Fantasy Game Notes for Interleague Games in AL Parks for: Thursday
Notable Injuries: B.J. Upton, 2B, (quadriceps, day-to-day)
Game Story: Germano will make his start, but proceed with caution if you're thinking about using him. He's still nursing the knee injury that he blamed for the five runs he surrendered in his last outing. Rays starter Howell had a nice first outing but was hit hard in his second start and can't be recommended. The Padres have only four at-bats against Howell collectively, but right-handers Mike Cameron and Kevin Kouzmanoff should be good options against the Rays rookie left-hander. Both are really heating up after a dismal beginning to the season.
Notable Injuries: Carlos Guillen, SS, (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Milwaukee ace Ben Sheets is one of the best in the game and has pitched shutout ball in his last two starts. Benching all but the superstar Detroit hitters is a good play, but Placido Polanco is an exception. The Tigers second sacker is 10-for-25 with only one strikeout against Sheets, and he's hitting .464/.448/.607 over the last week. You'll want all of your Brewers hitters in the lineup against the mediocre Chad Durbin, especially the hot-hitting Johnny Estrada and Ryan Braun.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Yankees starter Andy Pettitte may be the star of this show, as the Diamondbacks rank 29th in the majors in batting average against left-handers. Additionally, Pettitte has a history of success against all of the Arizona hitters that he's seen more than a few times. He's especially baffled Chad Tracy and Tony Clark, and has gotten the best of Eric Byrnes, as well. Davis, on the other hand, hasn't enjoyed pitching against the Yankees much. Several of the Yankees stars, like Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon, have hit him hard. There likely will be a lot of baserunners against Davis, so start all of your borderline Yankees hitters and give your Diamondbacks the night off.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Jeremy Guthrie is off to a great start for the Orioles, and he makes an excellent option in this matchup against the offensively challenged Nationals, who sport the worst OPS in baseball versus right-handed pitching. The only Washington hitter that's recommended is Dmitri Young. The switch-hitting first baseman is on fire right now, hitting .462/.481/.654 over the last week. He's been much more successful in his career against right-handers, and is 2-for-4 lifetime against Guthrie to boot. Be sure to get all Orioles in the lineup against Simontacchi, who has taken the hill seven times but has managed only one quality start.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Both teams send their aces to the mound in what could be somewhat of a pitching duel. Beckett is off to a perfect 9-0 start this year, and only the big-name Rockies are recommended against him. Boston's J.D. Drew is raking this week and he's also the Sox hitter who has seen the most of Francis (3-for-7), so he makes a nice option in this matchup. Owners in deep leagues might want to activate Rockies reliever Manny Corpas for this road outing. Corpas has allowed only three hits in his last eleven innings and will see action if this proves to be a close, low-scoring affair.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Get your hitters in the lineup, as this figures to be a wide-open game. After a strong showing in his first three outings, Wells has been terrible in 2007. It's worth noting that Mark Grudzielanek is 0-for-12 against Wells, so a day on the bench for the Royals second baseman might be in order. Elarton hasn't been effective since his pre-surgery days with the Astros, and this season has been no different, though he has stymied a few of the Cardinals hitters in his career. Jim Edmonds, Scott Spiezio and Juan Encarnacion are a combined 2-for-33 against the Royals right-hander. David Eckstein continues to swing a hot bat and makes a good choice in this matchup.
Game Story: Johan Santana has been pitching well this year but only has a 6-6 record due to poor run support. That could change in this matchup, as Tim Hudson may not be able to hold up his end of what would appear to be a pitching duel in the making. The Braves starter has really labored recently, allowing at least five earned runs in four of his last five starts. Additionally, the Twins have been swinging the bats well, scoring five or more runs in four of their last five games. Jeff Cirillo is 7-for-20 against Hudson, so expect him to get a start for the Twins. Bench all of your Braves hitters as well as Hudson, but start your better Twins.
Fantasy Game Notes for Interleague Games in NL Parks for: Thursday
Great American Ball Park (Outdoor) 12:35 p.m. ET (20 percent chance of thunderstorms, high of 88 degrees)
Bartolo Colon, RHP (5-2, 5.53 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) versus
Homer Bailey, RHP (1-0, 3.60 ERA, 1.80 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Garrett Anderson, OF, (leg, day-to-day); Casey Kotchman, 1B, (elbow, day-to-day)
Game Story: It's encore time for Homer Bailey, as the Reds top prospect tries to win two in a row. Bailey's not yet recommended, however, as he needed 114 pitches to get through five innings in his first start. Bailey just turned 21, and while the Reds rookie is bound for stardom eventually, he'll likely need a longer adjustment period before he's worth rostering in mixed leagues. The Angels have hit the ball well lately, averaging nearly eight runs over their last seven games. Casey Kotchman, Chone Figgins, Orlando Cabrera and Howie Kendrick have all hit .333 or better during that span. The Reds don't have many hot hitters, but you'll want to play them anyway against the struggling Colon. Scott Hatteberg and Jeff Conine have spent plenty of time in the American League and have both owned Colon in their careers.
Game Story: This could well be a low-scoring affair. Both clubs are miserable against right-handed pitching, and neither is scoring many runs lately. Gaudin has been terrific all year, and Jennings has been very effective in three starts since returning from an elbow injury. Mark Kotsay makes a good pickup in this matchup. After managing only two hits in his first 27 at-bats of the season after returning from injury, Kotsay has found his stroke, going 8-for-14 over his past three games. Aside from Kotsay, only the big names from both sides are recommended.
Notable Injuries: Aramis Ramirez, 3B (knee, DL)
Game Story: Hide the children; this one could get ugly. Jeff Weaver's recent struggles are well-documented. He's been beyond bad the last couple of years, and his 2007 numbers are almost unmentionable. Michael Barrett and Jacque Jones headline the list of Cubs who have had consistent success against Weaver, but all Cubs hitters are good choices in this matchup. Jason Marquis, for his part, has been successful this year, but he's been doing it with smoke and mirrors. Things are finally beginning to unravel for the overrated Marquis, as he's allowed more than twice as many baserunners as innings pitched in each of his last three starts. The Mariners are the hottest team in baseball right now, winning 16 of their last 21 and averaging seven runs per game in the process. Play all your hitters on both sides in this matchup, and if you're one of the 30 percent of owners who's still rostering Marquis, cut him loose. He's no longer going to be worth owning.
Notable Injuries: Mark Teixeira, 1B, (quadriceps, DL)
Game Story: This matchup features two good young arms on woeful teams, and while only one of them has good numbers on the year, both have had success lately. Gorzelanny has been solid all season, although he may not fare so well against the lefty-bashing Rangers. McCarthy, meanwhile, has ugly numbers overall, but since the beginning of May he's had five quality starts in six tries, allowing only one run on four of those occasions. I've recently been recommending hot-hitting outfielders from both teams in Marlon Byrd and Xavier Nady, and they still make fine pickups. Also, Brad Wilkerson is guaranteed playing time in Mark Teixeira's absence, and he's hit left-handers very well in his career. Otherwise, start only the Pirates and Rangers whom you normally would.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Dontrelle Willis has struggled this year, though he's been consistently mediocre rather than up and down. Willis has surrendered between two and four runs and between six and eight hits in all but three starts this season. A slumping Cleveland offense that struggles against left-handers might be the antidote for Willis, but it's still impossible to recommend him until he shows better form. Cleveland counters with Jason Stanford, who is coming off Tommy John surgery and is making his first major league appearance since starting two games back in 2004. The Marlins haven't lit up the scoreboard of late either, so only the big-name hitters from both sides are recommended here.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Mike Cameron, OF, SD @ Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, SD @ Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Placido Polanco, 2B, DET @ Milwaukee Brewers
Dmitri Young, 1B, WAS @ Baltimore Orioles
Jeremy Guthrie, SP, BAL versus Washington Nationals
J.D. Drew, OF, BOS versus Colorado Rockies
David Eckstein, SS, STL @ Kansas City Royals
Scott Hatteberg, 1B, CIN versus Los Angeles Angels
Jeff Conine, 1B/OF, CIN versus Los Angeles Angels
Mark Kotsay, OF, OAK @ Houston Astros
Xavier Nady, OF, PIT versus Texas Rangers
Marlon Byrd, OF, TEX @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Brad Wilkerson, 1B, TEX @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Please Note that the notable injuries are not meant to be a comprehensive report of each team's disabled list. For brevity, we include only day-to-day injuries or new DL additions for players you might otherwise consider using in these games. Long-term DL or day-to-day injuries to starting pitchers who were not scheduled to appear are omitted.
Will Harris is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at willharris@TalentedMrRoto.com