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Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Homer Bailey now underrated

By Adam Madison
Special to ESPN.com

Daily Notes
So why exactly is Madison Bumgarner owned in more leagues than Homer Bailey?

OK, Bumgarner allows fewer walks, but Bailey also strikes out more batters. Bumgarner pitches in a more favorable home park, but Bailey pitches for a first-place team in front of a slightly better defense. Is it talent? Entering the season, Bumgarner was universally thought of as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. But just a few years ago, Bailey was thought of as a top, if not the top, prospect in all of baseball. If you're going to gamble on unproven talent, how much difference is there between the two when you come right down to it?

For starters

Selected notes:

• So it appears 1.6 percent of Dan Haren's owners in ESPN standard leagues had a knee-jerk reaction and dropped him following his most recent start, a seven-inning, 11-hit, seven-run stinker. But as we continually preach in this space, you have to look at his opponent. Who was it? The Twins! No team in baseball has scored more runs (or comes within 20 points of their OPS) since the All-Star break. Indeed, Haren has faced the Red Sox, Rangers, Blue Jays and Twins in four of his six starts since returning to the AL, so once you adjust for the competition, he has been fine. Start him with confidence versus the Rays.

>• C.J. Wilson is proving that when every left-hander you face is a free out, you can walk four batters per nine innings and still be a strong No. 2 starter. Wilson has struck out 25 AL East batters in his past 21 2/3 innings, so he's in quite the groove. I'm going to play with fire and recommend him against those mighty Twins, primarily because they feature four left-handers in their lineup.

• Am I really going to recommend Phil Hughes against the Blue Jays? What has gotten into me?! Another matchup that is normally in your best interest to avoid at all times, I feel it's OK to take a calculated risk here with Hughes. For the most part, he has proved he is a capable No. 2 starter, and here's the kicker: He sports a 2.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP on the road, primarily because only two of the 18 home runs he has allowed this season have been hit away from Yankee Stadium.

• Homer Bailey has pitched well since returning from the disabled list, allowing just nine baserunners and one run in 13 innings, with 10 strikeouts. He's still just 24 and seems to be gradually figuring out how to pitch at the major league level. Throw him out there against the Giants and see if it sticks.

• What is it I'm missing about Mark Buehrle? Someone help me out here. He doesn't strike out many or induce an above-average rate of ground balls. Instead, he allows a fair share of fly balls, plays in a home park conducive to home runs and isn't even backed by a good defense! How does he continue to get by? I'm still not buying this smoke-and-mirrors act of his, and if I continually end up with egg on my face, so be it. If I am missing something, however, feel free to post something in Conversation.

Brian Duensing is the hot new thing, and he even has a superb rating. But be honest with yourself: Do you trust him against an elite offense? The Rangers rank fourth in baseball in home OPS. If you do, by all means, play him! But personally speaking, I want to see him conquer a good offense under harsh circumstances before I even think about starting him in such a circumstance.

Now batting

Hitters' count

J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox: Is the 34-year-old Drew wearing down? Never the healthiest of players, Drew is hitting a paltry .218 since the All-Star break. The good news is a temporary respite may be in order: He is 8-for-20 (.400) with a home run versus Felix Hernandez.

Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays: Pena hasn't had a month with an average higher than .256 all season, but he has blasted six home runs in 79 at-bats since the break. Don't be surprised if he adds to it Wednesday: He is 4-for-12 with three dingers and a double off Dan Haren.

Tyler Colvin, OF, Cubs: Sure, he's struggling immensely (.183 average in 60 at-bats this month), but Jason Marquis has been tattooed by seemingly everyone who has stepped into the batter's box against him this season. Left-handers alone have hit five home runs off him in 49 at-bats; it's a small sample size, sure, but allowing a .388 AVG/.500 OBP/.755 SLG batting line to southpaws is ridiculous!

Nyjer Morgan, OF, Nationals: Morgan has yet to go more than two consecutive games without a hit since June 29; it's no surprise that he has nabbed 12 bases in that timeframe. He could be a terror on the bases with noodle-armed catcher Geovany Soto behind the plate; the catcher has thrown out just 19 runners in 79 steal attempts (24 percent).

Lyle Overbay, 1B, Blue Jays: Overbay has quietly been a solid first baseman the past two months, batting .289 with nine home runs since July. He is 7-for-17 with three home runs in the past week and should have another solid performance in him against Phil Hughes, against whom he's 4-for-15 (.267) with three extra-base hits (two doubles and one homer).

Pitchers' count

Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Mariners: Just 3-for-16 in his meetings against Jon Lester, Gutierrez has struck out in half of his at-bats and has yet to pick up an extra-base hit or a walk.

Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies: Left-handers are batting .216 off J.A. Happ over the past three seasons, so don't expect much from Ibanez, who is hitting .218 in 133 at-bats against lefties this season anyway.

Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays: Hitless in his past 15 at-bats, he's unlikely to get off the schneid versus Phil Hughes. The righty has limited him to two hits (both singles) in 15 career at-bats, a .133 average.

Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees: The Yanks face the left-handed Brett Cecil, which means Granderson should be firmly planted on your bench. Not surprisingly, Granderson is 0-for-5 against Cecil in his career, and this season he has just one home run and a .583 OPS in 110 at-bats against southpaws.

Joe Mauer, C, Twins: There isn't a starter in baseball who dominates lefties to the extent of C.J. Wilson; they are batting .103 (and a .308 OPS!) in 117 at-bats against him this season. Not one southpaw has hit a home run off him. Mauer is 1-for-14 with three strikeouts against Wilson lifetime, and other lefties on his team -- Denard Span (2-for-8 with three strikeouts), Jason Kubel (1-for-6 with four strikeouts) -- haven't fared much better.

Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day

B.J. Upton, CF, Rays: In the midst of his best month of the season, Upton is batting .293 in August with more than half of his 24 hits having gone for extra bases. He has added seven steals for good measure. Considering his 7-for-15 (.467) track record against Dan Haren, including two round-trippers and a double, starting him Wednesday is an easy call.

Triage

Injury list: Out

None

Injury list: Day-to-day

David Aardsma, RP, Mariners (ribs)

Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B, Padres (illness)

Corey Hart, OF, Brewers (hamstring)

Placido Polanco, 2B/3B, Phillies (elbow)

Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals (calf)

Matt Thornton, RP, White Sox (forearm)

Weather concerns

The Yankees-Blue Jays and Dodgers-Brewers play in weatherproof domes. Boston (Seattle-Red Sox) is expected to see light showers in the afternoon, so it's good the game has a 1:35 p.m. start time, as the rain is expected to increase later into the evening.

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