The sport's key matchups Tuesday feature veteran starters facing off. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield comes off the disabled list to lead Boston against Andy Pettitte and the Yankees in a series that could prove to be New York's last stand in the American League East race. Meanwhile, on the senior circuit, the three-way NL East battle will be clearer after this week's Phillies-Mets series. Jamie Moyer and Pedro Martinez take the mound in Tuesday's opener.
Matchups for Tuesday, Aug. 26
All times are ET.
Carl Crawford, OF, Rays (hand)
Alex Gordon, 3B, Royals (quad)
Jerry Hairston Jr., SS/OF, Reds (hamstring)
Orlando Hudson, 2B, Diamondbacks (wrist)
Maicer Izturis, SS, Angels (thumb)
Carlos Lee, OF, Astros (finger)
Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays (wrist)
Mike Lowell, 3B, Red Sox (oblique)
Troy Percival, RP, Rays (knee)
George Sherrill, RP, Orioles (shoulder)
Billy Wagner, RP, Mets (shoulder)
C.J. Wilson, RP, Rangers (elbow)
Garrett Anderson, OF, Angels (knee)
Francisco Cordero, RP, Reds (personal)
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (back)
Mark Ellis, 2B, A's (shoulder)
Casey Kotchman, 1B, Braves (bereavement)
Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs (back)
Nate McLouth, OF, Pirates (illness)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Ramon Hernandez should be garnering more starts in mixed leagues. The Orioles catcher has batted .287 BA/.342 OBP/.483 SLG since July 1 and is working on a 14-game hitting streak. Godzilla has returned to the Yankees, but he should be on the bench Tuesday. Hideki Matsui is just 7-for-45 against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Jason Giambi has also found Wakefield hard to hit; he's just 15-for-87, though nine of those hits have gone for extra bases. Alex Rios smacked four doubles in one game back on Aug. 17, and since then is 9-for-27 with two multi-hit games. James Shields could be the cooler, though. Rios has managed just two singles in 15 at-bats versus the Tampa Bay starter. Rios also may not see many opportunities to hit with men on base Tuesday. Shields boasts a 2.63 ERA in six starts versus the Jays, and has held the current Toronto roster to a .542 OPS in 138 at-bats. Jose Guillen is 12-for-28 with eight RBIs versus Rangers starter Kevin Millwood, but the Royals outfielder is hitting just .177/.224/.279 in the second half. Four reasons to sit Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis Tuesday: he's been battling shoulder soreness since Friday, he's only hitting .202 since July 1, he's slugged just .356 in 45 at-bats versus opposing Angels starter John Lackey and he's hit a paltry .239 for his career at Angel Stadium. Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado has owned Jamie Moyer, batting .390/.460/.792 with eight home runs and 17 RBIs in 77 career at-bats. Teammate Carlos Beltran, however, has found it hard to lay off Moyer's vaunted 47 mph changeup. Beltran is just 10-for-49 with no home runs against the Phillies veteran. Today's Pedro Martinez may not be the vintage Pedro of Boston and Montreal, but Pat Burrell's sordid 1-for-23 history with the Mets right-hander is reason enough to sit the Phillies slugger, who's hitting just .211 in August anyway. Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar is heating up this month. Escobar has eight multi-hit games to his credit in his past 15 starts, and thus far in August boasts both his highest monthly batting average (.306) and slugging percentage (.435). Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart is still unowned in 20 percent of ESPN leagues, but in 2008, the 23-year-old is finally living up to all the hype he received as a prospect, raking to the tune of a 1.123 OPS in July and 1.028 so far in August.
Pitchers: Pedro Martinez has been solid since returning from his latest stint on the disabled list on Aug. 1, posting a 3.16 ERA in five starts. However, Martinez has allowed seven home runs this month in just 31 1/3 innings. That bodes ill for his trip to homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, where the aging Mets ace sports a 7.42 ERA in three career starts. Martinez managed to escape Philly with a win in July courtesy of 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, but he did serve up two dingers in the process. Ian Snell hasn't posted an ERA under 6.00 in any month since April, but he's been trying to turn his disastrous season around in August with a 3.52 ERA in four turns. Snell has been progressively better in each outing this month, culminating in seven innings of shutout ball at St. Louis in his last start. However, he owns just a 5.53 ERA in 10 career appearances against the Cubs, and the current Chicago roster has pounded the Pirates right-hander at a .360/.412/.640 clip. Derek Lowe was slapped around by the Cardinals to open August, but he responded by allowing just five earned runs in his next three starts. Lowe is a must-start against a weak Nationals' lineup, which Lowe held to one hit in eight innings on July 26.
Hitters: Indians second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera is owned in just three percent of ESPN leagues, thanks to a horrid start to the season which earned him a demotion to the minors in early June. Since his return on July 18, however, Cabrera has hit .288/.378/.442. The 22-year-old hasn't shown much power or speed yet, but he's an acceptable spot play Tuesday against Tigers newcomer Chris Lambert. Power-starved owners should take notice of Chris Snyder. The Diamondbacks catcher has followed his .900 July OPS with a 1.001 OPS in August.
Games in Tampa, Seattle and Houston are always weatherproof. It has been an exceptionally rainy summer but, remarkably, dry weather is forecast for the entire Northeast and Midwest Tuesday. The Braves' home date with the Marlins is the only Tuesday contest that will be threatened by inclement weather.
Will Harris is a fantasy baseball and college football analyst for ESPN.com