Commentary

Volquez faces a tough Cardinal squad

Updated: May 31, 2009, 4:27 PM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

Daily Notes
Fantasy rotations get a little bit healthier Monday with the return of Edinson Volquez and Hiroki Kuroda. Volquez, returning from back spasms, gets a rematch against the Cardinals, who lit him up for seven runs in 6 2/3 innings on May 10. Kuroda, who has been on the disabled list since April 10 with a strained oblique, gets a home start versus the rival Diamondbacks.

Monday is an off day for many teams, with only nine games on the schedule, so pitching is a little thin. But in Chicago, where the A's and the White Sox face off, there may be two candidates under one roof as Trevor Cahill and Bartolo Colon toe the mound. Both offenses rank near the bottom in the league, presenting an opportunity for some timely spot starting. Read on to see what other pitchers are in store for a productive outing.

For starters

Selected notes: Joba Chamberlain is barely averaging five innings per start, which is the main reason he has just two wins despite pitching for such an offensive juggernaut, but he's running into the Indians at the right time, as Grady Sizemore was just placed on the disabled list and Victor Martinez is questionable with a sore knee. Just as important, the Yankees' offense should tee off on Jeremy Sowers, so Chamberlain has a good chance at his third win of the season. … The Astros' lineup leans right, which helps explain their mediocre .715 OPS against right-handed pitching on the season. That plays into the hands of Aaron Cook, who has walked only two right-handers in 99 at-bats, allowing an impressive .713 OPS in the process, making him a great spot start candidate. … Already one of the best offenses to cycle spot starters in against, now the A's have suffered even more casualties, with Travis Buck landing on the disabled list and Jack Cust dealing with back spasms. Bartolo Colon hasn't pitched all that well recently, but you can't go wrong in a matchup with the worst offense in baseball. … After some early season control problems, Trevor Cahill has looked impressive in recent starts, reminding us why he is considered one of baseball's top prospects. In his past five starts, he has pitched 28 2/3 innings while allowing just six walks and allowed two runs or less in five of his past six starts. Facing one of the weakest offenses in baseball, it looks like Cahill can be trusted for a solid performance. … The Cardinals knocked Edinson Volquez around for seven runs on May 10, so owners may feel a little apprehension in throwing him out there for his first start off the disabled list. That said, while Volquez has had his share of control problems this season, batters are hitting only .185 off of him, showing how filthy his stuff is. He's striking out nearly a batter per inning, so he's probably worth the risk. … Hiroki Kuroda allowed seven runs (five earned) in his last rehab start, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence. The Diamondbacks hit a little bit better in May, and Kuroda didn't do too well against them last season, allowing 15 runs (10 earned) in 20 innings. Kuroda doesn't get enough strikeouts to make it worth the risk.

Now batting

Hitters' count

Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Yankees: He has only four at-bats versus Jeremy Sowers, but since Swisher has two home runs against the youngster, it's probably safe to say he's comfortable against the southpaw.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pirates: He's hitting only .241 in 29 at-bats against Livan Hernandez, but with six walks and five extra-base hits (including one homer) he has a .371 on-base percentage and .483 slugging percentage. All seven of his home runs this season have occurred off of right-handed pitching, and for his career, his OPS is nearly 100 points higher against righties than lefties.
Casey Blake, 1B/3B, Dodgers: Hopefully Blake can suit up on Monday, as he's 5-for-8 against the D-Backs' Billy Buckner.
Luke Scott, OF, Orioles: Since returning from the disabled list, Scott has been unbelievable, with six home runs in four games. Still owned in less than a quarter of ESPN leagues, grab him now before your leaguemates do.

Pitchers' count

Melky Cabrera, OF, Yankees: Cabrera could return from injury Monday, but it's not worth the gamble when he's hitless lifetime against Sowers in eight career at-bats. He's never been particularly adept versus left-handed pitching anyway.
Carlos Beltran, OF and David Wright, 3B, Mets: Both of the Mets' stars have struck out five times in 12 at-bats against Ian Snell, a strong indicator of futility. Both have just two hits in those 12 at-bats, although Beltran, at least, has gone yard; Wright, on the other hand, has a .214 OBP and .167 SLG against Snell.
Carlos Lee, OF, Astros: In 11 at-bats against Aaron Cook, Lee has just a single and a walk, giving him a .091 batting average and slugging percentage against the ground ball specialist.
Garrett Atkins, 3B, Rockies: Atkins has only one extra-base hit in his past 27 games, so this isn't exactly going out on a limb here, but nonetheless, against Roy Oswalt he is 2-for-13 (both singles) with two strikeouts.
Adam Kennedy, 2B, Athletics: Kennedy's ownership has increased 11 percent in the past week, but those owners who were trying to capitalize on his hot streak have missed out: he's been held hitless in four of his past five games. Even if you're counting on his steals, he possesses a career .330 on-base percentage on a team that isn't fond of the stolen base, and despite hitting near the top of the lineup, he has just six runs scored in 20 games.
Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks: With one hit -- a single -- in 10 at-bats against five strikeouts, Hiroki Kuroda seems to have Reynolds' number.

If you're hardcore

Bill Hall, 3B, Brewers: Hitting .361 with two home runs in 36 at-bats against left-handers, Hall makes a fine spot start against Marlins lefty Andrew Miller, who has allowed right-handers to hit .294 off of him in his career.
Jason Giambi, 1B, Athletics: Although he has struck out 10 times in 28 career at-bats versus Colon, he's also hit .286 with two dingers against him. Colon's been quite susceptible to left-handed bats this year as well, with five of his seven home runs allowed coming against lefties, allowing a .516 slugging percentage against them.
Josh Fields, 3B, White Sox: Don't look now, but Fields has strung together hits in six consecutive games, including three multihit games, with three doubles. It couldn't have come at a better time, as he was in danger of losing playing time. He hasn't shown it for most of the season, but the former first-round pick has enough power to be of service in AL-only leagues.
Nolan Reimold, OF, Orioles: Reimold has displayed impressive power, with five home runs in 60 at-bats in May, including a home run in three consecutive games from May 26-28. Overall, seven of his 15 hits have gone for extra bases.

Triage

Injury list: Out

• Travis Buck, OF, Athletics (15-day DL, oblique)
Jesus Flores, C, Nationals (15-day DL, shoulder): Flores was set to return Friday, but had a setback in his recovery and could be out a few more weeks.
Khalil Greene, SS, Cardinals (15-day DL, anxiety disorder)
• Kaz Matsui, 2B, Astros (15-day DL, hamstring)
Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox (15-day DL, foot)
• Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians (15-day DL, elbow): Sizemore's bothersome elbow has finally landed him on the disabled list; he should return sometime in mid-June.
Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (15-day DL, personal)

Injury list: Day-to-day

• Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets (stomach)
• Casey Blake, 1B/3B, Dodgers (hamstring)
Geoff Blum, 3B, Astros (hamstring)
Pat Burrell, OF, Rays (15-day DL, neck): Burrell could be activated in time for Monday's game.
• Melky Cabrera, OF, Yankees (shoulder): Cabrera has been out since Tuesday, but could return from a bruised shoulder on Monday.
Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (knee): Crede fouled a ball off his knee Saturday and is questionable for Monday.
• Jack Cust, OF, Athletics (back)
Cliff Floyd, OF, Padres (15-day DL, shoulder/knee): Floyd is expected to return this weekend, and should see plenty of playing time against right-handers.
Travis Hafner, DH, Indians (shoulder): Hafner was supposed to play three straight minor league games before joining the Indians on Monday, but didn't play Saturday due to soreness in his shoulder. He may be activated later in the week.
• Victor Martinez, C/1B, Indians (knee): Martinez fouled a ball off his knee Saturday and is questionable for Monday.
• Kaz Matsui, 2B, Astros (hamstring)

Weather concerns

• The Rockies-Astros and Orioles-Mariners contests are the only weatherproof games on Monday.
• Cleveland and Miami (50 percent chance of thunderstorms) both have a significant chance of precipitation and therefore possible rain delays. Things are more moderate in Pittsburgh and Chicago, where there's only a 30 percent chance of rain.

Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.

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