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Monday, June 7, 2010
Strasburg, Stanton set to debut

By Adam Madison
Special to ESPN.com

Daily Notes

Tuesday is a big day for the future of major league baseball with two otherworldly prospects set to make their debuts. Everyone knows about Stephen Strasburg, and there's little doubt he'll be great, but make sure not to overlook the Florida Marlins' Mike Stanton. The best power prospect to come along in some time, he projects as an Adam Dunn light for fantasy purposes: a ton of power, a lot of strikeouts and a low batting average. It's a good day to be a baseball fan.

For starters

Selected notes:

• He's lived up to the hype every step of the way, but Stephen Strasburg would pretty much have to pitch a complete-game shutout to live up to it in his first major league start. I'm not betting against him, however, as he made a joke of the minor leagues, posting a 1.30 ERA in 55 1/3 innings. Now he'll get to face a Quadruple-A team in the Pirates, who predictably have one of the worst offenses in the major leagues. Strasburg really could go Felix Hernandez (2.67 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in 12 starts his rookie season) on the whole league. Count me as a believer.

• A complete-game shutout later against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, and Edwin Jackson is officially back and maybe better than ever. Shockingly he's still owned in only 53 percent of the ESPN universe, but you should scoop him up if he's floating on the waiver wire in your league. As long as he can limit the home run ball -- he hasn't allowed one in two starts -- he should continue to roll. While the Atlanta Braves aren't an ideal matchup, they likely will be without Chipper Jones, and Jackson is pitching too well to keep benching.

• Since a pair of double-digit strikeout performances, Colby Lewis has struck out a batter per inning just twice in six starts. Maybe the league is starting to figure him out, or maybe Lewis was never that good, but he is coming back to earth. Home runs have been the death of him, as he's allowed six in his past six starts, which, combined with too many walks, have led to a bloated 5.22 ERA. So why is he a recommended play versus the Seattle Mariners? Well, because it's the Mariners, and because Lewis hasn't pitched that poorly. Strikeout potential plus a light-hitting opponent makes it a solid, but not great, matchup.

• Sure, Ted Lilly tossed six shutout innings the first time he faced the Milwaukee Brewers, but I wouldn't be so quick to start him automatically this time around. The Brewers are a powerful team, with the second-most home runs in the league, and have the best OPS in the league against left-handers. Furthermore, the April 24 start notwithstanding, they have hit pretty well off Lilly, with a team OPS of .976 in 102 at-bats. That's a lot of potential minefields to navigate, and quite frankly Lilly hasn't been dominant enough to reward him with that kind of respect.

• With four home runs allowed in his past four starts, Hiroki Kuroda has let his strong early start slip away. He's even losing his pinpoint control, walking four in his last start, and now has 20 walks in 69 1/3 innings after allowing 24 all of last season. Facing one of the best offenses in the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals, he should definitely be reserved.

Now batting

Hitters' count:

Luke Scott, OF, Baltimore Orioles: He's 2-for-3 with a double and two walks versus Phil Hughes this season, bringing his career numbers up to six hits in 10 at-bats, so keep milking Scott for all he's worth. He's now hitting .293 with seven home runs against right-handers, so add him if he's still floating around in your league.

Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, New York Yankees: Swisher hasn't been ripping the cover off the ball in June, batting just .217, but he does have six walks and two doubles in six games. He's often hit for a lot of power against Kevin Millwood, slapping five extra-base hits -- three home runs and two doubles -- in their 35 at-bats, and even if he doesn't go deep, he's still a lifetime .343 hitter versus the right-hander.

Adam Lind, OF, Toronto Blue Jays: Few owners have given up on Lind, but he's not making it easy on them, hitting .087 in the past week. Fortunately, he has delivered against Jeff Niemann this year, going 2-for-4 with a home run and a triple. That ups his lifetime numbers to 6-for-14 (.429) with three extra-base hits against Niemann.

Jason Kubel, OF, Minnesota Twins: A .412 hitter in his career against Kyle Davies, Kubel should be in your lineup Tuesday. Overall he's 7-for-17 with three doubles and four walks, so let's hope a big game is in the cards.

Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers: Jackson is definitely slowing down but is still hitting .367 against righties with all eight of his steals. He'll face a struggling Gavin Floyd and could get opportunities to run on A.J. Pierzynski, who has the third-most stolen bases allowed.

Pitchers' count:

Shane Victorino, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: Victorino is just a .237 hitter against righties, and he's had a lot of trouble against Chris Volstad, who has held him to three hits in 18 at-bats.

Jayson Werth, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: Werth is normally awesome but is just 4-for-37 his past 11 games. He's not looking forward to facing Volstad, either; in 14 plate appearances versus Volstad, he's gone down swinging seven times, mustering just one hit, a single.

Jose Bautista, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays: For a day, at least, we probably can be sure that Bautista won't be going deep off Jeff Niemann. In eight at-bats, Bautista has just one hit, a single, striking out four times.

Carlos Pena, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays: Will the slump ever end? Not against Brian Tallet it won't, especially considering Pena has struck out seven times in 16 at-bats. It therefore should be unsurprising to learn that he's batting just .125 versus the lefty.

Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers: When it comes to putting the bat on the ball, Hamilton hasn't been very successful versus King Felix, batting .154 in 26 at-bats. He's struck out in nearly a third of his at-bats, and while three of his four hits have gone for extra bases, you probably can't withstand such a hit to your average.

Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago Cubs: Soriano's average drops 131 points when going from left-handed to right-handed pitching, so we should expect Yovani Gallardo, who is limiting righties to a sub-.200 average this season, to do well against him. Indeed, Soriano is just 1-for-9 with five K's off Gallardo, so make sure to bench him.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

Jorge Cantu, 1B, Florida Marlins: In the midst of a seven-game hitting streak, Cantu is looking for his first home run this month and could deliver against Kyle Kendrick. He's 6-for-12 with a pair of dingers off Kendrick, so it's hard not to like his chances.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Casey Blake, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (back): Blake is out until Friday at the earliest. The Dodgers think he can avoid the disabled list, however.

David Freese, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (ankle; limited to pinch hitting): Freese also will be out until Friday, although being able to pinch hit is a good sign.

Injury list: Day-to-day

Stephen Drew, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (finger)

Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (legs)

Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers (knee)

J.J. Hardy, SS, Minnesota Twins (wrist)

Orlando Hudson, 2B, Minnesota Twins (wrist; doubtful): Word is Hudson might be placed on the disabled list Tuesday to make room for Michael Cuddyer, who is returning from the bereavement list.

Maicer Izturis, 2B/SS/3B, Los Angeles Angels (hamstring)

Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves (finger)

Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins (illness)

Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (calf)

Will Venable, OF, San Diego Padres (neck)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof: Blue Jays-Rays, Cubs-Brewers and Braves-Diamondbacks. We're not so lucky Tuesday, with Cincinnati (Giants-Reds) and Chicago (Tigers-White Sox) with a 60 and 50 percent chance of showers, respectively. Minneapolis (Royals-Twins) has similar concerns, with a coin flip's chance of showers until 9 p.m., when most of the rain is expected to fizzle.

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