So, the National League is still basking in the afterglow of their first All-Star Game victory since 1996. How long ago was that? In 1996, a 33-year-old pitcher named Jamie Moyer won 13 games. Remember him? Flash forward to 2010 and a 47-year-old Moyer takes the mound in search of his 10th victory of the season and 277th of his incredible 24-season career. It's a light schedule, and managers may still opt to juggle a few of these names before embarking on the second half of the season, but here's the rankings as they currently stand:
Starting pitcher rankings for July 15
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.
• Look for Tim Lincecum to get his ducks in a row as he squares off against the New York Mets, who should have a new look to their lineup with Carlos Beltran expected to return. There could be an adjustment period there, and besides, R.A. Dickey has not looked the same since his flashy undefeated run came to an end.
• Clayton Kershaw is 2-0 with a 2.27 ERA against the St. Louis Cardinals, including a victory against them earlier this year. Chris Carpenter should be on the hill, though Jaime Garcia's name was still in the conversation headed into the break. Carpenter is 5-0 lifetime against the Los Angeles Dodgers, so this should be quite the duel out of the gate.
• The Los Angeles Angels have been a tad non-committal about their pitching order, but they likely will lean towards Ervin Santana, 7-4 lifetime against the Seattle Mariners and 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA against them this year.
• Ryan Dempster had a no-decision against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 20, but he could be catching them at a good time. John Danks has been unlucky this season against the Minnesota Twins, going 0-1 in two starts despite a 2.77 ERA.
• Tommy Hunter has a career ERA of 11.74 against the Boston Red Sox, but that's completely overblown due to a nine-run disaster in 2008. Doug Fister, on the other hand, is 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA against the Los Angeles Angels, but a September outing last season -- one earned run over seven-plus innings -- is what keeps that number so low.
• Lastly, we recommend skipping Tim Wakefield. Regardless of the numbers, a knuckleballer throwing with a week's worth of rest is always an incredibly risky proposition, let alone one with a 6.09 lifetime ERA against his opponent for the day.
Hitter matchup ratings for July 15
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, Boston Red Sox: Beltre limped into the All-Star break, but he got his swings in, so expect him to be fine once the games start to count in the standings again. Additionally, he's hitting .500 against Tommy Hunter.
Juan Uribe, SS, San Francisco Giants: His finger feels fine, and he had hits in both games before the break in his return from injury. He's also 2-for-3 in limited action against R.A. Dickey. What do you want? It's a very light schedule!
James Loney, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers: Blame this on the pitcher on the mound, not anything Loney has done lately. He just can't seem to solve Chris Carpenter and is hitting .182 against him.
David Wright, 3B, New York Mets: Star or not, Wright simply does not shine against Tim Lincecum, with eight strikeouts in 11 career at-bats.
Felipe Lopez, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals: Never say never, of course; however, Lopez has never had a hit against Clayton Kershaw. He's 0-for-12 with six strikeouts facing the Dodgers pitcher.
Nick Punto, 3B, Minnesota Twins: It's bad enough Punto continues to play despite an .095 batting average in July. A career 2-for-21 (.095) against John Danks is even more offensive, or rather, less offensive, depending on your interpretation.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
With the All-Star Break, there are no new injuries to report since play ended Sunday. Additionally, many players with bumps and bruises have had ample time to get rest and will likely get re-evaluated by their medical staffs Thursday.
Weatherproof games: None. Thunderstorms are expected to kick off the second half of the season in Chicago and in St. Louis, where the mercury is expected to rise to as high as 96 degrees.