Daily Notes: Unlikely pitching duel in Cleveland?
Edwin Jackson, RHP (4-12, 5.49 ERA, 1.72 WHIP) versus
Jose Contreras, RHP (6-16, 6.18 ERA, 1.58 WHIP)
Game Story: Jackson's riding a streak of five straight quality starts, and he hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of those starts. His walk rate is still sky high (4.36 per nine innings), but he's not allowing any home runs. Besides one start against the Red Sox he's had a relatively easy schedule. The White Sox won't exactly change that, especially if Thome misses the game. Jackson has always had immense talent and is in the midst of a stretch of very good pitching, so he's worth spot starting. Contreras has an 8.63 ERA since the break that speaks for itself, and that should help the struggling D-Rays offense, especially players like Akinori Iwamura and Jonny Gomes.
Carlos Silva, RHP (10-12, 4.10 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) versus
Paul Byrd, RHP (12-5, 4.61 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Twins and Indians have been maybe the two worst offenses in baseball since the All-Star break, with only the Astros amassing a lower OPS. Silva has been great recently, with a 1.75 ERA in his past five starts, lasting at least seven innings in each start. That includes a seven-inning, two-run, six strikeout performance against the Indians. Byrd has been his usual inconsistent self, but the last time he faced the Twins, earlier this month, he threw a complete game shutout. Both pitchers, as a result of the slumping offenses they're facing, should put in what looks to be two of the day's best pitching performances.
Mike Mussina, RHP (8-9, 5.22 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) versus
Justin Verlander, RHP (13-5, 3.94 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Gary Sheffield, OF (shoulder, out)
Game Story: Mussina has been torched in each of his past two starts, allowing a combined 13 runs in 6 2/3 innings. The Tigers are definitely struggling, with a .259/.313/.416 line this month. Then again Detroit knocked Mussina around for nine hits and six runs just 11 days ago, so it may be best to wait for Mussina to get a solid start under his belt before throwing him out there again. Verlander is also a questionable start after allowing seven runs in four innings against the aforementioned struggling Indians. Verlander's logged just one quality start since July 15, which has led to a 5.83 post-All Star break ERA. Playing the Yankees, the best offense in baseball by a significant margin, doesn't help.
John Lackey, RHP (15-8, 3.34 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) versus
Miguel Batista, RHP (13-9, 4.57 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
Game Story: Lackey's been human lately, with a 4.91 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in four August starts. His schedule has been pretty tough this month, and it won't get any easier: The Mariners are hitting .332 as a team this month. Lackey hasn't allowed a run in 15 innings against the Mariners, but that will assuredly change on Monday. Jose Guillen (6 home runs, .347 average), Yuniesky Betancourt (.341 average, 6 home runs) and even Jose Vidro (.382 average, 2 home runs) are on fire this month. Batista allowed eight runs to the Twins in two innings his last start, which is pretty indefensible. But if both Figgins and Kotchman are out Monday, which looks more likely than not, Batista's a decent option against a weakened offense.
A.J. Burnett, RHP (7-7, 3.85 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) versus
Esteban Loaiza, RHP (1-0, 1.17 ERA, 0.65 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Marco Scutaro, 3B (undisclosed, day-to-day)
Game Story: In three starts since returning from the disabled list, Burnett has a 1.78 ERA. Three home runs and nine walks since his return, however, indicate he's not pitching as well as the ERA would lead you to believe. The home runs are a particular concern; he has a 1.41 HR/9, compared to a 0.80 career rate. But he's facing the Athletics, who are reduced to just three quality bats -- Nick Swisher, Jack Cust and Mark Ellis. Loaiza had about the best start you can expect for a player making his injury-delayed season debut in August. The Blue Jays aren't hitting in August and can't hit righties at all. So Loaiza -- not exactly sure to repeat his stellar debut -- should at least be good for a quality start against the Jays.
Lance Cormier, RHP (0-4, 9.00 ERA, 1.96 WHIP) versus
Scott Olsen, LHP (9-11, 5.39 ERA, 1.63 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: When a pitcher has as many home runs (12) as strikeouts, it goes without saying that the other team can't wait for the game to begin. The Marlins have the third most home runs in the majors, despite playing half of their games in a pitchers' park, so the only variable is just how bad Cormier will be. Almost all Marlins are a good option, including Mike Jacobs, who has three straight multihit games, and Jeremy Hermida, who is owned in 0.5 percent of leagues despite hitting .354 since July. Olsen hasn't been right all season, the Braves are an elite offense, and in three starts this season, Olsen has a 6.00 ERA against Atlanta. Bench him, but start Matt Diaz, who hits .357 against lefties and has four home runs in August.
Brian Lawrence, RHP (1-1, 5.57 ERA, 1.81 WHIP) versus
J.D. Durbin, RHP (5-3, 5.44 ERA, 1.69 WHIP)
Game Story: Lawrence is in a good position for success -- a fly-ball pitcher in a pitchers' park with the majors' best defense behind him -- if he has anything left to give. So far, he has yet to show anything in his first four starts; he lasted past the fifth inning only once. The Phillies have been pretty average this month, with Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard combining to hit .217 in August, and the Phillies' best player, Chase Utley, could make his return from the disabled list on Monday. The Mets should hit Durbin around pretty hard; Durbin has a 26-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a 6.75 ERA in Citizens Bank Park. The return of Moises Alou has helped the Mets a lot; he has seven home runs and is hitting .329 in August.
Livan Hernandez, RHP (9-8, 4.96 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) versus
Jake Peavy, RHP (14-5, 2.21 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Marcus Giles, 2B (knee, disabled list)
Game Story: Hernandez has been living on the edge this season, with a 73-to-65 strikeout-to-walk ledger and 27 home runs allowed in 163 1/3 innings. His ERA is near 6.00 since the All-Star break, and the Padres have found their bats this month, hitting .276/.350/.481 as a team. Milton Bradley has a five-game hit streak and three home runs in his past two games, and Mike Cameron has three home runs and five steals in August. Furthermore, it's not as if Hernandez was doing well even when the Padres offense was struggling: In three starts against them he has a 7.00 ERA. Peavy has his best strikeout rate against Arizona (16.0 K/9); save your D-backs for another day.
Mike Bacsik, LHP (5-7, 4.61 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) versus
Derek Lowe, RHP (10-11, 3.47 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Dodgers have struggled immensely this month, with the lowest OPS in the majors by a comfortable margin (.679). In the past week, however, L.A. has rebounded a bit. (.824 OPS, 10th). The Dodgers are much better against lefties than righties, and Bacsik's peripherals are much worse than his actual statistics -- he is a risky option nonetheless. It also hurts Bacsik that his counterpart, Lowe, is one of the league's better pitchers. Lowe has only faced the Nationals once, but shut them out for seven innings. At least the Nationals' offense has shown some signs of life this month; Austin Kearns has four home runs and is hitting .301.
Josh Fogg, RHP (7-9, 5.27 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) versus
Barry Zito, LHP (9-11, 4.74 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Ray Durham, 2B (hamstring, day-to-day)
Game Story: Fogg has been bombed in his past two starts, giving up a combined 14 runs in 9 2/3 innings and pushing his ERA north of five once again. Fogg was pitching well before that, and before allowing six earned runs to the Dodgers, he might have been an option against the Giants. Zito has a 2.76 ERA and 1.07 WHIP this month, and he's conquered some decent offenses, including the Marlins and the Pirates, who have hit very well this month. It also helps that Zito faces the Rockies at home; Zito has a 3.79 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in three starts against the Rockies, while Colorado is reduced to 25th in OPS on the road.
Edwin Jackson, SP, TB @ Chicago White Sox
Jonny Gomes, OF, TB @ Chicago White Sox
Carlos Silva, SP, MIN @ Cleveland Indians
Paul Byrd, SP, CLE versus Minnesota Twins
Jose Guillen, OF, SEA versus Los Angeles Angels
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, SEA versus Los Angeles Angels
Jack Cust, DH, OAK versus Toronto Blue Jays
Esteban Loiaza, SP, OAK versus Toronto Blue Jays
Mike Jacobs, 1B, FLA versus Atlanta Braves
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA versus Atlanta Braves
Matt Diaz, OF, ATL @ Florida Marlins
Moises Alou, OF, NYM @ Philadelphia Phillies
Milton Bradley, OF, SD versus Arizona Diamondbacks
Mike Cameron, OF, SD versus Arizona Diamondbacks
Austin Kearns, OF, WAS @ 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
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