If you followed my advice a few weeks ago and added Carl Pavano as a shot in the dark to have value, you might be pleased that he is doing exactly what would happen in the best-case scenario: controlling his pitches, letting his defense do the work and waiting for his offense to score runs. Now is the time, however, to slide him to your bench; he faces a tall task in the AL East-leading Rays. Tampa Bay has a scary .907 OPS over the last seven days, and if Pavano can't reach back for that something extra, this matchup could get ugly quickly. As I said when Pavano made his debut, most of his value lies in his ability to get a win. The Rays will be a challenge; this game should go a long in way in telling us whether he can actually be worthwhile for a fantasy club still in contention.
Matchups for Wednesday, Sept. 3
Kevin Gregg, RP, Marlins (knee)
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels (hamstring)
Jeff Kent, 2B, Dodgers (knee)
Melvin Mora, 3B, Orioles (hamstring)
Frank Thomas, DH, A's (quadriceps)
Yorvit Torrealba, C, Rockies (quadriceps)
Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals (abdominal)
Mike Aviles, 2B/SS, Royals (finger)
Eric Aybar, 2B/SS, Angels (hamstring)
Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets (knee)
Mark Ellis, 2B, A's (shoulder)
Jody Gerut, OF, Padres (finger)
Carlos Guillen, 1B/3B/SS, Tigers (back)
Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers (tooth)
Dioner Navarro, C, Rays (hamstring)
Jose Reyes, SS, Mets (neck)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C/1B, Rangers (elbow)
B.J. Upton, 2B/OF, Rays (ankle)
Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks )head)
Jack Wilson, SS, Pirates (finger)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Even though both Brandon Phillips and Edwin Encarnacion have hit better than .300 versus lefties on the season, both fall below the Mendoza Line in their careers versus Zach Duke. Although Rick Ankiel (abdominal strain) is still technically available to play, you might want to sit him. The reports out of St. Louis make it sound more likely he will be shut down sooner than later. Double-check the status of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and B.J. Upton, but it looks like their injuries won't keep them out of the lineup long, if at all. Watch Carlos Guillen's status, as he has an impressive .357 batting average in 42 at-bats versus the Angels' Jon Garland. Josh Hamilton's root canal shouldn't keep him off the field long, but you might look elsewhere anyway; he is 0-for-10 versus Felix Hernandez. Bobby Abreu just can't figure out Edwin Jackson. He is 1-for-18 against him and should ride the pine for your fantasy team if you have other options. Johnny Damon isn't much better at 1-for-14.
Pitchers: Hopefully Jeremy Guthrie's last outing (his worst of the season) wasn't a sign that he has hit the wall of sorts. I'd consider benching him against Daisuke Matsuzaka (16-2) and the Red Sox as a precaution, as his probability for a win has to be considered quite low.
Consider Oliver Perez a safe option. Bill Hall, Mike Cameron, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun are among the Brewers who own a career batting average below .200 versus Ollie.
The fact that A.J. Burnett is on fire is still being overlooked in some leagues. He is 7-2 in his past 10 starts with a 3.18 ERA and is a no-brainer start against the Twins.
Hitters: Jeff Keppinger hits .360 against left-handers this season, and the Pirates' Zach Duke is hardly a cream-of-the-crop left-hander. David Dellucci might be a good play off the wire as he is 10-for-29 (.345 average) with two homers against Javier Vazquez. Consider Omar Vizquel if you are hurting at shortstop. He is 8-for-23 (.348) with a home run and a triple versus Aaron Cook. Reed Johnson is always an option when the Cubs face a lefty (Randy Wolf this time). Johnson is hitting .344 against southpaws, with an .894 OPS. Nomar Garciaparra has a .302 average versus southpaws this season and has three home runs in 28 at-bats against Doug Davis. Coming off a productive five-homer August, Gary Sheffield should be an option in some leagues. He is 5-for-11 versus Jon Garland, so this is a good time to see if he is available. It obviously has been awhile since he has faced him, but Cliff Floyd is 11-for-26 (.423) with a pair of home runs off Carl Pavano. With a lefty on the mound for Washington (Odalis Perez), consider Chris Coste for your catcher spot. He is hitting .329 versus southpaws this season with a .958 OPS. Jayson Werth (1.071 OPS versus LHP) also should start. Billy Butler is hitting .336 against left-handers this season, and six of his nine home runs were hit off southpaws (including two off Kenny Rogers on Saturday). He's not a bad start against Oakland's Dana Eveland. Brian Giles has two home runs in five at-bats against Hiroki Kuroda.
Pitchers: Dave Bush really does deserve more attention. He finished the month of August 4-0 with five quality starts and a 2.12 ERA. His home ERA on the season is still a sparkling 3.21, and this is yet another matchup at Miller Park.
With Kevin Gregg on the sidelines, troll for saves with Joe Nelson and Matt Lindstrom. Lindstrom has more upside in the role, but Nelson might get the first crack.
While Jorge Campillo was a nice surprise for a while, you can't march out his 7.86 ERA over his past five starts and hope for a positive result. Even though one of his really nice starts this year came at Dolphin Stadium, his stuff clearly hasn't been as good since July.
Although he is not throwing deep into games, Chris Volstad is proving to be a boon to fantasy lineups; he gives his Marlins a chance to win and keeps his ratios respectable. Consider him a deep-league option against the Braves.
Dana Eveland's new mechanics (following a stint at Triple-A) seem to be working (three earned runs in 14 innings), and I'd take a chance on him up against the Royals' weak offense.
Sometimes you just can't trust the numbers, but Barry Zito does look okay heading into Coors Field. He hasn't pitched against the Rockies this season, but in his previous five starts against Colorado, he owns a 2.73 ERA. Three of those starts came at Coors Field, where he had a 3.32 ERA. Also, Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe and the recently returned Ryan Spilborghs all hit below .200 against Zito. I'll call him the Hail Mary start of the day.
Zach Miner might have had some impressive outings as a starter for Detroit, but his last two performances were against the Royals' offense, and this one is against the Angels. There is a considerable difference between the two. Miner's 5-1 record as a starter is impressive, but I'd consider him AL-only material against the Angels.
Edwin Jackson has held his own against the Yankees this season (2.59 ERA in four starts) and should continue his winning ways. He is one of the better waiver-wire options to pick for a win.
Randy Wolf might be a good play in deep leagues because he is winning most of his individual battles with the Cubs' hitters over his career, but up against Ryan Dempster, there isn't as much potential payoff for starting him. I'd stay away from Wolf except in the deepest of leagues where you need to take a chance.
Wade LeBlanc is making his Padres debut against the Dodgers. I'd shy away from starting him, because pitchers who use their changeup as their out pitch (like LeBlanc) usually need time to adjust to the majors.
The remnants of Hurricane Gustav could blow into Texas in time to affect the game between the Mariners and Rangers in Arlington. Consider that contest at a slightly higher risk of rain. There is also a 70 percent chance of showers in Kansas City (A's-Royals) and a 50 percent chance of rain in Detroit (Angels-Tigers). A mere 30 percent chance of showers exists in Miami (Braves-Marlins) and Chicago (Astros-Cubs). Weather-proof games will be played in Milwaukee (Mets-Brewers), Arizona (Cardinals-Diamondbacks), Toronto (Twins-Blue Jays) and Tampa Bay (Yankees-Rays).
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.