|ESPN.com: 2011||[Print without images]|
On tap: The word of the day is "uncertainty." With the trade deadline creeping ever so close, we've already begun to see a few moves, most notably Edwin Jackson getting shipped off to the St. Louis Cardinals via the Toronto blue Jays. The upshot of that three-way deal is the return of Philip Humber to the Chicago White Sox rotation and the "demotion" of Kyle McClellan to Tony La Russa's bullpen carousel of terror.
Rumors involving Ubaldo Jimenez, Hiroki Kuroda, Erik Bedard, Wandy Rodriguez and James Shields continue to be just that: rumors. Odds are more of these deals end up falling through than see fruition, but the ripple effect from even one of these arms changing clubhouses will surely play havoc with the projections for the coming week. Nothing is set in stone until the calendar page officially turns.
It's a big week for the Cleveland Indians. We may well find out if they're legitimate postseason contenders or a feel-good story that has reached its end. They go on the road for four games against the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox then continue their tour of the top with a three-game set at the Western leaders, the Texas Rangers. Barring a deal, it looks as if Josh Tomlin and David Huff will be the ones to get double-dips.
Reminder: For those of you in weekly-transactions leagues, there is plenty of time to get your Week 17 lineups in, as there are currently no day games scheduled for Aug. 1. Here are this week's other scheduled first pitches by day: Tuesday 7:05 p.m. ET, Wednesday 1:05 p.m. ET, Thursday 12:10 p.m. ET, Friday 2:20 p.m. ET, Saturday 1:05 p.m. ET, Sunday 1:10 p.m. ET.
Editor's Note: Projected starters and hitter ratings have been updated as of Monday at 11 a.m. ET
• The streak is dead! Long live the streak! Felix Hernandez finally put a stake in the heart of that 17-game long vampire of a skid that sucked nearly all of the 2011 hope from Seattle Mariners fans. Truth be told, it's not like all of the blame can be placed on the anemic lineup. The Mariners staff over the last two weeks has been fairly brutal itself, with a 5.88 ERA. So why are we optimistic this week? For one, they're home for three against Oakland, a team they've held to a .218 batting average this season. Then there's a trip to Anaheim, where there's a chance King Felix could be handed a second start for the week if either Bedard or Jason Vargas ends up being traded.
• Of course, that Mariners lineup has been fairly awful all season long, and a .226 batting average strikes fear in nobody's hearts. That's why we love the Los Angeles Angels rotation this week. The trio of Dan Haren, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana could all throw no-hitters in the weekend series. The whole week's slate is at home, where the Angels pitchers have only a .234 batting average against. True, the Minnesota Twins, who come to town from Tuesday to Thursday, have double-digit hit totals 10 times this past month, but even with all that offense, they're still only 11th in the American League in runs scored (411) and 10th in batting average (.250).
• Tim Lincecum's recent illness caused the San Francisco Giants to juggle their rotation, and as such, he'll get two starts in Week 17. The first contest is against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hit just .244 on the road as a team, while the second outing is a rematch with the Philadelphia Phillies (against whom he threw six shutout innings on Thursday), who also see a dip in batting average -- to .245 -- when away from their home in Citizens Bank Park. There's really not a lot bad to say about this staff, which is leading the National League in ERA at 3.07. Matt Cain (9-6, 2.91 ERA) is the other pitcher currently expected to get the call twice for the West Division leaders.
• Even if Kuroda waives his no-trade clause and leaves for greener pastures, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a solid staff this week. They get a trio of games in San Diego, where they've held the Padres to a .238 batting average and a 2.89 ERA so far this season. Then, it's off to Arizona, where the Dodgers have been equally impressive, holding Diamondbacks bats to a .193 batting average and 11 runs scored in three games at Chase Field. Clayton Kershaw, who has yet to give up an earned run to Arizona this season, gets to pitch in both series.
Also favorable: St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox
Unfavorable: Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros
• Whenever Coors Field is open, it's usually a good idea to consider the Colorado Rockies' bats. For the season, they're hitting .279 at home as compared to .231 on the road. Yes, they're getting Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay when the Philadelphia Phillies come to town, but Seth Smith and Ty Wigginton actually hit Doc well (10-for-29) and guys such as Ryan Spilborghs and Todd Helton have handled Hamels in the past (.333 combined). There are winning lineups to be found here. After that, a four-game set with the Washington Nationals and their 4.16 road ERA isn't going to steer us away.
• Speaking of those Nationals, they might be getting a bat from the Detroit Tigers for Jason Marquis, or from one of the many other rumored deals involving Drew Storen, perhaps Denard Span. A little added excitement in this clubhouse may well add something extra to a lineup that has hit better in July than any other month of the season so far, thanks in large part to the duo of Michael Morse (.342) and Ryan Zimmerman (.310). Plus, a trip to Colorado -- perhaps one without Jimenez around -- typically doesn't hurt any offense.
• After an abysmal June (.229 as a team), the Toronto Blue Jays have been on fire in July, hitting .277 and scoring 5.7 runs per game. Colby Rasmus is sure to be an offensive upgrade over Rajai Davis, especially with Jose Bautista protecting him in the lineup. Against the Baltimore Orioles, the Blue Jays are hitting .283 with 16 home runs in nine games so far in 2011, and they've hit seven more round-trippers in eight contests with the Tampa Bay Rays. This should be a positive road trip for a team that could well find itself in third place in the AL East by the time it is over.
• Dustin Pedroia is getting hits every game now. It's 25 straight through Thursday's action and a .404 average during the streak. Not only is that rubbing off on the rest of the lineup, as the team is hitting .302 for July, but at Fenway Park, it matters not who is on the mound for the visiting side. The Red Sox are batting .308 when the Green Monster bears witness, with 19 home runs in 15 games against the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees so far in 2011. Even the meeting with CC Sabathia isn't worrisome when you consider he's allowed 12 earned runs to this offensive juggernaut over their past two encounters.
Also favorable: Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates
Unfavorable: Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners
Weatherproof games: Reds at Astros (3, Mon-Wed); Brewers at Astros (3, Fri-Sun); Cardinals at Brewers (3, Mon-Wed); Dodgers at Diamondbacks (3, Fri-Sun); Athletics at Mariners (3, Mon-Wed); Blue Jays at Rays (3, Tue-Thu); Athletics at Rays (3, Fri-Sun).
Editor's Note: Pitcher rankings have been updated as of Monday at 11:15 a.m. ET1. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Tue-ARI (Hudson), Sun-PHI (Kendrick)
AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. His book, "How Fantasy Sports Explains the World" will be released in August. You can e-mail him here.