Forecaster: May 21-27

Updated: May 22, 2012, 9:21 AM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

On tap: After a three-day interleague appetizer, the schedule returns to intraleague play this week, and it's another busy one for 10 of the 30 teams. Eight of those 10 teams that play seven games are in the National League, meaning plenty of attractive two-start candidates, like Brandon Beachy, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Chris Capuano, Jaime Garcia, Matt Garza, Gio Gonzalez, Roy Halladay, Johan Santana and Adam Wainwright. Unfortunately, the American League is considerably weaker in two-start candidates: Yu Darvish, Jeremy Hellickson, Felix Hernandez and C.J. Wilson are obvious choices, but the talent pool peters out after them.

Fantasy Forecaster

We've got another showdown of American League East rivals, as the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays battle during the weekend in Boston; the Red Sox also have their work cut out for them with a week-opening three-game series at Baltimore's Camden Yards. Remember, the Orioles swept these Red Sox in a three-game series at Fenway Park on May 4-6.

Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves during the weekend is another compelling battle of playoff contenders, and the Nationals also have to tangle with the Philadelphia Phillies, whom they'll face on the road to begin the week. The Braves and Phillies, though, hardly have it much easier; the Braves' other series is a four-gamer at the Cincinnati Reds, while the Phillies' other series is a four-gamer at the National League Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals.

ESPN leagues: Week 7

It's another week with a late lineup deadline on Monday, as ESPN's Monday Night Baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds kicks off Week 7 at 7 p.m. These are the specific 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 7 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 7 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Matt Cain (SF) -- Tue-@MIL (Marcum), Sun-@MIA (Nolasco)
2. Brandon Beachy (ATL) -- Tue-@CIN (Latos), Sun-WAS (Gonzalez)
3. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Fri-HOU (Harrell)
4. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Mon-TEX (Darvish), Sat-LAA (Williams)
5. Roy Halladay (PHI) -- Tue-WAS (Zimmermann), Sun-@STL (Wainwright)
6. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Thu-@CLE (Masterson)
7. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Mon-@SEA (Hernandez), Sun-TOR (Drabek)
8. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) -- Mon-@PHI (Kendrick), Sun-@ATL (Beachy)
9. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Wed-@OAK (Parker)
10. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-@OAK (TBD), Sun-@SEA (Noesi)
11. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Mon-@MIL (Wolf), Sat-@MIA (Buehrle)
12. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Sat-@OAK (Colon)
13. Matt Garza (CHC) -- Mon-@HOU (Norris), Sun-@PIT (Bedard)
14. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Wed-WAS (Jackson)
15. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Tue-ATL (Beachy), Sun-COL (Moyer)
16. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) -- Sat-@ATL (Minor)
17. Johan Santana (NYM) -- Mon-@PIT (Bedard), Sat-SD (Richard)
18. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Tue-SD (Volquez), Sun-PHI (Halladay)
19. Zack Greinke (MIL) -- Sat-@ARI (Miley)
20. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Fri-@STL (Lohse)
21. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Mon-TOR (Drabek), Sun-@BOS (Buchholz)
22. Anibal Sanchez (MIA) -- Thu-SF (Vogelsong)
23. Gavin Floyd (CHW) -- Tue-MIN (Walters), Sun-CLE (Jimenez)
24. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Wed-SD (Suppan)
25. Jaime Garcia (STL) -- Mon-SD (Richard), Sat-PHI (Kendrick)
26. Neftali Feliz (TEX) -- Wed-@SEA (Millwood)
27. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Fri-TB (TBD)
28. Bud Norris (HOU) -- Mon-CHC (Garza), Sun-@LAD (Capuano)
29. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Fri-@MIA (Johnson)
30. David Price (TB) -- Sat-@BOS (Beckett)
31. Jake Peavy (CHW) -- Sat-CLE (Lowe)
32. Shaun Marcum (MIL) -- Tue-SF (Cain)
33. James Shields (TB) -- Wed-TOR (Romero)
34. Ervin Santana (LAA) -- Fri-@SEA (Beavan)
35. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Fri-MIL (Gallardo)
36. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) -- Wed-CHC (Samardzija)
37. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) -- Tue-@PHI (Halladay)
38. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Fri-WAS (Detwiler)
39. Dan Haren (LAA) -- Thu-@SEA (Vargas)
40. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Mon-KC (Paulino), Sun-@OAK (Milone)
41. Ricky Nolasco (MIA) -- Tue-COL (Nicasio), Sun-SF (Cain)
42. Josh Johnson (MIA) -- Fri-SF (Lincecum)
43. Brandon Morrow (TOR) -- Fri-@TEX (Holland)
44. Ricky Romero (TOR) -- Wed-@TB (Shields)
45. Ryan Dempster (CHC) -- Fri-@PIT (Burnett)
46. Chris Capuano (LAD) -- Mon-@ARI (Corbin), Sun-HOU (Norris)
47. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Wed-@HOU (Rodriguez)
48. Doug Fister (DET) -- Wed-@CLE (McAllister)
49. Tommy Hanson (ATL) -- Wed-@CIN (Arroyo)
50. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Fri-COL (Friedrich)
51. James McDonald (PIT) -- Tue-NYM (Dickey)
52. R.A. Dickey (NYM) -- Tue-@PIT (McDonald), Sun-SD (Volquez)
53. Chris Sale (CHW) -- Wed-MIN (Diamond)
54. Carlos Zambrano (MIA) -- Wed-COL (White)
55. Ted Lilly (LAD) -- Wed-@ARI (Saunders)
56. Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) -- Tue-DET (Porcello), Sun-@CHW (Floyd)
57. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Fri-@ARI (Kennedy)
58. Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Sat-KC (Teaford)
59. Erik Bedard (PIT) -- Mon-NYM (Santana), Sun-CHC (Garza)
60. Jerome Williams (LAA) -- Mon-@OAK (Milone), Sat-@SEA (Hernandez)
61. Drew Smyly (DET) -- Fri-@MIN (Marquis)
62. Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Thu-@MIA (Sanchez)
63. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Wed-@PIT (Morton)
64. Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Sat-HOU (Lyles)
65. Josh Beckett (BOS) -- Sat-TB (Price)
66. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Sat-@MIN (TBD)
67. Derek Holland (TEX) -- Fri-TOR (Morrow)
68. Edinson Volquez (SD) -- Tue-@STL (Wainwright), Sun-@NYM (Dickey)
69. Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Sat-TOR (Alvarez)
70. Mark Buehrle (MIA) -- Mon-COL (Moyer), Sat-SF (Bumgarner)
71. Matt Harrison (TEX) -- Tue-@SEA (Noesi)
72. Christian Friedrich (COL) -- Fri-@CIN (Cueto)
73. Phil Hughes (NYY) -- Tue-KC (Hochevar)
74. Anthony Bass (SD) -- Fri-@NYM (Gee)
75. Tommy Milone (OAK) -- Mon-LAA (Williams), Sun-NYY (Kuroda)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Mike Minor (ATL) -- Mon-@CIN (Leake), Sat-WAS (Strasburg)
Hector Noesi (SEA) -- Tue-TEX (Harrison), Sun-LAA (Wilson)
Felipe Paulino (KC) -- Mon-@NYY (Kuroda), Sun-@BAL (Hunter)
Rick Porcello (DET) -- Tue-@CLE (Jimenez), Sun-@MIN (Walters)
Randy Wolf (MIL) -- Mon-SF (Bumgarner), Sun-@ARI (Corbin)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Mon-@BAL (Hunter), Sun-TB (Hellickson)
Patrick Corbin (ARI) -- Mon-LAD (Capuano), Sun-MIL (Wolf)
Kyle Drabek (TOR) -- Mon-@TB (Hellickson), Sun-@TEX (Darvish)
Tommy Hunter (BAL) -- Mon-BOS (Buchholz), Sun-KC (Paulino)
Kyle Kendrick (PHI) -- Mon-WAS (Gonzalez), Sat-@STL (Garcia)
Mike Leake (CIN) -- Mon-ATL (Minor), Sat-COL (Guthrie)
Jamie Moyer (COL) -- Mon-@MIA (Buehrle), Sun-@CIN (Latos)
Clayton Richard (SD) -- Mon-@STL (Garcia), Sat-@NYM (Santana)
P.J. Walters (MIN) -- Tue-@CHW (Floyd), Sun-DET (Porcello)

Pitching notes

• Any time the St. Louis Cardinals play a full slate of games at their pitching-friendly home ballpark, Busch Stadium, it's time to rely on their pitchers. But when their opponents are the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies, two teams that rank in the bottom half in the majors in both runs scored and team OPS, it's time to go a step further and tab them my Baseball Challenge pitching staff pick for Week 7. Two-start pitcher Jaime Garcia is coming off an outstanding performance at San Francisco, allowing one run on nine hits in 7 1/3 innings while striking out nine. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2010, he's 2-0 with an 0.96 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in four starts versus the Phillies, and he has 15 shutout innings allowing only seven hits and six walks in two starts versus the Padres. Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright, meanwhile, have sub-three career ERAs at Busch, and Kyle Lohse's ERA in 60 career starts there is 3.72. Here are my other recommended BBC pitching staffs: Los Angeles Angels (@OAK-3, @SEA-3), New York Mets (@PIT-3, SD-4), Chicago White Sox (MIN-3, CLE-3).

• Rick Porcello, fresh off a two-runs-in-four-innings performance versus the Minnesota Twins, gets a chance at redemption in one of his two starts this week. This time, however, he is making his two starts at venues where he has been successful in his career: He's 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in seven career starts at Cleveland's Progressive Field, where he'll pitch on Tuesday, and 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in four career starts at Minnesota's Target Field, where he'll pitch on Sunday.

• Edinson Volquez's owners should temper their expectations for his two road matchups this week, especially in light of his mediocre performance on May 17 versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. Volquez's numbers, for one, have been enhanced by his having made seven of his nine starts at Petco; this will be the first time that he's tested with back-to-back road starts. Busch Stadium also has been rough on him historically, as he has a 7.50 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in four career games (three starts) there. You'll see that Volquez made my top 75 starters despite the matchups concern, and that's testament to his performance to date. But he's hardly an automatic in shallow mixed leagues this week.

• Most pitchers enjoy working at Seattle's Safeco Field, one of the game's most pitching-friendly environments, but Matt Harrison is one of the lower-tier fantasy starters who well warrants a look when his one assignment comes there. He's 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in five career games (three starts) at Safeco.

• This will be a fun week for Yu Darvish owners. He's a two-start pitcher, but more important, both of the teams he's scheduled to face have faced him before: the Seattle Mariners on April 9 (5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 5 ER) and the Toronto Blue Jays on April 30 (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 9 K). There's always a question about how "rookie" pitchers will fare during their second time around the league, but in the case of Darvish, his stuff is that special, that difficult to hit, that his adjustments shouldn't be nearly as difficult as those of a typical rookie. Start him with confidence, though monitor his performances, as they'll tell us plenty about his full-season prognosis.

• Two useful rookies won't be facing opponents they have before; both Drew Smyly and Wei-Yin Chen will battle teams for the first time when Smyly starts Friday at Minnesota's Target Field and Chen starts Saturday versus the Kansas City Royals. Both represent favorable matchups, so start them in all formats.

• Tim Hudson has back-to-back quality starts and now faces an opponent with which he's extremely familiar. He's 14-3 with a 2.05 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 23 career starts versus the Washington Nationals, including 6-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 10 starts against them in 2010-11.

• Yovani Gallardo is a perfect 3-0 in his three career starts at Arizona's Chase Field, his ERA 1.59 and WHIP 1.06 in those games.

Streamer's delight

Among the streaming starter (something I define as single-start options in daily leagues among pitchers owned in 25 percent or fewer of ESPN leagues) options for Week 7, here are my picks by day:

Monday, May 21: Tommy Milone versus Los Angeles Angels
Tuesday, May 22: Phil Hughes versus Kansas City Royals
Wednesday, May 23: Jonathon Niese at Pittsburgh Pirates
Thursday, May 24: Philip Humber versus Minnesota Twins
Friday, May 25: Anthony Bass at New York Mets
Saturday, May 26: Jerome Williams at Seattle Mariners
Sunday, May 27: Rick Porcello at Minnesota Twins

Past picks
Friday, May 11: James McDonald -- QS, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Saturday, May 12: Trevor Cahill -- 5 2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
Sunday, May 13: Jake Arrieta -- 3 2/3 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Monday, May 14: Ryan Vogelsong -- QS, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 3 K
Tuesday, May 15: Wade Miley -- W, QS, 6 2/3 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Wednesday, May 16: Jerome Williams -- W, QS, 8 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Thursday, May 17: Aaron Harang -- W, QS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

Week's total: 7 GS, 3 W (42.9%), 5 QS (71.4%), 46 IP, 45 H, 16 ER, 13 BB, 35 K, 3.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Season total: 37 GS, 19 W (47.1%), 25 QS (64.7%), 239 IP, 198 H, 71 ER, 72 BB, 174 K, 2.67 ERA, 1.13 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

Alex Rodriguez's career dominance against former teammate Bartolo Colon needs to be noted. Colon is scheduled to face the New York Yankees on Saturday, and A-Rod has hit .431/.456/1.059 in his career against the right-hander, including eight home runs. In fact, A-Rod had a three-homer game against Colon in 2005.

• The Yankees as an offense get a heck of a favorable schedule this week, beginning the week with three home games against the injury-riddled Kansas City Royals rotation, then three at Oakland's O.com Coliseum, two of those against the struggling Colon and Tyson Ross. Sunday starter Tommy Milone might be the most challenging individual matchup for Yankees hitters this week, so load your lineup with Yankees, including the red-hot Raul Ibanez, a .297/.381/.676 hitter in 12 games in May.

Shin-Soo Choo's fantasy owners continue to wait for the form that made him one of the game's best in 2009-10, yet since the beginning of last season he has been nothing but a disappointment. This week, however, presents him with a handful of favorable matchups against pitchers he has historically hit well: He's 8-for-16 (.500) with two home runs in his career against Detroit's Doug Fister, his Wednesday opponent; and against the three pitchers the Chicago White Sox will throw during the weekend, he's a lifetime .365 hitter (23-for-63) with three home runs.

• Though Zack Cozart has struggled in May, this week's matchups should help restore him to many a fantasy lineup. He and the Cincinnati Reds play all seven of their games at home, three of them against left-handed starters. Cozart is a .317/.359/.517 triple-slash hitter in 16 home games, and a .345/.367/.448 hitter versus left-handers this season.

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