Fantasy Game Notes for Saturday: American League
Notable Injuries: Melvin Mora, 3B (foot, questionable)
Game Story: Vazquez has been on a roll in his last four starts, averaging eight innings per outing with a 1.68 ERA in that span. The Orioles are also likely to be without Melvin Mora, who re-injured his foot in Thursday's game. Aubrey Huff, usually a fine second-half player, started to warm up by hitting .314 in June, but is hitting below the Mendoza Line this month (.194), so the lineup is definitely lacking pop. Vazquez's counterpart, Cabrera, should be left for the desperate; though the White Sox are still one of the worst-hitting teams in the majors, they touched him up for five runs in six innings earlier this month and are hitting well recently.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Meche had one of his few legitimately poor outings in his last start versus the Devil Rays, allowing six runs in six innings against an offense that struggles versus right-handed pitching. The Indians are anything but -- they have a .785 OPS against righties, fifth in the majors -- so you can bench Meche with confidence. Casey Blake (three home runs, .303 average) looks like he's on his way to a big month. Sabathia had a complete-game shutout against the Royals earlier in the season, and Billy Butler (hitting .375 with two homers this month) is one of the few Royals hitters not neutralized by left-handed pitching.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Red Sox offense was hitting on all cylinders before the All-Star break, with Coco Crisp (four home runs, six stolen bases and a .318 average since June) and J.D. Drew (hitting .304 with four home runs since June) heating up for the first time all year. Although Drew has slowed down in July, he's hitting righties well on the year, and combined with the rest of the lineup, McGowan should be in for a rough day. The Blue Jays are just 21st in OPS against righties, but with the return of Reed Johnson and Lyle Overbay, they can afford to platoon Matt Stairs (14 homers, .922 OPS versus righties) in the outfield and play Overbay at first; not quite enough to bench Matsuzaka, but a situation worth watching nonetheless.
Notable Injuries: B.J. Upton, 2B (quadriceps, day-to-day)
Game Story: Although the Devil Rays are much better against left-handed pitching, they did string together nine hits against Wang earlier in the year and posted four runs. Wang should be better this time around -- he hasn't allowed a run in July -- but with Carlos Pena, Akinori Iwamura and Jonny Gomes, the Rays aren't exactly helpless against right-handers, either. B.J. Upton likely will be in the lineup by Saturday, though coming off a leg injury and taking to his new position in center field could mean fewer steals initially. Sonnanstine is riding a quality start mini-streak of three games, but is running into the wrong team here; the Yankees have the best offense (.820 OPS) against righties.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Before the Mariners launched 12 hits and six runs (five earned) off Blanton in his last start, he was riding a seven-start hot streak that netted him a 1.49 ERA in his past 54 2/3 innings. The Twins' trio of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter are too strong to bench regardless, but you can save Michael Cuddyer and the rest of the Twins for another day. Silva has allowed five earned runs in each of his past three starts, and the White Sox and Blue Jays, two of the teams he faced, aren't the strongest competition, either. That's a good sign for the A's, who are struggling offensively; strangely, Shannon Stewart, who is hitting .377 since June, is carrying the team right now.
Notable Injuries: Mark Teixeira, 1B (quadriceps, probable)
Game Story: Loe has quietly been one of the best pitchers over the past month. By the numbers: Loe has a 1.62 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in his past five starts (33 2/3 innings), with some of the teams faced being powerhouse offenses like the Cubs, Red Sox and Tigers. The Angels' offense is nothing to sneeze at either, but does lack power compared to those teams and has a .543 OPS in July. Available in 99.7 percent of leagues, Loe deserves serious consideration, both for Saturday and the long run. Lackey faces a depleted Rangers lineup, and although some help returns in the form of Teixeira, the Rangers haven't been great this month (.650 OPS) either.
Notable Injuries: Placido Polanco, 2B (back, day-to-day)
Game Story: The only thing lacking in Rogers' first three starts of the season has been endurance, which is somewhat expected from a 42-year-old pitcher who missed the first three months. Rogers conquered a fine offense in the Indians, but gets another strong test with the Mariners, who are significantly better against southpaws. Jose Guillen especially loves them (.408 average, four home runs). Rogers is a questionable option as a result; the deciding factor might be Rogers' more mediocre results away from Comerica Park. There's no such quandary with Batista, as the Tigers should hit him hard, with underrated players like Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge being solid options.
Fantasy Game Notes for Saturday: National League
Notable Injuries: Cliff Floyd, OF (arm, day-to-day)
Game Story: The Cubs are one of the better offenses in the league against right-handers, and with Oswalt no longer a dominating pitcher, it is matchups like these that are the trickiest. Oswalt has been pretty solid against some above-average offenses recently, though. Assuming Floyd plays, he isn't a bad option against Oswalt, as he hits right-handers pretty well, and Mike Fontenot has been a nice surprise for the Cubs. The Astros hit lefties considerably better than they do right-handers, with Mark Loretta, Mike Lamb and Craig Biggio being notable players who have made their living this season hitting off of southpaws. Lilly has been pitching quite well recently, though, and has been better at Wrigley Field, too.
Notable Injuries: Matt Kemp, OF (hamstring, questionable)
Game Story: Penny had his five-start streak of allowing just one earned run snapped by the Braves before the All-Star break, but shouldn't have much trouble with the weak-hitting Giants. It is worth noting that Ryan Klesko is hitting .343 since May and is garnering more and more at-bats in the everyday lineup. Matt Morris has made the most of AT&T Park, as the fly ball pitcher has a 2.60 ERA at home thanks to the hitting-suppressant environment. The Dodgers have been hitting much better recently, thanks to Luis Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and James Loney, so it won't be a walk in the park, but Morris is a pretty solid spot starter for Saturday.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Maroth has had a bit more success in the NL, but still has the same ugly peripherals: eight strikeouts, seven walks and three home runs allowed in his three starts in the Senior Circuit. The Phillies are significantly better against righties, giving Maroth the platoon advantage, but they have too much talent to consider using Maroth as a spot starter here, and the game is in Citizens Bank Park, a hitters' park. Surprisingly, Hamels, despite his homer-prone tendencies, has been much better at home (3.25 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). The Cards are specifically susceptible to southpaws, too, and it hurts that Chris Duncan (.263 average, .737 OPS) is neutralized by them.
Notable Injuries: Willy Taveras, OF (quadriceps, questionable)
Game Story: Ah, I love the smell of regression to the mean in the morning. Lopez has been bombed in his last three starts (11.59 ERA), enough to make his season numbers look more like, well, like Rodrigo Lopez numbers. The Brew Crew should continue to add to that, considering they are sixth in the majors in OPS. Suppan's been on a steady downward trend the past two months, and not even a soft schedule has been able to stop it, as he still put in poor performances against the Pirates and Nationals. Facing one of the league's best, rather than the league's worst, shouldn't make this one of Suppan's better performances.
Notable Injuries: Ryan Doumit, OF (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: The Braves have a .742 OPS against lefties, 19th in the majors, but that number might belie how potent they have become against southpaws recently, thanks to platoon performances from Matt Diaz (three home runs, .348 average in 112 at-bats) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (hitting .321 with four home runs in 53 at-bats). With Jeff Francoeur and Edgar Renteria also hitting lefties pretty hard, Gorzelanny could run into trouble. James is a good spot start because, outside of Xavier Nady, the Pirates are weak against left-handers and he should get enough run support for a shot at the win.
Notable Injuries: Miguel Cabrera, 3B (shoulder, questionable)
Game Story: Chico has allowed just one earned run in his past three starts (19 innings), but the Marlins are one of the best offenses against left-handers. Chico is an intriguing option, but I tend to side with proven offenses over a pitcher's hot streak, and this is no exception. Even if Cabrera can't go, the Marlins have a lot of above-average options: Miguel Olivo (.359 average versus lefties), Jeremy Hermida (1.014 OPS in July), Mike Jacobs (.342 versus southpaws) and Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla, of course. Mitre hasn't been at his best recently, but a poor schedule has allowed him to maintain value as a spot starter. Pitching against the Nats allows a lot of margin for error, so toss Mitre out there again.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Belisle has allowed at least five earned runs in four of his past six starts, so there's no way the formerly-solid starter can be considered for spot start duty as of now. That should help the struggling Mets offense get on board, giving Glavine some breathing room. The Reds' lineup leans heavily to the left, which helps tremendously versus right-handers, but leaves them quite susceptible to southpaws. It's a more-than-fair trade-off considering there are more righties than lefties, but that won't console them against Glavine. Even the Reds' right-handed hitters -- Edwin Encarnacion and Alex Gonzalez, to name two -- haven't hit lefties well.
Chase Field (indoor/retractable roof) 9:40 p.m. ET
Livan Hernandez, RHP (5-5, 4.54 ERA, 1.60 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Jake Peavy, SP (bicep soreness, out)
Game Story: Jake Peavy will have his start pushed back to Tuesday. Chris Young is eligible to return from his five-game suspension on Saturday, so don't be surprised to see him take the turn in the rotation and the Pads juggle their rotation a bit to make room. If that is the case, it should go without saying that Young (2.00 ERA) makes any prospective D-backs a poor bet. Hernandez' poor WHIP is more in line with his true skill than his ERA, and one must remember that the game is in Arizona, one of the league's more severe hitters' parks that helps the Padres tremendously, too, considering they get out of Petco Park. The Pads aren't exactly setting the league on fire, but you could do worse than Mike Cameron and Milton Bradley.
Waiver Wire Pick Ups
Billy Butler, OF, KC @ Cleveland Indians
Coco Crisp, OF, BOS versus Toronto Blue Jays
J.D. Drew, OF, BOS versus Toronto Blue Jays
Matt Stairs, 1B, TOR @ Boston Red Sox
Shannon Stewart, OF, OAK @ Minnesota Twins
Kameron Loe, SP, TEX @ Los Angeles Angels
Jose Guillen, OF, SEA versus Detroit Tigers
Mark Loretta, 3B, HOU @ Chicago Cubs
Craig Biggio, 2B, HOU @ Chicago Cubs
Matt Morris, SP, SF versus Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Diaz, OF, ATL versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, ATL versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Xavier Nady, OF, PIT @ Atlanta Braves
Miguel Olivo, C, FLA versus Washington Nationals
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA versus Washington Nationals
Mike Jacobs, 1B, FLA versus Washington Nationals
Sergio Mitre, SP, FLA versus Washington Nationals
Mike Cameron, OF, SD @ Arizona Diamondbacks
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 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.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at Adam@TalentedMrRoto.com