Fantasy Game Notes for Monday: American League
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Danks has struggled most of the season and probably deserves to have an ERA higher than what he has now. He has failed to last six innings in six of his last eight outings and has allowed a home run in his last six starts, too. Ryan Garko cooled down tremendously in June after his superb May, but he is hitting .385 in July and deserves a start. Franklin Gutierrez is also worth starting since he mashes (.906 OPS) lefties. Lee was on a nice run until the Blue Jays hit him well in his last start; unfortunately he's facing the White Sox at the wrong time, as their .858 OPS this month is fifth in the majors. Tadahito Iguchi (seven-game hitting streak) is heating up, and Josh Fields smashes lefties (.986 OPS) too.
Notable Injuries: J.D. Drew, OF (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: With a 5.60 ERA in his last four starts, it seems safe to say that Bannister's run of usefulness has expired. Few teams punish poor pitching as brutally as the Red Sox do, and it seems like as one Boston player cools off, another player gets hot right in time to take his place. This time as Dustin Pedroia (.262 average in July) has faltered, Coco Crisp (.962 OPS) is on his way to his best month. Although Gabbard is facing a weak offense, he should still only be used by the desperate, and two of the Royals' three best hitters -- John Buck and Billy Butler -- are at their best against southpaws.
Notable Injuries: Melky Cabrera, OF (DTD, flu-like symptoms)
Game Story: Both starting pitchers are poor bets to make it much past the fifth inning. Although Towers is coming off an outing in which he shut out the Indians for eight innings, he is facing an offense that is extraordinarily potent against righties. Igawa, as you can see from the bloated ERA, has been horrendous for much of the season. Although Igawa's true talent level should be a fair bit better, the Blue Jays punish southpaws. Frank Thomas and Aaron Hill serve as perfect examples; like the Blue Jay team as a whole, they are marginal against righties, but have an OPS higher than .900 when facing left-handers and should be accordingly played on Monday.
Notable Injuries: Melvin Mora, 3B (foot, disabled list)
Game Story: The Mariners' offense has been struggling recently, though Burres, who is making his first start since being lit up for seven runs in 1 1/3 innings on July 5, may not be the best pitcher to take advantage of that. Jose Guillen turns into Barry Bonds against lefties (.405 average, four home runs in 79 at-bats) and is hitting .452 in July, making him a must start. Ramirez is making his first start since landing on the disabled list on May 25. The loss of both Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada severely hampers the Orioles' already-mediocre lineup. Although it may hurt to start a pitcher with a 6.47 ERA right off the DL, you have to put something at risk to gain reward.
McAfee Coliseum (outdoor) 10:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 69 degrees)
Jamey Wright, RHP (2-2, 5.55 ERA, 1.77 WHIP) versus
Notable Injuries: Travis Buck, OF (thumb, activated off the disabled list)
Game Story: It would take some guts to toss out Wright, even though he has a 3.33 ERA in his past three starts against a tough schedule. His 10-11 K-BB rate is more indicative of Wright's marginal ability. The A's have been unable to mount much offense this month (.618 OPS, 29th), however, the return of Travis Buck (.277/.378/.478 season line) will help a lot. The A's starter is unconfirmed, though Joe Kennedy doesn't seem to be a bad bet; he has started 16 games on the year but hasn't made a start since June 29th. Though the back of the rotation for the A's isn't that great, the Rangers' offense has been dreadful all season (.650 OPS this month). It's best to just avoid the whole situation for Monday.
Fantasy Game Notes for Monday: National League
Notable Injuries: Alex Gonzalez, SS (bereavement list, questionable)
Game Story: Homer Bailey is ineligible to be recalled from the minor leagues in time for Monday's game, so Livingston is expected to get called up instead. Livingston has been unimpressive in Triple-A, posting a 3.80 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, and with Matt Diaz (.343 average versus southpaws) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (four home runs, .893 OPS) enhancing the Braves' offense against left-handers, pass on Livingston. The Reds are one of the league's best hitting teams against righties (.778 OPS, sixth), and even with Josh Hamilton on the disabled list and Gonzalez likely out, it's doubtful Davies will be able to conquer a reduced version of this lineup.
Game Story: This will be Buchholz' first start since June 1, and it's tough to gauge what sort of impact, if any, extended time out of the rotation has on a pitcher. Intuitively, at least, it seems such a leave of absence would be a negative. As a reliever, Buchholz has been fantastic the past month. As a starter, however, he had a 5.73 ERA -- so don't jump to play him. Adam LaRoche is hitting .353 with three homers in July and is worth grabbing before everyone catches on to his hot streak. The Rockies have been one of the best offenses in the majors since June, so avoid Benschoten. Troy Tulowitzki has eight homers and two steals since June and has the skill to remain an above-average performer.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Williams has really turned it around his last three starts with a 3.56 ERA and 1.00 WHIP despite facing the Brewers, Phillies and Mets. The Mets may no longer qualify as a good hitting team, but the Phillies and Brewers are among the league's best, so against the lowly Nationals, Williams should be able to extend that quality-pitching streak. He's in a great position to earn a win, too; the Astros are solid against lefties, and Bacsik has allowed a .865 OPS against right-handers. Mark Loretta and Chris Burke, assuming the Astros follow through with their plan to limit Craig Biggio's playing time, make good options on Monday.
Game Story: Lincecum's ownership has skyrocketed since his combined 14 inning, 20 strikeout, zero run performances against the Padres and D-backs, but he was pitching at home against mediocre offenses in those games. On the road against the Cubs -- a strong offense against righties -- should be a tough test. Floyd says he plans to play on Monday, which would be another solid bat (.790 OPS versus righties) Lincecum would have to face. For Hill, Ray Durham kills lefties (four home runs, .903 OPS), as does Randy Winn (three home runs, .323 average), although the latter may not play. Still, that leaves six easy outs for Hill in the Giants' lineup, so he should be fine.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Looper has been quite inconsistent and prone to blow-ups, so even though the Marlins lineup has regressed into about a league-average offense rather than the elite one they showed in April, Looper cannot be used. Jeremy Hermida has been rather forgotten after his disappointing rookie season and DL stint earlier this season. Hermida is raking now, hitting .353 with three home runs in July; he should be owned in considerably more than 0.4 percent of leagues. Kim has tossed two good starts in a row, but he faces a tough test against a revived Cardinals offense -- the Cards have a .815 OPS in July. Juan Encarnacion has kept up his success at the plate, he is now batting .346 in July.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Brewers have maintained a solid offense despite drop-offs from J.J. Hardy, (.215 since June) Geoff Jenkins (.155 since June 18) and now Corey Hart (.191 average in July). Owings has been bombed in his last two outings, so he should definitely be avoided on Monday. The much-maligned Bush has quietly put in a workman-like performance with a 3.18 ERA since May 25. The Brewers as a whole have been much better at home, too, so Bush has a good chance to turn his above-average performance into a win.
Notable Injuries: Jose Valentin, 2B (finger, day-to-day)
Game Story: Sosa is making his first start of the month after spending the first 15 days on the disabled list due to a hamstring problem. The Padres are the worst offense in the league at home (.671 OPS), and Sosa plays behind one of the best defenses in baseball, so he's worth the risk. Wells' poor start versus the Braves was his first slip-up in quite a while -- he had a 2.73 ERA in his previous nine starts -- and although the Mets were one of the league's best at hitting left-handers, it is safe to say their team-wide slump should continue at least through Monday.
Notable Injuries: Brad Penny, SP (blister, probable)
Game Story: Moyer has been facing teams at the wrong time recently -- he's faced both the Rockies and Astros in his last two starts when both squads were playing their best -- and it's happened again, as he has to face the Dodgers during their best hitting month. A lethargic offense for most of the season, the Dodgers have an .863 OPS in July as Jeff Kent, Andre Ethier and James Loney have all been great. A blister impacted Penny's poor performance against the Braves; even a healthy Penny would be facing a tough matchup, as the Phillies have the best OPS on the month (.976). Pat Burrell has come alive (three homers, .476 average in July) and the underrated Greg Dobbs has continued to mash righties (.910 OPS).
Waiver Wire Pick Ups
Ryan Garko, 1B, CLE versus Chicago White Sox
Franklin Gutierrez, OF, CLE versus Chicago White Sox
Tadahito Iguchi, 2B, CHW @ Cleveland Indians
Josh Fields, 3B, CHW @ Cleveland Indians
Coco Crisp, OF, BOS versus Kansas City Royals
Frank Thomas, DH, TOR @ New York Yankees
Aaron Hill, SS, TOR @ New York Yankees
Horacio Ramirez, SP, SEA versus Baltimore Orioles
Matt Diaz, OF, ATL versus Cincinnati Reds
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, ATL versus Cincinnati Reds
Adam LaRoche, 1B, PIT versus Colorado Rockies
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Woody Williams, SP, HOU @ Washington Nationals
Mark Loretta, 2B, HOU @ Washington Nationals
Ray Durham, 2B, SF @ Chicago Cubs
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA versus St. Louis Cardinals
Juan Encarnacion, OF, STL @ Florida Marlins
Jorge Sosa, SP, NYM @ San Diego Padres
David Wells, SP, SD versus New York Mets
Greg Dobbs, 3B, PHI @ Los Angeles Dodgers
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