Commentary

Week 13: Billingsley is back

Updated: June 27, 2010, 2:22 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | Special to ESPN.com

Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, June 27 at 2:22 p.m. ET.

On tap: As Fourth of July weekend approaches, intraleague play resumes in what's a busy week for National League teams but not so much for American League squads. Twelve of 16 NL teams play a full seven games and the other four play six; only three of 14 AL teams, by comparison, play seven, and the Boston Red Sox play only five times in Week 13.

Fantasy Forecaster

It's also a week of recovering NL right-handers, as the Los Angeles Dodgers welcome Chad Billingsley back to their rotation on Monday, setting up a two-start week, while the Atlanta Braves reinsert Jair Jurrjens in their rotation, probably on Wednesday. Another NL right-hander is also prominently featured: The Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg, who gets his second career two-start week, is fresh off a record-setting first four career starts in which he struck out 41 batters, most ever by a pitcher in his first four games.

AL intradivision battles also headline the schedule: The Red Sox host the rival Tampa Bay Rays for two games on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Matt Garza, who is 8-3 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 16 career starts versus the Red Sox (postseason included), set to start for the Rays on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Angels also host the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, a matchup in which the Rangers have taken 15 of the past 24 meetings dating back to 2008.

Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
Projected starting pitchers | Pitching strategies
Team advantages | Hitting strategies
Weather report | Week 13 pitcher rankings

Projected starting pitchers

The chart below lists each of the 30 MLB teams' schedules and projected starting pitchers, and provides a matchup rating for each day's starter. Pitchers scheduled to start twice this week are in color-coded boxes.

Tristan's pitching strategies

• The San Diego Padres, whose pitching staff leads the majors with a 3.07 ERA and has remained remarkably steady into June with a 3.24 in the month, have four dream matchups to conclude the week, hosting the worst offense in baseball, the Houston Astros (.625 team OPS), at Petco Park. A three-game, week-opening series versus the Colorado Rockies might appear a challenge, but the fact that the games will be played in Petco tilts the matchups in the Padres' favor. Some stats to consider: The Rockies have .233/.308/.363 (AVG/OBP/SLG) team rates on the road this season, and the franchise itself has amassed only .242/.314/.377 rates all-time at Petco.

• Week-opening matchups at the Minnesota Twins present the greatest challenge to the Detroit Tigers this week, but some stats to consider: The Twins and their opponents have averaged 4.22 runs per game at Target Field, 10th-fewest in the majors, and hit 50 homers, fifth-fewest; per our Park Factor page Target ranks 22nd in terms of runs scored (0.938) and 28th in terms of home runs (0.610). Regardless of outcome, those are pitching-friendly matchups for the visiting Tigers, and games versus the Seattle Mariners obviously lean significantly in their favor.

• It's generally advantage Chicago Cubs when they play home games, and this week they'll play all seven contests at Wrigley Field. Their 3.87 ERA and 1.30 WHIP at home this season might both be middling numbers, but look at their individual starters' career numbers at Wrigley: Ryan Dempster, 31-22, 3.57 ERA, 1.26 WHIP in 159 games (47 starts); Ted Lilly, 25-15, 3.53 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in 53 starts; Carlos Silva, 5-2, 2.78 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in 11 games (8 starts); and Randy Wells, 8-8, 3.89 ERA, 1.37 WHIP in 24 games (21 starts). What's not to like?

• The Oakland Athletics are the only AL squad to face a pair of teams that rank in the bottom 10 in OPS in baseball; though all six of their games will be played on the road, their opponents are the Baltimore Orioles (.683 team OPS, 27th) and Cleveland Indians (.699, 25th). The Athletics' pitchers have struggled through a rocky June, going 6-16 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, but this might be the week for them to get straightened out. Certainly Trevor Cahill, who is 5-0 with a 2.62 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in his past seven starts, is a must-start.

For more insight into Week 13 pitching matchups, see my rankings for every scheduled starter at column's end.

Team advantages

The chart below lists each of the 30 teams' total number of scheduled games, home games and games versus right- and left-handed pitchers, and provides a matchup rating for the week's games in terms of overall offense, offense versus left- and right-handed pitchers and base stealing. Matchup ratings for each individual game are listed under the corresponding date.

Tristan's hitting strategies

• Only two teams rate perfect-10s this week, and the aforementioned Cubs are one of them; shocking to see them rated highly in Wrigley games, isn't it? This team has an OPS 52 points higher in home games (.752) than on the road (.700), and among their regulars, four -- Marlon Byrd (.312/.338/.493 AVG/OBP/SLG), Derrek Lee (.271/.336/.466), Alfonso Soriano (.282/.352/.527) and Geovany Soto (.264/.404/.425) -- have OPS greater than .800 at home. Matchups versus mediocre Pittsburgh Pirates right-handers Jeff Karstens (Tuesday) and Brad Lincoln (Wednesday) are especially favorable.

• The Philadelphia Phillies are the other perfect-10 team, despite the fact that they won't play a single game at Citizens Bank Park. They'll play three at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, a hitter-friendly venue, before four at the Pirates, whose staff is 4-16 with a 5.03 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in June. Six of the Phillies' seven games will be played versus right-handed starters, a positive thing for their lefty-laden lineup. Even Brian Schneider, a .308/.419/.500 hitter in 10 games in June, might warrant a look in larger (think NL-only) leagues.

• While the Rangers have had the clear advantage in their recent meetings, the second-place Angels stack up stronger offensively between the two. Colby Lewis, the Rangers' Wednesday starter, presents their toughest challenge; four of the Angels' other projected opponents (Scott Feldman, Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen and Anthony Lerew) are a combined 5-7 with a 5.67 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 16 starts this month. The Angels have been in quite a hot streak offensively the past month-plus; they have scored in double digits five times in their past 38 games, averaging 5.53 runs per game and managing .270/.337/.436 rates.

Now, let's take a look at some Week 13 sleepers:

David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals: He's at his best in home games (.364/.423/.534 rates in 34 contests) and versus left-handers (.368/.427/.471 rates against them), and the Cardinals play all seven of their games at Busch Stadium, four of those against lefty starters.
Angel Pagan, New York Mets: Road games were once a worry with him, but he has .302/.371/.434 road rates this season, not to mention he has terrorized the opposing Florida Marlins during his Mets career, with .344/.434/.500 rates and four stolen bases in 25 games. Pagan also has 12 multi-hit efforts in his past 28 games, batting .339/.388/.491 during that span.
Cliff Pennington, Athletics: Fantasy owners hurting at shortstop -- Troy Tulowitzki's owners, for example -- might want to take a look at Pennington, a .328/.397/.459 hitter in the month of June. The Athletics face two shaky pitching staffs this week, the Orioles (28th-ranked 5.06 team ERA) and Indians (25th-ranked 4.78).
Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox: Cold as he was early in the season, Quentin has been comparably hot lately, swatting three home runs in his past three games and boasting six homers and 17 RBIs in 19 games overall in June. Games at Rangers Ballpark suit him well; he's a .344 hitter (11-for-32) with two homers and nine RBIs in eight career games there.
Freddy Sanchez, San Francisco Giants: His is a hot streak well worth riding; in addition to sporting a .309 batting average overall since returning from the disabled list, he's batting .340 (33-for-97) in his past 25 contests and had multi-hit efforts in 12 of those. Coors Field games have also always treated Sanchez well; he's a .403 hitter (27-for-76) with 16 RBIs in 17 career games at that venue.
Carlos Santana, Indians: How is he still available in more than one-third of ESPN leagues? Santana has .316/.438/.632 rates plus 10 RBIs in his first 12 big-league games, and the Indians' schedule -- entirely played at home versus the Toronto Blue Jays and Athletics -- remains favorable this week.

Weather report

July is upon us, and history shows that postponements are least likely in that particular month. Since 2001, 0.8 percent of all scheduled games in July resulted in postponements, and surprisingly, not once during that span was there a postponement or suspended game in the cities of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit or Pittsburgh, cities that all rank among the top 10 in terms of postponements overall. Sure enough, precious few games face a threat of rain, with the occasional 40-percent chance, like Monday in Cincinnati (Phillies-Reds), Tuesday in Atlanta (Nationals-Braves) and Wednesday in Florida (Mets-Marlins).

Weatherproof games: Astros at Brewers (3, Mon-Wed); Dodgers at Diamondbacks (3, Fri-Sun).

Tristan's Week 13 pitcher rankings: Top 75

Rankings take into account several factors: The pitcher's raw talent, historical and recent performance; number of starts; strength of opponent(s); and ballpark factors. Be aware that different leagues might emphasize different pitching statistics that could change these rankings slightly. These are based upon a fairly standard Rotisserie scoring system, like ESPN's.

1. Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) -- Mon-@SD (Correia), Sat-SF (Zito)
2. Chris Carpenter (STL) -- Mon-ARI (Haren), Sat-MIL (Parra)
3. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Tue-ARI (Willis), Sun-MIL (Gallardo)
4. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Tue-HOU (Myers), Sun-@STL (Wainwright)
5. Cliff Lee (SEA) -- Tue-@NYY (Hughes), Sun-@DET (Bonderman)
6. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) -- Mon-@ATL (Hudson), Sat-NYM (Dickey)
7. Phil Hughes (NYY) -- Tue-SEA (Lee), Sun-TOR (Morrow)
8. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Mon-WAS (Strasburg), Sun-FLA (Nolasco)
9. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Sun-BAL (Matusz)
10. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Thu-SEA (Rowland-Smith)
11. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Fri-@COL (Chacin)
12. Mat Latos (SD) -- Fri-HOU (Oswalt)
13. Josh Johnson (FLA) -- Fri-@ATL (Medlen)
14. Francisco Liriano (MIN) -- Mon-DET (Bonderman), Sat-TB (Davis)
15. Roy Oswalt (HOU) -- Fri-@SD (Latos)
16. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Sat-SEA (Vargas)
17. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Sat-BAL (Guthrie)
18. Dan Haren (ARI) -- Mon-@STL (Carpenter), Sun-LAD (Billingsley)
19. Ted Lilly (CHC) -- Tue-PIT (Karstens), Sun-CIN (Leake)
20. Matt Cain (SF) -- Tue-LAD (Ely), Sun-@COL (Hammel)
21. Jaime Garcia (STL) -- Thu-MIL (Wolf)
22. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Wed-@NYY (Vazquez)
23. Zack Greinke (KC) -- Wed-CHW (Peavy)
24. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Thu-@PIT (McCutchen)
25. Brett Myers (HOU) -- Tue-@MIL (Gallardo), Sun-@SD (LeBlanc)
26. Jake Peavy (CHW) -- Wed-@KC (Greinke)
27. Roy Halladay (PHI) -- Wed-@CIN (LeCure)
28. Brandon Morrow (TOR) -- Tue-@CLE (Carmona), Sun-@NYY (Hughes)
29. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Thu-TEX (Lewis)
30. Johan Santana (NYM) -- Thu-@WAS (Hernandez)
31. Ryan Dempster (CHC) -- Fri-CIN (Arroyo)
32. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Sat-@ARI (Lopez)
33. Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Thu-@LAA (Weaver)
34. Andy Pettitte (NYY) -- Sat-TOR (Romero)
35. Tommy Hanson (ATL) -- Sat-FLA (Sanchez)
36. Jason Hammel (COL) -- Tue-@SD (LeBlanc), Sun-SF (Cain)
37. Javier Vazquez (NYY) -- Wed-SEA (Hernandez)
38. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Fri-SEA (Fister)
39. Gavin Floyd (CHW) -- Tue-@KC (Bannister)
40. Carlos Zambrano (CHC) -- Wed-PIT (Lincoln)
41. David Price (TB) -- Fri-@MIN (Baker)
42. Mark Buehrle (CHW) -- Mon-@KC (Lerew), Sun-@TEX (Nippert)
43. Trevor Cahill (OAK) -- Fri-@CLE (Talbot)
44. Jon Garland (SD) -- Thu-HOU (Moehler)
45. Ricky Romero (TOR) -- Mon-@CLE (Westbrook), Sat-@NYY (Pettitte)
46. Jhoulys Chacin (COL) -- Fri-SF (Lincecum)
47. Fausto Carmona (CLE) -- Tue-TOR (Morrow), Sun-OAK (Braden)
48. Joel Pineiro (LAA) -- Tue-TEX (Nippert), Sun-KC (Lerew)
49. Hiroki Kuroda (LAD) -- Fri-@ARI (Kennedy)
50. Scott Baker (MIN) -- Fri-TB (Price)
51. Derek Lowe (ATL) -- Wed-WAS (Martin)
52. John Danks (CHW) -- Sat-@TEX (Hunter)
53. Jake Westbrook (CLE) -- Mon-TOR (Romero), Sat-OAK (Gonzalez)
54. Jeremy Bonderman (DET) -- Mon-@MIN (Liriano), Sun-SEA (Lee)
55. Shaun Marcum (TOR) -- Thu-@CLE (Masterson)
56. Mike Pelfrey (NYM) -- Wed-@FLA (Volstad)
57. Anibal Sanchez (FLA) -- Sat-@ATL (Hanson)
58. Jeff Francis (COL) -- Wed-@SD (Richard)
59. Matt Garza (TB) -- Wed-@BOS (Matsuzaka)
60. C.J. Wilson (TEX) -- Fri-CHW (Garcia)
61. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Fri-@WAS (Atilano)
62. Jonathan Sanchez (SF) -- Wed-LAD (Padilla)
63. R.A. Dickey (NYM) -- Mon-@FLA (Nolasco), Sat-@WAS (Strasburg)
64. Ervin Santana (LAA) -- Sat-KC (Chen)
65. Kris Medlen (ATL) -- Fri-FLA (Johnson)
66. Carl Pavano (MIN) -- Wed-DET (Oliver)
67. Barry Zito (SF) -- Mon-LAD (Billingsley), Sat-@COL (Jimenez)
68. Dallas Braden (OAK) -- Tue-@BAL (Matusz), Sun-@CLE (Carmona)
69. Wade LeBlanc (SD) -- Tue-COL (Hammel), Sun-HOU (Myers)
70. John Lackey (BOS) -- Tue-TB (Shields)
71. Clayton Richard (SD) -- Wed-COL (Francis)
72. Gio Gonzalez (OAK) -- Sat-@CLE (Westbrook)
73. Carlos Silva (CHC) -- Thu-CIN (Harang)
74. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Mon-PHI (Kendrick), Sat-@CHC (Wells)
75. Hisanori Takahashi (NYM) -- Tue-@FLA (Robertson), Sun-@WAS (TBD)

Two-start pitchers for deep leagues:
Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Mon-@SF (Zito), Sun-@ARI (Haren)
Joe Blanton (PHI) -- Tue-@CIN (Leake), Sun-@PIT (Karstens)
Kevin Correia (SD) -- Mon-COL (Jimenez), Sat-HOU (Norris)
Kyle Kendrick (PHI) -- Mon-@CIN (Cueto), Sat-@PIT (Maholm)
Mike Leake (CIN) -- Tue-PHI (Blanton), Sun-@CHC (Lilly)
Ricky Nolasco (FLA) -- Mon-NYM (Dickey), Sun-@ATL (Hudson)
James Shields (TB) -- Tue-@BOS (Lackey), Sun-@MIN (Blackburn)
Randy Wells (CHC) -- Mon-PIT (Maholm), Sat-CIN (Cueto)

One-start sleepers:
Dave Bush (MIL) -- Wed-HOU (Rodriguez)
Tommy Hunter (TEX) -- Sat-CHW (Danks)
Jesse Litsch (TOR) -- Wed-@CLE (Laffey)
Kevin Millwood (BAL) -- Wed-OAK (Mazzaro)
Jamie Moyer (PHI) -- Fri-@PIT (Ohlendorf)
Chris Volstad (FLA) -- Wed-NYM (Pelfrey)
Tim Wakefield (BOS) -- Fri-BAL (Bergesen)

No-thank-yous, among two-starts:
Nick Blackburn (MIN) -- Tue-DET (Galarraga), Sun-TB (Shields)
Jeff Karstens (PIT) -- Tue-@CHC (Lilly), Sun-PHI (Blanton)
Anthony Lerew (KC) -- Mon-CHW (Buehrle), Sun-@LAA (Pineiro)
Paul Maholm (PIT) -- Mon-@CHC (Wells), Sat-PHI (Kendrick)
Brian Matusz (BAL) -- Tue-OAK (Braden), Sun-@BOS (Lester)
Dustin Nippert (TEX) -- Tue-@LAA (Pineiro), Sun-CHW (Buehrle)
Bud Norris (HOU) -- Mon-@MIL (Parra), Sat-@SD (Correia)
Manny Parra (MIL) -- Mon-HOU (Norris), Sat-@STL (Carpenter)

Tristan H. Cockcroft is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and a two-time champion of the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) experts league. You can e-mail him here, or follow him on Twitter @SultanofStat.

ALSO SEE