Take one look at the probable starters for Tuesday -- names like Dan Haren, CC Sabathia and Roy Oswalt -- and you can tell right away that it's all about pitching. We have pitchers returning from a broken toe (Ryan Dempster), a blister (Jason Marquis) and even case of swine flu (Vicente Padilla). Exciting division matchups, like the one between the Yankees (Sabathia) and Rays (Scott Kazmir), are headlined by the starters toeing the mound. We even have Mr. Perfect himself, Mark Buehrle, taking the ball against Scott Baker and the Twins -- and we definitely expect him to be far from perfect this time around:
Starting pitcher rankings for July 28, 2009
Rk.: The author's ranking of that pitcher for that day only. T: Pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. W-L: Pitcher's win-loss record. ERA: Pitcher's earned run average. WHIP: Pitcher's average number of walks plus hits surrendered per inning. K/9: Pitcher's average number of strikeouts per nine innings. OPSA: Pitcher's on-base plus slugging percentage surrendered to opponents. OPS: Pitcher's opponent's composite team on-base plus slugging percentage. CT%: Pitcher's opponent's success rate putting the ball in play (versus striking out).
Selected notes: The drop-off from Lance Berkman to Chris Coste, his replacement at first, is substantial enough to push Ryan Dempster from a fairly risky play to a must-start. Without Berkman and his .397 OBP and .510 SLG lifetime numbers against Dempster, the 'Stros' lineup is even more anemic. Before he went down with a broken toe, Dempster was boasting a 3.59 ERA in his past 12 starts, and now that the toe is healed, expect him to pick up right where he left off. Mark Buehrle tends to struggle against the Twins, and although he's limited them to one earned run or fewer in two previous starts, he was also torched just a few weeks ago, allowing 10 hits and eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in the Metrodome. Five Twins have hit two home runs off Buehrle and as a whole the team hits .314 against him, so despite coming off a perfect game, there's a strong case to be made for sitting him against his division rivals. Jarrod Washburn has been on a phenomenal run; after limiting the Tigers to two hits in seven innings on Thursday, Washburn has allowed zero, one, one and zero runs in his past four starts, and now ranks fifth in the AL in ERA. He's walked just 17 batters in his past 79 2/3 innings, and with one of the league's best defenses behind him, he has nine quality starts in 12 opportunities during that span. The Blue Jays will be one of the best offenses he has faced all season -- they are currently seventh in OPS against left-handers -- but Washburn has been particularly stingy at home, with a 2.42 ERA and 0.94 WHIP on the season. Despite allowing one run or fewer in three of his past four starts and leading the majors with 12 wins, Jason Marquis isn't getting much love in fantasy circles, with his ownership below 50 percent. But another below-average offense on the schedule equals another great opportunity to spot start Marquis. Right now, Jeff Francoeur leads the Mets with seven home runs. The team slugs .394 at home, placing them among the bottom five in the category, a number that is assuredly worse without all their stars around. It would be an upset if Marquis didn't pick up his fifth straight quality start, with a good shot at another win. You would think starting Scott Kazmir against the team with the best OPS against left-handers in the majors would be a death sentence, but the Yankees have struggled immensely against Kazmir, hitting .218 off him as a team. Six regulars hit below .200 against him, including Alex Rodriguez (.095), Derek Jeter (.129), Nick Swisher (.167) and Hideki Matsui (.174). History suggests you have to throw Kazmir out there. Clay Buchholz hasn't been as wild as his numbers may imply, as he has thrown 63 percent of his pitches for strikes; for comparison's sake, Mark Buehrle threw strikes 65 percent of the time in his perfect game. The A's offense was singularly buoyed by the presence of Matt Holliday; now with Scott Hairston as the team's best hitter, anything less than a borderline dominating start from Buchholz would be a tremendous disappointment. Ricky Nolasco is coming off a 10-strikeout performance, allowing just two hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Padres, but he may be lucky to get by the Braves with a plain old quality start. The Braves have the best average in the NL this month, and hitters like Brian McCann (two home runs in 19 at-bats) and Chipper Jones (three in 16) have killed Nolasco, so it's not exactly a promising matchup.
• Hunter Pence, OF, Astros: Normally Pence is much more ordinary when facing right-handers and not left-handers, but Ryan Dempster is an exception, with Pence hitting .400 in 20 at-bats. Two of his hits have left the park; toss in a double and his slugging percentage stands at an impressive .750.
• Curtis Granderson, OF, Tigers: Left-handed hitters are lighting up Vicente Padilla to a .330 average in 206 at-bats. That's great news for Granderson, who's also quite comfortable batting in Arlington, slugging .644 in 45 at-bats at Rangers Ballpark.
• Carlos Gomez, OF, Twins: Not only is Gomez a surprising 8-for-18 (.444) against the likes of Mark Buehrle, five were extra-base hits, including two homers. His slugging percentage alone (1.000) would be the envy of most other batters.
• Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox: Konerko has gone deep versus Scott Baker three times in his career in only 21 at-bats, numbers that jive with Baker's trouble against right-handers -- while he is holding them to a .295 OBP this season, righties still slug .522 against Baker and are responsible for 15 of the 19 home runs he has allowed.
• Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals: Four hits in 16 at-bats isn't anything to write home about, but since Holliday has taken Chad Billingsley out of the park three times now, eyebrows must be raised. He also couldn't be facing Billingsley at a better time, as Holliday is swinging the hottest bat he's had all year.
• Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians: Although Choo has faced Jered Weaver only 10 times, he's picked up four hits, three of which were doubles. Southpaws are slugging .481 against Weaver, so it wouldn't be a bad time for Choo to come out of his slump.
• Carl Crawford, OF, Rays: CC Sabathia has limited Crawford in the batter's box, holding him to 7-for-29 (.241) mark with zero walks and five K's. Sabathia's also been great in limiting the running game; while 15 steals have been attempted against him, only nine have been successful.
• Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays: It's a familiar story -- when Pena makes contact (a double and two home runs among his four hits), the ball tends to travel far. The problem is that making consistent contact against Sabathia has been difficult, as Pena's been fanned 11 times in 25 at-bats. Overall he has just four hits, giving him a .160 average, which obviously won't get it done.
• Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees: No Yankee has struck out more than Jeter against Scott Kazmir, which is saying something when eight Yankees have least five punchouts. Jeter does have a home run and a double in 31 at-bats, but those are two of only four hits he has collected, leaving him with a paltry .129 average.
• Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees: You could put nearly the entire starting lineup of the Yankees here; that's the extent Kazmir has had their number. Cano is 3-for-20 (.150), his on-base percentage and slugging matching his average; he has also struck out eight times.
• Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins: The big lefty is neutralized by Mark Buehrle, with a mediocre .217 average in 46 at-bats. That includes a 1-for-8 mark this season, so if ever there was a time to bench the former AL MVP -- for a day, anyway -- this would be it.
• Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays: Jarrod Washburn has been something else against left-handers, limiting them to a microscopic .172 average in 128 at-bats. Lind's OPS is 200 points worse against lefties, meanwhile, and he's only 1-for-8 versus Washburn, although that one hit was a homer.
If you're hardcore
• Gabe Kapler, OF, Rays: Kapler sports an OPS near 1.000 versus left-handers. He can do fine against Sabathia, as Kapler has gone 4-for-14 lifetime against him, chipping in a home run and a steal.
• Yunel Escobar, SS, Braves: Few batters have been hotter since the break -- Escobar has compiled four homers with a .400 average in 40 at-bats -- so why is he owned in less than two-thirds of ESPN leagues? Escobar has notched hits in half of his 10 at-bats versus Ricky Nolasco, and a whopping four of them have gone for extra bases, including a homer, so he could add another notch in his belt.
• Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets: He's been a hit machine in July, with a .391 average in 64 at-bats; he's added three steals as well. Castillo is a lifetime .375 hitter against Jason Marquis (9-for-24) and he's also allowed 10 out of 11 runners to steal a base against him successively.
• Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Padres: The Kouz is licking his chops at the idea of stepping into the batter's box versus Bronson Arroyo again, as he's 9-for-13 with two home runs against him.
• Andruw Jones, OF, Rangers: Nine of Jones' 11 hits this month have been for extra bases, including a season-high six home runs. He's even added two stolen bases, and should sustain his productivity hitting at home against unproven left-hander Luke French.
• Mike Redmond, C, Twins: Mark Buehrle owns Joe Mauer (.185 average in 27 at-bats) but not his backup, who is 16-for-35 (.457) against him over his career.
Injury list: Out
• Gary Sheffield, OF, Mets (15-day DL, hamstring)
Injury list: Day-to-day
• Ryan Church, OF, Braves (elbow)
• Joe Crede, 3B, Twins (shoulder)
• Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs (back; probable)
• Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals (heel)
• Juan Rivera, OF, Angels (hamstring)
• Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants (forearm; available to pinch hit)
• The Yankees-Rays, Nationals-Cubs, White Sox-Twins, Phillies-Diamondbacks and Blue Jays-Mariners contests all have the benefit of being weatherproof.
• A rainout looks like a high possibility in Arlington, with a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms by game time. Further storm concerns are present in St. Louis (40 percent), Chicago and Miami (both 30 percent), so plan accordingly.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.