Josh Beckett and John Danks face off in the last game of a four-game series with playoff implications. Danks has been a pleasant surprise for the White Sox, with a sub-3.00 ERA for most of the season. But he allowed five home runs in July and had a 4.97 ERA. If Danks can make it through at least two innings on Monday, he surpasses his innings total from 2007, which is dangerous for a 23-year-old on a team in the midst of a playoff chase. As for Beckett, he has pitched better than his 4.08 ERA suggests, but an unlucky .314 batting average on balls in play has kept his numbers modest. Beckett, a fly-ball pitcher, should be one of the primary pitchers helped by Jason Bay's improved defense over Manny Ramirez in left field, which should help bring that BABIP down.
Matchups for Monday, Aug. 11
All times are ET.
Milton Bradley, OF, Rangers (quadriceps)
Ryan Braun, 3B/OF, Brewers (back)
Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets (hip)
Ken Griffey Jr., OF, White Sox (soreness)
Carlos Guillen, SS/1B/3B, Tigers (back)
Andy LaRoche, 3B, Pirates (thumb)
Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays (hamstring)
Jack Wilson, SS, Pirates (shoulder)
Tyler Yates, RP, Pirates (personal)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Ryan Zimmerman is hitting .283 in 46 at-bats, with eight walks to six strikeouts, since rejoining the team in July, but with just two doubles and zero home runs, the power has yet to return. Zimmerman has enough downside given the lack of lineup support he gets, so if the power doesn't return soon, it might be time to punt him.
Pitchers: We already mention Danks' recent struggles in the lead, and it's worth noting here that the Red Sox are the majors' best offensive team versus lefties (.826 team OPS).
Fausto Carmona was wild in his previous start against the Rays, throwing just 41 of his 83 pitches for strikes and walking five batters. With four strikeouts in four innings and six groundballs to two fly balls, there's no need to get concerned for him long term. That said, the Orioles are hitting .294 as a team since the All-Star break, so keep Carmona reserved.
Justin Verlander allowed 18 runs in his past 17 1/3 innings, but I wouldn't be too concerned. Verlander had an eight-start streak of allowing two earned runs or fewer before this rough stretch, and he has the excuse of having three starts against two division rivals, both of which already saw him this season. Verlander had 22 strikeouts during that stretch, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt against the Blue Jays.
On Monday, Jonathan Sanchez tries to make it into the seventh inning for the first time in six starts. He faces the Astros, who just lost Carlos Lee for what looks like the season. The Astros replace Lee with a nonfactor (likely Darin Erstad), which makes what was already an appealing matchup a lot tastier.
The homer-prone Josh Beckett hasn't been a fan of the White Sox and U.S. Cellular Field, as he has allowed four souvenirs in 18 2/3 innings there in his career. The White Sox have hit the most home runs in the majors, and about 60 percent of those have been hit at home.
Derek Lowe is sporting a career 3.37 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 61 career starts at Dodger Stadium, including a 2.72 ERA and 0.93 WHIP this season. A strong rebound from his disastrous start in St. Louis should be in order.
Hitters: Kevin Millar has been on fire since the All-Star break, hitting .282 with six home runs in just 78 at-bats. He has a history of improved production in the second half, and he already has 18 home runs, his most since 2004. Hitting .330 since July has helped Melvin Mora drive in 31 runs in 31 games during that span. It's a fairly empty batting average otherwise, but with his teammates hitting well and since he's in a prime spot in the lineup, Mora is a decent pickup. Adam Lind, hitting .355 since the break, was moved to the cleanup spot on Saturday, and with Vernon Wells coming off the disabled list, he should see an increase in opportunities to drive in hitters.
Pitchers: Pedro Martinez is looking closer and closer to unusable, showing an inability to pitch deep into games and allowing a whopping 13 home runs in his 56 innings this season, including five his past two starts. The Pirates offer a great matchup for Martinez to rebound, but wait to see the Martinez of old first.
Dave Bush has a 3.29 ERA his past 13 starts, but because he started off with a 6.62 ERA in his first eight starts, his season marks sits at just 4.50. As a result, he hasn't gotten proper respect in fantasy leagues. He has had a nice run of six outings with one run or less allowed during that stretch, and the lowly Nationals have a good shot at making it seven.
Shaun Marcum is assuredly smiling with Vernon Wells expected to return to the lineup Monday. More run support should result with Wells replacing Brad Wilkerson, and importantly to Marcum, the defense should improve for a squad who already is tied for sixth in defensive efficiency. As for Monday's start against the Tigers, though, Marcum has been only decent in his career versus the Tigers, so don't risk him on the road.
The Pirates and Mets have the most significant chance of rain, with a 40 to 50 percent chance of storms. The Orioles-Indians and Cardinals-Marlins both have a 30 percent chance of rain. The Nationals-Brewers, Giants-Astros and Yankees-Twins are the weatherproof games of the day.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com