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Friday, September 24, 2010
Hammel, De La Rosa need big outings

By AJ Mass
ESPN.com

It's time for the Colorado Rockies to go all in. This weekend they play the San Francisco Giants in a do-or-die series to keep their playoff hopes alive. Lucky for them, they have two pitchers with solid track records against the Giants to keep them in the games. Saturday, Jason Hammel may be 0-2 for his career when facing the NL West leaders, but with a more than respectable 2.95 ERA. On Sunday, Jorge De La Rosa takes to the mound with a perfect 6-0 mark against the boys from the Bay Area. Never bet against the Rockies when their backs are against the wall. As for the complete weekend rankings, read on:

For starters: Saturday

Selected notes:

Top of the charts: Jon Lester will look to make his case for Cy Young consideration as he seeks his third victory of the season against the New York Yankees. Zack Greinke is 2-0 in 2010 against today's opponent, the Cleveland Indians.

Close behind: John Danks has a lifetime 2.61 ERA against the Los Angeles Angels, and Matt Garza is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA versus the Seattle Mariners this season. Ricky Romero has been brilliant when going up against the Baltimore Orioles in 2010. He is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA.

Other solid bets: Carl Pavano has held the Detroit Tigers to fewer than three runs per game this season. Gio Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA opposing the Texas Rangers in the past six months.

A dollar and a dream: Derek Holland is 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA in his games facing the Oakland Athletics this year. Barry Zito is 1-0 this season against the Rockies, with a 3.98 ERA. Jeremy Bonderman is 2-0 against the Minnesota Twins, but with a gaudy 5.56 ERA.

No thanks: Scott Kazmir has a lifetime 5.27 ERA against the Chicago White Sox, including a July 5 outing in which he allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings. Kyle Kendrick is the weak sister in the Philadelphia Phillies rotation, and has lost twice to the New York Mets already in 2010.

For starters: Sunday

Selected notes:

Cherries on top: Although he did suffer his first career loss to the White Sox earlier this year, Jered Weaver is 4-1 lifetime against the team, with a 1.32 ERA. Brian Duensing is 6-1 with a 2.29 ERA since Aug. 8. Although Cole Hamels has lost to the Mets three times this season, the Phillies were shut out in all three of those games. His ERA facing the New Yorkers is only 1.69.

Yin and yang: Matt Cain is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA facing the Rockies in 2010. Colby Lewis, on the other hand, is looking for his first win against the Athletics. He's 0-3 with a 3.69 ERA against them this year.

Other solid picks: Shaun Marcum brings to the table an unblemished 2-0 record with a 1.59 ERA in his 2010 encounters with the Orioles on Sunday. Trevor Cahill can do him one better, thanks to a 3-0 mark and 0.68 ERA versus the Rangers.

Middle of the road: Jeff Samardzija is 2-0 since his return to the Chicago Cubs in September, including 5 2/3 shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. J.A. Happ is 2-1 lifetime battling the Pittsburgh Pirates, with a 2.57 ERA.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps: Jair Jurrjens at 3.25, Rick Porcello at 3.15 and Chris Capuano at 3.22 all have decent track records, in terms of ERA, against their scheduled Sunday opposition.

Not quite last, not quite least: Bruce Chen is the biggest enigma on the day. On the one hand, he is 3-0 this season against the Cleveland Indians. On the other hand, his ERA in those games is 5.27. Somehow, it hardly seems worth the risk.

Now batting

Hitters' count: Saturday

Jason Bourgeois, OF, Astros: Bourgeois went 5-for-12 against the Nationals and stole four bases in the process. He's 3-for-5 with a home run lifetime against Zach Duke.

Kila Ka'aihue, 1B, Royals: With hits in four of his past five games, Kila should continue to be a killer against Jeanmar Gomez, against whom he's batting .400.

Jose Reyes, SS, Mets: Reyes has scored eight runs this month in only 12 games played, and in 20 at-bats against Kyle Kendrick, he's batting .400 with a pair of round-trippers.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Athletics: Kouz has had a bad back, which has put a damper on his September so far, but he owns a. 714 batting average against Derek Holland. We think he'll help carry the A's to victory.

Lyle Overbay, 1B, Blue Jays: Overbay is slugging .543 for his career against Jeremy Guthrie and has four home runs against Orioles pitching in 2010.

Pitchers' count: Saturday

Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees: Tex is 0-for-his-past-16 and only a .182 hitter versus the Red Sox's Jon Lester.

Placido Polanco, 3B, Phillies: He's had only nine extra-base hits since Aug. 1, and his batting average has dropped off the deep end to .239 this month. Clearly, he's run out of gas.

Trevor Crowe, OF, Indians: Crowe has had some success in September, with a .295 average and a pair of steals, but he's also been caught on the basepaths three times and has a career average of only .182 facing Zack Greinke.

Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers: Hitting a meager .213 this month after missing nearly all of August with a lower back problem, Furcal probably wishes his season could have ended at the All-Star break.

Darwin Barney, SS, Cubs: For a light-hitting shortstop, batting .279 in September is a big deal, but he has a big goose egg with Chris Carpenter on the hill. Sorry Barney, I don't love you.

Hitters' count: Sunday

Martin Prado, 2B, Braves: Livan Hernandez brings out the best in Prado. He is batting .450 against the Nationals starter in 20 career at-bats.

Jason Kubel, OF, Twins: Back from a wrist injury, Kubel faces Rick Porcello, who Kubel simply owns. How does 10-for-17 (.588) strike you?

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres: Not only is Gonzalez hitting.353 in September, but he has two career homers off Homer Bailey, to go along with a .444 batting average.

Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Mariners: Assuming his stomach virus has passed, Gutierrez should feast on the Rays, if the .375 average off of James Shields is any indication.

Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays: Longoria has a six-game hitting streak working, and has hit .324 this season at home, nearly 60 points higher than on the road.

Pitchers' count: Sunday

Ryan Raburn, OF, Tigers: Raburn has only one hit in 12 lifetime at-bats against Brian Duensing, and is batting only .188 this season against the entire Twins staff.

Brendan Ryan, SS, Cardinals: Batting only .215 this month, and only .180 away from home this season, Ryan is your express ticket to a loss.

Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox: Konerko has gone hitless in his past 17 at-bats, and is a pathetic 1-for-14 (.071) lifetime facing Weaver.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies: Although he has continued to get base hits, Car-Go has had issues with his wrist and thumb lately, which have zapped his power. He's also only a .118 hitter squaring off with Cain.

Joey Votto, OF, Reds: His 10-game hitting streak was put on hold because of a sinus infection that sidelined him for a few games. Batting only .100 against the Padres this season, it might take a few days to get back into a groove.

Baseball Challenge Picks of the Weekend

Saturday: Jose Guillen, RF, Giants: Guillen is batting .409 since Sept. 16, and is 3-for-5 with two home runs against the Rockies' scheduled starter, Hammel.

Sunday: Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers: Few players have been as hot as Weeks, who is 15-for-33 (.455) since Sept. 15. Looks like someone is trying to raise his 2011 draft value.

Triage

Injury list:

Emilio Bonifacio, OF, Marlins (day-to-day, hamstring)
Rajai Davis, OF, Athletics (day-to-day, "non-baseball issue")
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals (likely out for season, sore knee)
Jason Donald, SS, Indians (likely out for season, finger)
Jeff Baker, 3B, Cubs (day-to-day, flu)
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (may be shut down, elbow)
Michael Bourn, OF, Astros (day-to-day, oblique)
Michael Brantley, OF, Indians (day-to-day, tight hamstring)
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers (day-to-day, bruised left elbow)

Weather concerns

Weatherproof games: Orioles at Blue Jays, Marlins at Brewers, Mariners at Rays and Dodgers at Diamondbacks. Saturday looks to be a beautiful day, but any game being played east of the Mississippi on Sunday might be in for a few showers.

AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can follow AJ on Twitter or e-mail him here.