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Lefties galore for Monday's games

9/12/2010

In my brief tenure writing this column, I usually find at least 10 quality pitchers to rank at the top. That was not the case in this edition of Daily Notes.

For Monday's games, there were only five starters I would feel comfortable putting in my starting lineup in most fantasy leagues. Oh, and be wary of starting mediocre left-handed hitters on Monday with a dozen southpaws taking the hill. The top four pitchers on the list are all lefties; then again, so are five of the bottom six pitchers. Go figure.

For starters

Starting pitcher rankings for Sept. 13

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

Strong plays: Brett Myers is usually a no-brainer play, but owners of him in smaller leagues can justify benching Myers based on his 6.50 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in three starts against Milwaukee this season. … Barry Enright didn't fare so well in his most recent start. The Giants scored six runs off him, marking the first time in 13 career starts that he has allowed more than three runs in a game. Despite the tough matchup Monday, Enright is 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA in five road starts this season. … Dillon Gee has a very favorable matchup for his second career start. He debuted with five no-hit innings against the Nationals and allowed just one run in seven innings of work, throwing just 86 pitches. … Joe Blanton has a trio of factors that put him in this "strong plays" category. He hasn't lost in his past nine starts (3.62 ERA), has great success at Sun Life Stadium (12 IP, 2 ER, 18 K) and has a 14-6 career mark in September.

Worth considering: Cory Luebke pitched well enough in his most recent outing (6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 7 K against the Dodgers) for NL-only owners to try him out, but he will pitch at Coors Field on Monday against the same team that rocked him for four runs in five innings less than two weeks ago. … The odds of a victory appear to be in Derek Lowe's favor, but he is not worth a play in shallow leagues because of his 1-6 record and 5.44 ERA in his past nine starts versus the Nationals. … Bob Cramer makes his major league debut at age 30. The self-described "typical crafty lefty," who was out of baseball 2005-07, went 2-2 with a 1.94 ERA and 1.25 WHIP and 35 K's in 41 2/3 IP in seven starts with Triple-A Sacramento. I wouldn't start him against a good team, but he's worth a flier in deep leagues because he's facing the Royals.

Stay away: Jeff Francis returns from his shoulder problems but will be limited by a pitch count Monday. … Andrew Miller was tagged for seven runs on 11 hits by the Phillies in his last outing. … Brian Matusz and Marc Rzepczynski are facing each other Monday, but neither is worthy of your consideration. Matusz has a 22.86 ERA in two career starts versus Toronto, and Rzepczynski is 1-4 with a 6.47 ERA in eight starts this season. … Yunesky Maya's first career outing against the Mets (5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER) was not good enough to risk starting him against a much better hitting team Monday.

Now batting

Hitter matchup ratings for Sept. 13

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

Ian Desmond, SS, Washington Nationals: Now that his hamstring problems are behind him, it's safe to get Desmond back into your lineup, especially against Derek Lowe. In eight at-bats against Lowe, Desmond has a single, double, triple and two homers, giving him a slugging percentage of 1.750 when facing Lowe.

Rajai Davis, CF, Oakland Athletics: He has been hot lately, batting .345 with five runs and four steals in his past eight games. Davis is also 3-for-6 against Luke Hochevar.

Ramon Hernandez, C, Cincinnati Reds: He has traditionally hit well in September, with a .317 batting average, 23 homers and 88 RBIs in the month since 2003. Hernandez is also 5-for-9 with four RBIs against Arizona this season.

Pitchers' count

Carlos Pena, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays: Success is hard to come by for left-handed hitters facing CC Sabathia, but this is ridiculous. Pena is 4-for-32 with 17 K's in his career versus Sabathia.

Jorge Posada, C, New York Yankees: Posada has had no answers for David Price, with an .077 batting average (1-for-13) and six strikeouts against the young southpaw.

Carlos Gomez, CF, Milwaukee Brewers: There is something about the star on Houston's cap that Gomez just can't see past. He is 3-for-33 with 13 K's in his career versus Astros pitching, including 2-for-24 with 11 whiffs this year. Considering Brett Myers is Houston's best pitcher, Gomez is a must-sit for Monday.

Luke Scott, RF, Baltimore Orioles: He's a certain bench player against lefty Marc Rzepczynski, but it might be best to keep Scott on the pine for the next few days, too. He is 3-for-28 with eight K's this season against Toronto.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays: Although he has never faced Brian Matusz, Bautista has feasted on Orioles pitching this season with six homers and 15 RBIs in 12 games and a stat line of .340 BA/.407 OBP/.894 SLG. With three homers in his past three games to reach 46, Bautista is gunning for a 50-homer season.

Triage

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

Carlos Gonzalez, LF, Rockies (sore wrist)

Justin Upton, RF, Diamondbacks (shoulder)

Chris Johnson, 3B, Astros (back)

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Athletics (back)

Josh Bell, 3B, Orioles (right hand)

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)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof games: Yankees at Rays, Brewers at Astros and Red Sox at Mariners. Monday appears to be a bright sunny day throughout most of the country. Of the eight non-weatherproof games, Phillies-Marlins, A's-Royals and Cubs-Cardinals all have the strong possibility of rain in the forecast.

Brian Gramling is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.