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Thursday, May 28, 2009
Posada set to return from disabled list

By Adam Madison
Special to ESPN.com

Daily Notes
The rich get richer in New York, as baseball's best offense may get its star catcher back Friday. Jorge Posada could return from the disabled list just in time for the weekend. Posada was hitting .312 with five home runs before landing on the DL, so the 9.6 percent of leagues where he is inexplicably available may want to do some double-checking. Posada has two home runs in 18 career at-bats against the Indians' Cliff Lee, so he could be of use immediately.

Speaking of Lee, he tops the pitcher rankings for the day, but despite eight consecutive quality starts, he's stuck on just two wins. Cross your fingers and hope the Indians can come through with some run support against Andy Pettitte and the Yankees.

For starters

Selected notes: The Yankees are hitting lights-out (majors-leading .844 OPS), while Cliff Lee has seemed to regain last season's Cy Young form, with just 12 earned runs allowed in his past 58 innings (1.86 ERA). Lee has allowed just one earned run in 13 innings the past two seasons against the Yankees, including a six-inning, one-run performance back in April, and his home run ratio (0.52 HR/9) and walk rate (1.85 BB/9) are comparable to last season's rates. With Lee pitching this well, you have to be cautiously optimistic he can conquer even the best offenses in the game at this point. … Jair Jurrjens' peripherals (111:80 fly ball-to-ground ball ratio, 35:22 strikeout-to-walk ratio) cannot sustain his pretty ERA, but it's hard to predict that an anemic offense such as the Diamondbacks is going to put a stop of his run of effectiveness. Jurrjens has been a much superior pitcher on the road in his career (2.85 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), while the Diamondbacks' team OPS of .720 ranks them in the bottom five in the NL. … It's been more than a month since Mike Pelfrey last allowed more than three runs; you have to go back to April 13 versus the Padres. Pelfrey has amassed four consecutive quality starts, even holding the potent Red Sox offense to two runs in seven innings with an impressive six strikeouts to one walk. The Marlins lead the majors in strikeouts, and have yet to find their bats two months into the season, so another quality start should be in the cards. … Scott Feldman has pitched at least six innings and allowed three runs or fewer in his past four starts, including one against the team he is going to face Friday, the A's. He went six innings, allowing six baserunners and two runs, for a win against Oakland on May 6. The Athletics' best hitter right now is Adam Kennedy, so it should go without saying that Feldman has spot-start potential. … Dontrelle Willis followed up his surprising 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball versus the Rangers by allowing three runs and 10 baserunners versus the Rockies, indicating he still has some work to do. A matchup against the Orioles is favorable -- their .689 OPS against left-handers ranks 25th in the majors -- so those in deeper leagues may want to gamble on him, but one great start doesn't undo two years of poor pitching, so try to exercise patience. … The White Sox are slugging .611 against Brian Bannister; Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez have six home runs hit between them. Bannister's poor 25:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio will come back and bite him eventually, and given the White Sox's numbers against him, that could be as soon as Friday. … A tantalizing matchup versus the Padres may look like a spot-start opportunity for Jason Marquis, but away from Petco Park, the Padres can muster a decent offense, as their .738 OPS ranks 13th in the majors. Coors Field isn't just any road park, either, and so far Coors doesn't agree with Jason Marquis, who has a 7.13 ERA and 1.58 WHIP there in four starts this season, not to mention an atrocious strikeout-to-walk ratio. …

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers: Andrus possesses a .385 OBP against left-handers, and his batting average is also 60 points higher in the friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark. He's also been hot in May, hitting .308 with two home runs and four steals.
Jack Cust, OF, Athletics: Cust enjoys hitting against Scott Feldman, as he has five hits in 13 career at-bats (.385 average). Two of those hits were home runs, giving Cust a .846 slugging percentage.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pirates: LaRoche crushes Moehler, with nine hits in 23 at-bats (.391), including two home runs and three doubles. That's not too surprising when you consider left-handed batters have hit .325 and slugged .524 against Moehler the past three seasons. Teammate Nate McLouth (7-for-13, two doubles) also has success against Moehler.
Miguel Tejada, SS, Astros: Only three times in 11 at-bats has Tejada not knocked a hit off Ross Ohlendorf. That equates to a .727 average, which will fly even if only one of those hits has been for extra bases.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, Indians: He's 5-for-11 against Andy Pettitte, with four of those hits going for extra bases, including two home runs.
Jason Kubel, OF, Twins: Southpaws are slugging .477 off James Shields this season, and Kubel, a lefty himself, is 7-for-12 lifetime against Shields, with a home run and a double to his name.
• Jim Thome, DH, and A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: Left-handed batters have been the bane of Brian Bannister's existence his whole career, and the stat lines of Thome and Pierzynski against him epitomize that fact. Thome is 7-for-18 (.389) with three home runs and two doubles against him, while Pierzynski is hitting .375 in 16 at-bats with four doubles and a homer.
Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: He's 4-for-7 lifetime against Jair Jurrjens, and while that may not sound like much, three were extra-base hits. For comparison's sake, in the last two seasons (including this one), batters have hit an extra base off Jurrjens once every 13 at-bats; Drew has three in seven at-bats.

Pitchers' count:

Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs: Soriano, who recently admitted to playing through a sore left knee this month, is only hitting .223 in May and has struck out four times in eight career at-bats against Chad Billingsley. Billingsley is holding right-handed batters to a .187 average this season.
Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians: Andy Pettitte has mowed down Sizemore in his career, with the Indians star mustering just a single in nine career at-bats against the southpaw.
Johnny Damon, OF, Yankees: You safely can bench Damon against Cliff Lee, as he's 1-for-18 (.056) lifetime versus the southpaw.
Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays: With a .236 batting average and a .273 slugging percentage in 55 at-bats versus Tim Wakefield, it's safe to say Wells struggles against the knuckler; only two of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases (both doubles).
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins: You wouldn't think Mike Pelfrey would be the pitcher who would have Ramirez's number, but the numbers don't lie: in 23 at-bats Ramirez has four hits against the righty (.174 average), with four strikeouts.
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds: Phillips is targeting a Friday return from his busted thumb, but maybe he should wait a day: he's 1-for-14 lifetime against Braden Looper, with zero walks and two strikeouts.
Jay Bruce, OF, Reds: Bruce isn't much better -- he has two hits in 14 at-bats, one of which was a homer, but striking out six times against a contact pitcher is nothing to brag about.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners: Beltre has struck out in 30 percent of his at-bats against John Lackey, with 12 K's in 43 at-bats. Hitting .163 lifetime against Lackey, he won't be breaking out of his slump on Friday, that's for sure.

Deep inside the matchups

Get inside scouting knowledge from ESPN Insider on the battle between youngsters Ross Detwiler and J.A. Happ.
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If you're hard-core

Andruw Jones, OF, Rangers: Jones has been seeing sporadic playing time, mostly against left-handers, against whom he's slugging .594. The Rangers play a doubleheader Friday, and both the Athletics' opposing pitchers are southpaws, so it would be surprising not to see Jones garner another start.
Kevin Millar, 1B, Blue Jays: Tim Wakefield must be Millar's favorite pitcher to hit against, as he's 13-for-30 (.433) with four home runs against the knuckleballer, including going 1-for-3 with a home run earlier this season.
Gary Sheffield, OF, Mets: He won't be long for this section with the way owners are snapping him up; he's up to a .433 average against southpaws, with two home runs and two doubles in 30 at-bats.
Cody Ross, OF, Marlins: Ross is officially hot, with eight hits in his past 17 at-bats (.470). Three have gone for extra bases (one home run), and against Mike Pelfrey specifically, he's 5-for-12 with a double and a triple lifetime.
• Willie Aybar, 1B/3B, Rays: Aybar has started three consecutive games at second base since Akinori Iwamura went down, so he will soon have eligibility at three positions. That's a gold mine in deep mixed or AL-only leagues, and with 12 walks to eight strikeouts this month, and a .333 batting average, he's worth a grab.
Jose Guillen, OF, Royals: He's hitting .318 in May with a shocking 10:14 strikeout-to-walk rate. His main value is as a lefty basher, as he's hit .309 with a .938 OPS against southpaws the past three seasons; versus Clayton Richard, a left-hander, he's 2-for-4 with a home run.
Cliff Floyd, OF, Padres: Floyd hit .118 on his rehab assignment, and the Padres outfield is fairly crowded, so there's no guarantee he starts immediately upon his return. The Padres are dying for some offense, though, and if he does, he crushes Rockies starter Jason Marquis, with eight hits in 23 at-bats, including two home runs, a double and a triple, giving him a .739 slugging against.
Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants: After amassing just one hit in his first 24 at-bats this month, Rowand has gone 25-for-70 (.357) in his past 18 games, with three home runs and eight doubles. He is 5-for-12 with two home runs and a triple lifetime against Joel Pineiro.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Jason Bartlett, SS, Rays (15-day DL, ankle)
Melky Cabrera, OF, Yankees (shoulder): Cabrera is out for 5-7 days with a bruised shoulder, and is flying back to New York to undergo more tests.
Ryan Church, OF, Mets (15-day DL, hamstring/hip): With Carlos Beltran banged up, the Mets couldn't afford to be patient with Church, and called up Fernando Martinez instead. Church is eligible to return on June 9.
Nomar Garciaparra, SS, Athletics (15-day DL, calf): Garciaparra lasted a whopping two games before reinjuring his calf.
Chris Iannetta, C, Rockies (15-day DL, hamstring)
• Akinori Iwamura, 2B, Rays (60-day DL, knee): Iwamura tore his ACL and is done for the season.
Kenji Johjima, C, Mariners (15-day DL, toe): Johjima broke his toe and is not expected back until mid-July.
Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox (foot): Out until at least June 1, Quentin was sent back to Chicago so more tests could be run on his bothersome foot.
Jose Reyes, SS, Mets (15-day DL, calf): Reyes could return June 5.

Injury list: Day-to-day

Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals (shoulder): Ankiel has missed three consecutive games, but is hoping to return Friday.
• Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets (knee): Beltran is prepping for a Friday return.
Geoff Blum, 3B, Astros (hamstring)
Pat Burrell, OF, Rays (15-day DL, neck): Burrell could be activated in time for Friday's game.
Matt Capps, RP, Pirates (elbow): It looks like Capps will avoid the disabled list and could be available sometime this weekend.
Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (hand): Crede says his hand is feeling better and he should return on Thursday.
• Jack Cust, OF, Athletics (back)
Coco Crisp, OF, Royals (shoulder): Crisp is expected to be ready after the Royals' off day Thursday.
Yunel Escobar, SS, Braves (hip): Manager Bobby Cox said the Braves could "go a few more days without him," and remains questionable for the series against the Diamondbacks.
Jesus Flores, C, Nationals (15-day DL, shoulder): Flores is expected to be activated and suit up in time for Friday's game.
• Cliff Floyd, OF, Padres (15-day DL, shoulder/knee): Floyd is expected to return this weekend, and should see plenty of playing time against right-handers.
Khalil Greene, SS, Cardinals (anxiety): Greene could be headed for the disabled list with anxiety issues.
Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies (groin; available to pinch hit)
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves (toe): The injury isn't serious, and Jones could be back in the lineup Monday.
Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals (forearm): Lohse was scheduled to pitch Friday, but was scratched. Thursday's off day allows the Cardinals to bump everyone up in the rotation a day to pitch on normal rest; Joel Pineiro is taking his turn.
Felipe Lopez, 2B, Diamondbacks (hamstring; available to pinch hit)
• Kaz Matsui, 2B, Astros (hamstring)
• Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds (hand): Phillips took batting practice on Wednesday and is going to try to suit up on Friday, the first game of an intradivision matchup with the Brewers.
• Jorge Posada, C, Yankees (15-day DL, hamstring): Manager Joe Girardi indicated Posada could return "as early as Friday."
• Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (hamstring): "In a best-case scenario," according to Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, Ramirez could play Friday; he may be available to pinch hit.
Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B, Giants (elbow; available to pinch-hit): It looks like Sandoval's not a candidate for the disabled list, but he's still day-to-day.

Weather concerns

• There are four weatherproof games on the slate: Red Sox-Blue Jays, Twins-Rays, Reds-Brewers and Braves-Diamondbacks.
• It's worth noting that Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York all have a 30 percent probability of rain. In the Midwest, the only significant chance of rain lies in Chicago, which also has a 30 percent chance of showers.

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