Brandon Webb's amazing stretch to open the season has been somewhat soiled by him losing his past two starts. He'll be on the mound trying to get that elusive 10th win of the year. Opposing Webb, will be the Nationals and pitcher Jason Bergmann. Ordinarily, this is a matchup you'd expect Webb to handle with ease, but note what Bergmann has done lately. After three weak starts to open the season, Washington sent him to Triple-A. Since coming back up on May 15, Bergmann hasn't allowed a run in 19 2/3 innings in three starts. He's allowed just 12 hits and six walks in that span, while striking out 22. Now consider that he has done that against the offenses of the Brewers, Mets and Phillies. Not so easy to project Webb to 10-2 now, is it?
Matchups for Saturday, May 31
Troy Percival, RP, Rays (hamstring)
Gary Sheffield, DH, Tigers (oblique)
Frank Thomas, DH, A's (quadriceps)
Gregg Zaun, C, Blue Jays (elbow)
Chone Figgins, 3B, Angels (hamstring)
Travis Hafner, DH, Indians (shoulder)
Mark Kotsay, OF, Braves (back)
Mike Sweeney, DH, A's (knee)
Rich Aurilia, 1B/3B, Giants (kidney stone)
Juan Cruz, RP, Diamondbacks (neck)
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B, Royals (back)
Carlos Guillen, SS/1B, Tigers (hemorrhoids)
Justin Huber, OF, Padres (back)
Jeff Kent, 2B, Dodgers (back)
Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants (foot)
Ryan Sweeney, OF, A's (foot)
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Red Sox (hand)
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals (shoulder)
Milton Bradley, OF, Rangers (light headed)
Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets (undisclosed)
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (vertigo)
Jesus Flores, C, Nationals (headache)
Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays (concussion)
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (thumb)
Jack Wilson, SS, Pirates (calf)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Only bother with the best of the best White Sox. Scott Kazmir has been on fire in his past four starts. Paul Konerko, who is 4-for-8 versus Kazmir, might be the only player from the south siders to leave in. Jim Thome is 0-for-10 against Kazmir, and Nick Swisher is 3-for-17. The Marlins don't hit nearly as well when facing a left-hander, let alone an exceptional one like Cole Hamels. With Hanley Ramirez nursing a sore thumb, there is no Marlin you should feel obliged to start. As a team, the Royals' hitters have racked up more strikeouts (72) than hits (60) when facing C.C. Sabathia. The recently demoted Billy Butler was the only one on the team who had a good time against the big lefty, so now there's no one to recommend in the Royals' lineup. Miguel Olivo, Jose Guillen, John Buck and Alex Gordon are hitting below the Mendoza Line against Sabathia. If you sparingly use any Nationals in your lineup, this might not be the day for it. With Ryan Zimmerman banged up, there isn't much hope for the Nats against Brandon Webb, although Felipe Lopez has managed an empty .310 average against him in 29 at-bats. With Josh Fogg on the hill, trot out as many Braves as you can. Greg Norton and Gregor Blanco aren't even bad options against the inept Fogg. The Yankees get to face a very hittable Boof Bonser. Melky Cabrera should get some extra attention, as he is 4-for-5 versus Bonser.
Pitchers: Javier Vazquez is not a must-start here. The Tampa Bay Rays' offense has been clicking during the past week with an .899 OPS (second only to Philadelphia). Carl Crawford has hit Vazquez at a decent clip (9-for-24, .375) and B.J. Upton, too (5-for-7). On the other hand, Vazquez has three straight quality starts and players such as Carlos Pena (1-for-11) and Eric Hinske (2-for-13) have struggled against him. I'll leave it at that and let you decide how much you need to start him. Just keep in mind that he faces Scott Kazmir, who has been virtually unhittable in his past four starts.
Felix Hernandez's fate might rest with manager John McLaren's ability to take him out at the right time. King Felix looked every bit like he deserved a crown through seven innings in his most recent outing, but was then bombed in the eighth by the Red Sox. I'd lay off Hernandez against a tough Tigers offense, at least until McLaren starts going to the bullpen at a more appropriate time. Take note of Detroit's combined .400 average (28-for-70) against Hernandez, as well.
The Astros aren't the best matchup for Ben Sheets. Lance Berkman (21-for-60, five home runs), Brad Ausmus (12-for-38, .316) and Ty Wigginton (10-for-23, .435) have solid numbers against him in a decent sample size, while Kaz Matsui (3-for-8 with three doubles) and Hunter Pence (3-for-8, .375) have also hit him well. Those numbers show up in his 2-4 record with a 4.82 ERA in the previous three seasons against Houston (10 starts). He is, however, Ben Sheets, and unless you are in a very tight weekly ERA battle, I suppose I'd start him.
Shaun Marcum is usually a must-start, and this matchup is no different. The Angels have managed a paltry .564 OPS in the past week, so Marcum should really clean up.
Ryan Dempster has eight quality starts so far this season, erasing many memories of his shaky track record as closer. He faces a Rockies team that is looking more and more like the Triple-A version of the club. Look for his ninth quality start.
With comments surfacing from manager Bobby Cox about not working Jair Jurrjens so hard, it might be a time to give him a rest on your fantasy squad, too. He developed two blisters in his most recent outing and might not get a chance to work so deep into games anymore. I think it's OK to bench him until we see what Cox means by not working him so hard.
Justin Verlander looks to be back to his dominant ways. He hit 99 mph on the radar gun in his last outing, and in the outing before that, held these same Mariners to a run in six innings to go with seven strikeouts.
Jon Lester won't have his best outing of the season against the Orioles at Camden Yards (not that he'll top that no-hitter anyway). The Orioles have a combined .316 average (25-for-79), and he also has a 4.60 ERA in six starts away from Fenway Park (2.72 ERA in six home starts).
Brad Wilkerson, Aaron Hill, Rod Barajas, Scott Rolen, Lyle Overbay, Matt Stairs and Kevin Mench are all at or below the Mendoza Line versus John Lackey. He should be just fine.
Hitters: The Phillies' offense has been scorching (.937 OPS in previous week), and runs into a below-average starter in Ricky Nolasco. Consider Pedro Feliz and Geoff Jenkins as options off your wire in shallow leagues. Even Carlos Ruiz might not be a sub at catcher. Chien-Ming Wang should be a welcome sight for the struggling Delmon Young. As a member of the Rays, Young fared well against Wang with five hits in twelve at-bats for a .417 average. The Giants trail only Philadelphia and Tampa Bay in OPS during the previous week (.860) and have the fifth-best OPS in May (.787). Look for Jose Castillo, Fred Lewis and (in shallower leagues) Randy Winn if you need some help filling out your lineup. Reggie Willits is healthy and playing again, as much as a substitute does. Look for him to get a rare start perhaps, as he is 4-for-5 against the Blue Jays' Marcum. That would mean a cheap stolen base or two as Willits runs whenever the opportunity presents itself. He might be the only Cub you can still pick up on waivers in most leagues, but Reed Johnson wouldn't be a bad start on Saturday as the platoonmate of Jim Edmonds against southpaws. The Chicago lineup should be able to tee off on former teammate Glendon Rusch as he makes his first start of the season. Jose Vidro has a bead on Justin Verlander's stuff (7-for-13, .538). If you need a boost to batting average, he is a decent spot-start. It's a good time to use rookie Adam Jones. He is 4-for-5 against lefty Jon Lester. Jason Kendall is a ridiculous 7-for-9 against the Astros' Brian Moehler. The recently returned Eric Chavez is 7-for-19 (.368) versus Sidney Ponson with three home runs. Definitely an option for some power off the wire.
Pitchers: Mike Pelfrey might not have escaped the fourth inning in either of his two most recent starts, but the Dodgers have been swinging limp noodles for a week now. Their .553 OPS in their past seven games means Pelfrey should be able to log a quality start for you. However, Chad Billingsley might have something to say about Pelfrey adding a win onto the outing.
Oakland and Toronto might be at the bottom of the pile when it comes to hitting southpaws, but San Diego isn't much better at that task (.631 OPS). With the Giants able to provide some run support now, Patrick Misch is a cheap option for a decent outing.
Mike Parisi is expected to get the call to fill Joel Pineiro's spot for the Cardinals. He is actually a pretty solid spot-start as teams that haven't seen him before can fall victim to his devastating curveball. Look for an unexpected number of strikeouts and possibly a win in this start. That is enough to consider him in deep mixed or NL-only leagues.
Kyle Davies is intriguing, as his minor-league track record has been pretty good. He is 6-2 with a 2.06 ERA in Triple-A Omaha so far this season. However, we'll have to wait and see if he can bring his command to the big leagues this time. He was rocked last season as a Royal and actually faced the Indians three times allowing a combined 1.041 OPS to the Cleveland lineup.
Have Al Reyes or Dan Wheeler in your lineup if you are trolling for saves. Reyes had the job last season, but Wheeler has pitched better this year.
There are five weatherproof contests to be played, so feel comfortable starting anyone in the Tigers-Mariners, White Sox-Rays, Astros-Brewers, Yankees-Twins or Nationals-Diamondbacks games. A risk of showers or thunderstorms could affect the Braves-Reds, Dodgers-Mets and Red-Sox Orioles contests, while the thunderstorms are being predicted as "severe" in Philadelphia for the Marlins and Phillies.
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.