It's a cavalcade of aces on Wednesday, as noted studs Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy and Johan Santana all will pitch, each drawing an opponent with a sub-.630 team OPS. Nothing better than having the leader of your staff getting an almost guaranteed "W," right?
Rookies also populate the list of scheduled pitchers, seven of them to be exact, and most facing matchups somewhat appealing for fantasy. Tigers sensation Rick Porcello, in the midst of a massive hot streak, returns to Kauffman Stadium, where he struggled earlier in the season. Athletics sinkerballer Trevor Cahill draws Seattle for the third time in 2009. Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann makes his second career start at Citi Field, where he picked up his second win of the year.
Of special interest -- though he's a risky fantasy starter -- is Rangers left-hander Derek Holland, making his second career start. The Yankees have a history of struggling against young southpaws, lefty heavy as that lineup is, so a strong performance from Holland might solidify his rotation spot and make him an attractive pickup in the coming days.
Starting pitcher rankings for May 27, 2009
Rk.: The author's ranking of that pitcher for that day only. T: Pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. W-L: Pitcher's win-loss record. ERA: Pitcher's earned run average. WHIP: Pitcher's average number of walks plus
Selected notes: Roy Halladay has won each of his past three starts at Camden Yards, and he's 7-1 with a 2.76 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 10 starts there since 2002. Erik Bedard hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his eight starts so far this season, and against Oakland on April 12, he tossed 8 1/3 innings of shutout, three-hit baseball. He's about as much of a must-start pitcher as you can find. It used to be that Jake Peavy had a whole host of trouble against Arizona, but that was back in the Diamondbacks' more competitive days. Don't take his 4.71 career ERA versus the Diamondbacks as a black mark; he's 8-6 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 18 starts against that team since 2005, and has a 3.09 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in five starts against the D-backs between this and last season (though he has one win and three losses in those). Peavy is a must-start against this overrated, K-prone offense. Jered Weaver is 3-0 with a 0.34 ERA and 0.71 WHIP in four career starts against the White Sox, his best ERA and WHIP against any opponent in baseball regardless of number of innings pitched or starts made. Though the Royals got the best of Rick Porcello in their April 24 meeting, scoring five runs and hitting two home runs off him in his six innings, I'm giving him the advantage in the rematch. Porcello has won four consecutive starts with a 1.12 ERA, and the Royals have averaged only 4.1 runs per game in the month of May. Daisuke Matsuzaka had a respectable first start fresh off the DL this past Friday (5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER versus the potent Mets), and he's 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in three career starts versus the Twins. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau might give him some trouble, and limit his appeal to deep-mixed and AL-only formats, but I'd give him the go-ahead in those. The Cardinals have baseball's worst team OPS in the month of May (.651), and Manny Parra just tossed six innings of two-run, five-hit baseball to defeat them in St. Louis on May 17. He's 7-5 with a 3.45 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 26 career games (19 starts) at Miller Park, so take a look at him in all but the shallowest of leagues. In his brief career to date, Trevor Cahill has demonstrated he can handle the mediocre Seattle offense; his best and fourth-best starts (going by game score) have come against the Mariners, and he has limited them to two runs on nine hits in 13 innings in them. Seattle has a major league-worst .670 OPS versus right-handers, so give Cahill a look. NL-only owners, take note: Zach Duke has been surprisingly successful in his career against the Cubs, with a 3.07 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 13 starts against them. His ERA at Wrigley Field, in fact, is a respectable 3.27 in eight turns. It's a shame that Jordan Zimmermann's opponent on Wednesday is Johan Santana, because he'd be a pretty decent sleeper otherwise. He tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-run, six hit baseball against the Mets on April 26 at Citi Field, so NL-only owners can take a look at him if wins aren't your top priority. Clayton Kershaw got plastered at Coors Field on April 26, surrendering nine runs on eight hits, two of them home runs, in 4 2/3 innings, and in his career his two worst starts (from a game-score perspective) have come at Coors (the other a five-run, 10-hit, three-inning nightmare on July 22, 2008). There's no way I'd use him at that ballpark, no matter how good he has looked in May (2.17 ERA in five starts).
• Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers: He's 7-for-10 with one double and one home run in his career against Todd Wellemeyer, and has a lifetime OPS 80 points higher at home (.987) than on the road (.907).
• Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals: He's 6-for-13 with three doubles, one home run and four walks in his career against Manny Parra.
• Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals: He's 4-for-11 with four walks in his career against Parra.
• Luke Scott, OF, Orioles: If this is indeed the day he returns from the DL, as is expected, he picked a good day to do it; he's 5-for-9 with two home runs in his career against Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.
• Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs: Oh, how he loves to face the Pirates, especially Zach Duke. Soriano is a lifetime .560 hitter (14-for-25) versus the left-hander, with three doubles, two home runs and two walks.
• Clint Barmes, 2B/SS, Rockies: He's 3-for-5 with one home run in his career against Clayton Kershaw. While that's a small sample size, he also qualifies as a favorable matchups play due to his OPS this season versus left-handers (.946) and at Coors Field (.839).
• Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers: He's 6-for-14 with three doubles and one home run in his career against Ubaldo Jimenez, and is a .321 hitter with 19 RBIs and a .919 OPS in 22 career games at Coors Field.
• Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins: He has hit for better power recently, and gets to battle a homer-prone right-hander, Brett Myers, on Wednesday. Uggla is a lifetime .364 hitter (12-for-33) with four homers against the Phillies righty.
• Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B, Marlins: He's 5-for-10 with two doubles and one homer in his career against Myers.
• Russell Branyan, 1B/3B, Mariners: In two previous games against Trevor Cahill, Branyan was 2-for-5 with one home run and one hit-by-pitch versus the right-hander.
• Miguel Tejada, SS, Astros: He's a .367 hitter (11-for-30) with one double, one triple and two home runs in his career against Bronson Arroyo.
• Hunter Pence, OF, Astros: He's 7-for-18 (.389 BA) with three doubles, one triple and two walks in his career versus Arroyo.
• Cristian Guzman, SS, Nationals: One of the few Nationals who can handle Johan Santana, Guzman is 8-for-14 (.571 BA) in his career against the Mets' ace.
• Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers: In their brief history against each other, Hamilton has dominated A.J. Burnett, going 4-for-6 with two doubles and one home run.
• Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins: He's 5-for-9 with one double and one home run in his career against Daisuke Matsuzaka.
• Bill Hall, 3B, Brewers: He's hitless with three strikeouts in 10 career at-bats versus Todd Wellemeyer.
• Mike Cameron, OF, Brewers: Hot hitting or not, Cameron has gone hitless in nine career at-bats against Wellemeyer, two of those coming on May 17.
• Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: He has had all sorts of trouble hitting Roy Halladay, with only three hits and six strikeouts in 15 career at-bats versus the right-hander.
• Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Cubs: He's 1-for-6 in his career against Zach Duke, and tends to sit against most left-handed starters anyway.
• Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Pirates: No matter his claim about shortening his swing getting him out of his recent hitting funk, Sanchez is nevertheless 8-for-34 (.235 BA) with one extra-base hit -- a double -- in his career against Carlos Zambrano.
• Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pirates: He's 7-for-28 (.250 BA) in his career against Zambrano, with three doubles and no home runs.
• Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers: Considering he's battling a toe injury, Ethier is an even poorer fantasy choice for Wednesday thanks in part to his lifetime .222 batting average (4-for-18) and five strikeouts against Ubaldo Jimenez.
• Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins: He's 3-for-17 (.176 BA) with seven strikeouts in his career against Brett Myers.
• Cody Ross, OF, Marlins: He might not even be in the lineup against Myers, considering he's 2-for-13 (.154 BA) in his career versus the right-hander.
• Nick Johnson, 1B, Nationals: The Nationals shouldn't want to start Johnson versus Johan Santana, and you certainly shouldn't if he does play; he's 1-for-11 with four strikeouts in his career against the lefty, though the one hit was a home run.
• Hank Blalock, 1B/3B, Rangers: He's 1-for-10 with three strikeouts in his career against A.J. Burnett.
• Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: There are not many Diamondbacks hitters who have enjoyed success against Padres ace Jake Peavy; Drew, for instance, is 5-for-23 (.217 BA) with 10 strikeouts in his career versus the right-hander.
• Felipe Lopez, 2B, Diamondbacks: Another notable fantasy option who stinks against Peavy, Lopez is 3-for-19 (.158 BA) with nine strikeouts lifetime versus the right-hander.
• Vladimir Guerrero, OF, Angels: It's not a foolish idea to take a wait-and-see approach to activating Guerrero in fantasy leagues, and I'd advise you to do that considering he's 1-for-7 in his career against Gavin Floyd.
• Jermaine Dye, OF, White Sox: He's 1-for-12 (.083 BA) with five strikeouts in his career against Jered Weaver.
• Garret Anderson, OF, Braves: He might take a seat against Randy Johnson, considering he's 3-for-21 (.143 BA) with nine strikeouts in his career against the "Big Unit."
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• Craig Counsell, 2B/3B/SS, Brewers: The Brewers have started him at either second or third base in every game against a right-handed starter since Rickie Weeks' injury, and Counsell is 2-for-5 with two walks in his career against Todd Wellemeyer, both of the hits doubles.
• Gerald Laird, C, Tigers: He's 5-for-10 in his career against Kyle Davies, one of the hits a double and one other a home run.
• Reed Johnson, OF, Cubs: He typically starts in place of Kosuke Fukudome in center field versus left-handers, and is 6-for-14 (.429 BA) with two doubles in his career against Pirates southpaw Zach Duke.
• Ben Francisco, OF, Indians: He has hit a home run off Andy Sonnanstine in each of the three games in which they've battled in their careers, hit two homers off the right-hander in their only previous meeting this year (on May 17) and is 6-for-7 with one double, four homers and one walk lifetime against Sonnanstine.
• Laynce Nix, OF, Reds: The Reds might consider slotting him in left field against Felipe Paulino, considering he's 4-for-5 with a double and a triple in two previous games against the Houston right-hander this season.
Injury list: Out
• Brian Bruney, RP, Yankees (elbow): Will visit Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday; likely headed to the DL
• Chris Iannetta, C, Rockies (hamstring, 15-day DL)
• Akinori Iwamura, 2B, Rays (knee): Out for the season
• Kenji Johjima, C, Mariners (toe): Likely DL-bound due to a fracture
• Lou Montanez, OF, Orioles (thumb, 15-day DL): Out six to eight weeks
• Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds (thumb): Might be able to play by Friday
• Renyel Pinto, RP, Marlins (elbow, 15-day DL)
• Anthony Reyes, SP, Indians (elbow, 15-day DL): Might require season-ending surgery
• Jose Reyes, SS, Mets (calf): Might be a DL candidate, but a decision won't be made until Friday
• Brian Shouse, RP, Rays (elbow, 15-day DL)
Injury list: Day-to-day
• Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals (shoulder)
• Rocco Baldelli, OF, Red Sox (hamstring)
• Jason Bartlett, SS, Rays (ankle)
• Geoff Blum, 3B, Astros (hamstring): Might be limited to pinch hitting
• Matt Capps, RP, Pirates (elbow)
• Ryan Church, OF, Mets (hamstring)
• Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (hand)
• Yunel Escobar, SS, Braves (hip flexor)
• Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers (toe): Available at least to pinch hit
• Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers (buttocks): Was expected back Tuesday
• J.J. Hardy, SS, Brewers (back)
• Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies (migraine)
• Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves (toe)
• Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs (flu)
• Felipe Lopez, 2B, Diamondbacks (hamstring)
• Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs (personal): Might be back Wednesday
• Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles (shin): Was hoping to play Tuesday
• Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox (foot)
• Ivan Rodriguez, C, Astros (knee)
• Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B, Giants (elbow)
• Luke Scott, OF, Orioles (shoulder, 15-day DL): Should be activated Wednesday
• Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (ear infection): Available at least to pinch hit
• Cardinals-Brewers, Red Sox-Twins and Padres-Diamondbacks comprise Wednesday's weatherproof contests.
• Rain will continue to pose problems in the Great Lakes region, as games in Chicago (Pirates-Cubs faces an 80 percent chance of precipitation), Cincinnati (Astros-Reds has a 50 percent chance) and Cleveland (Rays-Indians has a 60 percent chance) will battle the elements. Chicago's is the most problematic; it's a day game and the chance of precipitation only drops to 40 percent by the evening.
• The east coast will similarly be in jeopardy of rainouts; games in Baltimore (Blue Jays-Orioles faces a 50 percent chance of precipitation), New York (Nationals-Mets has a 40 percent chance) and Philadelphia (Marlins-Phillies has a 30 percent chance) might be washed out.
• Tigers-Royals will also face a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Tristan H. Cockcroft is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and a two-time champion of the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) experts league. You can e-mail him here.