Crazy morning going on here. Heading into the city and looking to get an early start on the weekend. Rather than bore you with another one of my openings, we will get right down to business.
On to the notes.
- Tim Lincecum took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, and pushed his scoreless-inning streak close to 30 before surrendering a couple hits and a run to the Padres. Lincecum did record the win, and continues to own the worst-hitting team in baseball. The Padres should be considered almost bonus points when you have any option at spot-starting a pitcher. That is just a bad lineup.
- Don't look now, but David Ortiz now has 11 home runs this season, all since the beginning of June. With that, he has hit them in consecutive games and has three in his last 18 at-bats. It will take an amazing second half, but it is still possible for Ortiz to knock in 100 runs in that lineup. He has the type of game that can go on a tear. Ninety RBI and 20-25 home runs is well within reach.
- Joel Pineiro may never dazzle them with brilliance, but he certainly will baffle them with ground outs. Pineiro worked another complete game last night, his third of the season. He does not strike out many, but he is consistent and throws a heavy ball that forces hitters to make some weak contact. In deep leagues, Pineiro has a value as an extra starter.
- Nelson Cruz sat out last night for the third straight game. David Murphy and Andruw Jones continue to swing good bats, and that means that one guy has to find the bench. Cruz struggled against Felix Hernandez in the past, so it made sense for it to be him last night. Still, monitor this situation. Murphy is going to continue to see at-bats against righties, and that will figure into Cruz's playing time.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka still seems to be a long way from the mound at Fenway. While the team is encouraged by his progress, Matsuzaka just began throwing from 60 feet over the weekend. This is a cautious approach, as the Red Sox do not want to go back down this road again. It would not be a surprise if it were August before he returns.
- Torii Hunter may still require a DL stint, and that answer should come today. The Angels took their time in evaluating Hunter, who has been diagnosed with a groin strain. Today we should know if Hunter will be available this weekend or require time off to rest and heal the injury.
- Mark DeRosa has a tear in the tendon sheath of his wrist. This is an injury that can end seasons, so it should certainly be expected that he will not be ready to return when eligible to come off the DL after the All-Star break. Keep an eye on his situation, but be ready for a longer stint than expected without him.
- Alex Gordon has now gone 7-for-21 on his rehab assignment and should be ready to join the Royals after the break. Gordon has recovered well from his hip injury, but anyone looking for him to turn it on immediately should step back. Gordon will likely require some additional time off as he gets up to game conditions, so be aware.
- Yunel Escobar left last night's game against the Rockies in the fourth inning with a back strain. Escobar has been hitting the ball well but is not likely to be in the lineup today for the Braves. Keep an eye on how he progresses through the weekend.
- Look to Gary Sheffield tonight if you need a couple hits. The Mets outfielder has hit .348 against Bronson Arroyo. David Wright has struggled, having only gone 4-for-18 against Arroyo in the past. No other red flags for this matchup.
- Joe Saunders has been nothing if not up and down. In his last 10 starts, he has allowed more than four earned runs five times, three runs once, one run twice, and no runs once. His major issue has been in the home run department, having already surrendered 18 this year. Largely, though, the problems have been on the road. At home, he remains a good option, as batters hit only .239 against him and he has a 3.43 ERA.
- Only put stock in what Ricky Nolasco has done lately. Since his return from the minors, the Marlins starter is 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA. In that time, he has struck out 45 batters while walking only seven. Is there a chance for some regression? Sure, but owners should enjoy the outings they are getting and the fact that Nolasco has fared well against Arizona. Only Stephen Drew has more than two hits against Nolasco. He has gone 6-for-13 with two home runs.
- Be careful with Cliff Lee against the Tigers. As a team, Detroit has hit .295 against Lee, and the Cleveland starter is staring at a WHIP of 1.41. While deep leagues may want to reserve Marcus Thames, no other Tigers starter should be an issue.
- The Giants will start Jonathan Sanchez in place of Randy Johnson. Sanchez had been banished to the bullpen based on his poor start, but he has decent numbers against any Padres starter not named Adrian Gonzalez. He took two losses this season, but pitched well in one start against them. Not enough to grab him, but enough to be given a look in NL-only formats.
- The Rockies have seen a fair amount of Derek Lowe, but only Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe have had much success against him. They are the only two Colorado regulars that have hit over .300 against Lowe. Lowe's road numbers are slightly rough, but they are skewed by a couple rough outings against the American League East.
- Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano have both hit Chris Carpenter hard, but the rest of the Cubs have not seen much of him. Carpenter has been consistent with the exception of one start this season. His problem has more been run support than anything else. With the way he is throwing the ball, do not reach for anyone against him. Stick with your regulars.
- John Danks has been pitching well, but the Twins have raked against him. With Michael Cuddyer and Joe Mauer both putting up 9-for-18 numbers, and Justin Morneau at .333 with three home runs in 27 at-bats, it could be a rough night on the road for the Chicago starter.
- Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye have struggled against Nick Blackburn. Konerko is only 2-for-20, and Dye is 4-for-22. Blackburn has been money at home, and his 2.94 ERA is very solid. Given what we have above from Danks, Blackburn becomes a solid option in any format for this one. Expect Jim Thome to get some good swings, as he is the best of the White Sox options, checking in at 6-for-18 with two home runs.
- Andy Pettitte has struggled against most of the Angels, but owners should look to avoid Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu. Neither have hit the lefty well. With the injury concerns around Hunter, the day off here would make even more sense. For his part, Pettitte has gone 4-1 on the road, much better than his numbers at home.
- Matt Cain continues to be dominant against most of the league, and his numbers against San Diego are outstanding. Again, you only want to touch Gonzalez in this one. There just is nothing else to go on. Cain is 6-1 at home. Load up on Giants offensively, as they get to face a young pitcher that could be in for a long day.
- Yes, Jarrod Washburn was hit hard by Texas in his only start against them this season. Still, that start was on the road. At home, Washburn is still tough to beat. He has put up a 4-2 record to go with a 2.55 ERA. Do not actively avoid any Rangers in this one, as the numbers are not bad overall. Expect Cruz in the lineup instead of Murphy here for Texas.
- Gavin Floyd had five solid outings in a row before a rough one on the road against the Royals. Floyd has pitched very well dating back to the end of May, and his road numbers should not scare owners off in this matchup with the Twins. Justin Morneau is only 4-for-20 against Floyd, but no other Twins starter looks to struggle too much. Good matchup on both sides for owners.
- Plain and simple, it is tough to beat Ted Lilly at home. The only two Cardinals you would want in the lineup are Albert Pujols and Brendan Ryan. Ryan has gone 5-for-18 against the Cubs starter. No one else is remotely close in this one. Look to avoid St. Louis hitters otherwise. Lilly is 5-1 at home with a 1.96 ERA and .229 BAA. His WHIP? Under 1.00.
- Kyle Lohse will get the start in the first game of Sunday's double-header with the Cubs. Lohse looked strong in his rehab outings, and owners should be ready to activate him off the DL. If you can avoid him this time around, do so. Make sure he is fully healthy before putting him back on the mound. Given that the Cubs check in at .381 against him as a team, that should serve as warning.
- Scott Baker completely reverted back to his problems from earlier in the season during his last outing against the Yankees. Still, prior to that, he had been on a streak of four straight wins. He struggles with Paul Konerko (6-for-18 with three home runs), but has pitched well against the remainder of the White Sox lineup.
- Doug Davis has been on quite the roll lately. Davis has not allowed more than two earned runs in his last four starts. He has allowed three or fewer in eight of his last ten. While he is only 2-5 at home, this is largely to do with run support. Davis has a 3.11 ERA in his ten home starts, and is a solid play against Florida.
- Looking for Vernon Wells to get going? He is a .438 hitter against Jeremy Guthrie. Wells has hit two home runs against the Baltimore starter in 16 at-bats. Guthrie, otherwise, has pitched well against the Blue Jays. He may not be on your radar to start, but he has shown an ability to stop Toronto's bats in the past.
- Spot Starts: Ricky Romero, Brad Bergesen, Jason Marquis, Randy Wells, Davis, and Kevin Correia