The Cubs and Brewers resume their battle for supremacy in the National League Central division Tuesday when longtime aces Carlos Zambrano and Ben Sheets take the mound in the second clash of a four-game series at Miller Park. Also of note Tuesday is Chris Young's return to the San Diego rotation after a two-month absence thanks to a broken nose suffered on the business end of an Albert Pujols line drive. Tim Hudson, Atlanta's originally scheduled starter for Tuesday, was placed on the DL and will be replaced by Jorge Campillo.
Matchups for Tuesday, July 29
All times are ET.
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Twins (finger)
Jorge Posada, SS, Reds (shoulder)
Joe Crede, 3B, White Sox (back)
Scott Linebrink, RP, White Sox (shoulder)
Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks (oblique)
Kerry Wood, RP, Cubs (finger)
Tim Hudson, SP, Braves (elbow)
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves (hamstring)
Brian McCann, C, Braves (concussion)
Joel Zumaya, RP, Tigers (triceps)
Nomar Garciaparra, SS, Dodgers (knee)
Jose Guillen, OF, Royals (groin)
Pedro Feliz, 3B, Phillies (back)
Carlos Gomez, OF, Twins (back)
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pirates (back)
Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals (abdomen)
Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Pirates (back)
Cliff Floyd, C, Rays (personal)
Cristian Guzman, SS, Nationals (thumb)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: The Yankees brought in Richie Sexson to occasionally spell Jason Giambi at first base, but don't expect Tuesday to be one of those days. Sexson is just 1-for-18 lifetime against Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera, while Giambi has posted a .654 on-base percentage in 25 plate appearances versus the erratic right-hander. Eric Hinske has been a surprise mixed-league asset this season, and his ownership still is better than 40 percent in ESPN leagues despite his 8-for-40 July. The slumping Hinske is a poor bet versus Toronto ace Roy Halladay, against whom he's just 3-for-15 with six strikeouts. Ryan Zimmerman missed two months with a labrum tear, but he's back, and it's the perfect time for mixed leaguers to pull him off the shelf and dust him off. Zimmerman is a merely respectable 7-for-23 since his activation, but a breakout game could be in store Tuesday versus favorite whipping boy Brett Myers. Zimmerman is 10-for-24 with six extra-base hits and 12 RBIs against the Phillies right-hander. Marlins outfielder Cody Ross usually gives lefties no quarter, and Oliver Perez is no exception. Ross is 7-for-17 with three home runs and 10 RBIs versus the Mets left-hander. Even top hitters need an occasional day off. Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez is in an 8-for-41 slump since the All-Star break and has been absolutely owned by Ben Sheets, compiling a miserable .192 BA/.262 OBP/.327 SLG line in 52 at-bats against the Brewers ace. Chris Young owns Chris Young. The Diamondbacks outfielder is 0-for-12 with six strikeouts versus the Padres right-hander. The Dodgers outfield became more crowded with the return of Juan Pierre from an MCL sprain last week, but Andre Ethier won't be the odd man out Tuesday. The 26-year-old's OPS is 175 points higher against right-handers, and he's 10-for-16 against Giants righty Matt Cain.
Pitchers: Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz should get the day off from your squad versus the Angels on Tuesday. Buchholz hit the disabled list in May with blister problems, then went to Triple-A for several weeks before being recalled to replace Justin Masterson in the Red Sox's rotation earlier this month. Buchholz has struggled to a 6.60 ERA in three starts since his return to Beantown. That figure includes an eight-run drubbing (four earned) at the hands of the Angels slightly more than a week ago. The 23-year-old is still a great long-term property, but he's not in good current form. Armando Galarraga has been a pleasant surprise for the Tigers this season, and the 26-year-old has indeed pitched well. However, his stellar surface stats are partially attributable to fortuitous hit and strand rates, and his recent schedule has been packed with some of the worst offenses in baseball. Galarraga is an acceptable play Tuesday versus the Indians for owners with meager alternatives, but he's really a fringe pitcher in mixed leagues, not the No. 2 starter that his ERA and WHIP suggest. Like most young pitchers, the Rays' Matt Garza is inconsistent. The 24-year-old is making steady progress, however, and he just blanked Toronto for seven innings on July 19, striking out six while allowing two hits and no walks. Garza also shone in his other start against the Jays, tossing six innings of one-run ball back on May 7. He's unowned in more than a third of ESPN leagues and should be a solid play Tuesday at the Rogers Centre. Todd Wellemeyer is still owned in 40 percent of ESPN leagues, but it's time for mixed leaguers to cut bait on the struggling Cardinals right-hander. Wellemeyer battled elbow soreness throughout June, and he hasn't been the same since, posting an ugly 6.51 ERA in five July starts. Most disconcerting is the precipitous drop in his strikeout rate: Wellemeyer has fanned just 3.6 batters per nine innings in July. Even his most recent start, in which he seemingly rebounded with five innings of two-run ball against the Brewers, wasn't as good as it looked. The 29-year-old walked five and struck out two, bringing his July totals to an even 11 walks and 11 punchouts. Wellemeyer should be shunned until he proves he's healthy and back on track. When the Mets and Marlins meet Tuesday, the clubs will send left-handers headed in opposite directions to the mound. New York's Oliver Perez has found his groove recently, as he's allowed just five earned runs, 21 hits and 12 walks in his past five starts. Those outings spanned 33.2 innings against some solid offenses (twice against the Reds and Phillies, once against the Yankees), during which Perez fanned 39 batters, including a 12-strikeout performance his last time out. Florida's Scott Olsen, meanwhile, has struggled to a 6.75 July ERA while managing just 3.4 strikeouts per nine innings this month.
Hitters: Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock hasn't done much since his return from the disabled list, stroking just five hits in his first 30 at-bats. Blalock showed signs of life Sunday, however. He collected a single, double and three RBIs in four at-bats. Facing Carlos Silva may be exactly what the rusty slugger needs to continue rediscovering his swing Tuesday, as he's posted a 1.076 OPS in 21 at-bats versus the Mariners veteran. Silva may not even be at full strength, as he had his Saturday start pushed back to Tuesday because of back stiffness. Billy Butler spent nearly the entire month of June in exile in the minor leagues after a miserable May in which he slugged just .302. Butler is now back at home in the Royals' designated hitter spot, and in 10 games since the All-Star break, he's 11-for-35 with four home runs and 14 RBIs. Also, Butler is hitting .306/.383/.514 versus left-handed pitching. The 2004 first-rounder is an improving young talent who's on a current power tear, and he's worthy of far more attention than he's getting in mixed leagues. Twins speedster Denard Span has the wheels to be a top stolen-base threat, and now that he's supplanted Carlos Gomez in the leadoff role, his value has skyrocketed. Lately, however, Span has belied his reputation as a punchless slap hitter, and has hit the ball with more authority while continuing to improve his plate discipline. In his past six games, the 24-year-old has batted .375/.423/.542, bringing his season line to a nifty .324/.413/.438. He's also shown no weakness against fellow left-handers such as White Sox starter Clayton Richard, as he's hit southpaws at a .462/.563/.769 clip this year. Jeff Baker seized the Rockies' starting second-base job with a .338/.377/.662 line in June. He hasn't let up at all in July, going on an 18-for-36 tear since the All-Star break and collecting three home runs, seven RBIs and 14 runs during that span while hitting safely in all nine games he's played in.
Pitchers: Gil Meche is no shallow-league mainstay, as his 12 percent ownership in standard ESPN formats attests. It's time for mixed leaguers to take some notice, however. A poor April has skewed his season stats, but Meche is having a solid season, showing consistent command while compiling an ERA of 3.65 or lower in each of the past three months. Meche has really turned it up recently, allowing just one total run on seven hits and two walks while striking out 10 in his past two starts (versus the Rays and White Sox). He's worthy of consideration Tuesday when he leads the Royals into Oakland. Bronson Arroyo may finally be coming around. The Reds right-hander is having his best month of the season and has won five straight starts. Arroyo has hurled 15 innings in his past two outings, surrendering five runs and compiling an 11-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Games in Toronto, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Houston are always weatherproof. Of the remaining Tuesday games, only the Braves-Cardinals and Marlins-Mets will be threatened by rain.
Will Harris is a fantasy baseball and college football analyst for ESPN.com