Bob Levey/Icon SMI
I write the Daily Notes twice a week here at ESPN.com, where I have to rank the scheduled starting pitchers as to how I think they'll perform fantasy-wise. For Saturday's games this week I received a lot of negative feedback from readers for placing Fausto Carmona as my No. 6 pitcher. Didn't I know he was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA? Wasn't he facing a lefty-loaded Yankees lineup in a new stadium where the balls simply soar over the right-field wall? Was I completely insane?
And truth be told, there was no glaring statistical evidence to support this ranking. Sure, I could have played loose and free with the numbers and tried to convince you that Carmona would beat the Yankees based on their .182 batting average against him the first three games they met, even though those were relief outings back in 2006. But the fact is my ranking wasn't so much based on anything I thought Carmona would do, but rather how badly I thought Chien-Ming Wang would do against the Indians' lineup.
If we're trying to rank pitchers for one day, and one day only, to me, the most important consideration is whether or not that pitcher is likely to win -- and most of the time, that comes down to run support. Take a look at some of yesterday's pitching performances
- Johan Santana pitched as well as he always does, but was lucky to get the victory because the Mets didn't score a single run against Yovani Gallardo. The Mets managed to manufacture a run in the bottom of the seventh off Carlos Villanueva while Santana was still the pitcher of record, and won 1-0.
- Erik Bedard had eight strikeouts and allowed just two runs -- only one earned -- lowering his 2009 ERA to 1.86. But since the Mariners got shut out, his one "bad" inning was enough to saddle him with the loss.
- Zack Greinke struck out 10 Rangers in a shutout, and improved to 3-0 on the season, without having allowed a single run in 20 innings pitched. Wow! But pity poor Kevin Millwood, who also pitched a complete game on Saturday against Greinke. He's allowed only three runs in his 23 innings this season, but sits at 1-1.
While we certainly were expecting Cleveland to generate a lot of offense Saturday, we didn't imagine a 14-run second inning, Asdrubal Cabrera's grand slam, or Mark DeRosa's and Shin Soo-Choo's three-run shots. Still, that huge cushion all but guaranteed Carmona an easy day, and more importantly for fantasy owners who started him, the all-important W.
Sure he ended up allowing four runs in six innings, thanks to two Yankees home runs. Hey, we're not always going to be 100 percent right. After all, our top-ranked pitcher, Josh Johnson, had his issues as well. We're simply saying we weren't completely nuts, either. Now would we rather have Carmona on our fantasy team than say, Dan Haren of the Diamondbacks, who is 0-3 on the season despite a 0.89 ERA thanks to 0.33 run support? Not a chance. But when Carmona's opponent is someone we expect to fall flat on their face, that automatically raises his stock in our eyes, and for that day at least, we just might be willing to take the chance that a pitcher like Carmona gets the results.
• After failing to hit a home run in his first 36 at-bats, Manny Ramirez took care of business Saturday, blasting solo shots in each of his first two plate appearances. "I'm glad to get it out of the way," Ramirez said on the Dodgers' official Web site. "I didn't think about it because I knew it was a long season. I knew I'd come around so I was just being patient." Manny is hitting .308 on the season, Los Angeles has won seven in a row and now Manny's power has arrived. Watch out for the Dodgers!
• All is well in Houston. Rumors had been flying that perhaps manager Cecil Cooper was going to get the ax after the Astros' slow start (3-7) to 2009, but management put all that talk to rest Saturday by exercising Cooper's 2010 option and the team went out and won 7-0. Coincidence? You be the judge.
• Jay Bruce was not in the lineup for the Reds on Saturday, still suffering the aftereffects from getting hit by a Yovani Gallardo pitch on Monday. X-rays on Bruce's hand came back negative, which is good news, because the thought of Laynce Nix playing every day is not a pleasant one.
• Does anybody want to audition to be the Nationals' closer? Joel Hanrahan blew his second save in as many days to the Florida Marlins. Manager Manny Acta told reporters after the game that he's sticking with Hanrahan. "He's our closer, he'll bounce back and we'll continue to give him the opportunity." However, if a save opportunity arises today, don't be surprised to see Joe Beimel given a chance to showcase his wares.
• If this were a movie script, Elijah Dukes would be played by Nicolas Cage, as he battles with "psychic visions" of looming disasters. In actuality, Dukes was scratched from Saturday's lineup for being late to the team's pregame workout, which the Washington Post reports was the result of Dukes' staying longer than scheduled doing community outreach at a local Little League. Still, rules are rules, and recent callup Roger Bernadina got the nod instead, and fractured his right ankle making a catch. Bernadina is now going on the disabled list, and Dukes will return to everyday play in center field.
• Brian Tallet made his first start since 2006 a good one, allowing only one earned run over 5 1/3 innings against the A's. Cito Gaston was pleased with the performance and says Tallet may get several more chances as a starter. "Right now, it's going to be long-term," Gaston said on the team's official Web site. With Jesse Litsch and Casey Janssen out with injuries, Tallet could stay in the rotation for at least another month.
• Stephen Drew of the Diamondbacks missed Saturday's game against the Giants, still suffering from hamstring tightness that caused him to leave Friday's contest in the fourth inning. Augie Ojeda replaced him in the lineup and did well, getting two of Arizona's seven hits from the leadoff spot, so Drew may well be given Sunday off as well.
• You can't hit what you can't see. For Brian McCann, that adage may prove to be his undoing. In the midst of a 1-for-20 slump, the Braves' catcher is hoping new eye drops will cure the constant dryness that is causing blurry vision in his left eye. According to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there's a chance McCann may end up needing another Lasik procedure that could require him to go on the 15-day disabled list.
• What does Jason Kubel do for an encore? After hitting for the cycle on Friday, Kubel got another four hits and two RBIs against the Angels. He's now batting .366 on the year, and should remain the Twins' cleanup hitter for as long as he keeps this up. You'd be wise to get him in your lineup as well, before he comes back down to earth.
Jeremy Hermida, Marlins
Hermida hit a home run to tie the game against the Nationals with two outs in the ninth inning, and then added a game-winning three-run blast in the 11th inning. In addition to the five RBIs, Hermida raised his season average to .316, reaping the benefits of hitting in front of Hanley Ramirez in the Marlins' lineup Saturday.
Doug Davis, Diamondbacks
To the victor go the spoils. Sure, Tim Lincecum struck out 13 Diamondbacks in eight innings Saturday, but Davis matched him goose egg for goose egg on the scoreboard, and when Lincecum's bullpen let him down, allowing two runs in the ninth, it was Davis who ended up with the win. He struck out six batters of his own, and his ERA fell to 2.57 on the season.
9.45: It was just a matter of time before Brad Lidge blew a save, and after going 51-for-51 as the Philadelphia Phillies closer, Lidge finally blew one Saturday in a loss to the San Diego Padres. While it's fine to take a moment to pay tribute to Lidge's long streak of success, there's far more reason to be concerned going forward with his 9.45 ERA and three home runs allowed so far this season. A new streak may well have begun.
• Vladimir Guerrero is expected to miss a month after the Angels placed him on the 15-day disabled list with a torn right pectoral muscle. The team recalled two pitchers from Triple-A Salt Lake, Rich Thompson and left-hander Daniel Davidson, to replace Vlad and Dustin Moseley on the roster. Moseley also went on the 15-day disabled list after leaving Friday's start after three innings with tightness in his throwing elbow.
• The Mets have called up pitcher Nelson Figueroa from Triple-A Buffalo to take Mike Pelfrey's turn in the rotation Sunday. Pelfrey has forearm tendinitis, but told the New York Daily News he could have pitched if this were a late-season must-win contest instead of an April start. Figueroa went 3-3 with a 4.57 ERA for the Mets in 2008.
• Milton Bradley says he will appeal the suspension he received from major league baseball for an incident in which he was ejected for arguing umpire Larry Vanover's strike zone Thursday. I saw the game, and while it appeared to me that Bradley had a right to be upset, that doesn't excuse making contact with an umpire. Still, the appeal means Bradley is eligible to continue not getting any hits as a pinch hitter until further notice.
• The Blue Jays placed catcher Michael Barrett on the 15-day disabled list with a torn muscle in his right shoulder and purchased the contract of Raul Chavez from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his place. Chavez will back up Rod Barajas, who will likely see even more playing time than he was before Barrett's injury.
• As we mentioned earlier, Roger Bernadina of the Nationals was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured ankle. What is telling though, is that the team recalled Justin Maxwell from the minors to take his place on the roster, and not Lastings Milledge.
Brendan Roberts:Franklin has looked great, and he really has taken to the role. I saw him the past few days, and he seems to have adjusted to knowing he'll be pitched only one inning and less often than in the setup role. He's even gassing it by people! He's the guy going forward, although I think Perez will get the role at some point this summer. Not soon, though.
-- Full chat transcript
Pierre Becquey: Yeah, I really like Fowler. I think he'll need to stay in Colorado to consistently make the 20-part of that prediction, but the speed is definitely there to challenge for 40 swipes. I don't think he's going to be a premium keeper like a Ryan Braun or anything like that, but he will be a valuable asset for at least half a decade.
-- Full chat transcript
Friday's fantasy chat schedule:
Christopher Harris, 11 a.m.
Matthew Berry, 3 p.m.
• Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya is one step closer to making a return to Detroit. He threw 26 pitches Saturday in two scoreless innings for Triple-A Toledo, with 17 for strikes. After this outing Zumaya may well find himself back in the major leagues soon, perhaps even as early as the upcoming week.
• Gordon Beckham, who generated a lot of buzz this spring before the White Sox sent him down to Double-A to get some more seasoning, hasn't stopped hitting. The shortstop raised his average to .368 with three hits in five at-bats, including his second home run of the season.
• The Cubs are slowly working Jeff Samardzija into being a starting pitcher, and so far, the results are promising. Samardzija allowed only one hit in six innings with five strikeouts for Triple-A Iowa. Unfortunately, he did not get the win, because the bullpen was not nearly as effective, and the I-Cubs lost 7-4.
• I like Kyle Davies of the Royals, generally speaking, but not against the powerful Rangers lineup that has done well against him in the past to the tune of a .329 batting average in four starts. Davies is 0-3 with a 5.89 ERA in those games.
• If you need a reason to avoid Carlos Silva of the Mariners, how about the fact that six hitters in the regular Tigers lineup have batting averages of .333 or higher against him in at least 14 career at-bats?