The Rays and Red Sox renew their intra-division rivalry Monday with the first of six games the two teams will play against each other over the next week and a half. The Rays are fighting for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and entering Sunday they're 2& #189; games ahead of Boston in the division. It'll help that Evan Longoria is back with the team, having been activated from the DL on Saturday after missing time because of a broken wrist. Longoria might not be in the starting lineup Monday -- he's not quite 100 percent -- but the Rays and fantasy owners alike will take what they can get from him.
Matchups for Monday, Sept. 8
All times are ET.
Joe Crede, 3B, White Sox (back)
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (back)
Travis Hafner, DH, Indians (shoulder)
Jeff Kent, 2B, Dodgers (knee)
Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox (wrist)
Ty Wigginton, 3B/OF, Astros (groin)
Erick Aybar, SS, Angels (hamstring)
Mike Cameron, OF, Brewers (knee)
Mark Ellis, 2B, A's (shoulder)
Jody Gerut, OF, Padres (finger)
Kevin Gregg, RP, Marlins (knee)
Carlos Guillen, 1B/3B, Tigers (back)
Aubrey Huff, 1B/3B, Orioles (personal)
Kazuo Matsui, 2B, Astros (back)
Melvin Mora, 3B, Orioles (hamstring)
Juan Pierre, OF, Dodgers (back)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: The White Sox have hit a whopping 127 home runs at home, 26 more than the team in second place, the Cubs, and a couple of White Sox power hitters have had success against A.J. Burnett. Jim Thome is 7-for-25 with four homers, and Paul Konerko (3-for-7, two homers) and Nick Swisher (2-for-7, one home run) also have had success. Vernon Wells has been on fire since coming off the disabled list, but he's only 5-for-32 (.156) in his career against Javier Vazquez. Bobby Abreu loves hitting against Jon Garland, with four home runs and nine hits in 18 career at-bats; Johnny Damon (9-for-27, one home run) and Robinson Cano (8-for-15, one home run) also hit Garland well. On the other hand, Jason Giambi has just one hit off Garland in 15 at-bats, and Derek Jeter isn't much better, hitting .179 (5-for-28). Tim Lincecum has dominated Chris Young and Stephen Drew in his brief career: Both have just one hit in 12 at-bats, with five strikeouts for Young and seven for Drew.
Pitchers: Since June 26, Volquez has a mediocre 4.92 ERA in 13 starts, and considering he has allowed four and six runs in his past two starts to the Pirates and Giants, respectively, you have to be worried about Volquez potentially tiring. He allowed nine hits and five runs in his most recent start, versus the Brewers on August 5, and Volquez's inconsistency means you're essentially playing with fire if you start him in the rematch Monday. Burnett also has allowed 12 of his 19 home runs on the road, and looks like a high-risk play Monday.
Hitters: Expect Coco Crisp to continue his hot hitting; he's 6-for-17 (.353) against Edwin Jackson in his career. Freddy Sanchez is hitting a robust .357 in 143 at-bats since the All-Star break, and because he rarely walks and hits near the top of the lineup, he'll add more hits (and at-bats, of course) to your overall team pool.
Pitchers: Since the All-Star break, the A's are dead last in batting average (.222), on-base percentage (.295) and slugging percentage (.343), so it's rather hard to imagine Zach Miner not doing well. Run support shouldn't be a problem either, given the Tigers' track record against southpaws (.804 OPS, second-best in the AL) and Gio Gonzalez's struggles, so there's no reason not to take advantage of Miner's matchup. Dave Bush had his first poor start in a month versus the Mets last week but has been successful in two previous starts against the Reds, with a 3.65 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He also has been significantly better in the comforts of Miller Park this season, averaging better than 6 1/3 innings with a 3.62 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Ian Snell has logged a quality start in four of his past five starts, with the lone exception coming versus the Cubs. The Astros have just lost the player that had been their best player the past month, Ty Wigginton, for at least a week, making a below-average offense even more vulnerable, and Snell becomes a decent spot start as a result. For the third year in a row, the Padres are on pace to have the lowest OPS at home in baseball, with a .706 mark, 31 points worse than the next-closest team. Greg Maddux already has a 2.62 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 14 starts pitching in Petco Park this season, and now he gets to face his former team in the process. All the evidence suggests Maddux should be a great spot start.
Expect showers in the Midwest, affecting Detroit (A's-Tigers) and Chicago (Blue Jays-White Sox). It seems a near-certainty Chicago will see showers (70 percent chance) while Detroit's chances worsen as the evening progresses (going from a 30 percent chance to a 50 percent chance). Just two weatherproof games Monday: Reds-Brewers and Pirates-Astros.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com