- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
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Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, June 17 at 9:46 a.m. ET.
On tap: Interleague play comes to a close with the second of back-to-back full weeks of interleague matchups, so once again, we've got a schedule populated with nothing but three-game series and equal six-game weeks for all 30 squads. These are your "quality over quantity" weeks, but there is an important difference between this week and the one before it: Seven of the 28 interleague series scheduled are rematches of series we've already seen this season. In fact, 13 of the 21 individual games in those seven series involve identical starting pitcher matchups from earlier in the season. Both of the New York Yankees' series this week are rematches, and three of their starting-pitcher matchups, too, are rematches.
What this means is that there's an unusual hint of familiarity in the Week 11 interleague matchups, so it's fairer to lean on the past when making your decisions. Here's an example: We haven't seen the last of the Derek Lowe-Dusty Baker feud, as Lowe and the Cleveland Indians host Mat Latos and the Cincinnati Reds, in a rematch of the June 13 contest in which Latos was the victor and superior fantasy choice, yet both managed quality starts. Think Lowe won't be motivated to trump the effort, this time back home at Progressive Field?
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 an identical number of interleague games (42) and series (14) in AL as NL parks. There are also an identical number of AL teams (4) that play all of their games in NL parks (Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays) as NL teams that play all of their games in AL parks (Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants). For an overview of the DH/no-DH fantasy impact on specific players, see the Hitting notes section below.
ESPN leagues: Week 11
Without any weekend wrap-around series -- you'll rarely find these during the interleague portion of the schedule -- there's another late start to the week, the first game Monday scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN3: Braves at Yankees. Fantasy owners can wait a little longer to set their lineups in weekly leagues. 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. Matt Cain (SF) -- Mon-@LAA (Williams), Sun-@OAK (McCarthy)
2. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Tue-STL (Lynn), Sun-@PIT (Correia)
3. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Mon-ATL (Minor), Sun-@NYM (Dickey)
4. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) -- Wed-TB (Hellickson)
5. R.A. Dickey (NYM) -- Mon-BAL (Arrieta), Sun-NYY (Sabathia)
6. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Thu-@OAK (Parker)
7. David Price (TB) -- Tue-@WAS (Wang), Sun-@PHI (Hamels)
8. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Fri-TB (Shields)
9. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Tue-COL (Outman), Sun-TB (Price)
10. Wade Miley (ARI) -- Mon-SEA (Noesi), Sun-CHC (Garza)
11. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-SF (Zito)
12. Zack Greinke (MIL) -- Sat-@CHW (Quintana)
13. Jake Peavy (CHW) -- Mon-CHC (Garza), Sun-MIL (Wolf)
14. Chris Sale (CHW) -- Wed-CHC (Dempster)
15. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) -- Thu-TB (Moore)
16. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Tue-@DET (Verlander), Sun-@KC (Sanchez)
17. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Sat-@OAK (Colon)
18. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Sat-@SD (Richard)
19. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Sat-@KC (Mendoza)
20. Josh Johnson (MIA) -- Sat-TOR (Cecil)
21. Matt Garza (CHC) -- Mon-@CHW (Peavy), Sun-@ARI (Miley)
22. Johan Santana (NYM) -- Tue-BAL (Hunter)
23. Dan Haren (LAA) -- Wed-SF (Vogelsong)
24. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Tue-MIA (Buehrle), Sun-ATL (Minor)
25. Shaun Marcum (MIL) -- Tue-TOR (Chavez)
26. Matt Harrison (TEX) -- Mon-@SD (Marquis), Sun-COL (Outman)
27. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Sat-MIN (Manship)
28. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Sat-CHC (Maholm)
29. James McDonald (PIT) -- Thu-MIN (Hendriks)
30. Daniel Hudson (ARI) -- Tue-SEA (Ramirez)
31. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Tue-ATL (Hudson)
32. Andy Pettitte (NYY) -- Fri-@NYM (Niese)
33. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Fri-ATL (TBD)
34. Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Wed-@LAA (Haren)
35. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Mon-@CLE (Lowe), Sun-MIN (Diamond)
36. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Wed-TOR (TBD)
37. Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Sat-COL (Guthrie)
38. Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) -- Fri-@HOU (Harrell)
39. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) -- Fri-@BAL (Hammel)
40. Ryan Dempster (CHC) -- Wed-@CHW (Sale)
41. Tommy Hanson (ATL) -- Wed-@NYY (Hughes)
42. Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Fri-@LAA (Santana)
43. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Wed-@SD (Bass)
44. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Wed-SEA (Vargas)
45. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Tue-@NYY (Kuroda)
46. Anibal Sanchez (MIA) -- Fri-TOR (Romero)
47. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Thu-LAD (Kershaw)
48. Francisco Liriano (MIN) -- Wed-@PIT (Bedard)
49. James Shields (TB) -- Fri-@PHI (Lee)
50. Matt Moore (TB) -- Thu-@WAS (Gonzalez)
51. Ricky Romero (TOR) -- Fri-@MIA (Sanchez)
52. Vance Worley (PHI) -- Thu-COL (Francis)
53. Edwin Jackson (WAS) -- Sat-@BAL (Chen)
54. Jonathan Sanchez (KC) -- Mon-@HOU (Happ), Sun-STL (Lynn)
55. Phil Hughes (NYY) -- Wed-ATL (Hanson)
56. Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Sat-@NYM (Young)
57. Doug Fister (DET) -- Thu-STL (Lohse)
58. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Wed-@WAS (Strasburg)
59. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Fri-@OAK (Blackley)
60. Scott Diamond (MIN) -- Tue-@PIT (Correia), Sun-@CIN (Latos)
61. Erik Bedard (PIT) -- Wed-MIN (Liriano)
62. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) -- Tue-KC (Hochevar)
63. Nate Eovaldi (LAD) -- Wed-@OAK (Milone)
64. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Wed-CIN (Arroyo)
65. A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Fri-DET (Scherzer)
66. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Fri-NYY (Pettitte)
67. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Fri-@PIT (Burnett)
68. Brandon McCarthy (OAK) -- Tue-LAD (Harang), Sun-SF (Cain)
69. Felix Doubront (BOS) -- Wed-MIA (Nolasco)
70. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Wed-BAL (Matusz)
71. Kyle Lohse (STL) -- Thu-@DET (Fister)
72. Aaron Harang (LAD) -- Tue-@OAK (McCarthy), Sun-@LAA (Williams)
73. Bartolo Colon (OAK) -- Sat-SF (Bumgarner)
74. Kevin Millwood (SEA) -- Fri-@SD (Ohlendorf)
75. Ricky Nolasco (MIA) -- Wed-@BOS (Doubront)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Mark Buehrle (MIA) -- Tue-@BOS (Buchholz), Sun-TOR (Alvarez)
Kevin Correia (PIT) -- Tue-MIN (Diamond), Sun-DET (Verlander)
Derek Lowe (CLE) -- Mon-CIN (Latos), Sun-@HOU (Happ)
Chien-Ming Wang (WAS) -- Tue-TB (Price), Sun-@BAL (Arrieta)
Jerome Williams (LAA) -- Mon-SF (Cain), Sun-LAD (Harang)
Randy Wolf (MIL) -- Mon-TOR (Alvarez), Sun-@CHW (Peavy)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Henderson Alvarez (TOR) -- Mon-@MIL (Wolf), Sun-@MIA (Buehrle)
Jake Arrieta (BAL) -- Mon-@NYM (Dickey), Sun-WAS (Wang)
J.A. Happ (HOU) -- Mon-KC (Sanchez), Sun-CLE (Lowe)
Jason Marquis (SD) -- Mon-TEX (Harrison), Sun-SEA (Noesi)
Mike Minor (ATL) -- Mon-@NYY (Sabathia), Sun-@BOS (Buchholz)
Hector Noesi (SEA) -- Mon-@ARI (Miley), Sun-@SD (Marquis)
Josh Outman (COL) -- Tue-@PHI (Hamels), Sun-@TEX (Harrison)
• Though the Arizona Diamondbacks have a ho-hum, 17th-ranked 3.99 team ERA for the season, it is time to exploit what is a favorable set of weekly matchups for them; they are my Baseball Challenge pitching staff pick of Week 11. During their past 22 games (May 20-June 14), Diamondbacks starters have 13 quality starts, 11 wins, a 3.26 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, and they play all six of their games at home against terrible offenses. Heck, let's just call them terrible teams: The opposing Mariners and Chicago Cubs combined have a .375 winning percentage, meaning an outstanding chance at a win every day, and the Mariners rank 21st in runs scored and the Cubs 28th (the Cubs also rank 27th in runs per game on the road, with 3.61). Two-start pitcher Wade Miley has had back-to-back outstanding starts, including a June 13 outing at Texas' Rangers Ballpark, and Ian Kennedy should rebound from a poor performance at Texas in a Saturday turn versus the Cubs. Among other recommended BBC pitching staffs: Yankees (ATL-3, @NYM-3), Philadelphia Phillies (COL-3, TB-3), Giants (@LAA-3, @OAK-3), Dodgers (@OAK-3, @LAA-3).
• Matt Cain makes his first start since his perfect game and his second within the same week, too, as he's a two-start pitcher with road turns at the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics. Readers might recall my April analysis of pitchers fresh off no-hitters, when at the time I declared Philip Humber, fresh off a perfect game of his own, a sell-high candidate. The points made in that column, however, applied to the perception of a pitcher fresh off such a historical performance being inflated beyond reality; Cain is a pitcher whose perception is that he is already excellent. Fantasy owners might have the Johan Santana no-hitter example fresh in their minds: He threw a career-high 134 pitches to no-hit the Cardinals on June 1 and has allowed 10 runs in 10 innings in two starts since. I'll nominate Roy Halladay, who threw the last perfect game before Humber, as the smarter comparison point: He tossed 115 pitches in his May 29, 2010, perfecto, had back-to-back quality starts after that and a 3.00 ERA in his five starts following his masterpiece. Cain did throw 125 pitches in his perfect game, his most in a game since Aug. 10, 2008, but he'll also be pitching against two of the bottom nine teams in baseball in runs scored, as well as two venues that favor pitchers.
• Clay Buchholz is one of the aforementioned "rematch" pitchers; he and the Boston Red Sox host Mark Buehrle and the Miami Marlins in a rematch of their June 12 contest, won by Buchholz. That made Buchholz 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in his four career interleague starts, and as his two starts this week are both at Fenway Park, it's worth noting that he has an ERA nearly three-quarters of a run lower at home (3.58) than on the road (4.21) during his career. Another pro-Red Sox starters note: In the other "starters' rematch," Felix Doubront versus Ricky Nolasco on Wednesday, be aware that Doubront tossed seven innings of two-run, three-hit, nine-strikeout baseball for a win of his own. All four pitchers, actually, managed quality starts during their first meetings, but it's the Red Sox who have the advantage in the rematch against the Marlins, who are hitting .224 as a team in June.
• Sunday's Rays-Phillies game at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park pits two ace left-handers against one another: David Price versus Cole Hamels. Unfortunately, during their regular season careers, each has one miserable start against the other team; Price had a 10.38 ERA in his one previous start against the Phillies (in 2009), while Hamels had a 12.27 ERA in his (in 2006). I say toss those ERAs out. These Rays have managed .215/.298/.330 team triple-slash rates while averaging 3.85 runs in their past 26 contests, favoring Hamels. These Phillies, meanwhile, have averaged the sixth-fewest runs per game (3.52) and 12th-worst OPS (.715) in home games this season, favoring Price.
• R.A. Dickey, the No. 1 pitcher in fantasy baseball during the past 30 days, is a two-start pitcher whose matchups versus American League East foes (Baltimore Orioles, Yankees) should inspire no fear in his owners. Both games are at home, and he has a 2.63 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 35 career games (34 starts) at Citi Field, plus a 5-0 record, 1.45 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in six starts there in 2012. Plus, Dickey's scarier matchup, Sunday versus the Yankees, comes against a team he limited to .154/.267/.308 triple-slash rates in two starts last season.
• If there is one matchup that has historically flustered the productive Ryan Dempster, it's one against the Chicago White Sox. Since starting full-time in 2008, he's 2-4 with a 5.23 ERA and 1.74 WHIP in seven starts, and remember, these teams do battle often as cross-city rivals. Current White Sox have .291/.395/.491 lifetime triple-slash rates against him in 130 plate appearances. The smart move is to expect a performance somewhat in range of his most recent meeting against the White Sox on May 19: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 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 11, here are my picks by day:
Monday, June 18: Jonathan Sanchez at Houston Astros
Tuesday, June 19: Aaron Harang at Oakland Athletics
Wednesday, June 20: Francisco Liriano at Pittsburgh Pirates
Thursday, June 21: Jarrod Parker versus Los Angeles Dodgers
Friday, June 22: Kevin Millwood at San Diego Padres
Saturday, June 23: Clayton Richard versus Seattle Mariners
Sunday, June 24: Jonathan Sanchez versus St. Louis Cardinals
Friday, June 8: Luke Hochevar -- 6 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Saturday, June 9: Trevor Cahill -- W, QS, 7 1/3 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
Sunday, June 10: Philip Humber -- 5 1/3 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
Monday, June 11: Randall Delgado -- 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 6 BB, 5 K
Tuesday, June 12: Wei-Yin Chen -- 6 1/3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Wednesday, June 13: Brian Matusz -- injury scratch, moved to Friday
Thursday, June 14: Scott Diamond -- 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
Week's total: 6 GS, 1 W (16.7%), 1 QS (16.7%), 36 IP, 40 H, 22 ER, 16 BB, 29 K, 5.50 ERA, 1.56 WHIP
Season total: 63 GS, 28 W (44.4%), 35 QS (55.6%), 388 1/3 IP, 356 H, 163 ER, 130 BB, 279 K, 3.78 ERA, 1.25 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.
• Fortunately, this isn't a week where the loss of the DH will hurt a substantial number of AL squads. Of the four AL teams that play all six of their games at NL parks, only Jesus Montero of the Mariners is a prominent fantasy name likely to lose a noticeable number of at-bats, but because he qualifies at catcher and might catch a few games, he should remain in his owners' lineups. The Twins might sit Ryan Doumit more often, while shifting Justin Morneau to first base, the Blue Jays will almost assuredly move Edwin Encarnacion to first base all six days, while the Rays will probably use Hideki Matsui as a mere pinch-hitter. Six other AL teams will make three-game stops at one NL ballpark this week: The Orioles, Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Yankees and Texas Rangers. Among the usual DHs for those teams, the Orioles' Chris Davis could return to third base at Wilson Betemit's expense, the Tigers should continue to play Delmon Young in left field, the Royals will continue to alternate Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer at first base and the Rangers should give Michael Young a handful of starts at first base ahead of Mitch Moreland. The Indians and Yankees, who typically use the DH as a "day off" place for their regulars, simply won't have that luxury for three games.
• Among the four 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: The Braves will presumably continue with their straight platoon of right-handed Matt Diaz and left-handed Eric Hinske in the role, the Dodgers have an extra place to squeeze Juan Rivera and Adam Kennedy into the lineup, the Cardinals finally have an opportunity to get both Matt Adams and Allen Craig into the same lineup and the Giants can shift Pablo Sandoval to DH to open up third base for Joaquin Arias. As for the six NL teams that play merely one series at an AL park -- the Cubs, Reds, Colorado Rockies, Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals -- here are a few other hitters who could pick up extra at-bats: The Cubs should continue to use Alfonso Soriano at DH with Reed Johnson in left field, the Reds have a place to play both Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey, the Rockies have an opportunity to use Tyler Colvin for all three games, Greg Dobbs might man third base while Hanley Ramirez shifts to DH, the Brewers can continue giving players like Ryan Braun or Aramis Ramirez a "rest" at DH, with players like Cody Ransom and Taylor Green picking up additional at-bats and the Nationals can keep Michael Morse in the DH role with Stephen Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore in left field.
• The Indians have a favorable set of hitting matchups, avoiding Reds ace Johnny Cueto to begin the week, then facing the struggling side of the Houston Astros' rotation. It's Shin-Soo Choo who stands out this week, however, thanks to his history of interleague success. In addition to lifetime .296/.395/.472 triple-slash rates in 70 interleague contests, as well as .300-plus batting averages during interleague play in each season from 2009-11, he's 6-for-12 (.500 AVG) with four home runs in his career versus Wednesday opponent Bronson Arroyo.
• Though the Rangers begin their week with a three-game series at San Diego's Petco Park, their overall hitting matchups are entirely favorable. Consider that their Padres opponents are Jason Marquis, Edinson Volquez and Anthony Bass; they then face three mightily struggling Rockies starters during the weekend. Red-hot David Murphy is the Rangers hitter to watch: He's 8-for-27 (.296 AVG) with two home runs in 10 games in the month of June.
Tristan H. Cockcroft breaks down the schedule for the week of June 18-24 for the best hitter matchups, two-start pitchers and streaming opportunities.