Daytime action between the Rangers and Royals marks the major league debut of top Texas pitching prospect Eric Hurley. The 22-year-old had managed only a 5.30 ERA at Triple-A this year, but most of the damage to his numbers was caused by a slow start that he seems to have put behind him. National League fans can look forward to the returns from injury of Padres ace Jake Peavy and Cardinals right-hander Joel Pineiro.
Matchups for Thursday, June 12
All times are ET.
Jeremy Bonderman, SP, Tigers (blood clot)
Eric Byrnes, OF, Diamondbacks (hamstring)
Ryan Church, OF, Mets (concussion)
Matt Diaz, OF, Braves (knee)
Ryan Freel, OF, Reds (hamstring)
Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays (concussion)
Tadahito Iguchi, 2B, Padres (shoulder)
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox (wrist)
Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays (finger)
Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals (finger)
Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers (wrist)
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals (shoulder)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Tigers hitters have seen plenty of White Sox starter Mark Buehrle. Ivan Rodriguez has struggled against Buehrle, collecting only seven singles in 35 at-bats. But Magglio Ordonez (15-for-25) and Placido Polanco (10-for-25) have fared far better. The Sox have seen plenty of the Tigers' veteran left-hander as well. Kenny Rogers has dominated Jim Thome (9-for-49) and A.J. Pierzynski (1-for-11). Be sure to get Jose Guillen in the lineup. He's had a monster week, hitting .452 and slugging .935 with four home runs. J.D. Drew remains hot. He's 10-for-19 with three home runs and six walks this week. No D-backs hitters should be active versus Mets star Johan Santana, including Orlando Hudson. The second baseman has seen Santana as much as any Diamondbacks hitter, yet is only 3-for-16 against him. Padres ace Jake Peavy has tortured quite a few Dodgers hitters in his career. Jeff Kent (.654 OPS in 38 at-bats), Russell Martin (4-for-25), Andre Ethier (3-for-24) and Juan Pierre (.598 OPS in 33 at-bats) all have been frequent victims. Troy Glaus is heating up with three home runs and a .286 BA/.400 OBP/.762 SLG line this week. It's true that Dan Uggla has been on fire of late, but don't expect much Thursday. He's always struggled against Jamie Moyer, racking up 10 strikeouts and only two hits in 21 at-bats against the veteran Phillies starter.
Pitchers: Brian Bannister is a marginal play in mixed leagues under the best of circumstances. He certainly should not be used against the Rangers, who boast baseball's highest-scoring offense.
A run of five straight quality starts has Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez's stock on the rise, but he should not be active for Thursday's Coors Field tilt. The Colorado squad is now close to full strength with the recent return of outfielders Brad Hawpe and Matt Holliday.
Bronson Arroyo has been hit hard despite showing good command this year, leading to speculation that he may be tipping his pitches or suffering from a mechanical flaw that leaves his pitches flat. He has failed to finish the fifth inning in back-to-back starts and should be benched until he works through his problems.
Scott Olsen hasn't pitched as well as his surface stats indicate this year. The homer-prone lefty is a poor play against the Phillies, who have hit more long balls this year than any squad except Olsen's Marlins.
Hitters: The lefty-lefty matchup with Andy Pettitte wouldn't figure to be kind to the recently activated Eric Chavez, but the A's third baseman is 6-for-13 with two extra-base hits versus the Yankees starter. Oft-injured Moises Alou is a forgotten man in all but 6 percent of mixed leagues, but the 42-year-old Mets outfielder still has the skills of a younger player when he's healthy enough to take the field. The recently activated Alou, hitting .347 overall this year, is 8-for-16 with two home runs, two doubles and six RBIs versus Arizona starter Dan Haren. Normally only a team's top hitters should be active when an opponent's ace is on the mound, but Astros third baseman Ty Wigginton makes a fine exception in the case of Brewers starter Ben Sheets. Wiggy has battered Sheets for 7 RBIs and 12 hits in just 26 at-bats, including two doubles and two homers. Pick up catching help from Brewers backstop Jason Kendall. He's never been fooled by journeyman Astros starter Brian Moehler and has seven hits in just 10 at-bats against him. Be assured that lefty Jim Edmonds will get the start in center field Thursday in place of fellow Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson. Edmonds is 8-for-18 versus Tim Hudson, while Johnson is 0-for-9. Brian Giles is red-hot, producing 10 hits and six walks in his past 20 at-bats. Players visiting Coors Field often make good pickups, and on Thursday, the Giants' Ray Durham is worth a look. The veteran second baseman is hitting .421 BA/.476 OBP/.579 SLG this week.
Pitchers: Nationals starter Jason Bergmann is coming off an embarrassing shellacking at the hands of the lowly Giants, but the right-hander was outstanding in four May starts after coming off the disabled list, averaging more than a strikeout per inning in the process. He's not a bad bet versus the Pirates.
Games in Houston are always weatherproof. Wet weather in the Southeast could affect the Marlins' home date with the Phillies, but severe storms in the Midwest mean that the contests most in jeopardy of inclement weather are the Braves at the Cubs and the Rangers at the Royals.
Will Harris is a fantasy baseball and college football analyst for ESPN.com.