Commentary

Forecaster: May 7-13

Updated: May 6, 2012, 10:58 AM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, May 6 at 10:58 a.m. ET.

On tap: The Albert Pujols homerless show -- oh, and his Los Angeles Angels too -- hits the road for a pair of three-game series at ballparks with factors at polar extremes, Minnesota's Target Field and Texas' Rangers Ballpark. He has played precisely one regular-season series at each site in his career and has never homered in either; though he did hit three home runs at Rangers Ballpark in World Series Game 3 last October. And although Target Field is a difficult ballpark in which to hit one out, Rangers Ballpark at least offers him some hope of breaking out of his funk, as his postseason heroics demonstrate. If he's still homerless by the start of that weekend series, expect Angels at Texas Rangers to be under the microscope. Heck, it might be anyway.

The New York Yankees play their first homestand since losing closer Mariano Rivera to a knee injury; they begin the week with a challenging series against the division rival Tampa Bay Rays, who also lost a key piece when Evan Longoria landed on the disabled list. That series could be telling, especially for the Yankees and how they respond in front of their home fans to the loss of a Hall of Famer.

There is a doubleheader to begin Week 5, as the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians will make up their rained-out contest from April 10 with a day-night affair in Cleveland. That gives the Indians an eight-game week; it's a noticeable counting-stats advantage when 23 teams play only six times.

ESPN leagues: Week 5

Monday's doubleheader creates an early start to Week 5 in ESPN leagues. The first White Sox-Indians game begins at 1:05 p.m. ET. These are the start times of the first games each day:

Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
Probable starting pitchers | Week 5 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 gold/beige boxes.

Tristan's Week 5 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Tue-@SEA (Millwood), Sun-@OAK (Parker)
2. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Mon-@MIN (Liriano), Sun-@TEX (Feliz)
3. Roy Halladay (PHI) -- Mon-NYM (Niese), Sun-SD (Volquez)
4. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Tue-SF (Vogelsong)
5. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) -- Thu-@PIT (Correia)
6. Matt Cain (SF) -- Sat-@ARI (Cahill)
7. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Sat-SD (Wieland)
8. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Fri-@NYY (Kuroda)
9. Ricky Romero (TOR) -- Tue-@OAK (Parker), Sun-@MIN (Hendriks)
10. Matt Garza (CHC) -- Fri-@MIL (Wolf)
11. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) -- Mon-MIA (Zambrano), Sun-@PIT (Burnett)
12. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Thu-TB (Price)
13. Tommy Hanson (ATL) -- Mon-@CHC (Samardzija), Sun-@STL (Lynn)
14. Brandon Beachy (ATL) -- Sat-@STL (Wainwright)
15. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) -- Fri-@CIN (Leake)
16. Jake Peavy (CHW) -- Wed-@CLE (Gomez)
17. Ted Lilly (LAD) -- Mon-SF (Zito), Sun-COL (Pomeranz)
18. Dan Haren (LAA) -- Tue-@MIN (Hendriks)
19. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Mon-@ARI (Saunders), Sun-ATL (Hanson)
20. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Fri-@TEX (Darvish)
21. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Mon-CIN (Arroyo), Sun-CHC (Samardzija)
22. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Fri-LAA (Wilson)
23. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) -- Sat-@CIN (Latos)
24. James Shields (TB) -- Tue-@NYY (Nova), Sun-@BAL (Arrieta)
25. Zack Greinke (MIL) -- Wed-CIN (Cueto)
26. Shaun Marcum (MIL) -- Sat-CHC (Volstad)
27. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Wed-@LAD (Billingsley)
28. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Wed-NYM (Gee)
29. Edwin Jackson (WAS) -- Tue-@PIT (Burnett), Sun-@CIN (Arroyo)
30. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Fri-@ARI (Corbin)
31. Anibal Sanchez (MIA) -- Tue-@HOU (Rodriguez)
32. Neftali Feliz (TEX) -- Tue-@BAL (Arrieta), Sun-LAA (Weaver)
33. Vance Worley (PHI) -- Fri-SD (Richard)
34. David Price (TB) -- Thu-@NYY (Sabathia)
35. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Tue-STL (Westbrook)
36. Philip Humber (CHW) -- Mon-@CLE, Gm. 1 (Tomlin), Sun-KC (Sanchez)
37. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Wed-@KC (Chen)
38. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Wed-@MIL (Greinke)
39. Doug Fister (DET) -- Mon-@SEA (Beavan), Sat-@OAK (Milone)
40. Johan Santana (NYM) -- Fri-@MIA (Buehrle)
41. Jaime Garcia (STL) -- Fri-ATL (Minor)
42. Josh Johnson (MIA) -- Wed-@HOU (Harrell)
43. Carlos Zambrano (MIA) -- Mon-@HOU (Rodriguez), Sun-NYM (Niese)
44. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Sat-WAS (Zimmermann)
45. Erik Bedard (PIT) -- Wed-WAS (Detwiler)
46. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Sat-ATL (Beachy)
47. Josh Beckett (BOS) -- Thu-CLE (Lowe)
48. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Fri-SEA (Hernandez)
49. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Mon-@PHI (Halladay), Sun-@MIA (Zambrano)
50. Gavin Floyd (CHW) -- Fri-KC (Paulino)
51. Daniel Bard (BOS) -- Tue-@KC (Duffy), Sun-CLE (Masterson)
52. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Wed-@CHC (Maholm)
53. Barry Zito (SF) -- Mon-@LAD (Lilly), Sun-@ARI (Saunders)
54. Brandon Morrow (TOR) -- Wed-@OAK (McCarthy)
55. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Fri-@BAL (Hunter)
56. Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Wed-SF (Lincecum)
57. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Mon-ATL (Hanson), Sun-@MIL (Gallardo)
58. Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Wed-@BAL (Chen)
59. Jake Arrieta (BAL) -- Tue-TEX (Feliz), Sun-TB (Shields)
60. Brandon McCarthy (OAK) -- Wed-TOR (Morrow)
61. Bartolo Colon (OAK) -- Fri-DET (Porcello)
62. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Sat-SF (Cain)
63. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Tue-TOR (Romero), Sun-DET (Verlander)
64. Ricky Nolasco (MIA) -- Sat-NYM (Dickey)
65. Joe Saunders (ARI) -- Mon-STL (Lynn), Sun-SF (Zito)
66. Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Tue-@LAD (Kershaw)
67. Drew Smyly (DET) -- Wed-@SEA (Vargas)
68. James McDonald (PIT) -- Fri-HOU (Norris)
69. Ryan Dempster (CHC) -- Tue-ATL (Delgado)
70. Ross Detwiler (WAS) -- Wed-@PIT (Bedard)
71. Matt Moore (TB) -- Sat-@BAL (Matusz)
72. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Fri-@STL (Garcia)
73. Derek Holland (TEX) -- Thu-@BAL (Hammel)
74. Kyle Lohse (STL) -- Wed-@ARI (Miley)
75. Anthony Bass (SD) -- Wed-COL (Torres)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Bronson Arroyo (CIN) -- Mon-@MIL (Gallardo), Sun-WAS (Jackson)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Tue-WAS (Jackson), Sun-HOU (Rodriguez)
Felix Doubront (BOS) -- Mon-@KC (Sanchez), Sat-CLE (Tomlin)
Matt Harrison (TEX) -- Mon-@BAL (Matusz), Sat-LAA (Williams)
Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Tue-TB (Shields), Sun-SEA (Beavan)
Drew Pomeranz (COL) -- Mon-@SD (Volquez), Sun-@LAD (Lilly)
Edinson Volquez (SD) -- Mon-COL (Pomeranz), Sun-@PHI (Halladay)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Blake Beavan (SEA) -- Mon-DET (Fister), Sun-@NYY (Nova)
Liam Hendriks (MIN) -- Tue-LAA (Haren), Sun-TOR (Romero)
Francisco Liriano (MIN) -- Mon-LAA (Weaver), Sat-TOR (Hutchison)
Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Tue-CHW (Danks), Sun-@BOS (Bard)
Brian Matusz (BAL) -- Mon-TEX (Harrison), Sat-TB (Moore)
Jonathan Sanchez (KC) -- Mon-BOS (Doubront), Sun-@CHW (Humber)
Josh Tomlin (CLE) -- Mon-CHW, Gm. 1 (Humber), Sat-@BOS (Doubront)

Pitching notes

• The Philadelphia Phillies are my Baseball Challenge pick of Week 5, and it's mostly because they play all six of their games at home. Remember how Citizens Bank Park was labeled a bandbox during its early days? No longer. The Phillies have a 2.84 team ERA at home since the beginning of last season, and Joe Blanton is the only one of their current five with a lifetime ERA there north of 3.24; he has a 3.98 ERA. Cliff Lee is due to rejoin the rotation on Wednesaday, which should provide a boost to this staff. Among my other recommended BBC pitching staffs: Chicago White Sox (@CLE-4, KC-3), Detroit Tigers (@SEA-3, @OAK-4) and Washington Nationals (@PIT-3, @CIN-3).

• Are you worried about Felix Hernandez pitching at Yankee Stadium? You shouldn't be. The Seattle Mariners ace is 3-0 with three quality starts, a 0.38 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP and a 10.1 strikeouts per nine in three career games there.

• Ricky Romero is one of this week's two-start standouts, thanks to matchups at pitching-friendly venues. He's 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in two career starts at Oakland's O.com Coliseum, where he'll pitch Tuesday, and 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in two career starts at Minnesota's Target Field.

• Though Adam Wainwright still has a way to go to recapture his pre-Tommy-John-surgery, top-10 form, he has pitched back-to-back solid games, his ERA 3.46 and his K's per nine 9.0 in them. He'll face his drafting team, the Atlanta Braves, on Saturday, and that's a plus, because he has won all six of his career starts against them with a 2.48 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

• Among opponents he has faced at least 10 times in his career, Johan Santana has his best ERA versus the Miami Marlins (1.46). He's 6-1 with a 1.46 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 10.7 K's per nine in 10 career starts against them. And remember, he struck out 11 Marlins in 6⅔ innings in their April 24 meeting.

• Trevor Cahill is familiar with the San Francisco Giants from the Bay Bridge Series during his days with the Oakland Athletics, going 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in four career starts against them. With the Giants' offense currently without Pablo Sandoval, Cahill might again get the best of his new division rival.

Streamer's delight

Among streaming starters -- something I define as single-start options in daily leagues among pitchers owned in 25 percent or fewer of ESPN leagues -- options for Week 5, here are my picks by day:

Monday, May 7: Carlos Zambrano at Houston Astros
Tuesday, May 8: Joe Blanton versus New York Mets
Wednesday, May 9: Anthony Bass versus Colorado Rockies
Thursday, May 10: Henderson Alvarez at Minnesota Twins
Friday, May 11: James McDonald versus Houston Astros
Saturday, May 12: Trevor Cahill versus San Francisco Giants
Sunday, May 13: Philip Humber versus Kansas City Royals

Past picks
Friday, April 27, Jake Arrieta: 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Saturday, April 28, Wei-Yin Chen: W, QS, 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Sunday, April 29, Chris Capuano: W, QS, 6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
Monday, April 30, Randy Wolf: W, 5 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Tuesday, May 1, Felix Doubront: 4 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Wednesday, May 2, Carlos Zambrano: QS, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Thursday, May 3, Jeff Niemann: W, 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

Week's total: 7 GS, 4 W (57.1%), 3 QS (42.9%), 41 IP, 40 H, 16 ER, 16 BB, 37 K, 3.51 ERA, 1.37 WHIP

Season total: 29 GS, 14 W (48.3%), 17 QS (58.6%), 181 2/3 IP, 149 H, 61 ER, 62 BB, 125 K, 3.02 ERA, 1.16 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

• Chicago White Sox hitters, with their extra Monday game, are particularly attractive choices this week, especially accounting for their scheduled opponents. The seven starting pitchers the White Sox are scheduled to face have totaled eight quality starts all season. Gordon Beckham is a lifetime .333 hitter with 11 RBIs in 22 games and Alejandro De Aza is a .375/.444/.708 hitter in seven career games at Cleveland's Progressive Field, where the team will begin its week. Paul Konerko has five home runs and 14 RBIs in 18 games and A.J. Pierzynski has .364/.453/.523 triple-slash rates in 15 games versus the Kansas City Royals since the beginning of the 2011 season.

• If the Philadelphia Phillies are to break out of their offensive funk, a six-game, all-at-home week during which they'll miss both Anibal Sanchez of the Miami Marlins and Johan Santana of the New York Mets is as good a time as any to do it. Since the beginning of last season, Ty Wigginton is a .348/.385/.652 hitter in eight games, Hunter Pence is a .311/.371/.412 hitter in 31 games and Placido Polanco a .305/.357/.387 hitter in 69 games at Citizens Bank Park. If John Mayberry Jr. gets a start against either of the two left-handed starters the Phillies are scheduled to face, he'd warrant a look in daily formats as well. He's a .297/.351/.503 hitter in 61 games at Citizens Bank Park since the beginning of last season.

• Albert Pujols isn't the only Los Angeles Angels hitter trying to break out of an early funk. Erick Aybar will aim to do the same during that weekend series at Rangers Ballpark; he's a .276/.300/.586 hitter, including two home runs, in seven games there since the beginning of last season. Howard Kendrick is a .333/.429/.705 hitter in nine games at Rangers Ballpark during that time, and Vernon Wells has .417/.462/.833 triple-slash rates in six games there.

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