Projected Starters – A look at Friday's matchups:
Cubs (Carlos Zambrano - R) at White Sox (Jake Peavy - R), 4:05
Nationals (J.D. Martin - R) at Orioles (Jake Arrieta - R), 7:05
Phillies (Roy Halladay - R) at Blue Jays (Jesse Litsch - R), 7:05
Padres (Clayton Richard - L) at Marlins (Chris Volstad - R), 7:10
Diamondbacks (Edwin Jackson - R) at Rays (Jeff Niemann - R), 7:10
Twins (Kevin Slowey - R) at Mets (Mike Pelfrey - R), 7:10
Indians (Aaron Laffey - L) at Reds (Sam LeCure - R), 7:10
Tigers (Andrew Oliver - L) at Braves (Kris Medlen - R), 7:35
Astros (Brian Moehler - R) at Rangers (Colby Lewis - R), 8:05
Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith - R) at Brewers (David Bush - R), 8:10
Cardinals (Jeff Suppan - R) at Royals (Zack Greinke - R), 8:10
Rockies (Jeff Francis - L) at Angels (Jered Weaver - R), 10:05
Pirates (Brad Lincoln - R) at Athletics (Ben Sheets - R), 10:05
Yankees (CC Sabathia - L) at Dodgers (Vicente Padilla - R), 10:10
Red Sox (Tim Wakefield - R) at Giants (Jonathan Sanchez - L), 10:15
Day game after night game: None.
Injuries – A brief look at players that have been missing time with minor ailments and their expected returns.
Day-to-Day (includes players expected to make their return from the DL)
Ryan Ludwick, OF, STL – (Calf) Held out of Wednesday’s game with a sore calf.
Dave Ross, C, ATL – (Hand) Hit in right hand by a fouled-off pitch, had X-rays taken that came back negative.
Andres Torres, OF, SF – (Calf) Available off the bench Thursday, given the day off after fouling a ball off his calf on Wednesday.
Angel Pagan, OF, NYM – (Undisclosed) Was not in Thursday’s lineup, left Wednesday’s game with spasms in his side, expected to return within a couple days.
Rod Barajas, C, NYM – (Back) Missed Thursday’s game with a sore back, his second straight game missed with the injury.
A.J. Burnett, SP, NYY – (Personal) Left the team to attend to his ailing grandfather, but is expected to return and make his start on Saturday.
Erick Aybar, SS, LAA – (Knee) Will know Thursday whether or not he will be placed on the DL.
Carl Crawford, OF, Rays – (Shoulder) Left Thursday’s game with left shoulder soreness.
J.D. Drew, OF, BOS – (Hamstring) Has not played since June 18, but is not expected to need a stint on the DL.
Players on the DL
Everth Cabrera, SS, SD – (Hamstring) Could return from the DL as early as Friday.
Brandon Webb, SP, ARI – (Shoulder) Felt good after Wednesday’s bullpen session and is scheduled to throw again this weekend.
LaTroy Hawkins, RP, MIL – (Shoulder) Hopes to begin throwing from the mound next week, a more concrete schedule for his return should be established next week.
J.A. Happ, SP, PHI – (Forearm) Felt good after Wednesday’s rehab outing, but his low velocity remains a concern and a timetable for his return still hasn’t been announced.
Ryan Madson, RP, PHI – (Toe) Will begin a rehab assignment on Sunday at High-A Clearwater, hopes to return before the All-Star break.
Jorge De La Rosa, SP, COL – (Finger) Expected to make two more rehab starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs before returning to the majors.
Felipe Paulino, SP, HOU – (Shoulder) Placed on the 15-Day DL with shoulder tendinitis on Thursday.
Matt Stairs, OF, SD – (Knee) Has taken batting practiced and is able to job, but has not been able to run without pain yet and may need surgery.
Chad Durbin, RP, PHI – (Hamstring) Placed on the 15-Day DL with a strained hamstring on Thursday, he is expected to miss two to three weeks with the injury.
Carlos Ruiz, C, PHI – (Head) Swung off a tee on Thursday with plans to take batting practice on Friday, he’s eligible to come off the DL on July 4 and expects to be ready to return at that time.
Tim Stauffer, SP, SD – (Abdomen) Could return to the Padres this weekend.
Oliver Perez, SP, NYM – (Knee) Scheduled to throw another simulated game on Friday or Saturday, no timetable for his return has been announced.
John Maine, SP, NYM – (Shoulder) Heading to St. Lucie to begin a throwing program, the team does not have a timetable established for his return.
Bud Norris, SP, HOU – (Biceps) Will come off the DL and start Monday’s game against the Brewers.
Nate McLouth, OF, ATL – (Head) Is still struggling with concussion related issues from a head injury that he suffered over two weeks ago, the team has not announced an expected return date at the time.
Brett Anderson, SP, OAK – (Elbow) Expected to return shortly after the All-Star break.
Derek Holland, SP, TEX – (Shoulder) Could begin a rehab assignment next week, but isn’t expected to return until after the All-Star break.
Gabe Kapler, OF, TB – (Hip) Expected to return to the Rays early next week after completing a four-game rehab assignment over the weekend.
Eric Hurley, SP, TEX – (Hand) Underwent another hand surgery and will not throw for six-to-eight weeks.
Josh Beckett, SP, BOS – (Back) Has been given a timetable for his return to the Red Sox after throwing a good bullpen session on Wednesday; he’s expected to return on July 16 or 21.
Rich Harden, SP, TEX – (Strained Glute) Could begin throwing from the mound by the end of the week, unlikely to return before the All-Star break.
Josh Outman, SP, OAK – (Elbow) Has been shut down for the next four weeks due to elbow irritation.
Joey Devine, RP, OAK – (Elbow) Has a visit scheduled with Dr. James Andrews next week, visits with the good doctor often reveal themselves to be a precursor to surgery.
Marcus Thames, OF, NYY – (Hamstring) Expected to begin a rehab assignment soon and could return before the end of the month.
Ryan Perry, RP, DET – (Biceps) Scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Thursday.
Gil Meche, SP, KC – (Shoulder) Threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday, and late July remains the target date for his return.
Erik Bedard, SP, SEA – (Shoulder) Currently expected to make his return to the Mariners on July 6.
Transactions – Players that have been demoted, called up, traded, released, you name it. We'll cover it here.
Aaron Laffey, SP, Indians
Matt Joyce, OF, Rays
Jason Repko, OF, Twins
Shane Lindsay, RP, Indians (designated for assignment)
Brendan Harris, 3B, Twins
Jensen Lewis, RP, Indians
Luis Valbuena, 2B, Indians
Dioner Navarro, C, Rays
Closer Watch – A closer look at intriguing ninth-inning situations (check out Dave Regan's Closer Grid with the link to the left).
Arizona – The Diamondbacks’ bullpen continues to struggle to close out games. Aaron Heilman was given another save opportunity on Wednesday but was not able to convert it. He has three blow saves on the season, but his first two blown saves came in middle relief. With that in mind, Wednesday’s blown save can be considered as his first blown save in the closer role. Looking at the situation from that perspective takes some of the stench off of his performance. If you’re struggling to get saves, Heilman is still available in a lot of leagues.
Cleveland – Kerry Wood blew his third save of the season and collected his third loss in the same effort on Wednesday. He came into the game with a one-run lead against the Phillies and walked the first batter he faced, Brian Schneider. Wood then induced a groundout before throwing a batting practice pitch down the pipe to an 0-for-4 Jimmy Rollins, who deposited the pitch in the stands. He’s converted just five of eight save opportunities on the season, but the Indians will likely continue to throw Wood out there in the hopes that he can go on enough of a hot streak that they could trade him for a decent prospect this summer. Chris Perez is the first in line to get saves if the Indians decide to turn away from Woods’ inconsistent arm.
Milwaukee – There has been a great deal of speculation floating around about the reemergence of Trevor Hoffman. Manager Ken Macha recently said that he would not rule out the possibility of putting Hoffman back into the closer role. Despite the conjecture surrounding what may or may not come to be, John Axford was given the ball in Wednesday’s save opportunity. He’s 6-for-6 in save opportunities and we have to believe he’ll continue to get the opportunity to save games until he shows that he can no longer handle the responsibility.
Key Matchups – Spotlight on hitters and pitchers with favorable matchups against their opponent on a particular day (generally, individual matchups with fewer than 10 at-bats are not included). *Check Status
A.J. Pierzynski v. Carlos Zambrano – 6-for-20 (.300), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3:1 BB:K (.417 OBP)
Paul Konerko v. Carlos Zambrano – 8-for-28 (.286), 4 HR, 6 RBI, 3:6 BB:K (.355 OBP)
Alfonso Soriano v. Jake Peavy – 7-for-19 (.368), 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2:7 BB:K (.429 OBP)
Kosuke Fukudome v. Jake Peavy – 4-for-10 (.400), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2:3 BB:K (.500 OBP)
Alex Gonzalez v. Roy Halladay – 3-for-10 (.300), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1:1 BB:K (.333 OBP)
Hank Blalock v. Edwin Jackson – 4-for-12 (.333), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1:0 BB:K (.385 OBP)
Orlando Cabrera v. Aaron Laffey – 7-for-18 (.389), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 3:1 BB:K (.476 OBP)
Ichiro Suzuki v. David Bush – 4-for-8 (.500), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2:1 BB:K (.600 OBP)
Jose Guillen v. Jeff Suppan – 10-for-27 (.370), 0 HR, 7 RBI, 2:4 BB:K (.414 OBP)
Scott Podsednik v. Jeff Suppan – 6-for-16 (.375), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3:1 BB:K (.500 OBP)
Jason Kendall v. Jeff Suppan – 7-for-24 (.292), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3:1 BB:K (.393 OBP)
Jason Giambi v. Jered Weaver – 4-for-10 (.400), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3:3 BB:K (.538 OBP)
Melvin Mora v. Jered Weaver – 5-for-11 (.455), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0:1 BB:K (.455 OBP)
Ryan Doumit v. Ben Sheets – 4-for-11 (.364), 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1:4 BB:K (.417 OBP)
Manny Ramirez v. C.C. Sabathia – 12-for-21 (.571), 4 HR, 7 RBI, 1:2 BB:K (.609 OBP)
Mark Teixeira v. Vincente Padilla – 2-for-8 (.250), 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2:2 BB:K (.500 OBP)
Bengie Molina v. Tim Wakefield – 7-for-20 (.350), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0:1 BB:K (.409 OBP)
Aaron Rowand v. Tim Wakefield – 11-for-17 (.647), 4 HR, 8 RBI, 2:1 BB:K (.684 OBP)
Jake Peavy vs. Chicago Cubs – All of Peavy’s stats and history against the Cubs say that he’ll have a quality outing on Friday. Through 165 plate appearances against the Cubs’ current lineup, Peavy has given up a respectable .221/.291/.423 slash line. In nine career starts against them, he has a 4-2 record with 2.72 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 56:18 K:BB ratio. Peavy has had his share of ups and downs this season, but he has a good track record against the Cubs, so don’t hesitate to start him.
Vicente Padilla vs. New York Yankees – Padilla has a strange statistical story against the Yankees' current hitters. Through 93 batters faced, he’s allowed a strange slash line of .236/.391/.458. The .236 batting average allowed is great, but he’s walked so the Yankees so much that they’ve gotten on base at a .391 clip despite struggling to hit the ball. This has given players like Alex Rodriguez eight RBI despite only having a career .167 average through 12 at-bats against Padilla. If Padilla can limit his walks, he can contain the Yankees. Otherwise, he’s going to find himself in the familiar spot of fighting himself instead of the batters he’s facing.
Juan Pierre v. Carlos Zambrano – 7-for-32 (.219), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5:3 BB:K (.324 OBP)
Andruw Jones v. Carlos Zambrano – 3-for-20 (.150), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 7:6 BB:K (.357 OBP)
Omar Vizquel v. Carlos Zambrano – 3-for-13(.231), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1:2 BB:K (.286 OBP)
Chad Tracy v. Jake Peavy – 10-for-50 (.200), 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3:16 BB:K (.255 OBP)
Derrek Lee v. Jake Peavy – 3-for-20 (.150), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3:9 BB:K (.261 OBP)
Ryan Theriot v. Jake Peavy – 2-for-14 (.143), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1:4 BB:K (.200 OBP)
Kelly Shoppach v. Edwin Jackson – 2-for-11 (.182), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2:5 BB:K (.308 OBP)
Michael Young v. Brian Moehler – 2-for-10 (.200), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1:4 BB:K (.273 OBP)
Josh Hamilton v. Brian Moehler – 1-for-10 (.100), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0:2 BB:K (.100 OBP)
Carlos Lee v. Colby Lewis – 2-for-10 (.200), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1:2 BB:K (.273 OBP)
Jack Wilson v. David Bush – 3-for-21 (.143), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0:2 BB:K (.182 OBP)
Nick Swisher v. Vincente Padilla – 1-for-15 (.067), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2:5 BB:K (.263 OBP)
Aubrey Huff v. Tim Wakefield – 9-for-55 (.164), 3 HR, 5 RBI, 2:9 BB:K (.193 OBP)
Edgar Renteria v. Tim Wakefield – 3-for-17 (.176), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0:3 BB:K (.176 OBP)
Juan Uribe v. Tim Wakefield – 3-for-12 (.250), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0:1 BB:K (.250 OBP)
Jeff Suppan vs. Kansas City Royals – We’re not recommending that you sit Suppan, that should be a foregone conclusion in all but the deepest leagues, as much as we’re recommending that you be sure to slot Royals into your lineup on Friday. Suppan has been punished by the Royals’ current lineup to the tune of a .321/.414/.464 slash line though 99 batters faced. In six career starts against them, Suppan owns a bloated 6.16 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, and pedestrian 25:15 K:BB ratio. Don’t start him unless you’re forced to.
CC Sabathia vs. Los Angeles Dodgers – Sabathia doesn't have great matchup stats against the Dodgers’ current lineup. Through 109 batters faced, he’s allowed a slash line of .337/.376/.594. Stats like that would usually lead to a recommendation that you sit the offending pitcher, but Sabathia is in the same discussion as Tim Lincecum and other elite pitchers. You don’t sit guys like Sabathia unless they’re injured and not in the lineup. If you’re in a ridiculously competitive shallow league, you might consider sitting him, but I won’t endorse that decision. Sabathia has earned a win in each of his last four trips to the mound.
Carlos Quentin, OF, CHI – I'm going out a limb a little bit here. As a Quentin owner in multiple leagues at the beginning of the year, I’m reluctant to recommend the slugger during a hot streak, but he’s doing all the things we wanted him to do at the start of the season. Over his last seven games, Quentin has reached base in every game, recorded five multi-hit games, and collected 10 RBI. In addition to that, he’s belted three home runs in his last two games. We’ve never expected him to hit for a good average, and with that in mind, his June stats of a .265 average, six home runs, and 17 RBI through 19 games are the kind of production that should have been hoped for when drafting him. If you’re a believer in Quentin’s abilities and need some pop in your outfield, now is the time to invest.
Other Recent Recommendations: Daniel Nava, Hisanori Takahashi, Huston Street, Gavin Floyd.