Don't be fooled by what it says on the schedule. Roy Halladay is not making his return to Toronto on Friday to face the Blue Jays, even though the Phillies will be batting first in each of this weekend's three games. Due to security and traffic concerns with the G20 Summit being held in the Canadian city, the series has been moved to Citizens Bank Park, though the Blue Jays will be the "home team" and a designated hitter will be in each team's starting lineup. That said, I still like Halladay to put on a show for the fans back in Ontario watching on television. He's ranked No. 2 on the day's list of scheduled starters, posted below for your review:
Starting pitcher rankings for June 25
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.
At the top: Colby Lewis? Am I mad? Maybe, but he already easily dispatched the Houston Astros once this season, allowing only two hits and striking out nine. There's nothing to make me expect anything different this time around. CC Sabathia has only seven innings of experience against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he has struck out 10 batters in that limited amount of work.
The Detroit Tigers don't seem to pack their bats when hitting the road; they are batting 17 points lower as a team away from Michigan. That's something Kris Medlen should be able to take advantage of, as he goes for win No. 5 on the year. Jake Peavy beat the Chicago Cubs earlier this season and has a 2.72 ERA against them for his career. He faces a rejuvenated Carlos Zambrano, though the other Chicago pitcher today has a 4.56 ERA against the White Sox.
Rounding out the top 10: Zack Greinke continues to underwhelm, and although the matchup on the surface appears to be a good one for him, he sports a gaudy 5.24 ERA lifetime versus the St. Louis Cardinals. In an interesting battle between Carl Pavano and Mike Pelfrey, who is coming off just his second loss of the season, I'm giving the slight edge to the pitcher going at home.
Middle of the road options: Ben Sheets may not have too many wins to his credit of late, but his 2.92 ERA lifetime against the Pittsburgh Pirates is reason for optimism. Tim Wakefield is always a hit-or-miss option, but he may catch the San Francisco Giants at the right time; they are coming off a road trip where they scored more than three runs in a game only once.
Streamers on alert: Edwin Jackson is unbeaten, with a 3.38 ERA against the Tampa Bay Rays. Aaron Harang has a decent 2.84 ERA when facing the Cleveland Indians, though he has failed to get out of the fifth inning in two of his past four starts.
Stay away: Vicente Padilla is still not back to 100 percent, and even if he were, the 7.65 career ERA against the New York Yankees wouldn't be something to write home about. Winless Brian Moehler is 6-6 lifetime against the Texas Rangers, but with a 4.90 ERA. Jeff Suppan owns a 6.16 ERA against the Kansas City Royals, and they're, well, the Kansas City Royals.
Left-handed prospect and 2009 second-round draft pick Andy Oliver gets the call from Double-A to start against the Atlanta Braves. Best of luck to the rookie, who was 6-4 with a 3.61 ERA in the minors.
Hitter matchup ratings for June 25
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.
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: He's still stuck on three stolen bases, but after three straight two-hit games, he's at least showing signs of life.
Jeff Francoeur, OF, Mets: He's hitting .313 for the month of June, even with a recent 1-for-14 slide. With the Carlos Beltran return buzz picking up again, it's time for him to get back in the swing of things, pronto.
Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees: I know it's not a surprise to recommend a guy batting .362 on the season, but given that he's also a .364 hitter lifetime against Vicente Padilla, it's certainly a good time to remind you just how good this guy truly is.
Kurt Suzuki, C, Athletics: Catchers who hit better than .300 are a rare commodity, and in June, Suzuki has done just that. Going up against an inexperienced pitcher with a 6.50 ERA? You do the math.
Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs: When you hit .222 for an entire month and your overall batting average takes only a two-point hit, that's not good. Neither is a .150 career average against Jake Peavy. Sorry, McSlumpy.
Adam Lind, DH, Blue Jays: Even worse than Lee, Lind is hitting only .152 in June. While he's actually hitting 47 points higher at home, technically as well as physically, he's on the road for this series.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers: Talk about empty stats. Cabrera has 10 hits in his past 10 games, but his batting average has actually dropped 13 points since June 10.
Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cardinals: He's been battling a sore calf, a 2-for-15 slide, and on top of that he'll have to battle Zack Greinke, who has struck him out two out of the three times they've squared off.
Garret Anderson, OF, Dodgers: Anderson hit just .231 against the Yankees last season, and although he's been getting a lot of playing time lately, batting .286 in the past week, there's not an awful lot of upside here.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers: His hamstring woes are behind him, and he already has four RBIs since returning to action on Tuesday. He's had four at-bats against Brian Moehler in his career and has hit two home runs.
Injury list: Out
Zach Duke, P, Pirates (15-day DL, strained elbow)
Tommy Manzella, SS, Astros (15-day DL, fractured finger)
Yorvit Torrealba, C, Padres (three-game suspension)
Carlos Ruiz, C, Phillies (15-day DL, concussion)
Carlos Monasterios, P, Dodgers (15-day DL, blister)
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies (15-day DL, fractured left wrist)
Clay Hensley, P, Marlins (15-day DL, neck strain)
Injury list: Day-to-day
Chone Figgins, 2B, Mariners (illness)
Erick Aybar, SS, Angels (hyperextended knee)
Nate McLouth, OF, Braves (concussion symptoms)
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (hamstring)
Weatherproof games: Diamondbacks at Rays and Mariners at Brewers. Thunderstorms are in the forecast for Miami, Atlanta and Arlington, Tex., with the latter city seeing the mercury rise perilously close to triple digits.