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Friday, May 24, 2013
Updated: May 26, 8:22 AM ET
Fantasy Forecaster: Week 9

By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, May 26, at 8:22 a.m. ET.

On tap: Week 9 is the one week on the 2013 calendar in which interleague play dominates; it encompasses 60 percent of the week's schedule as well as every game from Monday through Thursday. Those four days represent the "traditional rivalry" portion of the interleague schedule; they are your familiar "Subway Series" (New York Mets-New York Yankees), "Windy City Series" (Chicago Cubs-Chicago White Sox), "Bay Bridge Series" (Oakland Athletics-San Francisco Giants) and "Beltway Series" (Baltimore Orioles-Washington Nationals), to name a few. Teams play two games apiece at either venue. This means, for example, that the Yankees play two games at Citi Field and host two at Yankee Stadium.

Fantasy Forecaster

These interleague rivalries help pack the schedule; this is the rare week when all 30 teams are scheduled for exactly seven games apiece. In addition, no team plays the entire week at home or on the road; the most any team plays at home or on the road is five times, and 15 teams play that many home games, 15 that many road games. Consider this a "qualitative" matchups week, as there is no greater example of a week all season in which there is little quantitative advantage.

Memorial Day kicks off the Week 9 action beginning at 1:05 p.m. ET and running at least 10 consecutive hours, and it features a schedule oddity: There is a traditional doubleheader scheduled, as the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks play two at Chase Field before taking Tuesday off. Thankfully for fantasy owners planning pitching matchups, this doesn't affect either team's weekly rotation, as both teams still require five starters between Wednesday and Sunday. Yu Darvish, set to start Game 1, will be a two-start pitcher this week.

The Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres are the rare teams to play a full week of interleague games, and in the case of the Blue Jays, they'll rack up the frequent flyer miles this week. As they conclude a stretch of 17 straight days with a game, they'll host the Atlanta Braves for two to begin the week, then take a 740-mile flight to Atlanta for two more games, then an 1,890-mile flight to San Diego for another three. That more-than-2,600 miles traveled is only approached by the Seattle Mariners, who by flying between Seattle, San Diego and Minnesota tally just under 2,600 miles. Keep those travel demands in mind; the Blue Jays haven't exactly played great baseball on the road this season (.697 OPS, 4.96 ERA as a team).

Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
ESPN lineup deadlines | Interleague impact | Projected starting pitchers
Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 9 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
Hitting ratings | Hitting advantages

ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines

The Memorial Day holiday leads to an early start time for fantasy's Week 9: Ten of the day's 16 scheduled games are day games, with the first pitch of Game 1, Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals, scheduled at 1:05 p.m. ET. Before you head out to your holiday parade or barbecue, get your fantasy lineup set!

In a bit of a rarity, there is a day game on every day of Week 9, thanks in part to all these two-game interleague series causing "getaway days" -- those being Tuesday and Thursday -- as well as the Chicago Cubs playing each of the final five days of the week at home. If you play in a league with daily transactions, keep it in mind, as you'll need to set an early lineup all week.

There's one final schedule oddity this week: The final game is not the traditional ESPN "Sunday Night Baseball" game, as the Toronto Blue Jays at San Diego Padres contest on Sunday has a 10:10 p.m. ET start time. This is to accommodate the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon and Half Marathon, both of which will conclude at San Diego's Petco Park earlier in the day.

Interleague impact

Monday-Thursday's "traditional rivalry" interleague series (first two games in parentheses are Monday-Tuesday, next two are Wednesday-Thursday):
Arizona Diamondbacks-Texas Rangers (2 at Arizona -- these two games are a Monday doubleheader, 2 at Texas)
Atlanta Braves-Toronto Blue Jays (2 at Toronto, 2 at Atlanta)
Baltimore Orioles-Washington Nationals (2 at Washington, 2 at Baltimore)
Boston Red Sox-Philadelphia Phillies (2 at Boston, 2 at Philadelphia)
Chicago Cubs-Chicago White Sox (2 at White Sox, 2 at Cubs)
Cincinnati Reds-Cleveland Indians (2 at Cincinnati, 2 at Cleveland)
Colorado Rockies-Houston Astros (2 at Houston, 2 at Colorado)
Detroit Tigers-Pittsburgh Pirates (2 at Detroit, 2 at Pittsburgh)
Kansas City Royals-St. Louis Cardinals (2 at Kansas City, 2 at St. Louis)
Los Angeles Angels-Los Angeles Dodgers (2 at Dodgers, 2 at Angels)
Miami Marlins-Tampa Bay Rays (2 at Tampa Bay, 2 at Miami)
Milwaukee Brewers-Minnesota Twins (2 at Milwaukee, 2 at Minnesota
New York Mets-New York Yankees (2 at Mets, 2 at Yankees)
Oakland Athletics-San Francisco Giants (2 at Oakland, 2 at San Francisco)
San Diego Padres-Seattle Mariners (2 at Seattle, 2 at San Diego)

Weekend interleague series:
Toronto Blue Jays at San Diego Padres (3 games, Friday-Sunday)

Besides the mere travel concerns, the Blue Jays' five-game loss of the designated hitter presumably forces Adam Lind to the bench for all five, being that he's not going to unseat first base/DH rotation partner Edwin Encarnacion at first base. At least the trip to National League parks -- and specifically Petco Park in this case -- elevates the matchups potential of struggling starters Mark Buehrle (Saturday) and Brandon Morrow (Sunday). Buehrle tossed a complete-game win at Petco on May 5, 2012 (5 H, 1 ER).

Every other American League team will play two games at an NL park, meaning the loss of the designated hitter for two out of seven, and that's significant for five squads: The Boston Red Sox, who granted started David Ortiz at first base in seven of their nine interleague games at NL parks in 2012, including all five of the ones against right-handed starters. Ortiz could play first base against Phillies righty Tyler Cloyd, but that'd come at Mike Napoli's expense.

The Detroit Tigers can't legitimately justify DH Victor Martinez over Prince Fielder at first base, so expect Martinez to pinch hit for two games. The Kansas City Royals must choose between Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer at first base, and they might do so going strictly lefty-righty; that means Hosmer would get the Wednesday start (against Lance Lynn), Butler Thursday (against John Gast). The Yankees have nowhere to play DH Travis Hafner, so he'll presumably pinch hit in the two-game series at Citi Field. And the Texas Rangers are in the same position with Lance Berkman, who hasn't played an inning in the field all year.

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.

Pitching scuttlebutt

• The Chicago White Sox haven't yet announced who will be replaced once John Danks returns to their rotation May 24; either Dylan Axelrod (the more likely candidate to stay) or Hector Santiago will be moved to relief.
Jered Weaver (elbow) is scheduled to return to the Los Angeles Angels' rotation on Wednesday, and Tommy Hanson has a chance at returning on Thursday. In the event Hanson returns this week, Joe Blanton would lose his scheduled second start on Sunday, as he'd be the one bumped from the rotation.
Andy Pettitte (trapezius) is eligible to return to the New York Yankees on June 1 and could do so, altering their rotation. In that event, expect the Yankees to use six starters this week, costing Hiroki Kuroda his second start on Sunday.
Ross Wolf pitched well enough to get another start for the Texas Rangers during Monday's doublehader, though that hasn't yet been officially announced.
• The Toronto Blue Jays will need a starter on Wednesday with Sean Nolin being returned to the minors. Ramon Ortiz is one possibility.
Kyle Lohse (elbow) missed his scheduled May 25 start, but he's tentatively expected to pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. The Brewers will need a spot starter for Tuesday after placing Hiram Burgos on the DL. Alfredo Figaro, Tyler Thornburg and Johnny Hellweg are the three leading candidates..
Clayton Richard is tentatively scheduled to rejoin the San Diego Padres' rotation on Monday, giving him two starts this week.
• The San Francisco Giants need a starter for Tuesday with Ryan Vogelsong (hand) on the disabled list, and Chad Gaudin is the most obvious candidate. The team could, however, promote Chris Heston, Mike Kickham or Shane Loux instead.
Ross Detwiler (oblique) is on track to rejoin the Washington Nationals' rotation the next time they need a fifth starter, on Tuesday.

Tristan's Week 9 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Tue-NYY (Kuroda), Sun-@MIA (Slowey)
2. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Mon-@KC (Shields), Sat-SF (Bumgarner)
3. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Mon-@ARI, Gm. 1 (Kennedy), Sat-KC (Shields)
4. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Tue-@BOS (Dempster), Sun-MIL (TBD)
5. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Tue-CHC (Jackson), Sun-@OAK (Parker)
6. James Shields (KC) -- Mon-STL (Wainwright), Sat-@TEX (Darvish)
7. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Mon-@OAK (Straily), Sat-@STL (Wainwright)
8. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Mon-BAL (Hammel), Sat-@ATL (Hudson)
9. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Mon-PIT (Liriano), Sat-@BAL (Hammel)
10. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Fri-@COL (Garland)
11. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Thu-@SD (Cashner)
12. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Fri-@BAL (Gonzalez)
13. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Fri-@ATL (Teheran)
14. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Wed-@BAL (Tillman)
15. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Mon-PHI (Cloyd), Sat-@NYY (Hughes)
16. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Fri-SF (Cain)
17. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Mon-@CWS (Quintana), Sat-ARI (Kennedy)
18. Patrick Corbin (ARI) -- Fri-@CHC (Garza)
19. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Tue-CLE (McAllister), Sun-@PIT (Gomez)
20. A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Wed-DET (Sanchez)
21. Matt Moore (TB) -- Thu-@MIA (Nolasco)
22. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Tue-@NYM (Harvey), Sun-BOS (Dempster)
23. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Thu-TOR (Dickey)
24. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Wed-@PIT (Burnett)
25. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Tue-LAA (Blanton), Sun-@COL (De La Rosa)
26. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Fri-@MIN (Pelfrey)
27. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Fri-BOS (Doubront)
28. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Wed-KC (Mendoza)
29. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Thu-@CLE (Kazmir)
30. Matt Cain (SF) -- Fri-@STL (Miller)
31. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Thu-@PHI (Pettibone)
32. Jake Peavy (CWS) -- Thu-@CHC (Wood)
33. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Wed-CIN (Arroyo)
34. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Fri-MIL (Gallardo)
35. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Fri-@PIT (Rodriguez)
36. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Fri-@CLE (Kluber)
37. Jose Fernandez (MIA) -- Mon-@TB (Odorizzi), Sat-NYM (Niese)
38. Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Thu-SEA (Hernandez)
39. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Mon-TEX, Gm. 2 (Wolf), Sun-@CHC (Jackson)
40. Travis Wood (CHC) -- Thu-CWS (Peavy)
41. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Mon-@LAD (Greinke), Sat-HOU (Norris)
42. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Thu-@ATL (Minor)
43. Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Wed-WSH (Zimmermann)
44. Tommy Milone (OAK) -- Wed-@SF (Lincecum)
45. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Tue-SF (TBD), Sun-CWS (Sale)
46. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Mon-@TOR (Buehrle), Sat-WSH (Gonzalez)
47. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Mon-LAA (Wilson), Sat-@COL (Chacin)
48. Jason Vargas (LAA) -- Thu-LAD (Lilly)
49. Doug Fister (DET) -- Thu-@PIT (Locke)
50. Brandon Morrow (TOR) -- Tue-ATL (Maholm), Sun-@SD (Volquez)
51. Ervin Santana (KC) -- Tue-STL (Lyons), Sun-@TEX (Wolf)
52. Scott Feldman (CHC) -- Wed-CWS (Danks)
53. Derek Holland (TEX) -- Thu-ARI (Miley)
54. Zach McAllister (CLE) -- Tue-@CIN (Latos), Sun-TB (Hellickson)
55. Jerome Williams (LAA) -- Fri-HOU (Keuchel)
56. Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Mon-@DET (Verlander), Sat-CIN (Leake)
57. Paul Maholm (ATL) -- Tue-@TOR (Morrow), Sun-WSH (Detwiler)
58. David Phelps (NYY) -- Wed-NYM (Hefner)
59. Kris Medlen (ATL) -- Wed-TOR (TBD)
60. Matt Garza (CHC) -- Fri-ARI (Corbin)
61. Jorge De La Rosa (COL) -- Tue-@HOU (Lyles), Sun-LAD (Ryu)
62. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Mon-CHC (Samardzija), Sat-@OAK (Straily)
63. A.J. Griffin (OAK) -- Thu-@SF (Zito)
64. Brandon McCarthy (ARI) -- Wed-@TEX (Grimm)
65. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Tue-MIA (Slowey), Sun-@CLE (McAllister)
66. Kyle Kendrick (PHI) -- Wed-BOS (Lackey)
67. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Mon-TEX, Gm. 1 (Darvish), Sat-@CHC (Samardzija)
68. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Fri-WSH (Strasburg)
69. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Fri-@PHI (Hamels)
70. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Wed-LAD (Capuano)
71. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Mon-NYY (Hughes), Sat-@MIA (Fernandez)
72. Bronson Arroyo (CIN) -- Wed-@CLE (Masterson)
73. Wandy Rodriguez (PIT) -- Fri-CIN (Cueto)
74. Ricky Nolasco (MIA) -- Thu-TB (Moore)
75. Jhoulys Chacin (COL) -- Mon-@HOU (Norris), Sat-LAD (Greinke)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Mark Buehrle (TOR) -- Mon-ATL (Hudson), Sat-@SD (Richard)
Tyler Cloyd (PHI) -- Mon-@BOS (Buchholz), Sat-MIL (Peralta)
Ryan Dempster (BOS) -- Tue-PHI (Lee), Sun-@NYY (Kuroda)
Ross Detwiler (WSH) -- Tue-BAL (Gausman), Sun-@ATL (Maholm)
Kevin Gausman (BAL) -- Tue-@WSH (Detwiler), Sun-DET (Porcello)
Phil Hughes (NYY) -- Mon-@NYM (Niese), Sat-BOS (Buchholz)
Edwin Jackson (CHC) -- Tue-@CWS (Sale), Sun-ARI (Cahill)
Mike Leake (CIN) -- Mon-CLE (Jimenez), Sat-@PIT (Liriano)
Tyler Lyons (STL) -- Tue-@KC (Santana), Sun-SF (TBD)
Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Mon-MIA (Fernandez), Sat-@CLE (Jimenez)
Kevin Slowey (MIA) -- Tue-@TB (Hellickson), Sun-NYM (Harvey)
Dan Straily (OAK) -- Mon-SF (Bumgarner), Sat-CWS (Quintana)
Edinson Volquez (SD) -- Tue-@SEA (Maurer), Sun-TOR (Morrow)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Kevin Correia (MIN) -- Mon-@MIL (Peralta), Sat-SEA (Harang)
Scott Diamond (MIN) -- Tue-@MIL (TBD), Sun-SEA (Maurer)
Jeanmar Gomez (PIT) -- Tue-@DET (Porcello), Sun-CIN (Latos)
Jason Hammel (BAL) -- Mon-@WSH (Gonzalez), Sat-DET (Verlander)
Aaron Harang (SEA) -- Mon-SD (Richard), Sat-@MIN (Correia)
Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) -- Mon-@CIN (Leake), Sat-TB (Odorizzi)
Jordan Lyles (HOU) -- Tue-COL (De La Rosa), Sun-@LAA (Blanton)
Brandon Maurer (SEA) -- Tue-SD (Volquez), Sun-@MIN (Diamond)
Bud Norris (HOU) -- Mon-COL (Chacin), Sat-@LAA (Wilson)
Wily Peralta (MIL) -- Mon-MIN (Correia), Sat-@PHI (Cloyd)
Rick Porcello (DET) -- Tue-PIT (Gomez), Sun-@BAL (Gausman)
Clayton Richard (SD) -- Mon-@SEA (Harang), Sat-TOR (Buehrle)
Ross Wolf (TEX) -- Mon-@ARI, Gm. 2 (Cahill), Sun-KC (Santana)

Pitching advantages

Jered Weaver's return from the disabled list comes at an opportune time for the Los Angeles Angels, smack in the middle of their interleague series against their cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers. He's 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in nine career starts against the Dodgers, a team with a mere .690 OPS in the month of May. Weaver is one of the rare starters for whom I'd break my usual "bench him fresh off the DL" rule.

• Jump back on the Jon Lester bandwagon if you hopped off following his so-so efforts of April 30 or May 20; he has an outstanding track record at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park. He has faced the Philadelphia Phillies four times in his career, all four at Citizens Bank, and has three quality starts, three wins, a 1.67 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in those games. It makes sense, considering he's a left-hander and the Phillies' lineup has long been lefty-heavy.

• Lester's teammate Ryan Dempster, however, is a much higher-risk pitcher, and not simply because he's a right-hander facing that lefty-laden Phillies lineup. The other problem is that his second start comes at New York's Yankee Stadium, where he has a 9.00 ERA, 1.82 WHIP and two losses in two career starts. Current New York Yankees, incidentally, are combined .269/.409/.423 hitters against Dempster, his walk rate against them a whopping 19.1 percent.

Jorge De La Rosa might have earned a higher rating for Week 9 if not for his second matchup of the week; the Los Angeles Dodgers have long given him fits. He is winless in 14 career games, 10 of them starts, against the Dodgers, his ERA 6.75 and WHIP 1.83 in those contests. The Dodgers tallied six runs in 11 hits in four innings against him as recently as April 30, and this time their game is at Coors Field.

• Here are this week's Streamer's Delight picks -- players need to be available in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues as of our publishing time (Fridays):

1. Andrew Cashner (SEA, Thursday): Now he's up to a full starter's workload; he has three straight quality starts, averaging 95.3 pitches and 7.1 innings.
2. Julio Teheran (WSH, Friday): The Washington Nationals have .196/.242/.228 triple-slash rates in May; Teheran has three straight quality starts.
3. Jake Odorizzi (MIA, Monday): Between Triple-A and the majors, he has a 3.34 ERA in 30 career games (29 starts); the Miami Marlins have a .599 team OPS.
4. Jhoulys Chacin (@HOU, Monday): Right-handers give the Houston Astros fits; the Astros have .234/.292/.382 triple-slash rates against them.
5. Kevin Slowey (NYM, Sunday): The New York Mets have the majors' second-worst OPS at home (.211/.295/.355, .651 OPS), and Slowey's command has been great.

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 advantages

• Here are this week's "volume plays" -- defined as the teams that play the most home games, or games against right- or left-handed starters:
No team plays more than five home games this week. Exactly half, or 15, of the 30 teams play five home games; the other 15 play two home games.
Versus RH: Cleveland Indians 7, Tampa Bay Rays 7, Pittsburgh Pirates 7
Versus LH: Los Angeles Angels 4, Oakland Athletics 4, Chicago Cubs 4

• The Los Angeles Dodgers have a team OPS 92 points higher against left-handed pitchers (.757) than right-handers (.665), so while they're not listed in the "volume plays" above, their three games against lefty starters this week bears mention. Remarkably, left-handed Dodgers hitters Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez are among their most successful against southpaws: Crawford has .325/.400/.500 triple-slash rates against them, while Gonzalez's rates against them are .351/.365/.456. That the team plays three games at Colorado's Coors Field also suits them: Andre Ethier, who routinely struggles against lefties, has .292/.373/.444 career numbers in 53 games at Coors, at least giving him a fighting chance in NL-only formats this week. A.J. Ellis could be the Dodgers' Week 9 sleeper: He's a .278/.422/.500 hitter against left-handers this season, and he's a .350/.438/.650 hitter with 12 RBIs in 12 career games at Coors.

• Petco Park's shrunken dimensions have suited two San Diego Padres hitters nicely this season: Jedd Gyorko is a .345/.426/.500 hitter in 25 games there, while Yonder Alonso is a .326/.364/.523 hitter in 25 contests. That's not to say that other Padres haven't been successful -- Alexi Amarista, Chase Headley, Chris Denorfia and Will Venable have also stood out -- but those two are well worth activating in a week with five Petco contests. But here's the Padres possible Week 9 stud: Everth Cabrera, a lifetime .500 hitter (10-for-20) combined against Seattle Mariners opponents Aaron Harang (Monday), Joe Saunders (Wednesday) and Felix Hernandez (Thursday).