Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: American League
Game Story: Floyd has a solid minor league track record, but every time he's been in the majors, he has bombed. It's been more of the same since being called up in early July: 16 earned runs and eight home runs allowed. In 123 major league innings he has allowed more than two home runs per nine innings, more than triple his minor league rate. As Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen have struggled recently, so has the Tigers offense, but Floyd has to prove he even belongs in the majors. The Sox offense has improved in recent weeks thanks to Jermaine Dye (10 home runs since break) and A.J. Pierzynski (hitting .368 since break), though if Thome is out on Sunday, Tata has a reasonable shot at a quality start.
Notable Injuries: Jorge Posada, C (knee, questionable)
Game Story: The Yankees have really been tearing into every pitcher they've faced recently, boosting their OPS against right-handers on the season to an obscene .854 mark, nearly 50 points better than second-place. That gap is equal to the gap in second-place (Phillies) and 10th (Angels). Virtually the entire team is on fire; even Melky Cabrera is hitting .345 since the break. There's no reason to trot out Meche when a poor outing is almost certainly in the cards. Since June 2nd, Mussina has quietly salvaged his season, allowing three earned runs or less in all but one of his nine starts, and accumulating a 3.75 ERA as a whole. While Mussina can't last much longer than six innings, he has enough left to be worthy of a spot start.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: After a rough initial start off the disabled list, McCarthy has been a bright spot in the Rangers' rotation, allowing three or fewer runs in each of his past five starts. The Blue Jays have just a .313 OBP against right-handed pitching, 27th in the majors, and in recent weeks those struggles have been exacerbated, with only Alex Rios and Aaron Hill hitting well. Nothing screams spot start just like a struggling offense against a streaking pitcher. McGowan has been quite the boom-or-bust pitcher, allowing two runs or less eight times, but allowing five runs or more five times. The Rangers have few proven hitters, and even the ones they do have aren't all that great, so McGowan should kick off August with a pretty good start.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Since the end of April, Bedard has allowed two runs or less 14 times out of 17 starts. He has been seemingly impervious to matchups in that time as well. The D-Rays gain a considerable amount of their offense from their proficiency against southpaws, but Bedard has faced them twice during this streak and, in 13 combined innings, has allowed one run and struck out 18. Except for maybe Jonny Gomes (4 HR, .339 AVG versus lefties) and Brendan Harris (.347 AVG), you can sit all your Devil Rays. Sonnanstine hasn't come close to replicating the 10-strikeout performance against the Marlins that had his name briefly buzzing, lasting deep into games but not performing that well. The Orioles are hitting .290 as a team since the break, too, so you can safely ignore Sonnanstine.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Since being blasted for eight runs in one inning against the Athletics, Carmona has bounced back better than many expected, failing to allow more than three runs in his next six starts, including two eight-inning shutouts. Carmona has mostly been consistent in his ability to shut down the lesser offenses in baseball, and while Michael Cuddyer's return will help the Twins' lethargic offense, they're still not too much of a threat. Since allowing five runs or more in three consecutive starts from May 30 to June 15, Baker has recovered well, sporting a 3.62 ERA. Baker's allowed just three home runs and six walks in that period, too, and the Indians have been off their usual high standards the past month. That all adds up to make Baker a safe start on Sunday.
Notable Injuries: Eric Chavez, 3B (back spasms, DL)
Game Story: Lackey has regressed a bit recently, allowing more walks and home runs while striking out fewer batters the past two months despite a softer schedule. A better team might get a recommendation against him. The Athletics, on the other hand, have been one of the two or three worst offenses in baseball the past two months. The lineup just got worse: Marco Scutaro (.653 OPS) is now forced to third base to replace Chavez. Haren has dominated the Angels in two starts this season (0.64 ERA, 0.93 WHIP in 14 innings), but Lackey has to be the favorite in the projected pitchers' duel simply because his team's offense is considerably better.
Notable Injuries: J.D. Drew, OF (personal, questionable)
Game Story: The Mariners have struggled to find offense in the past month, and with the call-up of Adam Jones from Triple-A, it is going to result in some lost at-bats for Raul Ibanez and Jose Guillen. The Mariners had a .695 OPS in July, so addition by subtraction comes into play. For the Sox, Coco Crisp may not be hitting for much power but he's still useful, as he hit .323 in July with 20 RBI and three steals. Dustin Pedroia is hitting for average again too, with a .378 mark in his last 15 games. Batista has been great recently, allowing two earned runs or less in seven of his past nine starts, but skepticism against the Red Sox is prudent.
Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: National League
Notable Injuries: Edgar Renteria, SS (ankle, DL)
Game Story: The Braves have a replacement for Renteria in Yunel Escobar, who is hitting .327 in 150 at-bats, though Escobar hasn't approached the power Renteria showed. The Braves are still dangerous, as their .809 OPS in July showed. Cook has been on his own roll recently, with a 1.84 ERA in his past four starts, including holding the Marlins (.841 July OPS) to two earned runs in 7 2/3 innings in his last outing. Toss in his road stats (2.94 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) and you have a case for starting him despite the tough competition. James has been great recently too, with a 2.59 ERA in his past six starts. The Rockies are a bit more susceptible to southpaws and have stumbled recently, so James gets the nod too.
Dolphin Stadium (outdoor) 1:05 p.m. ET (partly cloudy, high of 92 degrees)
Matt Albers, RHP (2-4, 5.93 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) versus
Scott Olsen, LHP (8-9, 5.53 ERA, 1.70 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Chris Sampson, SP (elbow, DL)
Game Story: The Marlins haven't quite been at the level of the Yankees or the Phillies since the All-Star break, but they've been close; their .871 OPS since the break is still 35 points better than fourth-place Atlanta. The most notable performance has been Josh Willingham, who has five home runs and is hitting .297 since the break; Jeremy Hermida and Cody Ross are also putting in above-average performances. Albers doesn't figure to do well on Sunday. Olsen has allowed 13 earned runs in his last two starts, and outside of a decent strikeout rate Olsen has looked lost. Various Astros like Chris Burke, Mark Loretta and Ty Wigginton hit well against lefties.
Game Story: Just when Arroyo looked to be a promising bet, he unexpectedly can't get past the second inning as he allows seven runs against the Nationals. The Nats are one of the few teams with a worse offense than the Pirates, which makes the start look all the worse. Still, let's give the man a mulligan for the solid five weeks of worth he put in beforehand. Gorzelanny was bombed against the Mets his last time out and may have shoulder problems, which raises a red flag, though he claims he's fine and didn't need his start pushed back. With that said, it sounds like a risk, but come on: The Reds have a sub-.700 OPS against lefties and Gorzelanny has a 3.55 ERA on the year. Who can resist that?
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Wainwright should be a safe bet against the Nationals, and indeed, Wainwright did go seven innings and allow just two runs in a start earlier in the year against them. At the very least, Wainwright's prevention of home runs -- he hasn't allowed one in five starts, and has allowed just nine on the season -- means a team has to string together a lot of hits to do damage, something the Nats obviously struggle to do. Chico has been solid, if unspectacular, against weak-hitting teams, or teams that struggle against decent southpaws, and since the Cards fit that bill, you can consider him an option. The Cardinals' recent offensive improvement hasn't extended to lefties, as they're still one of four teams with an OPS worse than .700 against them.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: This could easily be one of the uglier games, pitching-wise, on the day, as both pitchers have been just about as bad as their numbers suggest. Eaton has allowed a whopping 19 home runs on the season and is walking close to four batters per nine innings. Meanwhile, after a surprising April (2.55 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), Suppan has an ERA north of six since. The Phillies have been hit by injuries recently, with three players hitting the disabled list, but their offense has still been on fire, sparked by Pat Burrell (finally) heating up with an insane July, and has already continued that into August with two home runs. The Brewers, on the other hand, have struggled, but you have to go back a month to see Eaton's last quality start.
Game Story: Lowry has a 4.08 ERA and 1.53 WHIP on the road compared to a 2.62 ERA and 1.37 WHIP at home. Petco Park isn't just any road park, of course, but the Padres are at least decent against lefties (.760 OPS, T-16th). It'd help if Bradley, who's hitting .360 since joining the Pads, could go. Mike Cameron (6 HR, .337 AVG) has annihilated lefties so far, while newly-acquired Morgan Ensberg has hit well recently and is also considerably better against lefties. Germano has allowed at least four runs in five of his last six starts, which has led to a 7.28 ERA. Even against the punchless Giants I wouldn't go that far.
Notable Injuries: Jeff Kent, 2B (hamstring, questionable)
Game Story: It looks like Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are in a situation that is a time share, although the simple solution would be to start cutting Luis Gonzalez' playing time. Gonzalez has been brutal since July. The Dodgers fare much better against lefties, and Webb is one of the best righties in the league. He's also been on a roll, with just two earned runs in his last three starts (21 innings); factor in the potential loss of Kent, who has missed four games in a row, and one shouldn't expect much offensively. Penny has a 3.58 ERA in his past four starts, and though he hasn't looked pretty doing it -- see five walks against one strikeout in his last start -- the D-backs are hitting .240 as a team since the break.
Game Story: Glavine has mixed in a handful of horrendous outings with his superb ones the past two months, but when he has been bombed it's been against pretty decent offenses. The Cubs have been woeful against southpaws (.717 OPS), though it does look like they brought up Matt Murton to help combat those problems, as his two starts since being recalled have been against lefties Jamie Moyer and Cole Hamels. He hasn't shown it this year, but in 258 career at-bats Murton has a .867 OPS and .314 average against lefties. Marquis is proof that it doesn't take too long for a pitcher to regress to the mean; he has a 5.83 ERA since June. The Mets are out of their slump and are hitting well now, so Glavine has good odds to get his 300th win.
Waiver Wire Pick Ups
Brandon McCarthy, SP, TEX @ Toronto Blue Jays
Dustin McGowan, SP, TOR versus Texas Rangers
Jonny Gomes, OF, TB versus Baltimore Orioles
Scott Baker, SP, MIN versus Cleveland Indians
Coco Crisp, OF, BOS @ Seattle Mariners
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS @ Seattle Mariners
Aaron Cook, SP, COL @ Atlanta Braves
Chuck James, SP, ATL versus Colorado Rockies
Josh Willingham, OF, FLA versus Houston Astros
Bronson Arroyo, SP, CIN @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Adam Wainwright, SP, STL @ Washington Nationals
Matt Chico, SP, WAS versus St. Louis Cardinals
Mike Cameron, OF, SD versus San Francisco Giants
Tom Glavine, SP, NYM @ 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 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