After shutting out the New York Yankees in six innings for the second time this season, it appears Hisanori Takahashi is firmly entrenched in the New York Mets rotation. Manager Jerry Manuel said as much this weekend, telling reporters that the left-hander, who is 3-1 in six starts with a 3.15 ERA, would not be returning to the bullpen, even after John Maine returns from the disabled list. Maybe it's time we show some confidence in Takahashi as well? Here's the complete rankings of Thursday's scheduled starters for your review:
Starting pitcher rankings for June 24
Rk.: The author's ranking of that pitcher for that day only. T: Pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. Opp: The pitcher's opponent for the day. Rating: The starting pitcher's matchup rating -- separate from the author's ranking -- which accounts for past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days), opponent and ballpark. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. W-L: Pitcher's win-loss record. ERA: Pitcher's earned run average. WHIP: Pitcher's average number of walks plus hits surrendered per inning.
At the summit: At this point of the season, you don't have 10 wins by accident. Adam Wainwright is a solid choice against the Toronto Blue Jays, who are next-to-last in the American League in hitting. Matt Cain has a 3.64 career ERA against the Houston Astros, but of course, got a no-decision against them earlier this season, despite a quality start.
Felix Hernandez edges out Yovani Gallardo for the No. 4 spot, as Yo-Ga allowed four runs in only six innings against the Minnesota Twins in their May interleague skirmish. I'm hoping Matt Garza can right the ship against the San Diego Padres, batting only .247 as a team (14th in the NL).
Rounding out the top 10: Derek Lowe is only 1-3 lifetime against the Chicago White Sox, but the 3.94 ERA isn't terrible. Fausto Carmona has a career 2.62 ERA in interleague play and a 2-1 record this season against the National League.
Streamers on alert: Ted Lilly jumps in to take the start. His ERA on four days' rest is almost a full run better than with five. Scott Kazmir is rocking a four-game winning streak, but strangely enough has not won at home since April. Similarly, Scott Feldman is 3-1 this month, with all three victories coming on the road, but the Pittsburgh Pirates can fail to hit the ball in any ballpark.
Stay away: I like Gavin Floyd for the rest of the season, but not today. The Atlanta Braves own him, as evidenced by the 9.95 lifetime ERA. Jason Hammel's matchup is simply a bad one, and he is 0-2 lifetime with a 5.50 ERA against the Boston Red Sox. Joe Blanton is 2-5 with a 4.30 ERA against the Cleveland Indians.
Hitter matchup ratings for June 24
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. "LHB" and "RHB" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Red Sox: He's still hitting .351 for the month of June and in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak. Not only that, but he's a .398 lifetime hitter at Coors Field.
Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Rangers: You know what the cure for a 3-for-20 slump is? The Pirates and their 5.18 ERA.
John Buck, C, Blue Jays: Buck is only 1-for-8 in his career against Adam Wainwright, although the one hit was a home run. Still, Buck is hitting just .242 against righties, as opposed to .368 versus left-handers.
Gerald Laird, C, Tigers: After missing four games with a bad neck, Laird is back in the Tigers' lineup. Don't get too excited, though, as he has only a .214 batting average against the current Mets staff.
Denard Span, OF, Twins: Earlier this season, Span went 0-for-7 in a game started by Yovani Gallardo in spite of the fact the Twins scored eight runs and had 13 hits. No thanks.
Michael Bourn, OF, Astros: Hitting only .213 this month and with no stolen bases in his past seven games, it's hard to like Bourn and his .200 batting average against Matt Cain.
Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs: A day off has recharged Soriano's batteries -- five hits in two games since -- but Felix Hernandez is like a ghost, draining those batteries in a heartbeat. Soriano is hitting only .167 against the King.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Injury list: Out
Yorvit Torrealba, C, Padres (three-game suspension)
Carlos Ruiz, C, Phillies (15-day DL, concussion)
Carlos Monasterios, P, Dodgers (15-day DL, blister)
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies (15-day DL, fractured left wrist)
Clay Hensley, P, Marlins (15-day DL, neck strain)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox (split fingernail)
Chone Figgins, 2B, Mariners (illness)
Erick Aybar, SS, Angels (hyperextended knee)
Carlos Silva, P, Cubs (hamstring)
Nate McLouth, OF, Braves (concussion symptoms)
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (hamstring)
Weatherproof games: Padres at Rays, Giants at Astros, Twins at Brewers, Cardinals at Blue Jays, and Cubs at Mariners. Possible late afternoon thunderstorms in New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia are the only blemishes on an otherwise clear weather map for Thursday.