Hitting should rule the day Monday, as a number of fourth and fifth (and even lesser quality) pitchers try to soak up innings. Expect there to be at least a couple of high-scoring games as teams hit around the starters and look to get the bullpen early.
Rich Harden makes his second start in the National League, as he tries to follow up his 5 1/3-inning, no-run, 10-strikeout performance against the Diamondbacks, who strike out more than all but two teams. Scott Kazmir also takes the mound after having his start pushed back one day due to his All-Star Game participation. The Red Sox and Jon Lester head into Seattle to top off a relatively full 13-game slate for Monday.
Matchups for Monday, July 21
All times are ET.
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: A putrid 3-for-37 start to July all but ruined Luke Scott's chance at salvaging a productive month, but he's 6-for-10 since the break, including a two home run performance Friday. Since last season, Scott has displayed legitimate 30 home run power against righties, hitting .258 with 29 home runs in 531 at-bats, and faces the non-descript Jesse Litsch on Monday. ... Adam Dunn has been a surprise beast at Petco Park, with a .310 average, seven home runs and a .724 slugging percentage in 58 career at-bats. His 1.153 OPS is his highest for any park where's he had at least 50 at-bats. ... Runelvys Hernandez and John Van Benschoten are two of the worst starters in the majors with a rotation spot; the former has a career 5.53 ERA in 449 1/3 innings, while the latter has a whopping 8.96 ERA in 83 1/3 innings in his injury-plagued career. Each opponents' best hitters should be licking their chops, so expect strong performances out of the usual suspects, such as Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche and Ryan Doumit for the Pirates, and Hunter Pence and Miguel Tejada for the 'Stros. ... The Rockies are both at home and face a lefty on Monday, making a perfect storm for their offense. Their .800 OPS against southpaws ranks fifth in the majors, and they are always proficient at home (the .828 OPS at Coors Field also ranks fifth). Garrett Atkins, Clint Barmes, Chris Iannetta and Jeff Baker's splits all suggest strong games as a result. You could probably get away with playing Brad Hawpe, too, as Eric Stults isn't the best lefty around, and Hawpe has already hit a home run off him this season. ... Four of Dustin Pedroia's nine home runs have come against lefties (in just 85 at-bats), as he hits .341 against them as well. Mike Lowell (three HRs, .340 BA) and Coco Crisp (two HRs, .364 BA) are also strong starts against Seattle's Jarrod Washburn.
Pitchers: Stay far away from Javier Vazquez versus the Rangers, even away from Arlington. The Rangers are far and away the best offensive team against right-handers, with their .837 OPS a whopping 38 points ahead of the field, and their lineup is actually at its best with Chris Davis taking over first base and Hank Blalock back at the hot corner, plus everyone else in between healthy. ... Randy Johnson has allowed six or more runs in four starts, the majority of which have been run-of-the-mill offenses. Johnson is way too volatile to think about inserting into your lineup against the unforgiving Cubs.
Hitters: Mike Cameron has value even when he's hitting in the low-.200s due to his speed-power combo, but when he gets hot, he turns into one of the most valuable fantasy outfielders. Cameron's hitting a scorching (well, for him) .333 with three home runs and two steals (with three other attempts) this month and has 11 walks to nine strikeouts. ... Since mid-May, Jason Kubel has turned around his season to hit .297 with nine home runs and 10 extra base-hits in 158 at-bats, representing one of the lone power threats on the Twins. In 1,654 minor league at-bats, Kubel hit .320, is just 26, and seems healthy. Now would be a good time to get on the bandwagon, especially as Kubel faces the human piņata that is Sidney Ponson on Monday.
Pitchers: Nick Blackburn has gone at least six innings and allowed two earned runs or less in five of his past six starts. Facing the Yankees isn't optimal, but on a weak day of starting pitching, Blackburn is worth a look. ... Chris Volstad went 8 2/3 innings against the Dodgers, allowing just one run, in his debut as a major league starter July 11 and is one of the better pitching prospects in baseball. Volstad is not a strikeout pitcher, so no hype machine follows him around, but he has good command and, most importantly, keeps the ball in the park (0.47 HR/9 in 476 2/3 career minor league innings). Dolphin Stadium suppresses home runs (24th in home run park factor this season), and Volstad faces a struggling Braves team at home on Monday, so feel free to put him to immediate use. ... The Rays have troubles against left-handers, as Dana Eveland's complete game, one-run affair back in May can attests. But even so, Eveland is still a questionable spot start; he's failed to reach the sixth inning in his past three starts, his 74-to-56 strikeout-to-walk ratio is perpetually disconcerting, and he benefits greatly from the homely confines of McAfee Coliseum (an ERA jump of more than a run when pitching on the road). ... Though I don't advise getting ecstatic over one start, Homer Bailey, for at least one outing, made great leaps by going 5 2/3 innings against the Brewers, giving up two runs, striking out four, walking none and allowing just one home run. The latter is especially notable; the Brewers have the highest slugging percentage of any team in July, and have hit the fourth-most home runs in baseball this season. Outside of an NL-only league, don't think about grabbing Bailey just yet, but if he handles the light-hitting Padres as well as he should, put him back on your radar, as it is not uncommon for a top prospect to suddenly have it click.
The Twins-Yankees, Braves-Marlins and Padres-Reds each have a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, but the rest of the slate looks fine, including four weatherproof games: A's-Rays, Pirates-Astros, Cubs-Diamondbacks and Red Sox-Mariners.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com