Fantasy Game Notes for Monday: American League
Notable Injuries: Milton Bradley, OF (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Haren is a rare right-handed pitcher who's actually better against left-handed batters than righties. The Orioles are running out seven lefties in their everyday lineup, so it doesn't bode well for them. Bedard should have his way with Oakland, especially with Milton Bradley likely out.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Ohka really isn't this bad of a pitcher, but is a product of what happens when a mediocre pitcher traverses in the AL East and faces a higher level of competition. Ohka has allowed six home runs in three starts, and it should go without saying that you want all your Red Sox in the lineup against him. Tim Wakefield owns Toronto's two best hitters, Vernon Wells and Frank Thomas, as they hit a combined .219 off him. Consider him a strong spot start.
Game Story: The Devil Rays have a fair bit of power against southpaws, most notably Ty Wigginton, Delmon Young and B.J. Upton. This is notable because Igawa has allowed three home runs in three starts, and had high home run rates in Japan as well. Fossum is just another pitcher on the Tampa Bay roster whose job in the major leagues shouldn't exist. At the very least, Igawa should be in line for a win with all the runs the Yanks should put up. Matsui says he is healthy and is set to come off the disabled list and play on Monday.
Game Story: Baek is being called up from Triple-A to take the place of Felix Hernandez on Monday. Baek had a nice year in Triple-A last year (3.00 ERA, 1.16 WHIP in 147 innings), but has only 65 1/3 career major league innings despite being 26 years old. His stat line in Triple-A is likely a by-product of repeating the level twice and being older than his competition. Texas is hitting .227 as a team, though. When two mediocrities meet, you never quite know what to expect. Kevin Millwood usually pitches poorly at home (career 5.21 ERA in Ranger Ballpark), but does well against Seattle (3.79 ERA, 1.24 WHIP in six starts last season).
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Most pitchers do well against Kansas City, and Buehrle is no exception. In five starts last year, Buehrle had a 2.53 ERA and 1.25 WHIP against the Royals. It doesn't help that the Royals' three best hitters, Alex Gordon, Mark Teahen and David DeJesus, are all left-handers (though DeJesus hits lefties well). Meche has been superb so far, pitching efficiently (average start: seven innings), and the White Sox will be a good test for him. The Sox have displayed a lot of power against righties so far this season, but it is a good thing for Meche this game is in Kansas City: Chicago is slugging .341 on the road.
Notable Injuries: Luis Castillo, 2B (quad, day-to-day)
Game Story: This is not the best matchup for Sowers. Torii Hunter (.919 OPS against lefties last year) and Michael Cuddyer (.894 OPS) are very strong against left-handers, while Justin Morneau solved his problem against lefties last year and had a .904 OPS against them. Joe Mauer loses his power against them, but still hit .331 against lefties in '06. Sowers doesn't miss many bats, which means a lot of balls in play will result against four elite hitters. Cleveland has hit Silva very well the past three seasons, and Silva is much worse against lefties. That bodes well for Trot Nixon and David Dellucci.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: In an attempt to get more pop in the lineup, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has been playing Robb Quinlan -- occasionally in place of Casey Kotchman -- against left-handers. Quinlan is a lefty-killer -- in 328 career at-bats, he has a .314 average and 15 home runs -- and is worth watching. Outside of Quinlan and Vladimir Guerrero, the Angels' lineup is bare, making Maroth a ripe pick for a spot starter. Weaver should have his way with the right-handed heavy Tigers -- as a team they have a .666 OPS against righties.
Fantasy Game Notes for Monday: National League
Game Story: The Marlins happen to be third in the major leagues -- above even the mighty Yankees -- in team OPS. Last year they were a respectable 16th, and would be higher if they played in a neutral home ballpark. (At home they were 23rd in OPS.) You have to respect that and find a better spot to play Davies. Atlanta's offense is weaker than it has been in past seasons -- they are getting nothing out of first base and the corner outfield spots -- so even though Atlanta has owned Willis (4.72 ERA, 1.50 WHIP in 15 career starts), I would throw that out the window for Monday's game.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Sampson didn't begin his professional career until age 25, so it is difficult to take his minor league numbers seriously; he was simply much too old for every level he was at. Still, they are moderately impressive, and you can expect reasonable success as a starter if he doesn't allow home runs. Philadelphia hits well at home, though, and Ryan Howard is expected back from injury. Houston's lineup is very simple: they destroy left-handers (.839 OPS, 4th in the majors) and struggle against righties (.685 OPS, 23rd). Unfortunately for them, there are more right-handers than left-handers, so Eaton benefits.
Notable Injuries: Rodrigo Lopez, SP (elbow, DL)
Game Story: The Mets are third in the majors in OPS versus right-handers (.799), and they are averaging a whopping 7.6 runs over their past five games. Buchholz is filling in for Lopez, but has a 5.68 ERA and 2.37 WHIP in 6 1/3 innings in the bullpen. He had a 5.89 ERA as a starter in 2006, so the Mets are definitely licking their chops. Monday is as good a time as any to get Jose Valentin and Shawn Green into your lineup. Maine has been very wild (10 walks his last 11 2/3 innings) recently, but Shea Stadium and the good team defense behind him give him more margin for error.
Notable Injuries: Alfonso Soriano, OF (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Vargas has a ridiculous 20 strikeouts in his past 11 innings. The Cubs have a middle-of-the-road offense that was weakened with the short-term loss of Soriano. While he is scheduled to return on Monday, it is unlikely Soriano will be at 100 percent, so you could do worse if you are looking for a quality start. Zambrano was living on dangerous territory last year, with the highest walk rate in the majors, but now he is also allowing home runs. The Brewers are second in the majors in slugging percentage and OPS, and fourth in home runs. They also rocked Zambrano last season; starting Zambrano is not only risky, but borderline foolish.
Waiver Wire Pick Ups
Name, POS, Team @/versus Full Team Name
Milton Bradley, OF, OAK @ Baltimore Orioles
Tim Wakefield, SP, BAL versus Toronto Blue Jays
Kevin Millwood, SP, TEX versus Seattle Mariners
Mark Buehrle, SP, CHW @ Kansas City Royals
Gil Meche, SP, KC versus Chicago White Sox
Robb Quinlan, 3B, LAA versus Detroit Tigers
Adam Eaton, SP, PHI versus Houston Astros
John Maine, SP, NYM versus Colorado Rockies
Claudio Vargas, SP, MIL @ Chicago Cubs
Please Note that 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 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.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at Adam@TalentedMrRoto.com