- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
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Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, July 1 at 7:21 p.m. ET.
On tap: Baseball's traditional -- as well as mathematical -- "first half" concludes this week, the traditional "half" ending with the conclusion of Sunday's games, the mathematical "half" -- half of all scheduled 2012 regular-season games -- ending once the first six games on Wednesday are in the books. How appropriate: Independence Day marks the mathematical "one-half" point. It's a good time, therefore, to reassess your team's standing, strengths and weaknesses, a few days in advance of the All-Star break which arrives upon the conclusion of the week.
Two of the past week's most anticipated rotation arrivals get two-start weeks: Arizona Diamondbacks rookie Trevor Bauer, who lasted just four innings in his June 28 debut, gets two starts at home, facing the light-hitting San Diego Padres and ice-cold Los Angeles Dodgers. Meanwhile, Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner, who tossed 6 1/3 no-hit innings en route to a quality start in his return to the rotation on June 28, is Bauer's and the Diamondbacks' Tuesday opponent, before returning home to Petco Park as the Padres host the Cincinnati Reds.
They're not the only intriguing two-start pitchers, in what's a week of fascinating two-start narratives: Tim Lincecum, who has back-to-back quality starts capped by seven shutout innings on June 27, makes trips to Washington's Nationals Park and Pittsburgh's PNC Park. Meanwhile, A.J. Burnett, who is riding an eight-start winning streak, gets a pair of home starts, one against the Houston Astros and the other against the San Francisco Giants and Lincecum. Among one-start storylines: Francisco Liriano, who is riding a three-quality start streak and four out of five, heads to Texas' Rangers Ballpark for perhaps his best test yet. And Ryan Vogelsong, in the midst of a major league-best 11 quality start streak, has an excellent chance at a 13th in a row on Saturday (he also starts against the Reds on July 1), when he pitches at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
Forecaster note: Due to the upcoming All-Star break, the next Fantasy Forecaster -- for Week 14 of the fantasy season -- will be published during the All-Star break, rather than next Friday, July 6. This will allow all for second-half rotations to be properly collected; many teams wait until the break to announce their second-half rotation order. Week 14 will span games of July 13th through July 22nd.
ESPN leagues: Week 13
Monday is a "normal" Monday with its first game, New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays, scheduled at 7 p.m. ET, meaning another late lineup deadline. The rest of the week, however, is anything but "normal," due to the Independence Day holiday. Take note if you play in a daily-transactions league: Tuesday has a rare early start time of 4:10 p.m. ET (Miami Marlins at Milwaukee Brewers), while Wednesday/Indepence Day kicks off with an 11:05 a.m. ET start time (Giants at Washington Nationals). 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. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Tue-BAL (Chen), Sun-@OAK (Parker)
2. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Mon-@CLE (Jimenez), Sat-BAL (Hammel)
3. Zack Greinke (MIL) -- Mon-MIA (Zambrano), Sat-@HOU (Rodriguez)
4. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Tue-@LAD (Capuano), Sun-@SD (Cashner)
5. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Wed-MIN (Duensing)
6. Chris Sale (CHW) -- Tue-TEX (Oswalt), Sun-TOR (Cecil)
7. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) -- Tue-SF (Lincecum), Sun-COL (Friedrich)
8. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Fri-@ARI (Collmenter)
9. Matt Cain (SF) -- Thu-@WAS (Detwiler)
10. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) -- Fri-COL (Outman)
11. James McDonald (PIT) -- Mon-HOU (Lyles), Sat-SF (Vogelsong)
12. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Fri-ATL (Hudson)
13. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Wed-@WAS (Jackson)
14. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Wed-COL (Friedrich)
15. R.A. Dickey (NYM) -- Thu-PHI (Lee)
16. Vance Worley (PHI) -- Tue-@NYM (Niese), Sun-ATL (Jurrjens)
17. David Price (TB) -- Wed-NYY (Phelps)
18. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) -- Sat-COL (Francis)
19. Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Sat-@PIT (McDonald)
20. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Tue-@WAS (Zimmermann), Sun-@PIT (Burnett)
21. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Fri-BAL (TBD)
22. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Thu-@NYM (Dickey)
23. Johan Santana (NYM) -- Fri-CHC (Wood)
24. Tommy Hanson (ATL) -- Mon-CHC (Samardzija), Sat-@PHI (Blanton)
25. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Mon-BOS (Matsuzaka), Sun-SEA (Hernandez)
26. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Tue-@OAK (Colon)
27. Josh Johnson (MIA) -- Wed-@MIL (Wolf)
28. Jason Hammel (BAL) -- Mon-@SEA (Iwakuma), Sat-@LAA (Weaver)
29. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Thu-@SD (Volquez)
30. Wade Miley (ARI) -- Thu-LAD (Eovaldi)
31. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Tue-MIN (Blackburn), Sun-KC (Teaford)
32. Matt Garza (CHC) -- Thu-@ATL (Minor)
33. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Sat-MIN (Hendriks)
34. Doug Fister (DET) -- Mon-MIN (Hendriks), Sat-KC (Chen)
35. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Fri-@HOU (Happ)
36. Trevor Bauer (ARI) -- Tue-SD (Cashner), Sun-LAD (Capuano)
37. Jake Peavy (CHW) -- Fri-TOR (Laffey)
38. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Fri-@PHI (Hamels)
39. Matt Moore (TB) -- Mon-NYY (Garcia), Sat-@CLE (Jimenez)
40. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Fri-TB (Cobb)
41. Dan Haren (LAA) -- Tue-@CLE (McAllister), Sun-BAL (Chen)
42. A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Tue-HOU (Harrell), Sun-SF (Lincecum)
43. Ervin Santana (LAA) -- Wed-@CLE (Lowe)
44. Tommy Milone (OAK) -- Fri-SEA (Millwood)
45. James Shields (TB) -- Tue-NYY (Nova), Sun-@CLE (McAllister)
46. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Wed-SD (Marquis)
47. Edwin Jackson (WAS) -- Wed-SF (Bumgarner)
48. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Mon-SD (Richard), Sat-LAD (Billingsley)
49. Matt Harrison (TEX) -- Thu-@CHW (Quintana)
50. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) -- Sat-MIL (Greinke)
51. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Fri-@BOS (Cook)
52. Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) -- Mon-LAA (Weaver), Sat-TB (Moore)
53. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Sat-CHC (Samardzija)
54. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Tue-PHI (Worley), Sun-CHC (Volstad)
55. Erik Bedard (PIT) -- Fri-SF (Zito)
56. Travis Blackley (OAK) -- Sat-SEA (Vargas)
57. Chris Capuano (LAD) -- Tue-CIN (Cueto), Sun-@ARI (Bauer)
58. Bronson Arroyo (CIN) -- Fri-@SD (Wells)
59. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Thu-COL (Pomeranz)
60. Francisco Liriano (MIN) -- Fri-@TEX (Perez)
61. Anibal Sanchez (MIA) -- Tue-@MIL (Estrada), Sun-@STL (Kelly)
62. Franklin Morales (BOS) -- Wed-@OAK (Griffin)
63. Kyle Lohse (STL) -- Mon-COL (Outman), Sat-MIA (Zambrano)
64. Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Tue-@ARI (Bauer), Sun-CIN (Cueto)
65. Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Tue-@TB (Shields), Sun-@BOS (Matsuzaka)
66. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Fri-@CLE (Masterson)
67. Bud Norris (HOU) -- Thu-@PIT (Karstens)
68. Ricky Romero (TOR) -- Mon-KC (Teaford), Sat-@CHW (Floyd)
69. Roy Oswalt (TEX) -- Tue-@CHW (Sale), Sun-MIN (Blackburn)
70. Jair Jurrjens (ATL) -- Tue-CHC (Volstad), Sun-@PHI (Worley)
71. Jake Arrieta (BAL) -- Wed-@SEA (Noesi)
72. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Mon-@LAD (Billingsley), Sat-@SD (Richard)
73. Jose Quintana (CHW) -- Thu-TEX (Harrison)
74. Clayton Richard (SD) -- Mon-@ARI (Cahill), Sat-CIN (Bailey)
75. Lucas Harrell (HOU) -- Tue-@PIT (Burnett)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Mon-CIN (Bailey), Sat-@ARI (Cahill)
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Tue-@SEA (Hernandez), Sun-@LAA (Haren)
Marco Estrada (MIL) -- Tue-MIA (Sanchez), Sun-@HOU (Lyles)
Jordan Lyles (HOU) -- Mon-@PIT (McDonald), Sun-MIL (Estrada)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS) -- Mon-@OAK (Parker), Sun-NYY (Nova)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Nick Blackburn (MIN) -- Tue-@DET (Scherzer), Sun-@TEX (Oswalt)
Brett Cecil (TOR) -- Tue-KC (Mazzaro), Sun-@CHW (Sale)
Jeff Francis (COL) -- Tue-@STL (Kelly), Sat-@WAS (Gonzalez)
Christian Friedrich (COL) -- Wed-@STL (Wainwright), Sun-@WAS (Zimmermann)
Freddy Garcia (NYY) -- Mon-@TB (Moore), Sat-@BOS, Gm. 2 (Doubront)
Liam Hendriks (MIN) -- Mon-@DET (Fister), Sat-@TEX (Darvish)
Joe Kelly (STL) -- Tue-COL (Francis), Sun-MIA (Sanchez)
Zach McAllister (CLE) -- Tue-LAA (Haren), Sun-TB (Shields)
Josh Outman (COL) -- Mon-@STL (Lohse), Fri-@WAS (Strasburg)
Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Mon-@ATL (Hanson), Sat-@NYM (Gee)
Everett Teaford (KC) -- Mon-@TOR (Romero), Sun-@DET (Scherzer)
Chris Volstad (CHC) -- Tue-@ATL (Jurrjens), Sun-@NYM (Niese)
Carlos Zambrano (MIA) -- Mon-@MIL (Greinke), Sat-@STL (Lohse)
• The recent performances of Mat Latos and Aroldis Chapman might taint the fantasy perception of the Reds' pitching staff; their up-and-down Junes might have you thinking the team isn't trustworthy as a Baseball Challenge choice. I think they are. Their recent numbers tell the true story: In their past 19 games, Reds starters have 14 quality starts, a 3.50 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, while the staff as a whole has a 3.83 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Hidden beneath the radar is an impressive recent performance by Reds starters in the walk department; during their past 19 contests Reds starters have averaged but 1.90 walks per nine innings. Now they head west to Los Angeles and San Diego, where first they'll face a Dodgers team with major league worsts in the month of June in batting average (.219) and slugging percentage (.295), and one that has .249/.317/.342 triple-slash rates and a 3.63 runs-per-game average in contests during which time Matt Kemp has been on the DL, then a Padres team batting .221 and averaging 3.05 runs per game at Petco Park. Among other recommended BBC pitching staffs: Los Angeles Angels (@CLE-3, BAL-4), Diamondbacks (SD-3, LAD-4), Giants (@WAS-3, @PIT-3), Detroit Tigers (MIN-4, KC-3).
• In defense of Francisco Liriano's challenging Rangers Ballpark matchup, he has three quality starts in four career starts there, and current Texas Rangers are combined .227/.289/.364 hitters with a 22.7 percent strikeout rate in their careers against him. My ranking above accounts for the difficulty of matchup; but his recent uptick in performance makes him difficult to sit.
• Ian Kennedy might be a frustration to his fantasy owners, but a Padres matchup is an effective must-start for the right-hander. He has six consecutive wins/quality starts against them, and has a 1.95 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 12.08 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio in eight career starts against them. Current Padres hitters, meanwhile, have combined .213/.231/.303 triple-slash rates and a 37.4 percent K rate in their careers against him.
• Rookie Jarrod Parker has a two-start week that perhaps signals his being deep into his "second trip around the league." This is the pro-Parker argument: He has a 1.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and five quality starts in six games at O.com Coliseum, where he'll make both of his starts this week, and he managed a better performance in Start No. 2 (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER on June 22) than No. 1 (2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER on May 18) against the Giants, the only team he has faced multiple times during his career. Now, the anti-Parker argument: The opposing Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners have faced him before, which is an advantage for them, and the Red Sox specifically rank second in the majors in runs per game (5.22) and fourth in slugging percentage (.449). The former is a more compelling case, but let the latter help keep your expectations from the rookie realistic.
• Phil Hughes -- and for the most part the Yankees' rotation -- is a no-go at Fenway Park. He has had one quality start in four career starts at Fenway, and a 10.80 ERA and 2.16 WHIP (only starts, excluding relief work) in those four games there. Here's the scariest part: Current Boston Red Sox combined have .317/.358/.550 lifetime triple-slash rates against Hughes. In addition, Ivan Nova has a 4.97 ERA and .333 batting average allowed in three career games (two starts) at Fenway, and Freddy Garcia has a 5.05 ERA in 10 career games (nine starts) at Fenway and was hammered there this April 21 (1 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER). Hiroki Kuroda, Friday's starter, tossed a quality start in his only career game at Fenway, on June 20, 2010. He's the only one of the four Yankees to pitch there who can be called "safe."
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 13, here are my picks by day:
Monday, July 2: Daisuke Matsuzaka at Oakland Athletics
Tuesday, July 3: Jair Jurrjens versus Chicago Cubs
Wednesday, July 4: Jake Arrieta at Seattle Mariners
Thursday, July 5: Rick Porcello versus Minnesota Twins
Friday, July 6: Tommy Milone versus Seattle Mariners
Saturday, July 7: Dillon Gee versus Chicago Cubs
Sunday, July 8: Andrew Cashner versus Cincinnati Reds
Friday, June 22: Kevin Millwood -- 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Saturday, June 23: Clayton Richard -- W, QS, 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Sunday, June 24: Jonathan Sanchez -- 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 3 K
Monday, June 25: Tommy Milone -- W, QS, 7 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Tuesday, June 26: Dillon Gee -- 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Wednesday, June 27: Jonathon Niese -- W, QS, 7 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Thursday, June 28: Franklin Morales -- QS, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Week's total: 7 GS, 3 W (42.9%), 4 QS (57.1%), 43 1/3 IP, 45 H, 19 ER, 17 BB, 36 K, 3.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
Season total: 77 GS, 33 W (42.9%), 44 QS (57.1%), 473 2/3 IP, 432 H, 194 ER, 168 BB, 360 K, 3.69 ERA, 1.27 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.
• Acquiring Kevin Youkilis was a huge plus for the Chicago White Sox; he's a lefty-killing slugger joining a team that has .239/.309/.392 triple-slash rates against that side. Youkilis, a .298/.418/.508 lifetime hitter versus left-handers, and the White Sox will face four consecutive southpaws to end a six-game week. Youkilis isn't the only White Sox hitter to lean on this week. Dayan Viciedo is a .321 hitter with four home runs in 53 at-bats against that side, while Alexei Ramirez is a .286 hitter against lefties. There is only one player on the team to downgrade as a result of the schedule: Adam Dunn, a .165 hitter versus left-handers. But even in his case, he's AL-only/deep-mixed worthy, thanks to a .418 slugging percentage against them.
• The Nationals are another of the four teams to face as many as four left-handed starters this week -- the Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals and aforementioned White Sox complete the quartet -- and that's a plus considering their recent success against that side. The Nationals have actually faced a high volume of lefty starters recently, 10 in their past 19 games, and they have averaged 6.10 runs in those games, compared to 3.11 in games against right-handed starters. Ian Desmond, a .302/.330/.563 hitter in 24 games in June, is specifically the standout: He's 7-for-9 (.778 AVG) in his career against Monday opponent Tim Lincecum, and 2-for-7 (.286 AVG) against Wednesday foe Matt Cain, the only two righties he'll battle. Meanwhile, Desmond is a .274 hitter slugging .548 against lefties this season. Weeks loaded with lefties also favor Tyler Moore, a .314/.385/.543 hitter against southpaws in 2012; Danny Espinosa, .329/.427/.543 against them this year; and Michael Morse, a .307/.368/.521 lifetime hitter versus left-handers.
• The Tigers' Delmon Young is a noted lefty killer, so keep him in mind even in shallow mixed leagues. He's a .308/.316/.487 hitter against left-handers this season, .307/.341/.479 against them in his career, and hasn't batted lower than .300 against that side since 2007 (.299, in 164 at-bats).
• There isn't an offense hotter than that of the Angels, who have averaged 5.56 runs per game with .304/.363/.494 team offensive rates in their past 27 contests, and this week they won't face a starting pitcher any more threatening than Ubaldo Jimenez (Monday's opponent) or Jason Hammel (Saturday's). Their slow-starting middle infielders, Erick Aybar and Howard Kendrick, have restored much of their fantasy stock, Aybar batting .315 in 24 games in June and Kendrick .313 in 22 games. In addition, Aybar is a .295 hitter and Kendrick .291 versus left-handers this season, and the Angels face two lefty starters.
Tristan H. Cockcroft breaks down the schedule for the week of July 2nd through the 8th for the best hitter matchups, two-start pitchers and streaming opportunities.