Plenty of choices, but Santana the pitcher to watch

Updated: June 1, 2009

Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire

Johan Santana leads the NL with a 1.77 ERA heading into Tuesday's start against Pittsburgh.

Get your remote ready. There are a slew of elite pitchers across the major leagues taking the mound on Tuesday. A quick rundown of those scheduled to head to the hill: Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy, Daisuke Matsuzaka, A.J. Burnett, Dan Haren, Joe Saunders and Rick Porcello. That list doesn't include Bronson Arroyo and Kevin Slowey, both of whom have seven wins already this year. Now that's some pitching.

Matsuzaka and Burnett are two guys who have all the talent, but neither has been consistent lately. They are trying to figure things out, and while they are exciting to watch, you never know what you are going to get. Burnett has electrifying stuff, but has been hot and cold this year for the Yankees.

Both have performed at high levels in the past and have no-hit stuff on any given day. Burnett has great life on his fastball and breaking ball and Dice-K will throw any pitch at any time and never give in to a hitter. Both can go three-up, three-down. They can strike out the side. Then they can come back out the very next inning and look like they don't know what they are doing. Matsuzaka is a guy who can walk that tightrope all game (which is usually five innings for him) and Burnett can look dominant inning after inning and then just gets blown up. They don't seem to be able to go to their tool belts during the game and make the necessary adjustments.

Halladay is just a machine. Every hitter knows what to expect, but that doesn't seem to help them. He's going to get ahead in the count with his fastball, and when you start to expect that, he goes to his breaking ball and throws that for strikes. He uses both sides of the plate, he can cut it and sink it and he changes speeds. On top of all that, he's a workhorse. He goes out and wins games. It's kind of boring actually.

Pitchers' paradise
Tuesday's featured pitchers
Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka) at Tigers (Rick Porcello), 7:05 ET
Rangers (Vicente Padilla) at Yankees (A.J. Burnett), 7:05 ET
Giants (Tim Lincecum) at Nationals (Craig Stammen), 7:05 ET
Angels (Joe Saunders) at Blue Jays (Roy Halladay), 7:05 ET
Mets (Johan Santana) at Pirates (Zach Duke), 7:05 ET
Phillies (Antonio Bastardo) at Padres (Jake Peavy), 10:05 ET
Peavy has the Dice-K breaking ball and the Burnett fastball, and he's able to make the adjustments. He's pitching a little better than those guys right now. He's got a little more mound savvy.

Lincecum is up there on the list. He's got special stuff with his curveball and fastball and he's fun to watch on the mound. He's got that quirky delivery and he can make people look silly. Because of his mechanics, his stuff and the way he competes, he can really embarrass batters.

But if I had to buy a ticket to a game, Johan Santana is the guy I would go see in a heartbeat. He does everything so well. He competes at the highest level. He locates his fastball as well as anybody in the game and he's got that Bugs Bunny changeup, which is just so much fun to watch. You know that this guy is really in tune with his game. He has that exceptional out pitch and he doesn't bore you with long innings because he just pounds the strike zone. He's also an excellent in-game tactician, and that is something that you need in a true ace. He's currently the best of this bunch.

It's tough to go wrong with any of these guys though. There will be something to watch Tuesday for any kind of pitching fan. If you want to sit on the edge of your seat and have a chance to see a no-hitter or a blowup, check out Dice-K or Burnett. If you want to see a no-nonsense type who can dominate lineups, pick Halladay. If you want to see exceptional breaking balls and a lights-out effort, check out Peavy or Lincecum. But if you want to see a guy who can make hitters look sick and really compete, I'll take Santana.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: May 31 | May 28 | May 27 | May 26 | May 25

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPPITCHER SITUATION
V. Martinez, Cle8NYYChamberlainBot 4: 2-1, 2 Outs. None on.
M. Holliday, Oak7CWSFloydTop 1: 1-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.
C. Rasmus, StL6CinLincolnBot 3: 2-0, 0 Outs. None on.
T. Helton, Col7HouOswaltTop 5: 1-1, 2 Outs. None on.
A. Pierzynski, CWS5OakCahillBot 5: 2-0, 0 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Monday's homers

ON DECK: TUESDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

Reds at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET

OK, so Bronson Arroyo might not have the same name recognition as Johan Santana or Jake Peavy or Roy Halladay, but the Reds righty does have seven wins already this year. Though his ERA isn't necessarily dazzling -- he enters his start against St. Louis at 5.12 -- he has allowed only two runs over his past two starts, a stretch of 17 innings.

Indians at Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET

Kevin Slowey has the same issue as Bronson Arroyo -- he won't be getting quite the attention with all the big names on the mound Tuesday. But Slowey is 7-1 with a 4.11 ERA. His control has been his key so far this season; he has 44 strikeouts against only five walks in 61 1/3 innings. This not new for Slowey, who issued just 24 walks last season in 160 1/3 innings.

Rangers at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

Vicente Padilla returns to the Rangers' rotation to face Burnett. Padilla was on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. In his three starts before heading to the DL, Padilla had found his groove, going 2-0 with a no-decision. In those outings, stretching 23 innings, he allowed five runs and twice tossed one-hitters.

For the rest of Tuesday's schedule, click here.

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BBTN ON THE AIR: TUESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Peter Gammons, Chris Singleton, Buck Showalter
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Peter Gammons, Chris Singleton, Buck Showalter

BBTN MINUTE: PICK YOUR PITCHER

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he takes a look at what Ichiro Suzuki has done over his current 25-game hit streak. For one, Ichiro has raised his batting average from .291 to .352 during the run. Oh, but there's more:

Ichiro by the numbers
During 25-game hit streak
BA .400
Extra-base hits 11
Games with more hits than outs 5
Team W-L 9-16

WEB GEMS

MONDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
HillRich Hill won the pitching duel with Jarrod Washburn. Hill did not allow a run -- and permitted only two hits -- over seven innings in a 1-0 win against the Mariners. Hill struck out seven and walked three. Washburn also went seven innings and scattered six hits, but he did give up the game's only run. Washburn has had hard luck; he did not allow a run in his previous start and was saddled with a no-decision.
WORST
Howard• Yes, the Phillies won. And yes, Ryan Howard hit a home run. But the Phillies' slugger also struck out … four times. Howard entered the Phillies' 5-3 win over the Padres tied for fifth in the majors in strikeouts, and his four on Tuesday raised his season total to 64. Strikeouts are not new for Howard; he has whiffed at least once in 18 of his past 20 games.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Kinsler Ian Kinsler looked like an MVP candidate in April (.322 BA) but has cooled off in May (.243).

Pitchers are throwing the Rangers second baseman more sliders, and Kinsler has adjusted. But the increase in off-speed stuff has left Kinsler unprepared for fastballs, and he's been vulnerable to the heater.

Ian Kinsler by pitch type, April vs. May
April May
Slider pct. 15.1 18.7
Fastball pct. 64.5 62.2
BA vs. slider .125 .381
BA vs. fastball .333 .129

Six of Kinsler's seven April home runs came off of fastballs, while just three of six in May were hit off of heaters. Overall, Kinsler is slugging 128 points higher against off-speed pitches and 413 points lower against fastballs from the first to the second month of the season.

On the positive: He's walking more (17 walks in May after eight in April) and striking out less (10 strikeouts in May after 19 in April).

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF TUESDAY'S GAMES

Fantasy Adam Madison examines the 15 games on Tuesday's slate.

Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Tuesday. Daily Notes