Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Knowing the short week

Updated: July 16, 2008, 12:24 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

On tap: The first week back after the All-Star break is a short one, with a handful of teams scheduled to play Thursday and the rest returning to action Friday. As such, there aren't any two-start pitchers for fantasy Week 16, and some pitchers won't get to pitch at all. Furthermore, the difference between a four- and three-game week for a hitter is more significant, since three is 75.0 percent of four while six is 85.7 percent of seven (when you're talking a typical full week).

Thinking ahead: For those of you whose leagues combine Weeks 16 and 17 into one scoring period, the Cardinals, Orioles, Padres and Pirates are the four teams to play 11 games between now and July 26, with the Orioles (DET-4, TOR-4, LAA-3) the only one to play entirely at home. The Blue Jays, Brewers, Cubs, Marlins, Mets, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals and Tigers each play 10. The other 16 each play nine.

Quick click by section:

Game breakdowns | Hitters' matchups | Hitters in their Comfort Zone

Base stealers' matchups | Pitchers' matchups | Two-start pitchers

Note: Weather reports are based on upcoming weather forecasts (through Friday), as well as historical trends in those cities. "Poor weather" doesn't guarantee rainouts; those are merely the teams with the highest probability of one or more.

Four games, all homeFour games, all road
Cardinals (SD-4)Mets (@CIN-4)
Orioles (DET-4)Padres (@STL-4)
Reds (NYM-4)Pirates (@COL-4)
Rockies (PIT-4)Tigers (@BAL-4)
Three games, all homeThree games, all road
Angels (BOS-3)Athletics (@NYY-3)
Astros (CHC-3)Blue Jays (@TB-3)
Braves (WAS-3)Brewers (@SF-3)
Diamondbacks (LAD-3)Cubs (@HOU-3)
Giants (MIL-3)Dodgers (@ARI-3)
Mariners (CLE-3)Indians (@SEA-3)
Marlins (PHI-3)Nationals (@ATL-3)
Rays (TOR-3)Phillies (@FLA-3)
Twins (TEX-3)Rangers (@MIN-3)
White Sox (KC-3)Red Sox (@LAA-3)
Yankees (OAK-3)Royals (@CHW-3)
Good weather (* -- weatherproof)Riskier weather
Angels (BOS-3)Pirates (@COL-4)
Astros * (CHC-3)Rockies (PIT-4)
Blue Jays * (@TB-3)Royals (@CHW-3)
Brewers (@SF-3)White Sox (KC-3)
Cubs * (@HOU-3)
Diamondbacks * (LAD-3)
Dodgers * (@ARI-3)
Giants (MIL-3)
Indians * (@SEA-3)
Mariners * (CLE-3)
Rangers * (@MIN-3)
Rays * (TOR-3)
Red Sox (@LAA-3)
Twins * (TEX-3)

Note: Hitter-friendly ballparks are based primarily on recent statistical data (2005-08) comparing home/road performance, much the same method as our Park Factor page. Some personal opinion does go into making ballpark selections.

Good for hittersPoor for hitters
Pirates (@COL-4) Blue Jays (@TB-3)
Rockies (PIT-4) Diamondbacks (LAD-3)
Tigers (@BAL-4) Reds (NYM-4)
Twins (TEX-3) Royals (@CHW-3)
Games at hitter-friendly ballparks
Chase Field (ARI): Dodgers, July 18-20
Citizens Bank Park (PHI): No games
Coors Field (COL): Pirates, July 17-20
Great American Ball Park (CIN): Mets, July 17-20
Rangers Ballpark (TEX): No games
U.S. Cellular Field (CHW): Royals, July 18-20
Wrigley Field (CHC): No games
Lefty-heavyRighty-heavy
Braves (2 LHP, 1 RHP)Angels (3 RHP, 0 LHP)
Giants (2 LHP, 1 RHP)Cardinals (3 RHP, 1 LHP)
Mariners (3 LHP, 0 RHP)Diamondbacks (3 RHP, 0 LHP)
Marlins (2 LHP, 1 RHP)Mets (4 RHP, 0 LHP)
Orioles (2 LHP, 2 RHP)Nationals (3 RHP, 0 LHP)
Phillies (2 LHP, 1 RHP)Padres (3 RHP, 1 LHP)
Reds (2 LHP, 2 RHP)Rays (3 RHP, 0 LHP)
Rockies (2 LHP, 1 RHP, 1 TBD)Twins (3 RHP, 0 LHP)
Royals (2 LHP, 1 RHP)White Sox (3 RHP, 0 LHP)
Tigers (2 LHP, 2 RHP)

Note: Looking for a decent hitter value pick for this week? Here are 10 strong matchup choices, among the beneath-the-elite crop:

Hitter (Team)ScheduleRecent stats (since?)
Jeff Baker (COL)PIT-4(May 30) 30 G's, .311 BA, .953 OPS
2008 at Coors Field: 33 G's, .292 BA, 5 HRs, .884 OPS ... 2008 home: 33 G's, .292 BA, 5 HRs, .884 OPS
Carlos Delgado (NYM)@CIN-4(June 27) 18 G's, .328 BA, 1.119 OPS
Career at Great American Ball Park: 8 G's, .324 BA, 4 HRs, 1.078 OPS ... 2008 versus RHP: .264 BA, .863 OPS
Edwin Encarnacion (CIN)NYM-4(June 9) 25 G's, .329 BA, 1.014 OPS
Career home: 203 G's, .272 BA, .819 OPS ... 2008 versus LHP: 103 PAs, .314 BA, 3 HRs, .927 OPS
Adam Jones (BAL)DET-4(June 14) 27 G's, .357 BA, .894 OPS
2008 home: 41 G's, .317 BA, .782 OPS ... Career versus LHP: 129 PAs, .280 BA, 2 HRs, .739 OPS
Howie Kendrick (LAA)BOS-3(July 2) 11 G's, .372 BA, 1.052 OPS
Career home: 107 G's, .306 BA, .760 OPS ... 2008 versus RHP: 144 PAs, .336 BA, .858 OPS
Adam LaRoche (PIT)@COL-4(June 30) 12 G's, .450 BA, 1.471 OPS
Career at Coors Field: 13 G's, .326 BA, .918 OPS ... Career in July: 96 G's, .315 BA, 22 HRs, .965 OPS
James Loney (LAD)@ARI-3(June 10) 32 G's, .313 BA, .889 OPS
Career at Chase Field: 10 G's, .475 BA, 3 HRs, 1.275 OPS ... Career road: 113 G's, .331 BA, .959 OPS
Carlos Pena (TB)TOR-3(June 27) 16 G's, .267 BA, .828 OPS
2007-08 home: 112 G's, .285 BA, 30 HRs, 89 RBIs ... 2007-08 versus RHP: 660 PAs, .273 BA, 44 HRs
Marcus Thames (DET)@BAL-4(May 21) 40 G's, .283 BA, 15 HRs
2008 versus LHP: 78 PAs, .246 BA, 8 HRs, .957 OPS ... 2008 road: 32 G's, .224 BA, 10 HRs, .848 OPS
Chad Tracy (ARI)LAD-3(July 1) 11 G's, .429 BA, 1.037 OPS
2008 at Chase Field: 17 G's, .365 BA, 3 HRs, 1.015 OPS ... Career versus RHP: .308 BA, .874 OPS
All hitters statistics are through the games of Sunday, July 13.

Note: Matchups are determined by examining both an opponent's catcher and pitching staff. Obviously, teams like the Mets (catcher: Brian Schneider) and Tigers (Ivan Rodriguez) rate as tough teams to run on, while teams like the Braves (Brian McCann) and White Sox (A.J. Pierzynski) rate as easy teams to run on.

Good for stolen basesTop speedsters
Cardinals (SD-4)Cesar Izturis (8 SBs), Skip Schumaker (7)
Marlins (PHI-3)Hanley Ramirez (23), Cody Ross (4), Dan Uggla (4)
Royals (@CHW-3)Joey Gathright (19), David DeJesus (7)
Twins (TEX-3)Carlos Gomez (21), Delmon Young (10)
Poor for stolen basesTop speedsters
Orioles (DET-4)Brian Roberts (27), Nick Markakis (9), Adam Jones (8)
Padres (@STL-4)Jody Gerut (5), Khalil Greene (5)
Reds (NYM-4)Brandon Phillips (19), Jerry Hairston Jr. (15)
White Sox (KC-3)Orlando Cabrera (15), Alexei Ramirez (7)
All basestealers statistics are through the games of Sunday, July 13.

Note: As with the hitter-friendly ballparks, pitcher-friendly ballparks are based mostly on 2005-08 data, with some personal opinion involved.

Good for pitchersPoor for pitchers
Braves (WAS-3) Pirates (@COL-4)
Cardinals (SD-4) Reds (NYM-4)
Rays (TOR-3) Tigers (@BAL-4)
Yankees (OAK-3) Twins (TEX-3)
Games at pitcher-friendly ballparks
Busch Stadium (STL): Padres, July 17-20
Dolphin Stadium (FLA): Phillies, July 18-20
McAfee Coliseum (OAK): No games
Metrodome (MIN): Rangers, July 18-20
Petco Park (SD): No games
Safeco Field (SEA): Indians, July 18-20
Shea Stadium (NYM): No games

A week off: Among the pitchers whose first starts of the second half aren't scheduled until Week 17 (next week), making them must-avoids, are Collin Balester (WAS), Miguel Batista (SEA), Erik Bedard (SEA), Jason Bergmann (WAS), Nick Blackburn (MIN), Eddie Bonine (DET), Dave Bush (MIL), Paul Byrd (CLE), Jose Contreras (CHW), Kevin Correia (SF), Kyle Davies (KC), Adam Eaton (PHI), Dana Eveland (OAK), Sean Gallagher (OAK), Matt Ginter (CLE), Rich Harden (CHC), Matt Harrison (TEX), Runelvys Hernandez (HOU), Luke Hochevar (KC), Edwin Jackson (TB), Josh Johnson (FLA), Randy Johnson (ARI), Jon Lester (BOS), Radhames Liz (BAL), Jason Marquis (CHC), Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS), Luis Mendoza (TEX), Charlie Morton (ATL), Brett Myers (PHI), Roy Oswalt (HOU), Micah Owings (ARI), Chan Ho Park (LAD), John Parrish (TOR), Mike Pelfrey (NYM), Joel Pineiro (STL), Sidney Ponson (NYY), Darrell Rasner (NYY), Jo-Jo Reyes (ATL), Kevin Slowey (MIN), Andy Sonnanstine (TB), Eric Stults (LAD), Jeff Suppan (MIL), Javier Vazquez (CHW), Chris Volstad (FLA), Kip Wells (COL) and Barry Zito (SF).

One-start pitchers -- strong matchups (owned in 50-75 percent of ESPN.com leagues)
Pitcher (Team)Start (Opponent)
Johnny Cueto (CIN)July 17, NYM (J. Santana)
Past 5 GS: 2-3, 2.81 ERA, 1.19 WHIP ... 2008 home: 10 GS, 5-3, 4.08 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Matt Garza (TB)July 20, TOR (Litsch)
Past 5 GS: 2-2, 3.74 ERA, 1.19 WHIP ... 2008 home: 9 GS, 5-1, 2.38 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
Kyle Lohse (STL)July 17, SD (TBD)
Past 5 GS: 3-0, 2.32 ERA, 1.35 WHIP ... 2008 home: 11 GS, 5-1, 2.75 ERA, 1.01 WHIP
Derek Lowe (LAD)July 20, @ARI (Webb)
Past 5 GS: 3-2, 3.34 ERA, 1.02 WHIP ... 2006-08 versus ARI: 8 GS, 4-3, 3.09 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
One-start pitchers -- value plays (owned in under 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues)
Kyle Kendrick (PHI)July 19, @FLA (Olsen)
Past 5 GS: 2-1, 4.30 ERA, 1.43 WHIP ... Aug. 31, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium: Win, 7 IP, 6 H's, 2 ERs, 4 K's
Hiroki Kuroda (LAD)July 18, @ARI (D. Davis)
Past 5 GS: 3-1, 2.38 ERA, 0.82 WHIP ... 2008 road: 9 GS, 2-6, 4.29 ERA, 1.45 WHIP
Braden Looper (STL)July 18, SD (TBD)
Past 5 GS: 1-2, 3.99 ERA, 1.30 WHIP ... 2007-08 home: 25 GS, 11-8, 3.69 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Jamie Moyer (PHI)July 18, @FLA (Nolasco)
Past 5 GS: 1-3, 3.48 ERA, 1.42 WHIP ... Career at Dolphin Stadium: 4 FS, 4-0, 1.30 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
Manny Parra (MIL)July 20, @SF (Lincecum)
Past 5 GS: 3-0, 2.01 ERA, 1.24 WHIP ... April 5, 2008 versus SF: Win, 5 1/3 IP, 3 H's, 2 ERs, 7 K's
Wandy Rodriguez (HOU)July 19, CHC (Zambrano)
Past 5 GS: 2-0, 4.60 ERA, 1.36 WHIP ... 2007-08 home: 22 GS, 8-5, 2.87 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
Jorge Campillo (ATL)July 20, WAS (Od. Perez)
Past 5 GS: 2-3, 4.60 ERA, 1.28 WHIP ... 2008 home: 13 G's, 7 GS, 2-2, 4.17 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
Ubaldo Jimenez (COL)July 17, PIT (Maholm)
Past 5 GS: 3-2, 2.59 ERA, 1.37 WHIP ... 2008 home: 9 GS, 3-2, 2.67 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.