Two pitchers are looking for their 10th win in Ben Sheets and Braden Looper, the latter facing the Royals, who have won six in a row and are 13-3 in interleague play. Sheets is coming off a one-run, seven-strikeout complete game performance against the Braves, and has won five straight decisions. Erik Bedard and Jake Peavy face off in San Diego in what should be a classic pitchers' duel, especially considering the two weak offenses in play.
Matchups for Sunday, June 29
All times are ET.
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: The Orioles' offense has been on fire in June, ranking third in the league in OPS and fifth overall. Luke Scott has been one of baseball's hottest hitters, hitting .324 with six home runs and a .662 slugging percentage, and on the season he now has 11 home runs and an OPS north of .900 against righties. Teammate Aubrey Huff (.353 average and five home runs in June) also is tearing the cover off the ball, though he must deal with the lack of a DH through Sunday. It should be a no-brainer, but make sure Ryan Ludwick (.223 average in June) is riding the bench, as he endures his first sustained slump of the season. Fortunately for the Cardinals, Troy Glaus has simultaneously heated up, amassing eight home runs this month to pace the team's offense. David DeJesus is another streaking hitter, with four home runs and three steals and a 12-game hit streak. His OPS has increased from .743 to begin the month to a mark of .857 as of Friday.
Pitchers: Derek Lowe had a rough May, but in April and June combined he has a 3.00 ERA in 69 innings, and has three consecutive sub-4.00 ERA seasons. His quality start streak ended at six when he was knocked around by the White Sox on Tuesday, but even that outing wasn't a bad one (seven innings, eight K's, one walk). The Angels have struggled offensively, ranking 30th and 24th in OPS in May and June, respectively, so expect Lowe to recover from his last start and begin his quality start streak anew.
Hitters: With four home runs and seven doubles in 61 June at-bats, Kelly Shoppach is showing a tremendous amount of power for a catcher. Shoppach is currently in a seven-game hitting streak, and with Victor Martinez still out another 4-6 weeks away from returning, Shoppach has long-term value. The Diamondbacks have been mostly nonexistent on offense since April, but against lefty pitchers, they've still been a significant threat, especially Mark Reynolds (six home runs in 77 at-bats) and the recently returned Eric Byrnes, who has been a lefty-masher his entire career. Russell Branyan hasn't homered in his last five games, but he still has 11 homers in just 80 at-bats this season, all of them versus righty pitching. Owned in just a third of leagues, Branyan has a nice matchup Sunday against Kevin Slowey, who has allowed 10 home runs in 63 2/3 innings and is allowing a .509 slugging percentage against left-handerd hitters. Kevin Kouzmanoff has disappointed offensively again this season, but against southpaws he's legit. He's hitting .321 with three home runs in 84 at-bats against them this season, and .335 with 10 home runs in 242 career at-bats.
Pitchers: Aaron Laffey has four straight quality starts and nine out of 10 since May. On the season, Laffey is averaging more than 6 1/3 innings per start, which makes him one of the league's better young innings-eaters to this point, and he is a solid option against an unimpressive Reds offense. The Blue Jays have the worst OPS in the majors against left-handers by more than 20 points. Jo-Jo Reyes has been a relatively solid pitcher anyway, but this matchup calls for at least a spot start. Much of Jeremy Guthrie's success can be credited to the Orioles' vastly improved defense, which is tied for first in defensive efficiency this season after ranking 18th in that category last year. Guthrie's peripherals are actually down from last year's breakout, but thanks to interleague play, Guthrie gets one of the day's softest matchups as he faces the Nationals, who are dead last in team OPS. Joe Blanton has had a significant home-away split this season, with his ERA being a full three runs lower at home than on the road. It's a trend that has been consistent his whole career; he's a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher at McAfee Coliseum (3.59 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) and a mediocre innings-eater with an ERA pushing five (4.85 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) on the road. Knowing that, this matchup at home against a bottom-tier offense is definitely favorable. Most pitchers with an ERA entering microscopic territories aren't struggling to find ownership in fantasy leagues, but there's Mark Buehrle, owned in just 29 percent of leagues despite a 1.89 ERA and 0.97 WHIP this month. The Cubs are the best-hitting team in the National League, though, so now would be an inopportune time to spot-start Buehrle. But he's still worth having on your roster right now.
Weather concerns continue Sunday, with the Reds-Indians, Rockies-Tigers and Orioles-Nationals games all having a 40 percent chance of rain, and there's a 50-60 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms for the Yankees-Mets game. The Rays-Pirates and Cubs-White Sox have a more moderate 30 percent chance of rain, although Chicago is expected to see rain throughout the day, so a wet field could come into play. Braves-Blue Jays and and Brewers-Twins are weatherproof.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball and basketball analyst for ESPN.com.