|ESPN.com: 2010||[Print without images]|
• Regression to the mean, thy name is Wandy Rodriguez! The southpaw has been dominant since June 24, pitching at least six innings in seven consecutive starts while allowing either one or zero runs in five of his seven outings. Pitching that well, there's not a team in the NL he can't conquer, and while a matchup against the Brewers normally would be worrisome -- on the road, no less, where Rodriguez has an ERA pushing 6.00 -- he has shut down the Brew Crew in his two starts against them this season, allowing just one run in 15 innings.
• Although Jason Hammel has allowed a combined 13 earned runs in his past three starts, you should feel confident in starting him against the Pirates, especially if you need strikeouts. Although Hammel's numbers on the season might not be impressive, keep in mind that since May, he has a 3.48 ERA and 1.21 WHIP while striking out 87 batters in 98 2/3 innings. Those numbers will play, especially against the Pirates, and even if he's off again, he has a strong offense backing him that could still net him a win against the unimpressive Zach Duke.
• In the AL, it would have been difficult for Daniel Hudson to carve out value quickly, but in the senior league, why not? Hudson did display some warts in his short time at Triple-A this season, so he might need more seasoning, but as far as calculated risks go, he's a great option. He went eight strong innings in his first start in the National League, so feel free to take a gamble on him versus the Padres.
• He's not the sexiest option as a spot starter, but more times than not, Dallas Braden gets the job done, especially at home, where he has posted a 3.17 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Oakland Coliseum is a fairly severe pitchers' park, so his success there is not at all surprising, and it makes Braden a solid option versus a Rangers team that sometimes struggles against lefties, especially on the road.
• Ricky Nolasco can be infuriating in that his peripherals suggest a potential stud -- if he could ever get his home run rate under control -- but he tends to backfire on you whenever you trust him against a good offense. So despite his marvelous numbers (3.21 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) since the break, he can't be trusted versus a good Cardinals offense, one that is pacing the league in on-base percentage since the All-Star break.
• I hyped Tom Gorzelanny as a low-cost strikeout option , but now that he's back to allowing free passes -- old habits die hard! -- consider this as me backing away from that recommendation. He has walked an absurd 20 batters in 35 innings since rejoining the rotation June 30, so you should stay away until he gets his command under control.
Jhonny Peralta, SS/3B, Tigers: You wouldn't expect it from a dude with a .290 OBP and .671 OPS against right-handers this season, but Peralta is actually 8-for-20 (.400) off Jered Weaver in his career. He has hit for a ton of power, too, smashing five doubles and a home run, which more than cancel out his five strikeouts.J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox: Drew will face Javier Vazquez for the first time this season Friday, which is odd when you consider how often the Yankees and Red Sox play. But if history is any guide, Drew is going to rake. He's 10-for-28 (.357) against the right-hander, taking him deep four times and picking up a pair of doubles for good measure. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B/SS, Indians: Although he has been slumping since being activated from the disabled list, he's surprisingly adept versus Francisco Liriano, batting .533 (8-for-15) with a home run and a double off of the ace in his career. Troy Glaus, 1B/3B, Braves: It's hard to believe the hulking 6-foot-5, 240-pound slugger is slugging just .408 on the season, but that's how brutal his slump has been. Let's hope he can find some of his mojo against Barry Zito, who he has taken deep three times in 41 at-bats. Not the greatest ratio, but it has helped him post a .512 slugging percentage against Zito, and Glaus has put in his best work this season against southpaws. Stephen Drew, SS, and Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks: Drew's season has cemented his status as one of the more overrated players in fantasy, but for a day, at least, he should provide a great return on investment. He's 5-for-13 (.385) with a pair of dingers off Jon Garland in his career, and you know he's ready to take advantage, considering he's batting .316 with a pair of homers over the past week. His surging teammate, Montero, should also keep the good times rolling, as he's 3-for-8 with a home run and a double.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs: It seems Ramirez's nagging thumb injury just won't go away, as he entered Wednesday with two hits in his last 21 at-bats. He sort of made up for it with a pinch-hit three-run home run -- hope you had him in your lineup! -- but it wouldn't be surprising to see Ramirez's average suffer as he tries to gut it out. Despite Wednesday's blast, feel free to leave him inactive versus Bronson Arroyo, whom he's 8-for-39 (.205) against lifetime, mustering just two extra-base hits.Jonny Gomes, OF, Reds: With five hits in his past 12 at-bats, including two doubles, maybe Gomes isn't dead quite yet. But Tom Gorzelanny is one lefty he shouldn't be used against, considering Gomes' 2-for-12 (.167) mark against the southpaw. He has struck out a whopping five times, to boot. Johnny Damon, OF, Tigers: When a hitter has more than twice as many strikeouts than hits, not much else needs to be said. Batting a paltry .160 (4-for-25 with zero extra-base hits) against Jered Weaver, Damon should have a rough go of it Friday. Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: Jones is off to a solid start this month, with five hits, five runs and a pair of doubles in three games, but he isn't so hot versus John Danks for his career. The southpaw has held Jones to a lone single in 12 at-bats, striking him out three times. Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins: A testament to Uggla's power is that he can go deep even while struggling, as he proves against Adam Wainwright. He's 2-for-16 (.125) versus the ace, but one of those hits did leave the yard. But do you really want to sacrifice your average for that long shot? (Pun intended!) Wainwright has also fanned him seven times, so the hurler has been pretty dominant against Uggla.
Chris Johnson, 3B, Astros: The hourglass is going to run out on Johnson eventually, but fortunately this game is well-suited to capitalizing on short-term hot streaks. He's a marvelous 6-for-6 with a double against Dave Bush in his brief career, and as the saying goes, you can't argue with perfection.
Injury list: Out
John Buck, C, Blue Jays (15-day DL, thumb): Buck cut his thumb on a foul tip from A-Rod, and although it sounds like he might not miss more than the minimum, the Jays promptly placed him on the disabled list nonetheless.Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers (back): Furcal is expected to remain out through the weekend, according to MLB.com, with next Tuesday being his targeted return date. Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies (15-day DL, ankle) Russell Martin, C, Dodgers (15-day DL, hip): Diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right hip, it's a good bet that he'll miss the rest of the season. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox (15-day DL, thumb)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Ryan Doumit, C, Pirates (15-day DL, concussion): Doumit is set to be activated from the disabled list Friday, although you can expect him to see more time in right field with Chris Snyder more than capable behind the plate and the combination of Lastings Milledge and Delwyn Young providing a whole lot of nothing. That's only good news for his owners, as it's reasonable to expect stronger offensive production without the physical burden of catching.Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies (ribs/hip) Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers (concussion): The Brewers will make a decision Thursday or Friday on whether or not to place Gomez on the disabled list. Nyjer Morgan, OF, Nationals (hip) Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays (foot) Buster Posey, C, Giants (shoulder) Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, Diamondbacks (head): Reynolds returned Wednesday, but then left late in the game as his manager, Kirk Gibson, saw something was not right. Hopefully it's not serious. Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles (shin) Juan Uribe, 3B/SS/2B, Giants (hamstring; available to pinch-hit)
There are four weatherproof contests on tap: Rays-Blue Jays, Astros-Brewers, Padres-Diamondbacks and Royals-Mariners. Thankfully, no major league cities are at risk of precipitation, just as it should be in the summer.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.