A handful of the majors' best take the mound on Tuesday, with a trio of aces sporting sub-3.00 ERAs (Rich Harden, Edinson Volquez and Johan Santana), with Cole Hamels (3.35 ERA), Mike Mussina (3.27) and Scott Kazmir (3.20) close behind. Volquez pitches on seven days rest and tries to rebound from recent struggles: he had a 1.71 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 95 innings on June 20th, but has a 5.65 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 43 innings since. The Pirates have a .628 team OPS in nine games since Jason Bay was traded, and they're a division rival that Volquez has already faced twice, so he's in a good position to aim for his 14th win.
Matchups for Tuesday, Aug. 12
All times are ET.
Milton Bradley, OF, Rangers (quadriceps)
Ryan Braun, 3B/OF, Brewers (back)
Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets (hip)
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Twins (finger)
David DeJesus, OF, Royals (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)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Jacoby Ellsbury has eight hits his past four games (through Sunday) with two home runs and three stolen bases; it looks like Ellsbury might finally be ready to break out of his summer-long funk. With an impressive five home runs in 10 August games -- and two steals to boot -- Lastings Milledge is on a tear and is a required start, even against Johan Santana. Dan Uggla is 4-for-10 off Kyle Lohse with a home run, and had four hits (two doubles) and three RBIs this past weekend. Jose Guillen is 9-for-26 (.346) against Javier Vazquez in his career. The White Sox have pasted Brian Bannister this season (9.31 ERA in two starts), and, unsurprisingly, a fair number of White Sox have individual success off Bannister: Carlos Quentin is 3-for-5 with two home runs; Jim Thome 5-for-12 with two homers and Nick Swisher 4-for-9 with one home run. Paul Konerko's poor track record (3-for-15 with five strikeouts) might mean White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen will sit him out on Tuesday. You can bench Brad Hawpe against a tough lefty (.253 average against) like Randy Johnson.
Pitchers: The Tigers hit a major league-best .303 at home, and the inconsistent A.J. Burnett is coming off a mediocre outing versus the A's (four runs allowed, including two home runs, in six innings). Despite the potential strikeouts, Burnett's a poor bet for a quality start.
Kyle Lohse has been rocked recently, with 14 earned runs and five home runs allowed in his past three starts. Toss in Lohse's 5.16 ERA on the road this season, and you'll have to pass on the matchup with the Marlins.
Ubaldo Jimenez was awful versus the Nationals in his most recent start, allowing eight hits and six walks in five innings, but it was his first poor start since an outing against the Tigers on June 27, so a mulligan is in order. Jimenez has also been great this season in Coors (3.10 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in 12 starts), so keep him active.
Hitters: With a .316 average and .406 on-base percentage, as well has a 24-to-23 strikeout-to-walk rate, Denard Span has been an effective leadoff hitter. Already with five multi-hit games in August, and two stolen bases, Span's well on his way to a productive month. Eleven of Jayson Werth's 15 home runs have occurred against left-handers (in 109 at-bats), and he has a .303 average versus a .240 mark against righties. Toss in five steals and Werth makes a strong case for a roster spot just for his prowess against left-handers alone.
Pitchers: Chris Volstad is off to a quick start to his major league career, with four quality starts in his first five games keyed by just one home run allowed in 33 2/3 innings. But make sure to pass against the Cardinals, whose .352 on-base percentage is third in the majors, and with Rick Ankiel expected back in the lineup by Tuesday. In 10 home starts this season, Nick Blackburn has a 2.54 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, but his numbers balloon to a 4.48 ERA and 1.35 WHIP on the road. Although Blackburn's low strikeout rate is worrisome, since he's pitching in the Metrodome, he's worth the risk against the Yankees. The Mariners are hitting .323 in August, and Jon Garland has just 64 strikeouts and a .292 opponents' batting average this season. While normally a weak enough offense to spot start against, the Mariners will probably give Garland more trouble than he's worth. Clayton Kershaw has looked much better in three starts since being recalled from Double-A. He's pitched six, six and seven innings after previously failing to pitch into the seventh inning in nine of his previous 10 starts (and nine in a row). The Phillies hit lefties moderately well, so Tuesday's a good test, but it's looking like now is the time to buy into Kershaw.
For the most part, the weather looks ready to cooperate with the majority of the 15-game slate. There are a few exceptions though, most notably in Atlanta (Cubs-Braves), with a 60 to 90 percent chance of showers that could lead to a rainout. The Rangers and Red Sox have a 30 percent chance of storms, as well as the Cardinals and Marlins affair. The Giants-Astros and Yankees-Twins are the only weatherproof games.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com