- Will Harris, ESPN Contributor
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Interleague play continues Tuesday with a full slate of games, along with one National League contest between the Brewers and the Braves. The last game of the day features division contenders with surging starters, as Mark Buehrle and the White Sox visit Derek Lowe's Dodgers. Both Buehrle and Lowe are largely unowned in ESPN leagues, but each is staking his claim as one of the game's hottest pitchers. Lowe has allowed just nine earned runs in his past six starts, while Buehrle has gone eight innings each of the past three times he's taken the hill, allowing just four runs total. Both of these streaking hurlers should be added for Tuesday's Dodger Stadium tilt.
Matchups for Tuesday, June 24
All times are ET.
Brian Giles, OF, Padres (hamstring)
Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays (concussion)
Cesar Izturis, SS, Cardinals (hamstring)
Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox (oblique)
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Padres (back)
Gerald Laird, C, Rangers (hamstring)
Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals (calf)
Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs (hand)
Alfredo Amezaga, OF, Marlins (groin)
Daric Barton, 1B, A's (hamstring)
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners (finger)
Mike Cameron, OF, Brewers (toe)
Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets (thigh)
Ryan Doumit, C, Pirates (concussion)
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds (back)
Yunel Escobar, SS, Braves (hip)
Reed Johnson, OF, Cubs (back)
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves (quad)
Maicer Izturis, SS, Angels (hamstring)
Brandon Morrow, RP, Mariners (back)
Xavier Nady, OF, Pirates (shoulder)
Brian Schneider, C, Mets (hand)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Julio Lugo has looked good the past week, with a line of .308 BA/.450 OBP/.769 slugging. He also has sharpened his plate discipline lately, drawing five walks this week versus three strikeouts. Use him against wild Arizona left-hander Doug Davis. Indians third baseman Casey Blake is among the Tribe's hottest bats, hitting .375/.385/.625 in the past week and .330/.382/.530 during the past 30 days. Don't count on speedy Giants outfielder Fred Lewis on Tuesday, as he usually is out of the lineup against left-handers like Cleveland starter Aaron Laffey. Detroit backstop Ivan Rodriguez should be active against Braden Looper and the Cardinals. The 36-year-old catcher's bat hasn't produced much this year, but he has been heating up this past week, hitting .438/.550/.750 in his past five games. Jake Peavy is the reigning Cy Young winner, owns right-handers and is practically unhittable at home in pitching-friendly Petco Park. Among opposing Twins hitters, only top lefties Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau should be active Tuesday against the Padres ace.
Pitchers: Rookie Red Sox starter Justin Masterson has caught the eye of mixed leaguers with his stellar surface stats. However, Masterson's success is due primarily to a 19 percent hit rate. At 4.3 per nine innings, he's walking far too many opposing hitters to sustain his success when his good fortune runs out. Masterson is a promising young arm, but he has no place in mixed leagues yet and certainly not Tuesday against the offensive-minded Diamondbacks. Cleveland rookie Aaron Laffey's surface stats aren't quite supported by his skill set, but even though the left-hander isn't striking anybody out, his control and ground ball tendencies are enough to warrant using him versus weaker offenses like the Giants' lineup he'll face Tuesday. Bronson Arroyo has been hit hard this year, but he's still showing good command and a healthy strikeout rate. His unlucky 36 percent hit rate suggests he'll come around some, although he's also allowing more home runs than usual. Still, his skills are mostly intact, so keep using him in deeper leagues. The Blue Jays' roster is hitting just .250/.301/.386 off Arroyo in 140 career at-bats. A's right-hander Joe Blanton was decent in April and average in May, but so far in June, he's been awful. He allowed eight earned runs last time out, and he has no place in mixed leagues right now. His miserable season strikeout rate means that probably will hold true all year. Tom Gorzelanny's 5.11 ERA in four June starts is an improvement over his season-long numbers, but the Pirates left-hander has done nothing to show he is mixed league material. He should be cut loose in the remaining 12 percent of ESPN leagues in which he is owned and certainly shouldn't be used Tuesday night against the streaking Yankees. Angels acquisition Jon Garland is clinging to a 4.06 ERA thanks to some good fortune, but his 37 strikeouts and 35 walks in 95 innings tell the real story. Garland should not be used in mixed leagues, even against the lowly Nationals. Oliver Perez still is owned in more than a third of ESPN leagues, but the Mets left-hander isn't pitching like mixed league material. He's for only the desperate right now, even in Safeco Field against the woeful Mariners. Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie has pitched well this year, and mixed leaguers are beginning to notice. Guthrie's fine surface stats are supported by solid command, but he's still very much a fringe starter in mixed leagues, which means he belongs on the bench against better offenses, like the Cubs' lineup he'll face Tuesday at Wrigley Field.
Hitters: The red-hot Jeff Baker has claimed the vacant Rockies second base job, at least for the moment. Baker is 10-for-23 with four home runs, eight runs scored, seven RBIs and a stolen base in the past week. Eric Chavez isn't exactly known for his prowess against left-handed pitching, but he's faced Jamie Moyer enough for the sample size to be meaningful. Moyer looks like an exception to Chavez's struggles versus lefties, as the A's third sacker is hitting .323/.397/.646 with 16 RBIs in 65 at-bats versus the Phillies veteran. Aubrey Huff is 9-for-20 with four home runs in the past week and is batting .314/.390/.638 during the past month. The Orioles' DH still is owned in just half of ESPN leagues. Nine of Marcus Thames' past 10 hits have been home runs, and the Detroit outfielder is now slugging .623 on the season. Thames also is sporting a .333/.364/.932 line in the past week, so there's no reason for him to be unowned in mixed leagues right now.
Pitchers: Demoted to the bullpen in late May, Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa made just three relief appearances before rejoining the rotation. He apparently received some quality coaching in the interim, because in his first two starts back, De La Rosa struck out 18 batters and walked only two in 11 innings. Get on board Tuesday against the punchless Royals. Andy Sonnanstine has been victimized by unfortunate hit and strand rates this year, but his Maddux-like control suggests better days are ahead. With just three walks in four June starts, Sonnanstine could be en route to a solid second half. Try him Tuesday against the Marlins. Minnesota right-hander Kevin Slowey was pounded for eight runs by the White Sox earlier this month but otherwise has allowed more than three runs only once in 10 starts. Slowey boasts a 1.18 WHIP on the year and is coming off back-to-back gems versus Milwaukee and Washington. Use him Tuesday against the light-hitting Padres in cavernous Petco Park. Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez was roughed up in Coors Field last week but otherwise has tossed six straight starts without allowing more than two runs. He's making big progress this year, and the window to grab him is closing.
Games in Toronto and Houston are always weatherproof. The Pirates, Mets and Red Sox will have their home dates threatened by wet weather throughout the Northeast, while rain in south Florida might affect the Marlins-Rays series.
Will Harris is a fantasy baseball and college football analyst for ESPN.com.
4hTristan H. Cockcroft