Mat Latos, Tim Lincecum to face off
The San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres both have 79 wins, and their weekend series is by far the most compelling of all the games on the schedule. Sunday's matchup is as good as it gets, with Mat Latos -- 2-0 with an 0.96 ERA against the Giants this season -- going up against two-time defending Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. It takes a lot to get sports fans to even consider switching over to a Sunday baseball game in September, but this matchup certainly fits the bill. The complete rankings for the weekend are below:
For starters: Saturday
Starting pitcher rankings for Sept. 11
Top of the Charts: Felix Hernandez has been untouchable of late, having allowed only one earned run since Aug. 10. He gets the top spot ahead of Ubaldo Jimenez, who is 3-1 this season against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 1.67 ERA.
Two Tommys: Even though Tommy Hanson has gone 1-5 since July 21, only two of those 10 starts were not of the quality variety. Tommy Hunter, on the other hand, has gone 6-3 in his past 10 starts with only 50 percent being quality outings. I won't apologize for liking the guy with the 2.54 ERA during that stretch better than the one with an ERA of 5.37.
Ervin Santana is 2-1 with a 2.94 ERA against the Seattle Mariners in 2010. Ryan Dempster is 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA this season when facing the Milwaukee Brewers. Anibal Sanchez is a perfect 4-0 lifetime versus the Washington Nationals.
Middle of the pack: Brett Anderson's lifetime numbers against the Boston Red Sox are solid -- 2-1, 2.63 ERA -- but he has received only 3.44 runs per game in terms of support in 2010. Aaron Harang is 13-5 in his career versus the Pittsburgh Pirates and already defeated them once this year, back in May.
Hey, you never know: A.J. Burnett has allowed 33 earned runs in seven games since the start of August, but did shutout the Texas Rangers in seven innings back in April. Wade Davis is 1-1 this season with a 3.07 ERA against the Toronto Blue Jays. Kyle Kendrick has been a very un-Kyle like 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA facing the New York Mets this year.
For starters: Sunday
Starting pitcher rankings for Sept. 12
Top of the Charts: With the battle for the NL West featuring Mat Latos and Tim Lincecum, we're pushing Atlanta's Tim Hudson to the top of the table for Sunday, as his "battle" with Kyle Lohse leaves him in a far likelier position to emerge victorious.
Justin Verlander has never tasted defeat at the hands, or wings, of the Baltimore Orioles. He's 4-0 with a 2.57 ERA against the Birds lifetime. Similarly, Johnny Cueto has been a perfect 3-0 against the Pirates in 2010, with a 1.38 ERA.
Others in the upper-third: Dan Haren's lifetime 2.76 ERA against the Mariners and Yovani Gallardo's 0.69 ERA and 19 strikeouts in two games against the Chicago Cubs in 2010 are part of why the duo is ranked so high.
Stuck in the middle: Ian Kennedy has a 5.06 ERA against the Rockies this season. Jason Vargas hasn't won in ages, but does have a 2.68 ERA facing the Los Angeles Angels. Kevin Slowey is 2-0 going up against the Cleveland Indians this season, with a 3.38 ERA.
Chris Volstad is 5-1 against the Nationals, but with a 5.27 ERA. Additionally, he's going to start his suspension right after this outing against the same team that "caused" the need for discipline in the first place.
Better luck next time: Brian Burres and his 7.71 ERA in 2010 against the Reds is a must-pass, as is Dustin Moseley, who has a 5.47 career ERA versus the Rangers and is substituting for Phil Hughes in the Yankees' rotation in an effort to keep the youngster's workload down.
Hitter matchup ratings for Sept. 11
Hitters' count: Saturday
Jason Giambi, 1B, Rockies: He has three starts this month, and a hit in each one of them. Additionally, he's a .314 lifetime hitter against Rodrigo Lopez with four round-trippers.
Chris Snyder, C, Pirates: He's not getting at-bats every day, but with a .955 OPS facing Aaron Harang, Saturday might be the time to trot him out there.
Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets: Beltran is batting .333 (8-for-24) so far in September and .308 with a home run in his career against Kyle Kendrick.
John Lindsey, 1B, Dodgers: After 16 years spent toiling in the minors, Joe Torre says he's going to give Lindsey his first start in the major leagues on Saturday. Maybe you don't want to start him, but you have to be rooting for him.
Pitchers' count: Saturday
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants: The Panda is batting only .231 versus the Padres in 2010, and only .176 so far in September.
Juan Rivera, OF, Angels: In the middle of a brutal 2-for-31 slide, Rivera won't find much comfort in his .158 lifetime average squaring off against Felix Hernandez.
Chris Young, OF, Diamondbacks: Not only is he hitting a meager .190 during the past week, but Young has 12 whiffs in 31 at-bats against Ubaldo Jimenez and an OBP of just .188.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Not only is Big Papi batting just .176 against the Athletics this season, but he's a career 0-for-7 facing Brett Anderson.
Roger Bernadina, OF, Nationals: No wonder Bernadina's ownership has dropped to single digits. Not only has he hit just .158 in the past seven days, but he's only 1-for-10 against Anibal Sanchez.
Hitter matchup ratings for September 12
Hitters' count: Sunday
Orlando Cabrera, SS, Reds: Hopefully, Cabrera's sore oblique won't be giving him any trouble on Sunday, because his owners would love to see him and his .538 average against Brian Burres in the Reds' lineup.
Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers: Cruz is back in the Rangers' lineup and has 10 hits already in September, including six in his past 12 at-bats, to go along with four RBIs for the month.
Denard Span, OF, Twins: After an 0-for-9 start to this ninth month, Span has hit .304 since and has more walks against the Indians than any other team except the Tigers.
Pitchers' count: Sunday
Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles: Although he is 8-for-24 in his past six games, none of those were against Justin Verlander, who has held the Orioles outfielder to a .211 batting average.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres: As hot as he has been this past week -- and .455 qualifies as hot in my book -- he's managed to get only seven hits in 36 at-bats (.194) against Tim Lincecum.
Pedro Feliz, 3B, Cardinals: A sad .103 batting average in September has forced Feliz to the waiver wire in nearly every fantasy league. The lifetime .172 versus Tim Hudson is not going to make anyone reconsider.
Baseball Challenge Picks of the Weekend
Saturday: Ichiro Suzuki, RF, Mariners: Ichiro has a 10-game hitting streak working, and a .400 batting average since the end of August. Throw in a .356 lifetime mark versus Ervin Santana and this is a no-brainer.
Sunday: Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox: Konerko is batting .346 at home this season and has kept his average at .344 since the All-Star break. Why jump ship now, as his recent back problem seems to be behind him?
Injury list: Out
Scott Mathieson, P, Phillies (15-day DL, strained lat)
Trever Miller, P, Cardinals (left forearm strain, not with team)
Aaron Cook, P, Rockies (broken fibula, likely done for season)
Ricky Nolasco, P, Marlins (60-day DL, torn meniscus)
Donnie Murphy, SS, Marlins (60-day DL, dislocated wrist)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies (hamstring)
Jose Valverde, P, Tigers (tender elbow)
Bobby Jenks, P, White Sox (forearm)
Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox (hand)
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers (biceps/shoulder)
Weatherproof games: Rays at Blue Jays, Cubs at Brewers and Dodgers at Astros. Saturday's strongest weather system is due to settle over the Ohio Valley, before moving on to the east coast to bother those games on Sunday. Atlanta and Texas also expect to have some downpours throughout the weekend.