Fantasy Game Notes for Wednesday: American League
Game Story: It's likely to rain all day in Baltimore, and with Boston due back in town twice more this season, be prepared for a potential postponement. It'd be a shame, really, with two power right-handers on the mound and Cabrera looking as good as he has so far (3.07 ERA, 2.45 BB/9). Nevertheless, Schilling shapes up as the better option of the two, despite the road assignment, as Cabrera's 1-6 record and 9.27 ERA in eight career starts against the Red Sox is a concern. Boston would be smart to start Alex Cora, 12-for-24 lifetime against Cabrera, at second base, while Baltimore's strikeout-prone lefty Corey Patterson and Melvin Mora (3-for-25, 9 K's vs. Schilling) should be avoided.
Game Story: Rain should be an issue in the daytime in Cleveland, but if it lightens up by the evening, expect this game to get in. It's quite the pitching mismatch; Sabathia is 23-12 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in his last 42 regular-season starts, while Padilla has a 5.55 ERA and .293 BAA in his last 16 regular-season starts. Cleveland's left-handed heavy lineup should fare well here, making Trot Nixon a viable starter and Shin-Soo Choo an AL-only consideration if Dellucci remains out. Don't play the lefty-righty matchups against Sabathia. Use your typical Rangers sluggers, but Sammy Sosa (0-for-12, 6 K's vs. Sabathia) and Nelson Cruz aren't good spot starts in this one.
This game has been postponed due to rain.
Notable Injuries: Luis Castillo, 2B (quadriceps, day-to-day)
Game Story: Finally a game where weather doesn't matter! Shame it's one with such weak pitching matchups, as both Perez and Ponson have ERAs on the wrong side of eight. Current Twins are a combined 63-for-167 (.377 AVG) with eight homers against Perez, and lefties Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are a combined 10-for-17 (.588 AVG) against him. Check Castillo's status; if he sits, Alexi Casilla's a useful AL-only play. Ponson might seem a decent spot start against Kansas City, but don't be too hasty. Current Royals hit him at a .313 clip (85-for-272), and Mike Sweeney (.444/1.224), David DeJesus (.471/1.042) and Mark Teahen (.385/1.000) have handled him nicely.
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: Rain should be more of an issue after 1 a.m., but it's a concern nonetheless, especially since Durbin might be skipped if this game gets washed out. That'd lose your White Sox hitters all those favorable matchups against the right-hander, who served up homers to Tadahito Iguchi and Juan Uribe in their last meeting. Iguchi, incidentally, has two homers in three at-bats against Durbin, and Paul Konerko is 11-for-21 lifetime (.524 AVG) against him. Go heavy on White Sox, and right-handed Tigers as well. Brandon Inge took Danks deep last Friday, and Craig Monroe also warrants a look.
Game Story: Iwamura's DL stint comes as a surprise, but what it does is open up more opportunities for players like Jorge Cantu and Carlos Pena. Pena has two home runs in 18 career at-bats against Lackey, so expect him to get the start at first base, with Ty Wigginton shifting to third base, an arrangement we might see often. Lackey does match up well against the mostly free-swinging Devil Rays, though; he's 6-1 with a 2.61 ERA in eight career starts against them. The Angels, meanwhile, should capitalize on the erratic Jackson, so get them all in your lineup, including Maicer Izturis and Casey Kotchman.
Game Story: Swisher's hamstring injury, suffered Tuesday afternoon, puts the Oakland offense in dire straits. The team was already a bottom-10 offense, averaging 3.84 runs per game, so if the slugger is sidelined, there isn't a true power threat in the entire order. That plays well in favor of Washburn, who has a 3.97 ERA in his career at McAfee Coliseum. Mark Ellis (.345/1.049 career vs. Washburn) and Bobby Kielty (.297/.894 career vs. left-handers) aren't bad spot starts, while the Mariners' Yuniesky Betancourt warrants a look based on his track record against Blanton (.318 AVG, 2 HR, 22 AB).
Fantasy Game Notes for Wednesday: National League
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: Don't worry too much about the rain; this game should get in. That's great news for your Mets, as Moises Alou, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green and Paul Lo Duca each have at least 12 career at-bats against Fogg, and .323 batting averages or better. Even the improving Jose Valentin, 3-for-7 with a home run against the right-hander, warrants a start. Pelfrey, despite coming off a mediocre start last Friday, isn't a bad spot option in deeper leagues, as the Rockies as a team are hitting .221 and averaging 3.11 runs per game on the road. Go for your usual Rockies, but this isn't the time for ice-cold hitters like Chris Iannetta, Willy Taveras or Troy Tulowitzki.
Notable Injuries: Johnny Estrada, C (knee, day-to-day)
Game Story: Sheets' 5.00 ERA is a bit out of line with his 1.15 WHIP, so expect better performances from him looking forward, even if to this point in his career he has been ordinary when pitching at Wrigley. One problem: Derrek Lee owns him, with a .370 batting average, seven homers and a 1.231 OPS in 46 career at-bats. Don't get too creative with your lesser Cubs, though, in what should be a lower-scoring game. Lilly stacks up well against the free-swinging Brewers, with only Tony Graffanino (.364/.871) handling him. Corey Hart and Kevin Mench do warrant looks, however.
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: Patterson has only six career road wins and none in two career starts at Citizens Bank, and this probably won't represent his first. His command has been rather erratic, and the Phillies just beat him last Thursday in an ugly outing for the right-hander. Aaron Rowand took Patterson deep in that game, and Shane Victorino had three hits, making each a strong starter. Despite his shaky track record at Citizens Bank, Lieber is worth using against the Nationals' woeful offense. Ryan Church, though, hits him; he's 4-for-8 with three homers against Lieber. As for the bullpen, Brett Myers owners should consider that before long, the Phillies will at least want to see what he can do closing in a game, meaning in NL-only leagues, he's worth keeping in your lineup.
Notable Injuries: Xavier Nady, OF (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Rain's in the forecast until around 9 p.m. which doesn't bode well. While Duke has long been more comfortable at home -- 13-7, 3.92 ERA career -- the Astros do have the right-handed bats to cause him trouble. Jason Lane is a .438 hitter with a 1.276 OPS against him, and surprisingly, Duke is one left-hander Lance Berkman hits very well, with .429/1.136 rates. Go Craig Biggio, Chris Burke and Morgan Ensberg, too, as Duke is a shakier play than he appears on paper. Albers isn't trustworthy enough to use yet, except perhaps in deep NL-only formats, so use Chris Duffy and Adam LaRoche.
Game Story: It might seem there's little reason for the Braves to rush McCann back against a left-hander, but with him 5-for-7 with two homers career against Olsen, expect him in there if healthy. Matt Diaz, Jeff Francoeur and Edgar Renteria shape up well in this game, and Olsen's recent struggles make him a risky start against Atlanta's top-10 offense. Meanwhile, few pitchers are as hot as Hudson, who is also 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA in four career starts at Dolphin Stadium. Josh Willingham (0-for-13, 5 K's) and Miguel Olivo (2-for-14) have been especially poor against him in their careers.
Notable Injuries: Ken Griffey Jr., OF (illness, day-to-day)
Game Story: There's a running theme today, and it's bad weather, with this game the one I'd call most likely to be washed out based on the forecast. If it gets in, though, this should be a nice matchup for Chris Duncan, 3-for-6 with a home run against Arroyo. Beyond your regular Cardinals and Reds, though, don't go crazy. Looper and Arroyo are both pitching well, and the main thing to exploit here is Looper's historical tendency to struggle against lefty sluggers. Adam Dunn, Josh Hamilton and Ken Griffey Jr. could each be in for big games, assuming Griffey is healthy enough to play.
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: What a pitching matchup! But here's the kicker: Peavy is 3-5 with a 6.10 ERA in nine career starts at Chase Field. Still, I'm calling for him to buck the trend; current Diamondbacks are 30-for-151 (.199 AVG) with six homers against the right-hander, and to date Peavy's looking like a bona fide Cy Young candidate. Go Chad Tracy based on the matchup, and keep Orlando Hudson in there, but it shouldn't be a great day for your Diamondbacks, except for Webb. He's coming off a 13-strikeout, quality-start effort against these Padres, putting only Brian Giles, Adrian Gonzalez and perhaps Russell Branyan in the intriguing-starter category for fantasy.
Notable Injuries: None
Game Story: Wolf is my spot start of the day, as he'll be battling the Giants' 29th-ranked offense (3.41 runs per game) at home, where he's already 2-0 with 17 strikeouts in his first two starts this season. Omar Vizquel (8-for-14) has a good track record against the left-hander, but Rich Aurilia (.375 AVG, 2 HR, 16 AB) is the one prime start of the bunch based on career numbers against Wolf. Lowry, though, warrants NL-only attention, especially taking into account his 2-0 record and 2.39 ERA in four career starts at Dodger Stadium. Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra hit him well, but if the team leans heavily on platoon types like Olmedo Saenz and Brady Clark, 1-for-18 combined in their careers against Lowry, it'll only play to the lefty's advantage.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Rich Aurilia, 1B/3B, SF @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Ryan Church, OF, WAS @ Philadelphia Phillies
Josh Hamilton, OF, CIN @ St. Louis Cardinals
Jon Lieber, SP, PHI versus Washington Nationals
Mike Pelfrey, SP, NYM versus Colorado Rockies
Jose Valentin, 2B, NYM versus Colorado Rockies
Randy Wolf, SP, LAD versus San Francisco Giants
Please Note: 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.
Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.