It's a full slate and then some Tuesday as the Rays and the Orioles play a doubleheader. The White Sox-Twins clash is the marquee American League matchup in terms of playoff implications, and it could well be a pitching duel between inconsistent Sox starter Javier Vazquez and Minnesota control artist Scott Baker. The National League has a pitching duel on tap as well, featuring Cubs hired gun Rich Harden against Mets ace Johan Santana in a game New York badly needs to win to stay within reach of Philadelphia in the East division.
Matchups for Tuesday, Sept. 23
All times are ET.
Rick Ankiel, OF, Cardinals (abdomen)
Ronnie Belliard, 1B, Nationals (wrist)
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners (thumb)
Carl Crawford, OF, Rays (hand)
Joe Crede, 3B, White Sox (back)
Mark Ellis, 2B, A's (shoulder)
Yunel Escobar, SS, Braves (hamstring)
Maicer Izturis, SS, Angels (thumb)
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels (hamstring)
Fred Lewis, OF, Giants (foot)
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds (finger)
Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox (wrist)
Jay Bruce, OF, Reds (hand)
J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox (back)
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds (wrist)
Nomar Garciaparra, SS, Dodgers (knee)
Jody Gerut, OF, Padres (finger)
Carlos Guillen, 3B, Tigers (back)
Matt Holliday, OF, Rockies (back)
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves (shoulder)
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Pirates (hamstring)
Mike Lowell, OF, Red Sox (hip)
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals (thigh)
Lyle Overbay, 1B, Blue Jays (hand)
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (shoulder)
Juan Rivera, OF, Angels (hip)
Jack Wilson, SS, Pirates (finger)
Michael Young, SS, Rangers (finger)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Hitters: Owners in need of "cumulative" offensive stats such as runs, RBIs and homers should look for Tampa Bay and Baltimore hitters who might play both ends of Tuesday's doubleheader. The extra game turns normally uninspiring selections like Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura into palatable options. Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach is having a big September, hitting .298 with a .400 on-base percentage and .660 slugging percentage. He's never faced former teammate Tim Wakefield, though. Shin-Soo Choo's hot bat belongs in the lineup in all formats. The Indians outfielder posted a 1.018 August OPS and is following up with a monster September line of .435/.507/.726. Seattle outfielder Raul Ibanez is in a 2-for-25 mini-slump, but use him Tuesday anyway. He positively owns Angels starter Jered Weaver, with six walks and 13 hits in 24 at-bats, including four homers and two doubles. Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson is having a fine September, but the lefty hitter has cooled a bit over the past week and is just 1-for-13 versus left-hander Cole Hamels of Philadelphia. Washington's Ryan Zimmerman is finally hitting for power again, with four September home runs. He is batting and slugging more than 60 points better against left-handers this season but is just 5-for-29 versus Florida's Scott Olsen in his career. The Rich Harden-Johan Santana matchup doesn't figure to see much offensive production, so it might be best to look elsewhere for hitters, especially since the Cubs are prone to rest their stars now that the team has clinched. The rest of the team is just 2-for-26 lifetime versus Santana, but Chicago's Reed Johnson is 10-for-19 with a home run against his fellow former American Leaguer. Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada is sporting a pedestrian .727 OPS this season. He has belted just one home run in each of the season's past three months and is 0-for-7 versus Reds starter Edinson Volquez. Look elsewhere both now and in the future. Dodgers first baseman James Loney is batting a miserable .205/.237/.260 in September. He appears to be wearing down late in the year and is unlikely to reverse that against Padres ace Jake Peavy. Willy Taveras has stolen 68 bases, but he has been ice-cold in September, with just seven hits in 42 at-bats. Don't bother starting him against Giants phenom Tim Lincecum.
Pitchers: Zack Greinke is finishing the season in fine form. He hasn't allowed more than three runs since Aug. 9, has posted sub-3.00 ERAs the past two months and tossed seven dominant innings in his last outing. Javier Vazquez was roughed up by the Yankees the last time out, but don't be afraid to use him against the Twins on Tuesday. Vazquez has always been at his best in domed venues and has been brilliant in four indoor outings this year. Los Angeles right-hander Jered Weaver should be used in all formats Tuesday. He's on a roll, with just one run allowed in two starts this month, and he's facing a weak Seattle lineup that he blanked for six innings back on Sept. 11. The Pirates have seen Milwaukee's Dave Bush four times this year, but they've gotten to him only once. Also, Bush has allowed more than three runs just once since July and boasts a 3.51 ERA at home this year. Randy Johnson has surrendered more than three runs just once since July 12. Even at age 45, The Unit is a premier strikeout source. In 71 innings since the All-Star break, Johnson has posted a 2.28 ERA with a 68-13 strikeout-walk ratio.
Hitters: Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett has hit safely in 11 of his past 12 games. Coming off a .389/.405/.583 August, Bartlett is hitting .288 in September. He has been far better against left-handers this year, with a respectable .365/.396/.492 line, and Baltimore's Garrett Olson is easy prey. Mixed leaguers have been slow to notice Asdrubal Cabrera's big second half. The Indians second baseman is hitting .311/.389/.461 since his recall from minor league exile in mid-July and has a .413/.464/.587 line in September. For the second straight year, the Rangers' Hank Blalock is finishing an injury-plagued season with a big September. Blalock is batting .314/.368/.586 on the month. He has been just as effective against fellow left-handers, so there's no reason not to grab him against struggling A's rookie Josh Outman.
Pitchers: Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has been far better at home, where he has allowed more than three runs just once since April. In all, Wakefield's ERA is more than two runs lower at Fenway Park than on the road. In his two September road starts, the 42-year-old has allowed 13 earned runs in four innings. In between those two disasters, however, Wake tossed eight shutout innings at home against the Jays. He should be fine for this home start. He's really only for the desperate, but Tigers starter Freddy Garcia is facing the punchless Royals, and he did throw five innings of one-unearned-run ball in his 2008 debut. Jesse Litsch has been fantastic since rejoining the Blue Jays' rotation in mid-August, having allowed just 10 runs in seven starts. He also has been far better at home this year, posting a 2.79 ERA at the Rogers Centre. Twins right-hander Scott Baker's control has been a little off lately, but he's still worth using against the White Sox on Tuesday. Baker's ERA has been better than 4.00 every month since April, and on the year, his strikeout-walk ratio is better than 3-to-1. Marlins lefty Scott Olsen is in fine form, with back-to-back one-run outings. He draws the lowly Nationals on Tuesday and is a good starting option. The fact that he's just returning from an oblique strain makes him a risk, but Houston's Wandy Rodriguez looked sharp in August. He has allowed just one run in his past 14 innings, including a 10-strikeout gem against the Reds on Aug. 26. The trend isn't as pronounced as it was last year, but Rodriguez still has been far more effective at home in 2008.
Games in Toronto, Minnesota, Seattle, Milwaukee and Houston are weatherproof. None of Tuesday's outdoor affairs should be affected by inclement weather.
Will Harris is a fantasy baseball and college football analyst for ESPN.com