrick, who isn't exactly "the bee's knees" of pitchers for the Philadelphia Phillies to begin with.

David Murphy, OF, Texas Rangers: Not only is Murphy 4-for-his-last-11 but he has two home runs in five at-bats when going up against Sean O'Sullivan.

Andres Torres, OF, San Francisco Giants: Torres has hit.346 over the past week of play and has recorded a base hit off Esmil Rogers in each of their prior showdowns.

Pitchers' count:

Carlos Lee, 1B, Houston Astros: With 11 strikeouts in 40 career at-bats against Chris Carpenter, and only a .175 batting average, Lee is in for a uphill climb today.

Ryan Raburn, OF, Detroit Tigers: He's had 12 hits in seven games and nobody's complaining about that, but Raburn is hitless in seven career at-bats against Brian Duensing.

Garrett Jones, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates: Even though he has hit five homers, that .125 batting average this month is quite the albatross. The 2-for-12 against Ryan Dempster shouldn't lighten the burden much.

Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Seattle Mariners: He's batting just 3-for-23 since Aug. 23; there's little wonder Gutierrez's ownership has fallen to 51.5 percent of ESPN leagues.

Carlos Beltran, OF, New York Mets: If the recent 5-for-35 (.143) stretch isn't reason enough for a benching, I'm not quite sure what would be grounds for removing Beltran from your lineup.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies: Not only has he had four home runs and 11 RBIs since Aug. 23, but Gonzalez already has two career home runs against Madison Bumgarner.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (15-day DL, left wrist)

Jerry Hairston Jr., SS, San Diego Padres (15-day DL, elbow sprain)

Frank Francisco, P, Texas Rangers (15-day DL, strained lat muscle)

Danys Baez, P, Philadelphia Phillies (15-day DL, back spasms)

Mike Leake, P, Cincinnati Reds (15-day DL, shoulder fatigue)

Manny Corpas, P, Colorado Rockies (15-day DL, elbow soreness)

Ross Ohlendorf, P, Pittsburgh Pirates (strained shoulder)

J.J. Putz, P, Chicago White Sox (left knee)

Matt Thornton, P, Chicago White Sox (sore forearm)

Jim Edmonds, OF, Cincinnati Reds (15-day DL, right oblique)

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

Injury list: Day-to-day

Michael Saunders, OF, Seattle Mariners (shoulder)

Michael Bourn, OF, Houston Astros (hamstring)

Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets (oblique)

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies (tight groin)

Evan Meek, P, Pittsburgh Pirates (bruised hand)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof games: Blue Jays at Rays, Cardinals at Astros, Padres at Diamondbacks and Angels at Mariners. Tuesday thunderstorms may torment those in attendance in Kansas City, Minneapolis and, as usual, Miami. Other than that, expect sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-90s for all but the California coast.

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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