Monday features five games apiece for each league, including a rematch of last week's expected pitchers' duel between Jake Peavy and Dan Haren. Both aces allowed five earned runs in that game. They'll try to better that in Monday's rematch, this time at Petco Park. Advantage: pitchers.
Matchups for Monday, August 25
All times are ET.
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Jeff Kent is hitting a scorching .385 in August, and although his power hasn't returned (just one home run), he's hitting .400 with one home run in 15 career at-bats against Monday's starter Brett Myers. Conor Jackson and Adam Dunn are the only Diamondbacks with any semblance of success against Jake Peavy. Jackson has nine hits in 29 at-bats against him, and Dunn has five hits – including two home runs – and five walks in 23 at-bats. Brad Hawpe has an odd career line against Matt Cain: just one hit in 15 at-bats, but 11 walks. If you're playing Roto (where walks don't count), keep Hawpe reserved. With eight home runs and a .360 average in 114 at-bats, Aaron Rowand has done most of his damage against left-handers this season. Also, he's 6-for-8 against Jeff Francis in his career.
Pitchers: Ted Lilly had trouble with the Pirates in two starts earlier in the season (nine runs allowed in 9 2/3 innings) but held the Pittsburgh offense to one run in 6 1/3 innings on August 2. The Pirates have struggled to score this month, averaging just three runs per game, so Lilly shouldn't have a problem delivering a similar performance in the rematch.
It took 18 starts, but Brett Myers is finally pitching like an ace, with a sparkling 1.49 ERA in his past five starts. Even his strikeout rate has begun to increase, with 23 strikeouts in his past three starts (23 2/3 innings), and if anything, his earlier DL stint leaves Myers with enough in the tank that owners should continue to ride his arm through the stretch run.
Every pitcher with even moderate ability must lick his chops in anticipation of facing the A's, as Oakland's offense is putrid at this point. The team is hitting 12 points worse than any other team since the break (.218) and is similarly entrenched in last place in on-base (.292) and slugging percentage (.330). With the A's unable to punish Jered Weaver for his susceptibility to extra-base hits, it wouldn't be surprising to see Weaver post his best start of the season Monday.
Hitters: Kelly Shoppach hit his 15th home run of the season Saturday, and he has hit 14 since June 1, tops among all catchers. Shoppach has been one of the top two or three offensive catchers since taking over for Victor Martinez, yet is available as a free agent in 75 percent of ESPN leagues. Gary Sheffield has an eight-game hitting streak through Saturday, and his five home runs in August are the most he has had in any month all season. He's even thrown in four steals since July, a good sign that he's healthy and in line for a strong finish.
Pitchers: With the Mets at home, Mike Pelfrey is a solid spot start thanks to his home-field advantage. He has a 2.83 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 14 starts this season at Shea Stadium. Pelfrey has also won 10 of his past 13 starts, and facing the Astros away from Minute Maid Park should guarantee a good shot to make it 11 wins in 14 starts.
Gil Meche has been pitching consistently well for quite some time now, with a 3.02 ERA in 95 1/3 innings since June, upping his strikeout rate to nearly eight per nine innings and allowing just five home runs during that stretch. Considering the Rangers are a much more potent offensive team at home and are already down one of their best hitters in Ian Kinsler, Meche should hold his own in the matchup, and at least his recent increase in strikeouts (50 in 45 2/3 innings since the All-Star break) makes the lack of wins easier to swallow.
Philadelphia (Dodgers-Phillies) and Flushing (Astros-Mets) may experience storms during the day, but the rain is expected to subside by game time. • The White Sox-Orioles game has a 30-percent chance of isolated storms. • Twins-Mariners is the only weatherproof game on the schedule.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com