Matchups for Monday, May 12th
Monday is a mixed bag for pitchers, with a lot of team's aces or near aces taking the mound, but also a fair amount of near replacement-level starters taking the mound. That leaves pickings slim for spot starts, but opens the door to mix and match with hitters, especially since lineup space will be available since Monday is an off-day for many teams. And with seven southpaws scheduled to pitch, platoons will also play a larger role in the day's games.
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Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Ken Griffey Jr. has two-hit games in four straight games, and at this stage of his career, his fantasy value depends heavily on matchups. He's been mostly non-existent against left-handers or away from Great American Ballpark. Fortunately, both are in his favor Monday. Ryan Ludwick is exceptionally hot right now, most notably going off in a recent series at Coors Field. He's hitting .351 with seven home runs, and facing Dave Bush means he could be in for another big day as Bush is basically getting lit up by everyone. Torii Hunter has had a severe platoon split since 2005, with an OPS north of .900 against lefties each of the past three seasons. The opposite has been the case this season -- 13 of his 16 extra base-hits have occurred versus righties, including all five home runs -- and in 74 career at-bats against Mark Buehrle, Hunter is hitting an empty .230 with zero walks.
Pitchers: Clay Buchholz has only lasted past the sixth inning once, and is coming off his worst start of the season, but high-strikeout pitchers (Buchholz has 39 in 38 innings) have much more margin for error and, facing the punchless Twins, Buchholz should have one of the strongest starts of the day. The Jays offense becomes appreciably worse with the loss of Vernon Wells, who will be replaced by Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench offensively. The Blue Jays ranked just 20th in team OPS to begin with, so Cliff Lee gets a great matchup as he attempts to keep his ERA less than 1.00. Although Aaron Harang has turned into a strong No. 2 starter, he's facing a lineup that is second in the majors in slugging percentage, one that could also see Mike Jacobs (nine home runs) return. Things can go wrong quickly at Great American Ballpark, so even though Harang has been pitching well, he only has so much upside for Monday's start. Like many Padres pitchers over the past couple of seasons, Randy Wolf is an entirely different pitcher away from Petco, with a 4.81 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in four starts, compared to a 3.18 ERA and 1.06 WHIP at home. The Cubs happen to be the best offensive team in the NL, so there's no way Wolf should be in your lineup. In his past 22 starts, going back to last season, Adam Wainwright has a 2.56 ERA, and against the Brewers specifically, a 2.40 ERA in four starts. Don't expect the Brewers to snap out of their team-wide slump on Wainwright's watch.
Hitters: Matt Diaz faces another lefty Monday, which should automatically equate to must-start by now. Jason Giambi has seen his OPS climb more than 100 points in the past week, and has an .809 mark on the season, impressive considering his batting average is below the Mendoza Line. With five hits in his past four games -- including two home runs -- the streaky Giambi bears watching, and facing Matt Garza, who has just 11 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings, is a matchup that tips heavily in Giambi's favor. Nick Johnson has also managed to stay valuable despite a low batting average, hitting .225 but with five home runs and 30 (!) walks. He's hitting better in May, though still not displaying significant power. On the other hand, he has a .258/.449/.530 line against righties this season, has always displayed more power against right-handers and is facing the non-descript Nelson Figueroa. Moises Alou only recently came off the disabled list and is 41 years old, so he doesn't get much respect, but he absolutely destroys lefties. He's hit .361 in 263 at-bats versus southpaws over the past three seasons. In fact, Odalis Perez, his opposition on Monday, has allowed a triple-slash line of .270/.368/.516 in 122 at-bats to right-handers this season. In other words, he's due to get bombed. With a home run off of Ben Sheets on Saturday, Chris Duncan's up to three home runs and an .868 OPS against righties. He faces Dave Bush, who has a ridiculous home run rate of 1.91 per nine innings going back to last year's All-Star break; if ever you were going to predict a home run for an individual matchup, this would be it.
Pitchers: Jason Marquis makes a decent spot start Monday, for no other reason than his opponent, the Padres. That makes Marquis a solid bet for a quality start, and just as valuable is his potential for the win. As previously mentioned, the Cubs should put up runs against Randy Wolf, so as long as Marquis shows up, he'll have done his job.
Vicente Padilla is often a boom-or-bust pitcher -- last year, for example, he allowed six-plus runs seven times, but one run or less five times -- but fortunately there's plenty reason to believe Monday's start should be of the boom variety. He's allowed just one run in his past three starts (21 2/3 innings) thanks to a very soft schedule, and there's no reason to believe the Mariners will have much more success than Padilla's last outing against them, since they are last in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in the month of May.
Expect the Braves-Pirates game to be delayed by rain, as showers are expected throughout the morning and through the evening, bad news for an afternoon game. Cleveland is expecting rain Monday, but the majority of it should clear by game time. The Nationals-Mets game has a high chance of being postponed, as rain and 20-plus mile per hour winds are expected to persist the entire day.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.