Holliday set for home debut at Busch
It sure didn't take long for Matt Holliday's impact to be felt for the Cardinals; he's gone 6-for-9 in his first two games with his new team as the Redbirds have scored 14 runs in those two contests. They'll display their shiny, new toy when they host baseball's best team, the Dodgers, in a possible playoff preview, as Chris Carpenter faces Randy Wolf. The Dodgers' offense is one of five in the majors with an OPS above .800 in July and should give Carpenter everything he can handle; up to this point, the best offense Carpenter has faced has been the Indians.
A number of other promising matchups litter the pitching landscape, notably Ricky Romero, trying to turn around his recent slide, facing the red-hot Felix Hernandez; as well as what should be a classic intradivision matchup between Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Zambrano. It's the day's rankings you're here for, however, so let's get to it:
Starting pitcher rankings for Monday, July 27
Selected notes: Earl Weaver said momentum is the next day's starting pitcher. Translated to fantasy, momentum is the next team on the schedule. Paul Maholm may have gotten torched by the Brewers, allowing seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, but in his prior start he went eight strong innings, striking out seven and allowing just one unearned run. Unsurprisingly, that start was against the Giants, a favorite whipping boy for most pitchers. They're on the schedule for Maholm again, and while he'll have a hard time repeating such a dominating performance, he does have a 2.31 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in five career starts against them, so you can't really go wrong in throwing him out there. Like Maholm, Ubaldo Jimenez has to be considered an automatic start if for no other reason than his opposition, the banged-up Mets. Amazingly, Jimenez has pitched at least six innings in 16 consecutive starts, a Mark Buehrle-like streak of consistency. Once you factor in his microscopic home run rate (0.4 per nine) and the copious amount of K's he provides, it's surprising he's unowned in a whopping 48 percent ESPN.com leagues. Not only is John Danks coming off a blister/circulatory problem, one that caused him to miss his last start, he also tends to struggle against the Twins, with a career 5.43 ERA in 10 starts. True to form, he allowed four runs in both of his preceding starts against them, and overall the team hits .298 off him, so you're best served by avoiding him for Monday. James Shields is another pitcher who has struggled against a specific team, but this time the team in question is the Yankees, so it's easily forgiven. Shields' problem has been the long ball -- six Yankees regulars have swatted at least one home run off him, and overall the team slugs .548 against Shields. Regression, meet Ricky Romero. The decline in performance has been swift for Romero -- he has as many walks allowed in July (20) as he had in the previous three months combined. Without that command, it's no surprise that Romero would struggle; that was his bugaboo in the minors, after all. He's walked five batters in each of his past two starts, so we're getting into Oliver Perez territory. The cure, for fantasy owners at least, is the same as always: stay far away until he shows improvement. It's shocking the Cardinals rank dead last in OPS against left-handers -- how can you be last in any hitting category with Albert Pujols on your team? -- but their recent transactions have helped shore up that weakness, especially since Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday are replacing replacement-level production. Therefore, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Cards climb the hitting categories with a rapid ascendance -- DeRosa, Pujols, Holliday and Ryan Ludwick makes for an imposing middle of the order. That adds a few degrees of difficulty to Randy Wolf's matchup, but just enough to knock him down a few rungs on the rankings ladder, not enough to remove him from the recommendation pile.
• Hideki Matsui, OF, Yankees: As a team, the Yankees have crushed nine home runs off James Shields in a mere 157 at-bats. Matsui has three of them, and overall has dominated Shields, with seven hits in 16 at-bats (.438), including five for extra bases.
• Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees: Cano hasn't displayed the raw power versus Shields that his teammate Matsui has, but he's done OK for himself, hitting .429 in 21 at-bats, adding five extra-base hits (one home run) along the way.
• Chris Iannetta, C, Rockies: He's compiled just 52 at-bats against left-handed pitching this year, but with a .308 average and three home runs, he's made his chances count. A matchup with Oliver Perez sounds like a great way for Iannetta to bust out of his slump, as right-handed batters are hitting .310 against Perez.
• David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: As a whole, Trevor Cahill's rookie season has been a success so far, but lefties have just tattooed him -- all but three of his 20 home runs allowed have been against left-handed batters, resulting in a .599 slugging percentage allowed in 227 at-bats. Ortiz has been the pillar of power in the summer months, with 12 home runs in 144 combined at-bats in June and July.
• Hank Blalock, 1B/3B, Rangers: Armando Galarraga has allowed left-handers to slug .513 off him in his career, making Blalock (.559 slugging percentage, 15 home runs in 211 at-bats against right-handed pitching) a prime bet to punish a mistake or two from Galarraga and place it in the bleachers.
• Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs: Wandy Rodriguez has got the best of Lee this season -- 1-for-5 with two K's -- but overall the Cubs' star is still hitting .444 versus Rodriguez in 27 at-bats, including two home runs.
• Nyjer Morgan, OF, Nationals: One benefit of playing on a mediocre offense and an even worse team is that Morgan has been given the green light to run. He's making the best of it, attempting 15 stolen bases in his 78 at-bats with the Nats, making it safely 11 times. A hot streak has brought his average to .298, and in fact he's now hitting .342 against right-handers in 269 at-bats. Toss in the .330 average Jeff Suppan has allowed to left-handers this year and the fact Jason Kendall has only thrown out 12 of 54 would-be thieves and you get the feeling Morgan is going to run wild against the Brewers.
• Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays: As miserable as Pena has hit this month -- a 2-for-6 day on Saturday brought his average up to a robust .152 mark -- he's hit even worse versus A.J. Burnett, garnering a mere three hits in 24 at-bats while accumulating 11 K's.
• Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies: Say what you will about the infamous inconsistency of Oliver Perez, but he has been consistent against left-handed batters, no matter how poorly he's pitched otherwise, as his .230 career average against southpaws can attest to. Since 2006, in fact, lefties have hit below the Mendoza line (.197), and while Helton may be batting .305 versus lefties this season, he's been pretty much a singles hitter, with just one home run -- and five extra-base hits overall -- in 105 at-bats.
• Mark DeRosa, 2B/3B/OF, Cardinals: Although DeRosa has crushed lefties this season -- seven home runs accompanied by a .324 average and a .676 slugging percentage in 71 at-bats is impressive -- he's never done much against Randy Wolf. In 31 at-bats he's been limited to just six singles. And since DeRosa has consistently been great against left-handers -- his career OPS versus southpaws is 129 points higher than his mark versus righties -- the implication is that Wolf just has his number.
• Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs: Not only is Ramirez hitting .231 against Wandy Rodriguez, he's still looking for his first extra-base hit, with just six singles in 26 at-bats. Whenever your batting average matches your slugging percentage, chances are you're not going to be particularly successful.
• Jim Thome, DH, White Sox: Lefties are batting .351 against Glen Perkins, but don't tell that to Thome, who's actually struck out six times in eight career at-bats versus the southpaw. While he has earned three walks, it's the one hit in those eight at-bats that owners should be concerned about, although at least the hit was a double.
• Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians: Choo's average drops more than 50 points when facing left-handers, a trend unlikely to reverse itself against Joe Saunders, who is limiting left-handed batters to a .227 average this season.
If you're hardcore
• Nolan Reimold, OF, Orioles: He's been in a brutal slump recently, but Reimold has shown signs of life, going 5-for-6 with two doubles his past two games. It also helps that right-handed hitters are slugging .622 off Bruce Chen, including six home runs in 74 at-bats.
• Billy Butler, 1B, Royals: Butler hit his third home run in July on Saturday off Derek Holland. It was his sixth home run against a left-hander, to go along with a .301 average, in 113 at-bats. A matchup against the very hittable Rich Hill means Butler is a good bet to sustain his hot hitting, as righties are hitting .301 against Hill this season.
• Nate Schierholtz, OF, Giants: He's hitting .344 since the All-Star break, with hits in eight of his past nine games. Although he is left-handed, Schierholtz is batting .467 in 30 at-bats against lefties this season (small sample size alert).
• Ryan Doumit, C, Pirates: It took a bit for Doumit to get warmed up following his return from the disabled list, but he's in the full swing of things now, with four extra-base hits -- including three long balls -- in his past four games. With Adam LaRoche the latest Pirate to be shipped off for prospects, Doumit should now comfortably hit third or fourth for the rest of the season.
• Maicer Izturis, 2B/SS, Angels: Despite hitting .351 over the past two months while playing a premium position, Izturis is being overlooked in fantasy leagues. He's 6-for-13 with two homers and a double in his past three games, and now has eight multihit games this month.
Injury list: Out
• Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros (15-day DL, calf)
• Jose Guillen, OF, Royals (15-day DL, knee)
• Gary Sheffield, OF, Mets (15-day DL, hamstring): Sheffield hadn't played since July 17 before being placed on the disabled list, so he could return by Saturday.
Injury list: Day-to-day
• Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (shoulder): Crede received a cortisone shot Friday, and there's hope he'll feel good enough to play Monday.
• Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs (back): Lee left Saturday's game in the eighth inning due to back spasms, although he claims they are not serious. He did not start Sunday's game.
• Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals (heel; doubtful): Rasmus has a deep bruise in his heel, and the Cardinals likely will give him a few days of rest. The injury will be re-evaluated Monday.
• Juan Rivera, OF, Angels (hamstring): Rivera missed his seventh consecutive game Saturday, and did not start Sunday's game, either.
• Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants (forearm; available to pinch-hit): Rowand was expected to be available on Friday, but was given another day of rest. The same thing, however, happened Saturday, although he did appear as a pinch-hitter. He will undergo an MRI on Monday and a stint on the DL could be in the cards.
• Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians (elbow)
Weather concerns• Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Arizona and Seattle all have the luxury of playing in weatherproof domes on Monday.
• The Northeast has a number of concerns, starting in Flushing, New York, with a 50-50 chance of scattered storms. Rain could also strike in Boston and Baltimore, with a 30 to 40 percent chance. But it's in Arlington where the day's biggest risk of storms comes, with thunderstorms expected to persist all day long.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
FANTASY TOP HEADLINES
- Cockcroft: Stolen base strategy
- Tardy: Hoops Forecaster for March 17-23
- Karabell: Sleeper stolen base options for 2014
- Fantasy Hockey Forecaster: Week 22