Commentary

Who'll be better: Dempster or Vazquez?

Updated: June 21, 2009, 3:34 PM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

Daily Notes
Ryan Dempster and Javier Vazquez headline Monday's schedule as they face off against each other in what looks to be a promising pitching duel. Only six starters are striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings, and Vazquez (10.92) is just a couple of decimal points away from the top spot held by Justin Verlander (10.96). Only the Diamondbacks have more strikeouts against right-handers than the Cubs, so Vazquez will have a good opportunity to take the top spot.

The streaking Rockies and Angels will clash in interleague play, as both have used this stretch of games to make a push in the standings. The Rockies are 7-2 in interleague play so far, while the Angels are 9-2, and both feature pitchers looking for their seventh win. Read on to find out which starter we favor to come out on top.

For starters

Selected notes: After allowing two home runs to the Rays in his most recent start, Aaron Cook has now allowed 11 homers in 83 innings, which means he's just two homers away from last season's 13 home runs in 211 1/3 innings. That puts him on a pace to allow a career high in home runs, but on the bright side, he's allowed only four since May began, the main reason he's posted a 2.99 ERA since then. He also has the second-highest ground ball percentage in the majors, so even though he doesn't strike out many batters, he can pitch late in games, giving him a lot of chances to pick up wins. The Angels have the majors' second-best OPS in June, but Cook just limited the Rays, who have the best OPS on the month, to three runs in seven innings. Cook's own team, the Rockies, are third, so if he pitches well, he should get the run support needed to notch his fourth consecutive win. … Trevor Cahill has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his past six starts, with a 2.66 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in that span. On the season, in fact, he's allowed two runs or fewer in 11 of his 14 starts, and while his peripherals aren't as appealing, it does look like Cahill is a decent option against the weaker offenses in the league. The Giants fit that bill, certainly -- no team has a worse OPS against right-handers -- and Cahill is available in more than 97 percent of ESPN leagues, so hey, why not? … Matt Palmer has gutted out quality starts for most of the season, and is a surprising 6-0 on the year, but in reality he's just been quite lucky. Despite striking out fewer than six batters per nine innings and pitching in front of a mediocre defense, his BABIP is still 30 points lower than the league average, and you can't depend on him getting hit-lucky against a streaking offense like the Rockies.

Now batting

Hitters' count

Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs: A lifetime .400 hitter against Javier Vazquez, it's safe to say Lee has Javy's number. He is 20-for-50 with a whopping 10 extra-base hits, including seven doubles and three homers.
Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B, Giants: Sandoval's hit more home runs in June (five) than April and May combined (three), and it also helps that his opponent Monday, Trevor Cahill, has allowed 20 extra-base hits in 148 at-bats against left-handed hitters, including eight home runs.

Pitchers' count

Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs: Bradley is actually sporting a nine-game hitting streak, but it's doubtful he will sustain it against Javier Vazquez, as he's managed just three singles in 18 at-bats -- against four strikeouts -- versus Vazquez.
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves: Ryan Dempster has done a fine job against Larry, limiting him to a sub-.400 slugging percentage in 38 at-bats; only three of his 10 hits have gone for extra bases. Overall, Chipper is hitting .263 versus Dempster.
Jack Cust, OF and Adam Kennedy, 2B, Athletics: Cust may have three home runs in his past six games, but he's hit only one of his 13 homers against left-handed pitching, hitting below the Mendoza Line (.195) in the process. Kennedy is a similar story, as he's hitting .396 against righties but only .151 against southpaws.

If you're hardcore

Ryan Church, OF, Mets: Hitting a solid .310 in June, Church has nine runs in 11 games, six extra-base hits and even nabbed two stolen bases the other day, giving him three on the month. Southpaws hit .346 off of Todd Wellemeyer, so Church should have a strong game.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals: Rasmus keeps getting hotter and hotter, as he's now hitting .400 with 11 extra-base hits (two home runs) in June. He's now hitting .323 against righties, and will step into the batters' box against Tim Redding on Monday, a righty with an ERA north of six.

Triage

Injury list: Out

• None

Injury list: Day-to-day

Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets (knee): His knee is bothering him again, and Beltran is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday. He hopes not to miss any games, but he also said, "If it's something that's going to get worse, I can't be playing."

Weather concerns

• There aren't any weatherproof games, but Anaheim and Oakland basically serve as such. The Cardinals-Mets (40 percent) and Cubs-Braves (30 percent) are the only contests where rain may be a threat.

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

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