- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
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On tap: It's the first of two full weeks of interleague play, and that means a schedule populated with nothing but three-game series, and equal numbers of six games played for all 30 teams. As said frequently in this space: It's a week that emphasizes quality, not quantity, of matchups. And, because it's an interleague week, it means one in which you won't have nearly the opportunities to rely upon historical matchups; most players will be facing teams and individual foes they've rarely seen before, so invest more in skills and recent performance.
As always, the most notable fantasy nuance of interleague play is the impact of the designated hitter rule: American League teams lose theirs during trips to National League parks, while NL teams gain a DH when traveling to AL parks. This week, there are more interleague games (48) and series (16) in AL parks than in NL (36 and 12), and only three AL teams -- the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees -- will play all of their games in NL parks. Meanwhile, five NL teams -- the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres -- will play all of their games in AL parks. For an overview of the DH/no-DH fantasy impact on specific players, see the Hitting notes section below.
Revenge might be a theme, as three prominent fantasy starting pitchers battle their former teams for the first time: Zack Greinke makes a road start at the Kansas City Royals, who traded him following the 2010 season, on Tuesday. Dan Haren makes his first career start versus the Diamondbacks, who traded him in July 2010, on Friday. And Josh Beckett, traded by the Miami Marlins (then the Florida Marlins) following the 2005 season, returns to Miami on Monday; incredibly, Beckett has never faced the Marlins in seven seasons since the trade. Among some of the other "revenge" storylines: Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, formerly the Red Sox's general manager, watches his Cubs take on the Red Sox at Wrigley Field during a weekend series. Erik Bedard, who began his career with the Baltimore Orioles, returns to Camden Yards on Thursday. And Joe Saunders, who was in the aforementioned Haren trade, returns to Angel Stadium of Anaheim, where he had a 5.54 ERA in 11 starts in 2010, to start Saturday.
ESPN leagues: Week 10
Monday is a light day for baseball, the first game beginning at 7:07 p.m. ET, so fantasy owners have a later deadline this week. Here are the scheduled start times of the first games each day:
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.
P: The starting pitcher's matchup rating, which accounts for past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days), opponent and ballpark. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst.
1. Zack Greinke (MIL) -- Tue-@KC (Mendoza), Sun-@MIN (Blackburn)
2. Matt Cain (SF) -- Wed-HOU (Happ)
3. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Fri-CHW (Sale)
4. Brandon Morrow (TOR) -- Mon-WAS (Jackson), Sun-PHI (Kendrick)
5. David Price (TB) -- Wed-NYM (Dickey)
6. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Tue-CHW (Quintana), Sun-KC (Mendoza)
7. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Thu-@CHC (Wood)
8. Johan Santana (NYM) -- Thu-@TB (Hellickson)
9. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Tue-HOU (Norris), Sun-@SEA (Hernandez)
10. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Wed-@MIN (Walters)
11. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Tue-SD (Richard), Sun-SF (Bumgarner)
12. Dan Haren (LAA) -- Fri-ARI (Cahill)
13. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Wed-@LAD (Eovaldi)
14. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Sat-@TOR (Romero)
15. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Tue-@ATL (Minor)
16. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Tue-@TEX (Lewis), Sun-@LAA (Richards)
17. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) -- Wed-@TOR (Drabek)
18. R.A. Dickey (NYM) -- Wed-@TB (Price)
19. Chris Sale (CHW) -- Fri-@LAD (Kershaw)
20. Brandon Beachy (ATL) -- Fri-BAL (Hammel)
21. Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Tue-ARI (Kennedy), Sun-HOU (Norris)
22. Josh Beckett (BOS) -- Mon-@MIA (Johnson), Sun-@CHC (Maholm)
23. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) -- Fri-NYY (Hughes)
24. Josh Johnson (MIA) -- Mon-BOS (Beckett), Sun-@TB (Cobb)
25. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Tue-CLE (Gomez), Sun-@NYM (Young)
26. Shaun Marcum (MIL) -- Thu-@KC (Mazzaro)
27. James McDonald (PIT) -- Fri-@CLE (Masterson)
28. Jake Peavy (CHW) -- Wed-@STL (Lynn)
29. Anibal Sanchez (MIA) -- Sat-@TB (Shields)
30. Chris Capuano (LAD) -- Mon-LAA (Richards), Sun-CHW (TBD)
31. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Thu-NYM (Santana)
32. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Sat-@MIN (Hendriks)
33. Ricky Romero (TOR) -- Sat-PHI (Lee)
34. Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Fri-@SEA (Vargas)
35. Edwin Jackson (WAS) -- Mon-@TOR (Morrow), Sun-NYY (Nova)
36. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Sat-@SEA (Beavan)
37. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Wed-NYY (Kuroda)
38. Matt Garza (CHC) -- Wed-DET (Porcello)
39. Matt Moore (TB) -- Fri-MIA (Zambrano)
40. James Shields (TB) -- Sat-MIA (Sanchez)
41. Tommy Hanson (ATL) -- Sat-BAL (TBD)
42. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Fri-SD (Bass)
43. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Wed-CHW (Peavy)
44. Andy Pettitte (NYY) -- Sat-@WAS (Zimmermann)
45. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Thu-CLE (Tomlin)
46. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Fri-HOU (Lyles)
47. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) -- Sat-NYY (Pettitte)
48. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Sat-@CHC (Dempster)
49. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Tue-NYM (Young), Sun-MIA (Johnson)
50. Carlos Zambrano (MIA) -- Fri-@TB (Moore)
51. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Wed-@ATL (Hudson)
52. Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Sat-CHW (Humber)
53. Daniel Hudson (ARI) -- Thu-@TEX (Feldman)
54. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Fri-PIT (McDonald)
55. Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Mon-@ATL (Delgado), Sun-@WAS (Jackson)
56. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Fri-CIN (Arroyo)
57. A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Sat-@CLE (Jimenez)
58. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Tue-@CHC (Maholm), Sun-COL (Guthrie)
59. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Sat-CIN (Bailey)
60. Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) -- Sat-PIT (Burnett)
61. Ryan Dempster (CHC) -- Sat-BOS (Lester)
62. Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Tue-PIT (Lincoln), Sun-@ATL (Delgado)
63. Matt Harrison (TEX) -- Wed-ARI (Miley)
64. Erik Bedard (PIT) -- Thu-@BAL (Hunter)
65. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) -- Thu-@SF (Zito)
66. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Fri-BOS (Matsuzaka)
67. Wade Miley (ARI) -- Wed-@TEX (Harrison)
68. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Tue-@MIA (Buehrle)
69. Randall Delgado (ATL) -- Mon-NYY (Nova), Sun-BAL (Chen)
70. Francisco Liriano (MIN) -- Fri-MIL (Fiers)
71. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Fri-@LAA (Haren)
72. Bartolo Colon (OAK) -- Tue-@COL (Guthrie), Sun-SD (Richard)
73. Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Fri-PHI (Worley)
74. Jason Vargas (SEA) -- Fri-SF (Vogelsong)
75. Felix Doubront (BOS) -- Wed-@MIA (Nolasco)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Bud Norris (HOU) -- Tue-@SF (Bumgarner), Sun-@TEX (Lewis)
Clayton Richard (SD) -- Tue-@SEA (Hernandez), Sun-@OAK (Colon)
Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Mon-@LAD (Capuano), Sun-ARI (Kennedy)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Nick Blackburn (MIN) -- Tue-PHI (Kendrick), Sun-MIL (Greinke)
Jeanmar Gomez (CLE) -- Tue-@CIN (Cueto), Sun-PIT (Lincoln)
Jeremy Guthrie (COL) -- Tue-OAK (Colon), Sun-@DET (Scherzer)
Kyle Kendrick (PHI) -- Tue-@MIN (Blackburn), Sun-@TOR (Morrow)
Brad Lincoln (PIT) -- Tue-@BAL (Chen), Sun-@CLE (Gomez)
Paul Maholm (CHC) -- Tue-DET (Scherzer), Sun-BOS (Beckett)
Luis Mendoza (KC) -- Tue-MIL (Greinke), Sun-@STL (Wainwright)
Chris Young (NYM) -- Tue-@TB (Cobb), Sun-CIN (Cueto)
• Lincecum, Schmincecum. Tim Lincecum's season-to-date struggles might have dominated the discussion surrounding the San Francisco Giants' pitching staff, but they've marred an otherwise outstanding recent stretch for their rotation, Lincecum's performance included. During an 11-game stretch from May 27-June 7, Giants starters have eight wins, nine quality starts, a 2.08 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, and their four most fantasy-prominent relievers -- Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez -- have combined for nine saves in 10 chances, a 1.26 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Whoever is closing for them -- and it appears that Casilla is now healthy enough to do so -- the Giants are pitching well and have a favorable set of matchups with three home games versus the Houston Astros followed by a three-game road set at Seattle's Safeco Field. They're my Baseball Challenge pitching staff pick of Week 10, and Lincecum's owners examining individual matchups might even like his: He's scheduled for Saturday at Safeco. Among other recommended BBC pitching staffs: Brewers (@KC-3, @MIN-3), Tampa Bay Rays (NYM-3, MIA-3), Toronto Blue Jays (WAS-3, PHI-3), Los Angeles Dodgers (LAA-3, CHW-3).
• The White Sox might get John Danks (shoulder) back in time for Sunday's start at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium, as the left-hander is scheduled for a rehabilitation outing on Tuesday for Triple-A Charlotte. He's not recommended in fantasy leagues even if he does, but his potential return could steal a second start this week from Jose Quintana, who has two quality starts in three tries thus far.
• Felipe Paulino, 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in his past five starts, is a risky two-start pitcher due to a groin injury suffered during his most recent start (June 6). He's a candidate for the disabled list, is ranked conservatively and should be closely monitored before being used in fantasy leagues.
• With Derek Holland on the disabled list, the Texas Rangers have moved Alexi Ogando into their rotation, beginning with what should be an abbreviated June 10 start. He'll take turn No. 2 Saturday versus the Astros, a favorable matchup albeit one that might again afford him a limited number of pitches. This is the matchup for which to activate him -- unless your league affords an extremely limited number of starts for the week/season -- and remember that he was 13-8 with 17 quality starts, a 3.56 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 29 games as a starter in 2011.
• The Rays have shown they don't regard Alex Cobb as a traditional fifth starter, pitching him instead every fifth turn in the rotation regardless of off days, which lines him up as a favorable two-start option with two home starts, one versus the New York Mets, the other against the Marlins. Cobb has allowed more runs than he has completed innings only once in 13 career big-league starts, he has seven quality starts, a 3.64 ERA and 1.32 WHIP overall, and he tossed a solid game against the Marline on June 18, 2011 (6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER).
Among streaming starter -- something I define as single-start options in daily leagues among pitchers owned in 25 percent of ESPN leagues or fewer -- options for Week 10, here are my picks by day:
Monday, June 11: Garrett Richards at Los Angeles Dodgers
Tuesday, June 12: Wei-Yin Chen versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Wednesday, June 13: Brian Matusz versus Pittsburgh Pirates
Thursday, June 14: Scott Diamond versus Philadelphia Phillies
Friday, June 15: Jarrod Parker versus San Diego Padres
Saturday, June 16: Alexi Ogando versus Houston Astros
Sunday, June 17: Alex Cobb versus Miami Marlins
Friday, June 1: Felipe Paulino -- W, QS, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Saturday, June 2: Luke Hochevar -- 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Sunday, June 3: Trevor Cahill -- W, QS, 9 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Monday, June 4: Scott Feldman -- 1 2/3 IP, 7 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Tuesday, June 5: Homer Bailey -- 3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Wednesday, June 6: Jerome Williams -- 5 2/3 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
Thursday, June 7: Clayton Richard -- 5 2/3 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (pitched June 6)
Week's total: 7 GS, 2 W (28.6%), 2 QS (28.6%), 35 2/3 IP, 48 H, 29 ER, 12 BB, 25 K, 7.32 ERA, 1.68 WHIP
Season total: 57 GS, 27 W (47.4%), 34 QS (59.6%), 352 1/3 IP, 316 H, 141 ER, 114 BB, 252 K, 3.60 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
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.
Some of the data used to generate this chart is derived from Baseball Musings' Day-by-day database.
H: Hitters' matchup rating, which accounts for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. L: Hitters' matchup rating accounting only for left-handed hitters. R: Hitters' matchup rating accounting for only right-handed hitters. S: Base stealing matchup rating, which accounts for the opponent's catchers' ability to gun down opposing base stealers. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst.
• Two of the three AL teams that play all six of their games at NL parks, the Red Sox and White Sox, have regular designated hitters who might shift to first base for one or more games this week: The Red Sox's David Ortiz might play there, with Adrian Gonzalez shifting to right field and Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks duking it out for third-base at-bats. The White Sox's Adam Dunn, who started two of three games there ahead of Paul Konerko during their May 18-20 series at Chicago's Wrigley Field, might play more than half the time there again, what with the White Sox facing four right-handed starters and Konerko not far removed from a wrist injury. Six other AL teams will make three-game stops at one NL ballpark this week: The Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Royals, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics. Among the usual DHs for those teams, the Orioles' Chris Davis could return to third base at Wilson Betemit's expense; the Tigers' Delmon Young might steal some at-bats in left field from Don Kelly; the Royals face a difficult daily lineup decision at first base between Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer, one at which we might gain insight during the team's June 8-10 series at Pittsburgh; and the Angels sound likely to sit the third-base duo of Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis, as Kendrys Morales shifts to first base and Albert Pujols to third base.
• Among the five NL teams that play all six of their games at AL parks, the following players stand to receive extra at-bats thanks to the DH: Justin Upton should surely return to the everyday lineup, the DH granting a space for all four Diamondbacks' outfielders (Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Chris Young being the others). The Brewers can put Taylor Green into their lineup, opening up DH for Aramis Ramirez, Rickie Weeks or Ryan Braun (Corey Hart would return to the outfield in the latter instance). The Phillies should use John Mayberry Jr. at DH, especially with two games scheduled against left-handed starters. And the Padres can get Yonder Alonso, Jesus Guzman and Carlos Quentin back into the same lineup. As for the six NL teams that play merely one series at an AL park -- the Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Marlins, New York Mets, Giants and Washington Nationals -- here are a few other hitters who might get extra DH at-bats: The Reds' Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick both have a place to play; Jason Giambi or Tyler Colvin could serve as the Rockies' DH; Greg Dobbs might man third base for the Marlins while Hanley Ramirez slides to DH; Jason Bay could ease his way back into the lineup as Mets DH; Brandon Belt and Brett Pill should both have a place for play for the Giants; and Rick Ankiel should return to center field for the Nationals, shifting Bryce Harper back to right field and Michael Morse to DH.
• Small sample, but the Athletics, at least through the first seven days of June, ranked second in the majors in runs scored (33) and 12th in OPS (.737), and now they get the benefit of a three-game series at Colorado's Coors Field against a reeling Rockies rotation, as well as three home games versus a Padres pitching staff that had a 5.12 ERA in its past 20 games. Yoenis Cespedes' health might have an impact upon the team's performance, as he'd traditionally their cleanup hitter, plus he's a .400 hitter (10-for-25) with one home run in seven games since returning from the DL. Jemile Weeks, meanwhile, is a .277 hitter (28-for-101) with five stolen bases in his past 27 games. Seth Smith, a lifetime .296/.366/.559 hitter in 235 games at Coors, returns there for the first time since the Rockies traded him this past winter.
Tristan H. Cockcroft is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com, a two-time champion of the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) experts league, and a 2011 FSWA award winner for Best Baseball Article on the Web. You can e-mail him here, or follow him on Twitter @SultanofStat.