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Chris Young returns to the mound

9/17/2010

Chris Young has been out of commission since the second day of the 2010 season, when his shoulder sent him to the sidelines. Now, with a playoff spot still up for grabs, he retakes the mound for the San Diego Padres on Saturday in a matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals. Whether or not he's on your fantasy team, you have to hope Young makes it through this outing without any setbacks physically, but realistically, it makes little sense to gamble on a pitcher who has been gone from the big leagues for so long, especially one facing the likes of Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols in his return to action. The complete ranking for this weekend's scheduled starters are below:

For starters: Saturday

Starting pitcher rankings for September 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:

Top of the Charts: Cliff Lee may not get a hero's welcome from the home crowd, but he usually comes out victorious against the Seattle Mariners. He's 9-1 lifetime against his former, albeit briefly, team. CC Sabathia is looking to register win No. 5 against the Baltimore Orioles in 2010 and is going up against Jeremy Guthrie and his 7.71 ERA facing the New York Yankees this season.

Tim Lincecum has turned things back around over the last few weeks, and he did hold the Milwaukee Brewers to one earned run in seven innings, with 10 strikeouts, back in July. Another Tim has been quite the enchanter of the New York Mets this season. Tim Hudson has held the Gothamites down with a 1.80 ERA in three decisions.

At the other end of the top 10: Anibal Sanchez has a career 6.75 ERA against the Chicago Cubs, but is going up against the far less experienced Casey Coleman. Jhoulys Chacin is 3-0 in his last five outings, including a quality win against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bronson Arroyo did muster up a victory against the Houston Astros, though it was way back in April. Still, he is 9-6 lifetime against his Saturday opponent.

Don't cross the streams: Dillon Gee has done the job in his first two starts, albeit against weak teams; the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kevin Slowey is 3-0 against the Oakland Athletics for his career with a 1.38 ERA, including seven shutout innings in an August win.

Close, but no cigar: Jason Vargas is 1-1 this year with a 5.56 ERA going up against the Texas Rangers, while Justin Masterson has a lifetime ERA of 5.19 facing the Kansas City Royals. Ricky Romero is 1-4 with a 7.88 ERA against the Boston Red Sox over the course of his career.

Thanks, but no thanks: Kyle Kendrick has been awful against the Nationals, with a 1-3 mark, and a 7.06 ERA in nine starts. Compare that number with Jeff Suppan's 5.82 against the Padres and Josh Beckett's 7.34 facing the Blue Jays and you'll understand why this trio are all ranked in the twenties for today.

For starters: Sunday

Starting pitcher rankings for September 19

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:

Top Trio: Clayton Kershaw has simply owned the Colorado Rockies this season, with a 3-0 record and a 1.04 ERA. He's sitting atop the Sunday starters ahead of Adam Wainwright, who continues his quest towards 20 wins on Sunday against the Padres. His 1.62 career ERA facing the team bodes well for him getting to the doorstep. Jon Lester has not fared well versus the Blue Jays this season. Though he's won twice, his ERA stands at 6.60.

Francisco Liriano hasn't lost since July 9, while Brett Myers has only tasted defeat once since July started. John Danks has managed a pretty nifty 1.38 ERA in taming the Detroit Tigers in 2010.

Derek Lowe may not have defeated the Mets this year -- he's 0-2 -- but the 2.95 ERA is not too shabby. Meanwhile, Daniel Hudson continues to impress, with nary a bad outing to his name since moving to the National League.

Veteran hesitation: Andy Pettitte is 27-6 lifetime against the Baltimore Orioles, but may not be allowed to throw more than 90 pitches, making a long outing less likely. Barry Zito has a 1-3 record against the Milwaukee Brewers with a 5.89 ERA, which is actually an improvement over his performance over the last three weeks. Sigh.

Don't fear the sleepers: Bob Cramer, the 30-year-old rookie, is a sneaky left-hander, which is always someone to roll the dice with, even against a solid team like the Twins. Yunesky Maya has yet to win a game, but sooner or later he's going to find his comfort zone. Why not now? With three quality starts already this month, Josh Tomlin has every chance at shutting down the Kansas City Royals.

Now batting

Hitter matchup ratings for September 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: Saturday

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals: He's batting .391 for the past seven days and has six extra-base hits to go along with a .500 batting average when facing Kyle Kendrick.

Nick Swisher, OF, Yankees: An MRI showed no broken bones in Swisher's knee, so hopefully he'll be back in action in time for a matchup with Jeremy Guthrie. He's batting .542 lifetime against the Orioles pitcher .

Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals: An eight-game hitting streak and a .392 batting average for September? Good. Facing Chris Young in his first game back from the disabled list with a lifetime .440 OBP against him? Priceless.

Brennan Boesch, OF, Tigers: Remember when everyone was in love with Boesch? Maybe you will be again, at least for a day, as he's the member of the Tigers with the most hits off Lucas Harrell.

Drew Sutton, SS, Indians: Former Reds' prospect Sutton hit .375 in last year's September action. If you're looking to catch lightning in a bottle for the last few weeks of play, he might be your guy.

Pitchers' count: Saturday

Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers: Where did Matt Kemp disappear to? He's batting only .158 over the past week and is just 2-for-11 against Jhoulys Chacin.

Russell Branyan, DH, Mariners: Yeah, he may get a home run every series, but it's often the only hit he gets -- though given the .143 lifetime mark versus Cliff Lee, it probably won't come tonight.

Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers: Though he tore the cover off the ball, batting .455 against the Astros in the team's last series, Gomez has never had a hit facing Tim Lincecum.

Mike Napoli, C, Angels: He's batting only.211 for the past week and is a perfect 3-for-3 in terms of striking out when going up against David Price.

Lucas Duda, OF, Mets: When New York papers get this excited over a young player increasing his batting average to .081, you know it's been a long season for the Mets. Don't buy into the buzz.

Hitter matchup ratings for September 19

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: Sunday

Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox: Over the past week of play, Konerko has a 1.238 slugging percentage. Can he keep it up? Perhaps. He does have five home runs lifetime versus Jeremy Bonderman.

Marlon Byrd, OF, Cubs: Southpaw Andrew Miller may have his hands full with Byrd, who has posted a .364 batting average against left-handed pitching in 2010.

Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks: September has been ugly for Reynolds as evidenced by the putrid .079 batting average. If he is to turn things around, it will be against Zach Duke. Reynolds' lifetime average facing the Pirates pitcher is .615.

Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles: Andy Pettitte is on a limited pitch count, and Markakis' 11-game hitting streak to go along with a career.353 average facing the Yankees hurler could hurry his departure along.

Pitchers' count: Sunday

Ryan Doumit, C, Pirates: Doumit has only a .188 batting average against the Diamondbacks staff and has not been in the lineup much this past week. Time to let him go.

Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays: Hill is just 3-for-26 (.115) over the past week, and has even worse numbers facing Jon Lester: 2-for-24, which translates to a meager .083.

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies: Hotter than the sun of late, it's worth noting that the shortstop is only 5-for-26 (.192) with eight strikeouts versus Clayton Kershaw.

Michael Young, 3B, Rangers: Young is hitting only .250 at Safeco Field this season and has only a .167 slugging percentage against Doug Fister.

Chris Johnson, 3B, Astros: Johnson is batting 50 points worse at home than on the road and 70 points worse against left-handers like Travis Wood.

Baseball Challenge Picks of the Weekend

Saturday: Miguel Tejada, SS, Padres: Tejada had a terrific series against the Rockies, with seven hits and five RBIs. Now he faces Jeff Suppan, a man he's had 12 RBIs against in 35 career at-bats.

Sunday: Wilson Betemit, 3B, Royals: Betemit has seen his ESPN standard league ownership increase to almost 12 percent thanks to a .440 week. The good times should continue to roll against an Indians team against which he's batting .316 in 2010.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Nyjer Morgan, OF, Nationals (eight-game suspension)

Jenrry Mejia, P, Mets (shut down for season, right shoulder)

Rommie Lewis, P, Blue Jays (60-day disabled list, left shoulder)

Bobby Jenks, P, White Sox (elbow, forearm)

Andres Torres, OF, Giants (appendectomy)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Ike Davis, 1B, Mets (may sit out for Yom Kippur)

Erick Aybar, SS, Angels (leg strain)

Jose Guillen, OF, Giants (neck)

Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks (shoulder)

Scott Rolen, 3B, Reds (stiff back)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof games: Angels at Rays, Reds at Astros and Rangers at Mariners. The entire weekend could see some wet weather in both Chicago and Miami. While the rest of the country should be in for a spectacular Saturday, when it comes to Sunday, rain clouds threaten coast to coast, most notably in San Francisco, both sides of Missouri and Florida.

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.