Daily Notes: Fogg worth a spot start
Josh Beckett, RHP (14-5, 3.31 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) versus
Garrett Olson, LHP (1-0, 3.86 ERA, 2.04 WHIP)
Game Story: The Orioles have been hitting the ball better than expected the past couple of weeks, and now have both Miguel Tejada and Melvin Mora off their disabled list, so Beckett will have more trouble than normal trying to become the league's first 15-game winner. Olson is making just his second major league start of the season, and while his minor league numbers show promise, facing one of the toughest offenses in the AL is too much to ask nearly any rookie pitcher to overcome. Coco Crisp is still hitting well, and Dustin Pedroia is heating up as well.
Mike Mussina, RHP (7-7, 4.66 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) versus
Paul Byrd, RHP (10-4, 4.13 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Travis Hafner, DH (knee, questionable)
Game Story: Mussina has been a little up and down lately, but he has taken advantage of a soft schedule to net a 3.13 ERA in his past three starts. The Indians have been struggling immensely though; since the All-Star break their team OPS was .705, placing them 26th. Toss in the questionable availability of one of their best hitters (Hafner) and Mussina does indeed appear to have an advantage. Byrd's been pitching well, too, but the Yankees' offense has been on fire, with even Melky Cabrera hitting .368 with three home runs and three steals since the break.
Dan Haren, RHP (13-3, 2.46 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) versus
Justin Verlander, RHP (11-4, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
Game Story: The Tigers' offense has had a fairly precipitous drop in production the past couple of weeks, and while Haren hasn't lowered his ERA since June 15, he's only twice failed to log a quality start this season. Haren faced the Tigers a couple of weeks ago, allowing two earned runs in six innings, and considering that the Tigers have dropped from the best offense in baseball to the middle of the pack since the break, it wouldn't be surprising to see a similar performance. Haren will have to keep it close because Verlander should have little trouble with the Athletics' lineup.
Miguel Batista, RHP (11-8, 4.17 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Gavin Floyd, RHP (1-1, 7.08 ERA, 1.82 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Alex Cintron, 2B (illness, questionable)
Game Story: It's a little tempting to start Batista here, a guy with an ERA hovering around four, against, if you squint correctly, one of the worst offenses this season. But the Sox -- well, Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko are all that's left of the Sox -- have hit moderately well the past month, and U.S. Cellular Field is an unfriendly place for pitchers anyway. Floyd does have some intriguing potential, but his gopher-ball tendencies (eight in 20 1/3 innings this season) must be curbed when his home stadium is such a hitters' park.
Dustin McGowan, RP (8-5, 4.11 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) versus
Leo Nunez, RHP (1-0, 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Since giving up six runs in five innings on July 14, McGowan has allowed just five runs in his past four starts (28 1/3 innings). The Royals scare no one with their lineup, and most of the team's players you would normally consider are all struggling in recent weeks. Nunez has been shuffled around through the minor leagues as a reliever and as a starter, and his two starts earlier in July were the first two major league starts of his career. The Blue Jays have really been unable to hit right-handers well all season long -- their .727 OPS is tied for 20th -- but at the same time, you really wouldn't be comfortable with throwing Nunez into the fire. Trot out the better Blue Jays, but temper expectations for both sides.
Edwin Jackson, RHP (2-11, 6.35 ERA, 1.80 WHIP) versus
John Rheinecker, LHP (1-0, 7.40 ERA, 2.03 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Jackson has tossed six innings in each of his past two starts, allowing zero and two earned runs, respectively, in those outings, hopefully a sign of progression. The Rangers only have two regulars with double-digit home runs this season, so Jackson may thank the schedule-makers for the favorable matchup and possible confidence-booster. Rheinecker has been bombed in his past two starts by both the Athletics and Indians, two struggling offenses, so he definitely can't be used against the D-Rays. Jonny Gomes (.338 versus lefties) and Brendan Harris (.333) are must-starts against Rheinecker.
Carlos Silva, RHP (9-12, 4.51 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
John Lackey, RHP (14-6, 3.11 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Silva has pitched well in his past two starts versus the Indians and Royals, but those two offenses haven't been very potent. Silva isn't hard to hit around. The Angels did a good job of it when they faced him in July, knocking Silva around for 10 hits and four runs. Michael Cuddyer is hitting just .214 since returning from the disabled list, but he is 3-for-11 off of Lackey, with all three hits going for home runs. Lackey's had trouble this season against the Twins, with a 6.75 ERA in two starts, which is likely an aberration. Lackey should correct that, considering the Twins have just a .726 OPS (23rd in the majors).
Derek Lowe, RHP (8-10, 3.58 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) versus
Braden Looper, RHP (9-9, 5.25 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Lowe has battled a hip problem in recent weeks, which is a major reason he has been ineffective of late. The Cardinals' offense has struggled in recent weeks, with various secondary players like Juan Encarnacion cooling off, so if Lowe's hip holds up, he should have a nice day. Looper has been getting teed off on, and hasn't had a monthly ERA under five since May. That makes most Dodgers, like Andre Ethier and James Loney, good starts. Lowe, who hasn't won an outing since June 22, would appreciate it as well.
Tony Armas, RHP (1-3, 6.31 ERA, 1.62 WHIP) versus
Tim Lincecum, RHP (6-2, 3.59 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Game Story: Armas had a successful start versus the Cardinals his last time out, tossing 6 1/3 innings and allowing only one run in his first start since May 17. The Giants are one of the worst offenses in the league, so Armas could pitch significantly worse and still be usable. Lincecum has been on quite a roll, allowing one earned run or less in five of his past seven starts. Saturday he faces the Pirates, so it doesn't take much of one's imagination to see Lincecum making it six in his past eight.
Justin Germano, RHP (6-6, 4.30 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) versus
Bobby Livingston, LHP (2-2, 4.46 ERA, 1.54 WHIP)
Game Story: Germano didn't perform well in July, allowing seven home runs in 32 1/3 innings along with 20 strikeouts and 13 walks. It's also been four starts since he has made it past the sixth inning, and the Reds have a .777 OPS against right-handed pitching, which puts them seventh in the majors. This isn't the best matchup for Germano to overcome his recent struggles. The Padres hit much better both on the road and against southpaws, which is bad news for Livingston. Mike Cameron is a must-start against any lefty because he has six home runs and a .336 average on the season against them.
Lance Cormier, LHP (0-2, 15.58 ERA, 2.88 WHIP) versus
Adam Eaton, RHP (9-7, 6.09 ERA, 1.59 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Phillies don't hit lefties as well as they hit righties, but judging by Cormier's previous starts, they really don't have much to worry about. In Cormier's two starts this season he failed to last past four innings and allowed nearly a home run per inning. It should be a high-scoring contest between the two; Eaton has been just as brutal as the stats suggest. Both offenses have been elite since the break, with a .896 OPS by the Phillies (second) and an .848 mark by the Braves (fourth), and Tadahito Iguchi (.388 since joining Philadelphia) is on fire and doing a fine job filling in for Chase Utley at second.
Jeff Suppan, RHP (8-9, 4.84 ERA, 1.52 WHIP) versus
Wandy Rodriguez, LHP (7-10, 4.50 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Brewers have been struggling recently, but they do hit left-handers much better than righties. They've also hit Rodriguez around quite hard -- he posted a 9.82 ERA in two starts earlier this season against the Brewers. Suppan has only been decent at home, with an ERA almost two runs higher on the road (5.80 to 3.91). Even teams as weak as the Pirates and Nationals have hit Suppan around on the road, so even though the Astros aren't scary, they should still be enough to present a problem for Suppan.
Scott Olsen, LHP (9-9, 5.43 ERA, 1.66 WHIP) versus
Tom Glavine, LHP (10-6, 4.31 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Carlos Beltran, OF (abdominal, eligible to return)
Game Story: Olsen showed some life in his most recent start against the Astros, with eight strikeouts to one walk, but the Mets hit much better than the Astros. Both Moises Alou (.351 average) and Lastings Milledge (.379) hit lefties well. Glavine faces one of the league's best offenses since the All-Star break (.850 OPS, third), with Jeremy Hermida and Josh Willingham heating up. The offenses should carry the day on both sides, and neither pitcher is a particularly good spot start because both offenses simply hit lefties too well to merit consideration.
Rich Hill, LHP (6-6, 3.54 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) versus
Josh Fogg, RHP (6-7, 4.73 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
Game Story: Since Hill's outstanding April, he has a 4.18 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, so don't necessarily view him as an ace. The Rockies have been on fire in August with a .923 OPS, so Hill has his work cut out for him. Troy Tulowitzki is considerably better against lefties (.337) and already has two home runs this month to boot. The Cubs are already without Alfonso Soriano, and if Ramirez is unable to suit up on Saturday, two of the Cubs' three best hitters would be out, which would be a significant boon to Fogg. Mark DeRosa would likely fill in for Ramirez, with Mike Fontenot at second; the difference between Ramirez and Fontenot is large, so if it looks as if Ramirez will miss the game, Fogg doesn't make a bad start.
John Lannan, LHP (1-0, 3.71 ERA, 1.65 WHIP) versus
Brandon Webb, RHP (11-8, 2.92 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Dmitri Young, 1B (hamstring, questionable)
Game Story: Lannan hasn't looked particularly impressive by the numbers in his first three starts, and even in his most recent start, a seven-inning, one-run performance against the Giants, he still had five walks and just two strikeouts. Lannan began the year in Class A, so he is still raw and needs experience. The D-backs aren't brimming with high-quality bats, but Justin Upton looks like the real deal so far. Webb hasn't allowed an earned run in 26 innings, while the Nationals have the worst OPS in the majors. Orel Hershiser must be getting a little worried, no?
Coco Crisp, OF, BOS @ Baltimore Orioles
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS @ Baltimore Orioles
Mike Mussina, SP, NYY @ Cleveland Indians
Melky Cabrera. OF. NYY @ Cleveland Indians
Dustin McGowan, SP, TOR @ Kansas City Royals
Jonny Gomes, OF, TB @ Texas Rangers
Brendan Harris, SS, TB @ Texas Rangers
Andre Ethier, OF, LAD @ St. Louis Cardinals
Mike Cameron, OF, SD @ Cincinnati Reds
Tadahito Iguchi, 2B, PHI versus Atlanta Braves
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA @ New York Mets
Justin Upton, OF, ARI versus Washington Nationals
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