Rising stars make a big impression for the Reds, Lee is untouchable and a Phillies slugger is missing way too much.
- Reds RHP Edinson Volquez (4 H, 6 BB, 10 K in 7 IP) and Canadian 1B Joey Votto (three homers) dominated the Cubs in a 9-0 win Wednesday. Volquez dropped his ERA to 1.06, second in MLB, while Votto's slugging percentage has surged to .583, good enough for third among major league first basemen.
- Indians LHP Cliff Lee continued his ridiculous start to the season by shutting down the Yankees (6 H, 7 K in 7 IP), moving Lee's record to 6-0 with a 0.81 ERA.
- Phillies 1B Ryan Howard has been flat-out terrible, striking out 50 times in 123 at-bats (a pace of 215 if he matched his 2007 total of 529 at-bats) on his way to hitting just .163. He's probably a good buy-low candidate, because those numbers can't conceivably get much worse, but it's fair to say that Howard shouldn't be treated like an elite slugger right now.
- Cubs RHP Jon Lieber had been dominant out of the bullpen (1.86 ERA in nine appearances) to earn a start against the Reds, but his day was cut short when he allowed four home runs in the second inning. I like Lieber as a sleeper in deep leagues if he's going to get starts, but Wednesday's results probably make it better to wait and see.
- Mets RHP John Maine was stellar (4 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 4 K in 8 1/3 IP) against the Dodgers, dropping his ERA to 3.00. Maine hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his last six starts.
- Dodgers RHP Brad Penny got crushed (10 ER in 4 2/3 IP) by the Mets, but his stuff wasn't that far off, allowing eight singles and two doubles for ten hits.
- Tigers 2B Placido Polanco started slowly this season but, after going 5-for-6 against the Red Sox Wednesday, his average has climbed to .270. He's an astounding 18-for-32 (.563) in his last nine games.
- Giants LHP Barry Zito didn't make even one appearance out of the bullpen before getting another start and, though he lost to Pittsburgh, he did go five solid innings (5 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, 5 K in 5 IP). Zito was outdueled by Phil Dumatrait (3 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 5 K in 5 2/3 IP). Dumatrait was a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2000 and has taken a spot at the back end of the Pirates' rotation, so the 26-year-old bears watching to see if he can build on his first big league win.
- Blue Jays RHP Shaun Marcum was excellent (4 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 9 K in 8 2/3 IP) in a win against the Rays, moving to 4-2 with a 2.59 ERA. Impressively, Marcum has increased his strikeout rate this season to 8.1 per nine innings.
- Marlins 1B Mike Jacobs left Wednesday's game with a strained quadricep. The Marlins may give Jacobs a few days of rest, meaning Wes Helms would likely get some starts.
- Angels RHP Jered Weaver was drilled (8 ER in 3 1/3 IP) by the Royals, getting bested by emerging ace Zack Greinke (5 H, 2 BB, 3 ER, 8 K in 7 IP). Known as a control pitcher earlier in his career, Greinke has whiffed 27 in 26 innings over his last four starts.
- Twins CF Carlos Gomez, the prize of the Johan Santana trade, hit a lead-off homer on his way to hitting for the cycle against the White Sox. In the last eight games, Gomez is 11-for-30 (.367) with six RBI and four stolen bases.
- Twins RHP Livan Hernandez scrambled nine hits (9 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 3 K in 9 IP) in a win over the White Sox, moving his record to 5-1. Hernandez isn't overpowering (20 K in 51 2/3 IP), but he's been effective enough to pitch out of trouble.
- Mets LF Angel Pagan left Wednesday's game in Los Angeles with a shoulder injury after flipping into the stands to catch a foul ball. Endy Chavez replaced Pagan in the lineup but, Moises Alou is likely to see most of the action in left so long as he's healthy.
- Rangers RHP Vicente Padilla was overpowering (2 H, 2 BB, 8 K in 7 IP) against the Mariners, beating Erik Bedard. Padilla, who was touching 97 MPH on the gun, is now 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA on the season, allowing one or zero runs in five of his eight starts and making him a viable addition in virtually any league. Who would have guessed?
Today's Best Pitching Matchups:
BOS (Beckett) at DET (Verlander)
PHI (Myers) at ARI (Webb)
Scott Cullen can be reached at email@example.com