Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Week 2

Updated: April 14, 2012, 3:05 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Fantasy Forecaster

On tap: With the arrival of Week 2, we're back to seven-day scoring periods, and this is a busy one, with 14 of 30 teams scheduled to play every day and the other 16 each playing at least six of the seven days. Playoff contenders battling one another are a recurring theme: Texas Rangers at Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees at Red Sox and Rangers at Detroit Tigers grace the American League schedule, while Atlanta Braves at Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants are some of the National League's intriguing matchups.

ESPN leagues: Week 2

Week 2 in ESPN leagues will have an early start time because of Patriots Day in Massachusetts, as the Red Sox will host the Tampa Bay Rays at 11:05 a.m. ET. Set your lineups early! These are the start times of the first games by day:

Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
Probable starting pitchers | Week 2 pitcher rankings | Pitching notes
Streamer's delight | Hitting ratings | Hitting notes

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 at least twice this week are in gray/beige boxes.

Tristan's Week 2 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Roy Halladay (PHI) -- Mon-@SF (Lincecum), Sat-@SD (Luebke)
2. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Mon-@KC (Duffy), Sat-TEX (Feliz)
3. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Mon-OAK (McCarthy), Sat-BAL (Arrieta)
4. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) -- Mon-HOU (Weiland), Sat-MIA (Sanchez)
5. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Tue-PIT (Karstens), Sun-ATL (Delgado)
6. Dan Haren (LAA) -- Tue-OAK (Ross), Sun-BAL (Chen)
7. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Sat-@HOU (Weiland)
8. Ricky Romero (TOR) -- Tue-TB (Niemann), Sun-@KC (Duffy)
9. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Thu-CLE (Tomlin)
10. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Wed-@SF (Cain)
11. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Tue-MIN (Liriano), Sun-@BOS (Bard)
12. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Thu-OAK (Milone)
13. Zack Greinke (MIL) -- Wed-LAD (Capuano)
14. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) -- Tue-HOU (Rodriguez), Sun-MIA (Johnson)
15. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Mon-PHI (Halladay), Sun-@NYM (Gee)
16. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Tue-TEX (Lewis)
17. Matt Garza (CHC) -- Wed-@MIA (Buehrle)
18. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Fri-@SD (Volquez)
19. Tommy Hanson (ATL) -- Mon-NYM (Gee), Sat-@ARI (Saunders)
20. David Price (TB) -- Wed-@TOR (Morrow)
21. Daniel Hudson (ARI) -- Wed-PIT (McDonald)
22. Matt Cain (SF) -- Wed-PHI (Lee)
23. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Tue-LAD (Billingsley), Sun-COL (Guthrie)
24. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Tue-PHI (Blanton)
25. Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Tue-@MIL (Gallardo), Sun-@HOU (Rodriguez)
26. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Thu-@TOR (Alvarez)
27. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) -- Wed-HOU (Harrell)
28. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Tue-@SEA (Millwood), Sun-@OAK (Ross)
29. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Thu-CIN (Arroyo)
30. Matt Moore (TB) -- Fri-MIN (Hendriks)
31. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Tue-@STL (Lohse), Sun-@CHC (Dempster)
32. Chris Sale (CHW) -- Fri-@SEA (Noesi)
33. Brandon McCarthy (OAK) -- Mon-@LAA (Weaver), Sat-CLE (Jimenez)
34. Brandon Morrow (TOR) -- Wed-TB (Price)
35. James Shields (TB) -- Mon-@BOS (Bard), Sat-MIN (Pavano)
36. Anibal Sanchez (MIA) -- Sat-@WAS (Strasburg)
37. Josh Johnson (MIA) -- Tue-CHC (Dempster), Sun-@WAS (Gonzalez)
38. Neftali Feliz (TEX) -- Sat-@DET (Verlander)
39. Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) -- Sat-@OAK (McCarthy)
40. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Wed-@STL (Garcia)
41. Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Tue-@BOS (Lester), Sun-@DET (Smyly)
42. Shaun Marcum (MIL) -- Fri-COL (Chacin)
43. Vance Worley (PHI) -- Thu-@SD (Wieland)
44. John Danks (CHW) -- Tue-BAL (Chen), Sun-@SEA (Millwood)
45. Jaime Garcia (STL) -- Wed-CIN (Latos)
46. Brandon Beachy (ATL) -- Fri-@ARI (Cahill)
47. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) -- Tue-@WAS (Gonzalez), Sun-LAD (Billingsley)
48. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Fri-SF (Zito)
49. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Fri-ATL (Beachy)
50. Erik Bedard (PIT) -- Mon-@ARI (Saunders), Sun-STL (Lohse)
51. Johan Santana (NYM) -- Tue-@ATL (Delgado)
52. Cory Luebke (SD) -- Mon-@COL (Guthrie), Sat-PHI (Halladay)
53. Ricky Nolasco (MIA) -- Thu-CHC (Samardzija)
54. Ervin Santana (LAA) -- Wed-OAK (Colon)
55. Derek Holland (TEX) -- Wed-@BOS (Beckett)
56. Ryan Dempster (CHC) -- Tue-@MIA (Johnson), Sun-CIN (Cueto)
57. Jake Arrieta (BAL) -- Mon-@CHW (Humber), Sat-@LAA (Weaver)
58. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Wed-MIN (Marquis)
59. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Fri-@DET (Porcello)
60. Kyle Lohse (STL) -- Tue-CIN (Cueto), Sun-@PIT (Bedard)
61. Phil Hughes (NYY) -- Thu-MIN (Blackburn)
62. Juan Nicasio (COL) -- Wed-SD (Richard)
63. Jeff Niemann (TB) -- Tue-@TOR (Romero), Sun-MIN (Liriano)
64. Josh Beckett (BOS) -- Wed-TEX (Holland)
65. Edinson Volquez (SD) -- Fri-PHI (Hamels)
66. Edwin Jackson (WAS) -- Thu-HOU (Norris)
67. Danny Duffy (KC) -- Mon-DET (Verlander), Sun-TOR (Romero)
68. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Wed-@KC (Hochevar)
69. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Thu-@MIA (Nolasco)
70. Joe Blanton (PHI) -- Tue-@SF (Bumgarner), Sun-@SD (Bass)
71. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Fri-@PIT (Morton)
72. Philip Humber (CHW) -- Mon-BAL (Arrieta), Sat-@SEA (Beavan)
73. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Mon-@ATL (Hanson), Sun-SF (Lincecum)
74. Jason Vargas (SEA) -- Wed-CLE (Lowe)
75. Ted Lilly (LAD) -- Fri-@HOU (Happ)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Daniel Bard (BOS) -- Mon-TB (Shields), Sun-NYY (Sabathia)
Randall Delgado (ATL) -- Tue-NYM (Santana), Sun-@ARI (Kennedy)
Kevin Millwood (SEA) -- Tue-CLE (Masterson), Sun-CHW (Danks)
Joe Saunders (ARI) -- Mon-PIT (Bedard), Sat-ATL (Hanson)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Anthony Bass (SD) -- Tue-@COL (Moyer), Sun-PHI (Blanton)
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Tue-@CHW (Danks), Sun-@LAA (Haren)
Freddy Garcia (NYY) -- Mon-MIN (Pavano), Sat-@BOS (Doubront)
Jeremy Guthrie (COL) -- Mon-SD (Luebke), Sun-@MIL (Gallardo)
Francisco Liriano (MIN) -- Tue-@NYY (Sabathia), Sun-@TB (Niemann)
Carl Pavano (MIN) -- Mon-@NYY (Garcia), Sat-@TB (Shields)
Tyson Ross (OAK) -- Tue-@LAA (Haren), Sun-CLE (Masterson)
Drew Smyly (DET) -- Tue-@KC (Chen), Sun-TEX (Lewis)
Kyle Weiland (HOU) -- Mon-@WAS (Strasburg), Sat-LAD (Kershaw)

Pitching notes

• Baseball Challenge staff watch: Anytime the Washington Nationals (Price: 7.0) get to pitch Stephen Strasburg twice in a given week, their pitching staff will be a good value in Baseball Challenge, and in Week 2 they top my rankings for the game. Seven home games include four versus the light-hitting Houston Astros, who will be making their final stop in a two-city road trip, and three versus the Miami Marlins, a team off to a slow start offensively. Newly acquired Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals' other two-start pitcher, followed up a poor 2012 debut with seven shutout innings in the Nationals Park opener on April 12. Among my other recommended picks: Philadelphia Phillies (@SF-3, @SD-4), Los Angeles Angels (OAK-4, BAL-3), Arizona Diamondbacks (PIT-3, ATL-4). If only the Diamondbacks had rookie Trevor Bauer, rather than Josh Collmenter, in their rotation, they might have ranked higher.

• Though their weekend series at Boston's Fenway Park presents matchups challenges -- remember that the Red Sox will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of their ballpark on April 20 -- the Yankees stand out in a significant way, pitching-wise, during their four-game, week-opening series versus the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. In the past three seasons (2009-11), Yankees pitchers are 17-4 with 13 quality starts (61.9 percent), a 3.35 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 21 games versus the Twins. Phil Hughes, Wednesday's starter, limited the Twins to one run on two hits in 7 2/3 innings in their Aug. 19 meeting last year.

• Among the bargain-bin success stories of Week 1, who should remain in your lineups this week? Jeff Samardzija, who followed up a solid spring training finale with a brilliant 2012 regular season debut and whose improvement in terms of command (24 K's, one walk, counting the spring) bodes well as he faces a free-swinging Marlins team (48 K's, 10 walks as a team); Barry Zito, who might be facing a David Wright-less New York Mets team at Citi Field; and Lance Lynn, who has a 2.22 ERA in his past five starts (spring included) and will be facing a Pittsburgh Pirates team batting .199 through its first six games.

Streamer's delight

Among streaming starter -- something I define as a single-start option in daily leagues among pitchers owned in 25 percent of ESPN leagues or fewer -- options for Week 2, here are my picks by day:

Monday, April 16: Joe Saunders versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Tuesday, April 17: Kevin Millwood versus Cleveland Indians
Wednesday, April 18: Juan Nicasio versus San Diego Padres
Thursday, April 19: Phil Hughes versus Minnesota Twins
Friday, April 20: Jonathon Niese versus San Francisco Giants
Saturday, April 21: Philip Humber at Seattle Mariners
Sunday, April 22: Joe Blanton at San Diego Padres

Past picks
Thursday, April 5, Erik Bedard: QS, 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Friday, April 6, Jake Arrieta: W, QS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Saturday, April 7, Chris Capuano: 4 2/3 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 4 K
Sunday, April 8, Juan Nicasio: QS, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Monday, April 9, Tommy Milone: W, QS, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 0 K
Tuesday, April 10, Trevor Cahill: QS, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 5 K
Wednesday, April 11, Erik Bedard: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Thursday, April 12, Chris Capuano: W, 5 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

Week's total: 8 GS, 3 W (37.5%), 5 QS (62.5%), 50 IP, 34 H, 11 ER, 19 BB, 31 K, 1.98 ERA, 1.06 WHIP
Season total: 8 GS, 3 W (37.5%), 5 QS (62.5%), 50 IP, 34 H, 11 ER, 19 BB, 31 K, 1.98 ERA, 1.06 WHIP

Hitting ratings

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 for left- and right-handed hitters and base stealing. Matchup ratings for each individual game are listed under the corresponding date.

Hitting notes

• Though three games at pitching-friendly Safeco Field might appear poor matchups for hitters, keep in mind the Chicago White Sox will face three middling right-handers in them: Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan and Kevin Millwood. Adding the three right-handers the White Sox will face during the week-opening, four-game series versus the Baltimore Orioles, this can be considered a critical week for Adam Dunn, off to a slow start to 2012 following a brutal 2011. Dunn's most notable struggles come against left-handers; he has six career homers in 19 at-bats versus Millwood and homered in his only at-bat versus Noesi and he has two doubles and a homer in 13 at-bats versus Thursday starter Jason Hammel. Left-handed Alejandro De Aza, a .331/.387/.537 hitter versus right-handers during his White Sox career, is another attractive Week 2 option.

• Before you condemn Cameron Maybin -- among other San Diego Padres in deep NL-only leagues -- for their four-game, week-ending series versus the vaunted Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff, keep in mind that three games at Colorado's Coors Field to begin the week neutralize those matchups somewhat. Maybin was a .342/.359/.763 hitter in nine games at Coors last season, and he's a lifetime .316 hitter (6-for-19) versus Cole Hamels, his Friday opponent, and .438 (7-for-16) versus Joe Blanton, his Sunday opponent.

• Home games typically favor Arizona Diamondbacks hitters, and with seven at home, three versus the Pittsburgh Pirates and all in favorable weather conditions (Chase Field has a retractable roof), load up on their starters. The only one of their eight regulars besides Jason Kubel -- who has only six career games played at Chase yet one homer there already -- who has a sub-.750 lifetime OPS at Chase is Paul Goldschmidt. Aaron Hill has a surprisingly good track record there: He's a .275/.377/.505 hitter in 25 career games at Chase.

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