With the disabled list filling up with starting pitchers as teams look to force some of their arms into a little bit of extra rest thanks to the looming All-Star break, it's notable that Friday actually will see the return of two pitchers to the active rosters of their respective National League squads. Doug Davis, who has struggled this season after signing a hefty offseason free agent contract, replaces Yovani Gallardo in the Milwaukee Brewers' rotation. Meanwhile, Jorge De La Rosa, who has a record of 19-4 since last June, attempts to get right back on the proverbial horse for the Colorado Rockies after a finger injury sidelined him for over two months. My rankings suggest a bit of caution with both on their first major league action in quite some time. The complete Friday rankings are below for your review:
Starting pitcher rankings for July 9
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 top: Adam Wainwright can seemingly do no wrong against the Houston Astros. He's 8-1 against them in his career with a 1.72 ERA, including eight shutout innings in a victory earlier this season. ... Jon Lester has a 2.71 ERA facing the Toronto Blue Jays, and allowed just one hit while striking out 11 in seven innings against them back in April.
• Cliff Lee continues his audition for potential suitors against the New York Yankees, whom he defeated in a complete-game victory just 10 days ago. ... What does Justin Verlander have to do to defeat the Minnesota Twins? Back in April, they bested him in a game in which he allowed only four hits and no earned runs. ... Dan Haren is also struggling for wins lately, though he has a 2.86 ERA against the Florida Marlins.
• Phil Hughes got roughed up by the Seattle Mariners -- six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings -- in an outing that is still fresh in the young pitcher's mind. ... Tommy Hanson has a 12.0 K/9 rate against the New York Mets in his career. ... Meanwhile, Matt Cain might finally snap out of his recent slump as he faces the Washington Nationals. He's 4-2 with a 2.67 against them over the years.
• More good than bad: Francisco Liriano is 4-2 against the Detroit Tigers, including 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 2010, while Ricky Nolasco is 4-1 in his career when going up against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
• Middle-of-the-road options: Chad Billingsley did beat the Chicago Cubs on May 26, but it wasn't pretty, as he allowed 10 hits in only 5 1/3 innings. Sadly, he hasn't won since. ... Joel Pineiro on the other hand, has won his past six starts and already has a four-hit shutout against the Oakland Athletics on his 2010 resume.
• Ted Lilly is 3-1 with a 3.23 ERA in games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, earning him the nod over James Shields, who has never defeated the Cleveland Indians. He's 0-3 with a 3.73 ERA versus the Tribe.
• Streamers on alert: I don't trust Bud Norris, but you can't deny his 4-0 lifetime mark against the St. Louis Cardinals, which includes a 2-0 record with a 0.69 ERA against them this season -- his only victories of the season. ... Mike Leake got knocked around against the Philadelphia Phillies less than two weeks ago, allowing six earned runs in six innings, in what should have been a loss, had his lineup not bailed him out. ... Scott Feldman is 4-0 in his career against the Baltimore Orioles, who counter with Brian Matusz, owner of a lifetime 10.61 ERA versus the Texas Rangers.
• Stay away: Kevin Correia already has two defeats this season at the hands of the hot Colorado Rockies, to the tune of a 7.36 ERA. ... Mark Buehrle has had similar issues with today's opponent, losing twice in 2010 to the Kansas City Royals, allowing just under six runs per game. ... Bruce Chen has a big old goose egg of his own when facing the Chicago White Sox and a 4.94 ERA, so this could be a high-scoring affair.
Hitter matchup ratings for July 9
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.
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds: Phillips was in these recommendations yesterday, and after watching him knock one out of Citi Field, I'm even more impressed. An .800 lifetime slugging percentage against Joe Blanton should keep the second baseman rolling along.
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals: Bud Norris' mastery of the Cardinals for some reason does not extend to Molina, who is 4-for-8 against the pitcher. There's always one fly in the ointment.
Mitch Maier, OF, Kansas City Royals: The part-time player has a four-game hitting streak going and a .421 career average against Mark Buehrle with six RBIs in 19 at-bats.
Brian Schneider, C, Philadelphia Phillies: He does have a thumb injury, but should be ready to play on Friday, especially since he went 3-for-3 with a home run off Mike Leake the last time these teams met.
Pat Burrell, OF, San Francisco Giants: Has the luster finally worn off the Giants' new toy? Burrell is hitting only .176 in July, and with his consistency of strikeouts, the prospect of facing Stephen Strasburg is not a great one.
Carlos Lee, OF, Houston Astros: Huzzah! Lee finally homered on Wednesday for the first time since June 12. Now that's out of his system, he can go back to not hitting the ball against Adam Wainwright, against whom he's 1-for-23 lifetime.
Marcus Thames, OF, New York Yankees: Thames is back from his injury woes, but the 12 strikeouts in 30 career plate appearances against Cliff Lee is likely to keep Joe Girardi from writing his name into the lineup.
Brandon Inge, 3B, Detroit Tigers: Speaking of whiffs, Inge has done so at a 50 percent rate against Francisco Liriano, and is hitting just .154 against the southpaw over 26 at-bats.
Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays: At full strength, he's a risky play against Jon Lester, with a career 2-for-20 squaring off with the Red Sox pitcher. Coming off an illness that sidelined him for half a week? No thanks.
Angel Pagan, OF, New York Mets: Pagan is hitting just .188 against the current Braves pitching staff, and may begin to press at the plate as well with Carlos Beltran's likely return to the Mets lineup after the All-Star break. Somebody is going to have to sit, and Pagan, as well as he's played, seems the most likely candidate.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Mike Napoli, C, Los Angeles Angels: Hitting .300 so far in July has gone a long way in countering the fact he's failed to go deep this month, but he did hit .326 against the Oakland Athletics last season with two home runs, and had three hits in an earlier series in Oakland in 2010.
Injury list: Out
Todd Helton, 1B, Colorado Rockies (15-day DL, back)
Adam Ottavino, P, St. Louis Cardinals (15-day DL, right shoulder)
Brian Schlitter, P, Chicago Cubs (15-day DL, right shoulder)
Jake Peavy, P, Chicago White Sox (15-day DL, detached lat)
Kevin Millwood, P, Baltimore Orioles (15-day DL, forearm strain)
Aaron Harang, P, Cincinnati Reds (15-day DL, back spasms)
Yovani Gallardo, P, Milwaukee Brewers (15-day DL, right oblique)
Clay Buchholz, P, Boston Red Sox (15-day DL, strained left hamstring)
Conor Jackson, OF, Oakland Athletics (15-day DL, strained right hamstring)
Fernando Tatis, 1B, New York Mets (15-day DL, shoulder strain)
Geoff Blum, 1B, Houston Astros (15-day DL, right elbow)
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Cleveland Indians (15-day DL, sprained thumb)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Matt LaPorta, 1B, Cleveland Indians (head injury)
Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago Cubs (elbow contusion)
Milton Bradley, OF, Seattle Mariners (knee)
Jose Guillen, DH, Kansas City Royals (left quad)
Carlos Quentin, OF, Chicago White Sox (sore knee, flu)
Weatherproof games: Red Sox at Blue Jays, Indians at Rays, Cardinals at Astros, Pirates at Brewers, Marlins at Diamondbacks and Yankees at Mariners. The summer heat wave rolls on throughout many areas of the country, and only a few thunderstorms in Texas may result in even a brief period of relief from the high temperatures.