Commentary

Forecaster: June 25-July 1

Updated: June 24, 2012, 5:31 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, June 24 at 5:31 p.m. ET.

On tap: It's back to "normal" baseball -- intraleague play -- with a busier schedule than we've seen in recent weeks, as 22 of the 30 teams play a full seven-game schedule. In fact, 12 of the 14 American League teams play seven games (the AL's schedule is busier partly because of a doubleheader between the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins on Saturday).

We might see the 2012 debuts of two familiar National League names: Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, the No. 1 fantasy player at his position as recently as 2009, might be activated midweek from his 20-day rehabilitation assignment with Class A Clearwater if all goes well. Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew, meanwhile, is in the midst of a rehab assignment at Triple-A Reno and might be back with the team by Wednesday. Neither player seems likely to be fully cleared to play the entire week nor have they proven their worth with a game in advance of the weekly deadline, so neither is a particularly safe player to activate. Still, their potential returns grant their fantasy owners a chance to evaluate them late in the week for possible activation in Week 13.

Rookies could also be the storyline of Week 12: With Joe Saunders now on the disabled list, Trevor Bauer might be under consideration for the Arizona Diamondbacks' rotation, taking Saunders' spot and pitching either Thursday, Friday or Saturday. The Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, might summon first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the minors in the early stages of the week.

Finall, the two-start pitcher list has two curious cases: Enigmatic Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano, who has four quality starts in his past five games while facing mostly weak offenses, makes Target Field starts against the Chicago White Sox and Royals. And Texas Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish, who is 1-3 with a 6.53 ERA and 1.98 WHIP in four starts against teams he has previously faced (the proverbial "second time around the league") but 8-1 with a 2.51 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 10 starts against teams he was facing for the first time, battles two teams he has faced before, the Tigers and Oakland Athletics.

ESPN leagues: Week 12

Monday marks the resumption of intraleague play, and that means nothing but the start of new series, and therefore a 7 p.m. ET lineup deadline. Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees, on ESPN2 and ESPN3, kicks off the week. Here are the scheduled 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 12 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 12 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Tue-@SF (Vogelsong), Sun-NYM (Gee)
2. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) -- Mon-@COL (Francis), Sat-@ATL (Minor)
3. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Fri-@TB (Price)
4. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-@BAL (Matusz), Sun-@TOR (Laffey)
5. Matt Cain (SF) -- Fri-CIN (Leake)
6. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Sat-@MIA (Buehrle)
7. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Fri-CHW (Quintana)
8. R.A. Dickey (NYM) -- Fri-@LAD (Harang)
9. Jake Peavy (CHW) -- Mon-@MIN (Liriano), Sat-@NYY (Kuroda)
10. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Thu-CIN (Cueto)
11. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) -- Tue-@COL (Friedrich), Sun-@ATL (Hudson)
12. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Wed-@BAL (Hammel)
13. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Fri-PIT (Correia)
14. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Fri-@MIA (Johnson)
15. Chris Sale (CHW) -- Wed-@MIN (Blackburn)
16. Zack Greinke (MIL) -- Wed-@CIN (Bailey)
17. James McDonald (PIT) -- Wed-@PHI (TBD)
18. Josh Johnson (MIA) -- Fri-PHI (Hamels)
19. Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Thu-OAK (Ross)
20. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Sat-PIT (Karstens)
21. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Thu-@SF (Bumgarner)
22. Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Tue-LAD (Kershaw), Sun-CIN (Arroyo)
23. Matt Garza (CHC) -- Sat-HOU (Rodriguez)
24. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Mon-CLE (Tomlin), Sat-CHW (Peavy)
25. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Thu-BOS (Morales)
26. David Price (TB) -- Fri-DET (Verlander)
27. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Mon-@CIN (Latos), Sun-ARI (Hudson)
28. Johan Santana (NYM) -- Mon-@CHC (Wood), Sat-@LAD (Eovaldi)
29. Matt Moore (TB) -- Wed-@KC (Mazzaro)
30. Vance Worley (PHI) -- Tue-PIT (Bedard)
31. Andy Pettitte (NYY) -- Wed-CLE (Jimenez)
32. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Wed-TOR (Romero)
33. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Tue-ARI (Hudson), Sun-WAS (Gonzalez)
34. Shaun Marcum (MIL) -- Sat-ARI (TBD)
35. Tommy Hanson (ATL) -- Wed-ARI (Cahill)
36. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Thu-@ATL (Jurrjens)
37. Wade Miley (ARI) -- Fri-@MIL (Wolf)
38. Francisco Liriano (MIN) -- Mon-CHW (Peavy), Sat-KC, Gm. 2 (Hochevar)
39. Matt Harrison (TEX) -- Fri-OAK (Griffin)
40. James Shields (TB) -- Thu-DET (Scherzer)
41. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Wed-@SEA (Millwood)
42. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Tue-@CHC (Wells), Sun-@LAD (Kershaw)
43. Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Wed-@SF (Lincecum)
44. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Wed-@ATL (Hanson)
45. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Mon-MIL (Gallardo), Sat-@SF (Zito)
46. Kyle Lohse (STL) -- Tue-@MIA (Zambrano)
47. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Tue-@NYY (Hughes), Sun-@BAL (Matusz)
48. Anibal Sanchez (MIA) -- Wed-STL (Kelly)
49. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) -- Wed-@COL (Outman)
50. Daniel Hudson (ARI) -- Tue-@ATL (Hudson), Sun-@MIL (Gallardo)
51. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Thu-@TB (Shields)
52. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Tue-DET (Smyly), Sun-OAK (Blackley)
53. Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Thu-CHW (Axelrod)
54. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) -- Mon-SD (Ohlendorf), Sat-@CHC (Garza)
55. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Mon-@KC (Hochevar)
56. Doug Fister (DET) -- Wed-@TEX (Oswalt)
57. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Wed-@CHC (Samardzija)
58. Dan Haren (LAA) -- Thu-@TOR (Cecil)
59. Phil Hughes (NYY) -- Tue-CLE (Masterson), Sun-CHW (Floyd)
60. Jason Hammel (BAL) -- Wed-LAA (Weaver)
61. Joe Blanton (PHI) -- Mon-PIT (Karstens), Sun-@MIA (Nolasco)
62. Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) -- Wed-@NYY (Pettitte)
63. Randall Delgado (ATL) -- Fri-WAS (Detwiler)
64. Jake Westbrook (STL) -- Mon-@MIA (Nolasco), Sun-PIT (Bedard)
65. Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Thu-CLE (Gomez)
66. Chris Capuano (LAD) -- Thu-NYM (Young)
67. A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Thu-@PHI (Kendrick)
68. Erik Bedard (PIT) -- Tue-@PHI (Worley), Sun-@STL (Westbrook)
69. Ervin Santana (LAA) -- Fri-@TOR (Chavez)
70. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Sat-WAS (Strasburg)
71. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Wed-LAD (Billingsley)
72. Nate Eovaldi (LAD) -- Mon-@SF (Zito), Sat-NYM (Santana)
73. Edwin Jackson (WAS) -- Thu-@COL (White)
74. Franklin Morales (BOS) -- Thu-@SEA (Hernandez)
75. Kevin Millwood (SEA) -- Wed-OAK (Parker)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Bronson Arroyo (CIN) -- Tue-MIL (Estrada), Sun-@SF (Vogelsong)
Travis Blackley (OAK) -- Tue-@SEA (Vargas), Sun-@TEX (Darvish)
Felix Doubront (BOS) -- Mon-TOR (Alvarez), Sat-@SEA (Ramirez)
Justin Grimm (TEX) -- Mon-DET (Porcello), Sat-OAK (Milone)
Luke Hochevar (KC) -- Mon-TB (Cobb), Sat-@MIN, Gm. 2 (Liriano)
Jordan Lyles (HOU) -- Tue-SD (TBD), Sun-@CHC (Wood)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS) -- Tue-TOR (Laffey), Sun-@SEA (Vargas)
Brian Matusz (BAL) -- Tue-LAA (Wilson), Sun-CLE (Masterson)
Ricky Nolasco (MIA) -- Mon-STL (Westbrook), Sun-PHI (Blanton)
Drew Smyly (DET) -- Tue-@TEX (Darvish), Sun-@TB (TBD)
Travis Wood (CHC) -- Mon-NYM (Santana), Sun-HOU (Lyles)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Henderson Alvarez (TOR) -- Mon-@BOS (Doubront), Sat-LAA (Richards)
Bruce Chen (KC) -- Tue-TB (Archer), Sun-@MIN (Hendriks)
Gavin Floyd (CHW) -- Tue-@MIN (Hendriks), Sun-@NYY (Hughes)
Jeff Francis (COL) -- Mon-WAS (Strasburg), Fri-SD (Volquez)
Christian Friedrich (COL) -- Tue-WAS (Gonzalez), Sat-SD (Ohlendorf)
Liam Hendriks (MIN) -- Tue-CHW (Floyd), Sun-KC (Chen)
Jeff Karstens (PIT) -- Mon-@PHI (Blanton), Sat-@STL (Lynn)
Aaron Laffey (TOR) -- Tue-@BOS (Matsuzaka), Sun-LAA (Wilson)
Tommy Milone (OAK) -- Mon-@SEA (Ramirez), Sat-@TEX (Grimm)
Ross Ohlendorf (SD) -- Mon-@HOU (Rodriguez), Sat-@COL (Friedrich)
Josh Outman (COL) -- Wed-WAS (Zimmermann), Sun-SD (TBD)
Rick Porcello (DET) -- Mon-@TEX (Grimm), Sat-@TB (Hellickson)
Erasmo Ramirez (SEA) -- Mon-OAK (Milone), Sat-BOS (Doubront)
Josh Tomlin (CLE) -- Mon-@NYY (Kuroda), Sat-@BAL (TBD)
Jason Vargas (SEA) -- Tue-OAK (Blackley), Sun-BOS (Matsuzaka)
Barry Zito (SF) -- Mon-LAD (Eovaldi), Sat-CIN (Latos)

Pitching notes

• "What have you done for me lately" is the wrong approach to evaluating the Yankees' pitching staff, at least as a Week 12 Baseball Challenge pick. Phil Hughes on June 20 might have snapped the team's streak of 19 consecutive starters managing six-plus innings pitched, but lump Hughes' 4 1/3-inning stinker on that day into a 20-game spell and Yankees starters still have 13 wins, 15 quality starts, a 2.91 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and an 8.40 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio. This is a staff on a monstrous tear: In the month of June, CC Sabathia has three wins, a 3.30 ERA and a 9.90 K's-per-nine innings ratio; Ivan Nova is 3-0 with a 0.79 ERA and 0.84 WHIP; Hiroki Kuroda has three quality starts and a 2.67 ERA; Andy Pettitte is 3-for-3 in quality starts with a 1.77 ERA; Hughes has three wins, a 3.51 ERA and a 9.82 K's-per-nine ratio; and closer Rafael Soriano is 7-for-8 in save chances with a 1.29 ERA. The Yankees play all seven of their games at home, three against the Indians and four the White Sox, and they're 14-4 with a 2.59 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 18 games at home in June. Among other recommended BBC pitching staffs: Phillies (PIT-4, @MIA-3), San Francisco Giants (LAD-3, CIN-4), Los Angeles Dodgers (@SF-3, NYM-4).

Ricky Romero, he of the 5.59 ERA in his past five starts (entering his June 22 turn), is a no-go in Fenway Park games. He has two quality starts in seven career tries there, with a 5.85 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in those seven games.

• If you're concerned about Clayton Kershaw's plantar fasciitis, you shouldn't be. His 77 Bill James Game Score in his most recent start (June 21) represented his third-best single-game performance of 2012. He's also 4-1 with a 0.45 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in six career games (five starts) at San Francisco's AT&T Park (including a perfect 3-0 with no earned runs allowed in 22 2/3 innings there in 2011), and he's 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in five career starts versus the New York Mets.

Edwin Jackson might have six consecutive quality starts, but a matchup at Colorado's Coors Field is incredibly risky for a pitcher with a 5.27 K's-per-nine ratio during that six-game stretch (6.57 for the season). He has been hammered in all three career starts there, with an ERA of 15.75 and WHIP of 2.67 in those games, and current Rockies have combined for .372/.446/.654 lifetime rates against him.

Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, isn't quite as dicey an option at Coors. His 3.96 K's-per-walk ratio is substantially higher than Jackson's 2.43, which is a plus, and he won his last start at Coors, on Aug. 5, 2011 (5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 8 K's).

Yovani Gallardo has three consecutive quality starts and nine in his past 10 games, and now he'll face two teams he has historically dominated. He's a perfect 6-0 with a 1.21 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in six starts versus the Diamondbacks, including a win against them on May 25, and he has six quality starts in seven career games at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, his 3.59 lifetime ERA there merely tarnished by one stinker: 5 IP, 9 H, 8 ER on Aug. 31, 2010.

• Home runs have been a severe problem for Joe Blanton -- he has allowed 16 in his past eight starts -- but his matchups make him one of the more attractive, under-the-radar, two-start pitchers. Current Pittsburgh Pirates hitters have lifetime .220/.266/.424 triple-slash rates against Blanton, while current Miami Marlins hitters have .230/.280/.382 rates against him.

Streamer's delight

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 12, here are my picks by day:

Monday, June 25: Tommy Milone at Seattle Mariners
Tuesday, June 26: Dillon Gee at Chicago Cubs
Wednesday, June 27: Kevin Millwood versus Oakland Athletics
Thursday, June 28: Franklin Morales at Seattle Mariners
Friday, June 29: Randall Delgado versus Washington Nationals
Saturday, June 30: Francisco Liriano versus Kansas City Royals
Sunday, July 1: Jake Westbrook versus Pittsburgh Pirates

Past picks
Friday, June 15: Jarrod Parker -- W, QS, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (moved to Thursday)
Saturday, June 16: Alexi Ogando -- scratched, now on DL
Sunday, June 17: Alex Cobb -- W, QS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
Monday, June 18: Jonathan Sanchez -- QS, 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K Tuesday, June 19: Aaron Harang -- 3 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 8 BB, 6 K
Wednesday, June 20: Erik Bedard -- QS, 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Thursday, June 21: Francisco Liriano -- QS, 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

Week's total: 6 GS, 2 W (33.3%), 5 QS (83.3%), 36 1/3 IP, 22 H, 8 ER, 18 BB, 38 K, 1.98 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Season total: 70 GS, 30 W (42.9%), 40 QS (57.1%), 430 1/3 IP, 387 H, 175 ER, 151 BB, 324 K, 3.66 ERA, 1.25 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

• So who buys Pedro Alvarez's recent hot spell? You should … as far as speculating on a good Week 12 fill-in is concerned. He has five home runs, two doubles and two singles in his past five games, striking out just twice in five at-bats, and his Pirates play four games at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, as well as six against right-handed starters. Alvarez has hit 28 of his 33 career homers against righties, has a lifetime OPS 109 points higher against righties (.741) than lefties (.632) and has homered once in three career games at Citizens Bank. And he is not the only Pirate worth a look this week: Garrett Jones, a .319/.340/.553 hitter in 15 games in June, and Neil Walker, a .267 hitter with 11 RBIs and five stolen bases in 18 games in the month, also warrant consideration.

• The Colorado Rockies also have under-the-radar hitters who should be activated in what's a seven-game week entirely played at Coors: Marco Scutaro is a .333/.367/.500 hitter in 18 games in June. Tyler Colvin, who has starts in four straight games and nine in the Rockies' past 11, is a .303/.352/.712 hitter in 27 games at Coors. Dexter Fowler, who has run cold lately but has endured most of his struggles on the road, is a .324/.436/.631 hitter in 34 Coors games. And Chris Nelson is a .289/.360/.667 hitter in 17 games in June.

• The Los Angeles Angels, the majors' third-best team in the month of June in terms of OPS (.804) and eighth in runs scored (88), benefit from a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays' injury-riddled rotation. What's more, the Angels will miss Ricky Romero; he's slated for Wednesday, a day before their weekend series begins. Torii Hunter stands out thanks to a .302/.389/.508 triple-slash line in 17 June games, as well as .345/.424/.483 rates against lefties (the Angels face three lefty starters). Howard Kendrick, who started the season slowly, is also a .309 hitter in his past 16 games.

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