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Sunday, April 26, 2009
Updated: April 27, 5:02 PM ET
Daily Notes for Monday: Pineiro a risky bet

By Adam Madison
Special to ESPN.com

With close to a month of the season in the books, it will be interesting to see how long players' fluky performances can last, or whether they're flukes at all. Joel Pineiro attempts to go 4-0 against the Braves, a surprising start for the end-of-the-rotation starter. Meanwhile, the likes of John Maine, Justin Verlander and Roy Oswalt search for their first win, and among that group, only Oswalt has an ERA better than 5.

Another bombing from Jeff Niemann would start the clock ticking on David Price's eventual call-up; with three home runs and 25 baserunners allowed in 16 2/3 innings, Niemann is lucky to have a 5.40 ERA. And Chris Young traverses to Denver to tackle Coors Field again, with his lifetime 4.20 ERA there making him more successful than most. But the only question fantasy players care about is whether he can do it again.

For starters

Selected notes: John Maine has had a ton of success in his career against the Marlins, with a superb 2.85 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in seven career starts, including 52 strikeouts in 41 innings. With that kind of domination, have some faith and keep him active. … Sadly enough, Joe Blanton can't even conquer the weak bats of the (G)Nats. He has a 5.33 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in five starts against the team. Because he has allowed seven home runs in 48 innings since joining the Phillies, he is too risky to start in even the deepest of leagues. … Although Anibal Sanchez has had some success against the Mets (2.82 ERA, 1.39 WHIP), he's not good against lefty bats, and the Mets have a couple of good ones. He also falls apart on the road (1.62 WHIP lifetime). It's a risk you don't have to take so early in the season. … Braden Looper has had success against the Pirates with a career 3.02 ERA, although just five of his 29 appearances have been starts. But he has pitched well against some of their best hitters, as Adam LaRoche and Freddy Sanchez are a combined 4-for-27 against. The team is already without Ryan Doumit and could be without Nate McLouth. … Although Johnny Cueto has never had much success versus the Astros, you can't put too much stock into it because he's still growing into his own. He has done well against many of the team's key hitters, so he just has to avoid imploding, and I believe he will. … The most recent time Chris Young pitched in Coors, he allowed nine runs -- seven earned -- in four innings. He's not the pitcher he was in 2006 and 2007, when most of his 30 innings there were accumulated. Given his tendency to be awful when he's not on, it's much safer to let him be, lest you get another blowup like his start against the Phillies a couple of weeks ago (seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings).

Now batting

Hitters' count

Kelly Johnson, 2B, Braves: Although he has only three hits in his past 33 at-bats, he's a robust 6-for-9 with two home runs versus Joel Pineiro in his career.
Chris Duncan, OF, Cardinals: Proving last season's injury-plagued year was a fluke, Duncan is back to crushing right-handers, hitting .281 with a home run, four doubles and a triple. Opposing pitcher Jair Jurrjens' OPS against is 92 points worse versus lefty bats.
Victor Martinez, C, Indians: With five hits in 11 at-bats -- including a home run -- versus Tim Wakefield in his career, Martinez should continue to make his case as fantasy's most productive catcher.
Ryan Church, OF, Mets: Crushes Anibal Sanchez, with seven hits -- including three doubles and a homer -- in 13 at-bats against. That's not too surprising when you consider Sanchez's OPS against left-handed hitters is 131 points worse.
Jason Kubel, OF, Twins: Opposing pitcher Jeff Niemann has allowed home runs in his first three starts and 34 fly balls to 23 ground balls overall. That's dangerous when facing the power of Kubel, who launched two home runs against the Indians on Saturday and has 11 extra-base hits in 60 at-bats so far this season.
Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays: The Jays are protecting Snider against lefties, but he's crushing righties to the tune of a .333 average, three home runs and a .727 slugging percentage. Against Brian Bannister, lefties slug .486, so Snider could see an increase in his slugging percentage before the day ends.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners: Beltre may or may not be ready to break out of his slump -- he has two hits, three RBIs and a double his past two games, a minor consolation -- but he has hit significantly better against lefties and is 3-for-8 with a home run against John Danks.
Randy Winn, OF, Giants: Winn had his first home run since the first game of the season against Max Scherzer the other day and is 6-for-16 (.375) with four extra-base hits, including a home run against Monday's scheduled starter, Randy Wolf.
Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers: Despite seven strikeouts in 27 at-bats against Barry Zito -- yes, Zito, of all pitchers -- Kemp has gathered 14 hits off the lefty. Only two have gone for extra bases, but a .519 batting average is valuable, too.

Pitchers' count:

Casey Kotchman, 1B, Braves: As of Saturday, Kotchman has a seven-game hitting streak, but his hot hitting could be at risk versus Joel Pineiro; Kotchman hitless in nine career at-bats against him.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Ortiz has never done his best work against left-handers, and in particular has struggled with Cliff Lee on the mound, going 4-for-18 (.222) with five strikeouts to one walk.
Travis Hafner, DH and Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians: Neither has had much success against Tim Wakefield's knuckler, hitting a combined 1-for-16. A Sizemore single is the lone hit.
Curtis Granderson, OF, Tigers: Off to a good start this month (.316 average, two home runs) in changing his career-long woes against left-handed pitching, but still has hit only .225 against lefties in 458 at-bats, and against CC Sabathia, he has two singles compared to five strikeouts in 11 at-bats.
Brandon Inge, 3B, Tigers: Has a long history of futility against Sabathia with only six singles in 44 at-bats. He has more strikeouts (13) than walks and hits combined (11).
David Wright, 3B, Mets: Striking out 50 percent of the time against the likes of Anibal Sanchez paints a feeble picture, even if it's only 10 at-bats. Wright's two hits against Sanchez have been singles.
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds: With three hits in 21 at-bats, his lifetime batting average against Roy Oswalt (.145) matches his season average, and nine of those outs were K's.

If you're hardcore

Matt Diaz, OF, Braves: He may be struggling to make contact (.209 average), but he's a career .305 hitter, so that should change. When he has made contact, the ball has gone far, with five of his nine hits going for extra bases. The opposing pitcher on Monday, Joel Pineiro, has allowed a .301 average and 1.29 home runs per nine innings the past three seasons.
Ty Wigginton, 3B/OF, Orioles: Hit his first home run of the season on Saturday, which unsurprisingly came off a lefty. He's 5-for-15 against left-handers this season and hit .340 against them last season. Wigginton couldn't ask for a better matchup than Matt Harrison, against whom righties slug .740. Even better, Wigginton will get opportunities hitting fifth behind Aubrey Huff in the Orioles' lineup.
Marlon Byrd, OF, Rangers: Josh Hamilton received a cortisone shot for his sore rib cage and missed Sunday's contest, netting Byrd a start in center field. If Hamilton has to miss more time, Byrd's a passable option in the meantime, hitting in the middle of a loaded lineup. Try to check the pregame lineups, however, as Andruw Jones is also a possibility, and he went 1-for-3 with a home run Saturday. Either would be a good AL-only option.
Nick Johnson, 1B, Nationals: Is 4-for-6 in his career against Joe Blanton and is still hitting the cover off the ball: He extended his hit streak to nine games after going 1-for-4 with a walk and a run Saturday.
Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins: There's no reason his strong April shouldn't continue against John Maine, against whom he's 5-for-13 (.385) with two walks.
Alex Gonzalez, SS, Reds: For a guy hitting .152, he has been in this space often, but in his career, he has shown rare pop for a shortstop, even if it comes attached with a poor batting average. He loves hitting against Roy Oswalt, oddly enough, with seven hits (two home runs) in 18 at-bats.
Gabe Gross, OF, Rays: With seven walks to six strikeouts and a history of decent success against right-handers, Gross' .214 average belies his skill. Just as importantly, he'll face Twins righty Scott Baker, who has been tattooed this season (12.46 ERA) and is awful against lefty batters of all kinds, with a .303 AVG/.350 OBP/.469 SLG triple-slash line.
Lyle Overbay, 1B, Blue Jays: Overbay won't continue hitting this well, so get him while he's hot. He's hitting .353 against right-handers so far, and as mentioned earlier, Royals pitcher Brian Bannister is inept against lefties.
Jody Gerut, OF, Padres: He gets to face Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel, who gets straight torched by lefties, allowing them to hit .313 and slug .521 in 399 career at-bats. Gerut always has been potent against right-handers when he's been healthy enough to play (.835 career OPS), and he hit 10 home runs in 152 at-bats last season away from Petco Park.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Garret Anderson, OF, Braves (15-day DL, quadriceps)
Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks (15-day DL, hamstring)
Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs (knee; out until Tuesday at least)
Joe Mauer, C, Twins (15-day DL; is expected to return Tuesday)
Brian McCann, C, Braves (15-day DL, eye)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs (calf; out until at least Thursday)
Jack Wilson, SS, Pirates (15-day DL, finger)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs (groin)
Chris Getz, 2B, White Sox (finger)
• Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers (rib cage)
Conor Jackson, 1B/OF, Diamondbacks (illness)
Julio Lugo, SS, Red Sox (knee; expected to be activated Monday
• Nate McLouth, OF, Pirates (oblique)
Brandon Morrow, RP, Mariners (shoulder)

Weather concerns

• Monday's weatherproof games: Pirates-Brewers, Rays-Twins and Cubs-Diamondbacks.
• Detroit can expect some winds around 20 miles per hour and a chance of thunderstorms (30-40 percent), limiting CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander's upside for the day. And in Chicago, a rain delay or two -- or, worse, a postponement -- is a distinct possibility with a 60 percent chance of showers affecting the Mariners-White Sox contest.

Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.