I've had a long week. You too? Where is the saloon? Still found the time for you, my faithful followers, to break down the matchups on Saturday and Sunday, the second and third days of August. So off we go.
Note: This article is being written on Friday. Make sure you check the injury reports and lineups for the weekend before blindly setting your lineup based simply on this piece.
UPDATED PLAYER RANKINGS: It's the first of the month, so you know that the Oracle has you covered with an updated set of rankings, position by position, for the rest of the season.
DISH DIAMONDS – The Best Hitting Matchups of the Day
Domonic Brown stinks. Told you he would. He seems to have unlikely success though against Jordan Zimmermann with seven hits in 14 at-bats. Let's hope he's healthy enough to play Saturday.
Adam LaRoche has two big flies and six RBIs against A.J. Burnett. Asdrubal Cabrera has hit two homers with four RBIs. In 16 at-bats Cabrera has hit .375 while LaRoche has hit .387 over 31 at-bats. Denard Span might join the party too. He's hit .316 with four steals over 38 at-bats.
DISH DISASTERS – Worst Hitting Matchups of the Day
The best hitter on the planet, Jose Altuve, has had no success against knuckle baller R.A. Dickey. The knuckleball is just funky enough that it might stop Altuve. Or will it? In 10 at-bats he doesn't have a single hit.
Billy Butler has one RBI, nine strikeouts, and a .182 batting average in 22 at-bats against Jon Lester. Lorenzo Cain is also hitting .182 in his 11 at-bats. That’s better than Alex Gordon who is at .105 with eight whiffs in 19 at-bats.
Marlon Byrd is still a Philly. He's produced one RBI an a .440 OPS over 19 plate appearances against Jordan Zimmermann. Carlos Ruiz also slumps against the righty with a .211 average over 19 at-bats while Ryan Howard is at .176 over 17 at-bats.
Josh Donaldson meet Mr. Awful pants. That's who he is when he takes on Jason Vargas (I recently spent time in Hawaii with my six and four year old nephews so I'm acting really mature right now). Donaldson is 1-for-18 in the matchup. Derek Norris is better but .188 in 16 at-bats isn't good. Jonny Gomes has one hit in 15 at-bats. He's also struck out an unfathomable 11 times.
Chris Young has a .160/.222/.360 slash line over 27 plate appearances against Jake Peavy. David Wright has only two hits in 16 at-bats (.125). He's also struck out seven times. Curtis Granderson has only four hits in 17 at-bats as well, that just a .235 batting an a .235 OBP.
MOUND MAVENS – Starting Pitchers to Target
Chris Archer pitches at home against the Angels. The last time he faced that club he tossed 5.2 shutout innings while allowing only two hits. Only once in his last five outings has Archer failed to deliver a quality start, and in 10 home starts this season he has a 3.32 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
Jacob deGrom faces the Giants in New York. Gotta start him. He's allowed two runs over his last four starts, all victories, and the last time Jd allowed a home run was back on June 5th. Locked in, period. Don't know how you can't trust him at the moment.
R.A. Dickey has walked only three batters in his last three outings and six over his last five outings. He's not beating himself despite throwing the knuckleball. Dickey has also allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of his last six outings. He's got passable numbers on the road this season – 3.52 ERA, 1.36 WHIP – and he goes to Houston to face the Astros.
Miguel Gonzalez faces the Mariners in Baltimore. In eight outings at home Miguel has a 3.30 ERA (though his WHIP is 1.42). At the same time, he's turned in to Mr. Quality start of late. Over his last four outings he's produced a QS each time out, and in total he's allowed six runs. Pretty good, no? He also tossed six innings of one run ball against the Mariners in his last outing.
Yohan Pinto faces the White Sox in Chicago. In three of his last four starts he's allowed two or fewer runs. Through seven starts he hasn't beaten himself walking only eight batters. In his last outing against the White Sox, on July 27th, he allowed two runs over six innings as he walked one and struck out six.
Jason Vargas is making his return from injury (he last pitched on July 8th). Therefore starting him is a risk no doubt. Still, he dominated the Athletics roster. In 2012 at-bats the A's have hit .224 with a .601 OPS against Vargas. Remove Coco Crisp who may not play, and the group hits .196 in 158 at-bats. Hard not to like that matchup.
MOUND MESSES – Starting Pitchers to Avoid
A.J. Burnett has seen his ERA rise to 4.15 and his K/BB ratio dip below 2.00. Not good. The last time he took the hill he allowed seven runs over five innings. Burnett is on the road taking on the Nationals and he's not been good when away from home either – he has a 5.26 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 12 road starts.
Nathan Eovaldi pitches at home against the Reds. Two things. (1) He has a 5.11 ERA and three wins at home in 12 starts. (2) Over his last three starts he's allowed 18 runs over 16.1 innings. Pass.
Ian Kennedy has allowed seven runs in his last two outings. He's also walked eight batters in that time as his control has left him. On the year he's made 11 starts at home, and oddly his ratios are worse there (4.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) than they are on the road (3.18 ERA, 1.16 WHIP). He faces the Braves.
Kyle Lohse has not had success against the Cardinals in his career. In 10 career starts he has only three wins. Second, He has a 4.04 ERA. Third, the Cards have hit .302 off him. Given that he's struck out a total of 12 batters in his last four starts, and that he has only two wins in his last six outings, Lohse makes a moderate start at best in St. Louis.
Justin Masterson makes his first start for the Cardinals. He will start at home against the Brewers. You trust him? He last pitched on July 7th, and the last time he finished five innings of work was back on June 19th. He's also walked at least three batters in each of his last six starts. Best bet is to give him some time to settle in before trusting him.