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Friday, July 26, 2013
Updated: July 29, 9:01 AM ET
Fantasy Forecaster: Week 17

By Brian Gramling
Special to ESPN.com

On tap: The trading deadline plops right in the middle of the upcoming week, which could obviously throw pitching rotations for a serious loop. The good news is that three arms have already been moved, with the Baltimore Orioles acquiring Scott Feldman, the Los Angeles Dodgers dealing for Ricky Nolasco, and the Texas Rangers securing Matt Garza. However, plenty of wheeling and dealing is still ahead for more quality arms like Jake Peavy, Yovani Gallardo, Ervin Santana, Kyle Lohse and Bud Norris.

Fantasy Forecaster

This is also a crazy week in terms of scheduling; four clubs (Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals) receive two nights off in a four-day span (Monday and Thursday) and play just five times, while three other squads (Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals) each play eight games in the upcoming seven-day period thanks to a Tuesday doubleheader. With such a wide discrepancy in games, plan your hitting lineups accordingly.

Thirty-nine pitchers are scheduled to make two starts, with the most favorable foursome being Rays left-hander David Price, Los Angeles Angels right-hander Jered Weaver, Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano and Garza. Price has been filthy since returning from the DL, going 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA, 27 K's and just one walk in 41 innings. The team confirmed Friday that Price would be moved up a day and pitch Monday, making him a two-start pitcher this week. Weaver has had a ridiculous July (4-1, 1.32 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 8.2 K/9) and is riding a streak of 24 1/3 straight shutout innings at home when the Toronto Blue Jays head west this weekend, but I'm not thrilled with a Monday date in Arlington, though, where he's 4-8 with a 5.07 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 6.3 K/9 in 17 career starts. Liriano pitches twice at PNC Park where he's 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 9.8 K/9 this season, but he does face the best offense in the National League -- the St. Louis Cardinals -- before hosting the Colorado Rockies on Saturday. Garza, who has a minuscule 1.23 ERA during a six-start win streak, earns a spot in my top 10, opposing Weaver on Monday before visiting O.co Coliseum. When Garza took the mound in the Oakland Athletics' park on July 3, he allowed just one run in eight innings.

Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
ESPN lineup deadlines | Interleague impact | Projected starting pitchers
Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 15 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
Hitting ratings | Hitting advantages

ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines

There are no day games on Monday, but make sure you realize that the first game of the fantasy week is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. ET between Tampa Bay and the Boston Red Sox. This is a makeup game as a result of Thursday's rainout.

For daily players, Tuesday's action begins at 2:20 p.m. ET when the Milwaukee Brewers and Cubs begin a day/night doubleheader at Wrigley Field. There are early games on Wednesday and Thursday too. Wednesday's action begins with the Washington Nationals visiting the Detroit Tigers at 1:08 p.m. ET, while Thursday's slate starts at 12:05 p.m. ET, when the Chicago White Sox visit the Cleveland Indians. The lone day game on Friday begins at 4:05 p.m. ET when the Dodgers and Cubs play the second of a four-game set at Wrigley.

Interleague impact

This week's interleague series:
Arizona Diamondbacks at Tampa Bay Rays (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Arizona Diamondbacks at Texas Rangers (1 game, Thursday)
• Arizona Diamondbacks at Boston Red Sox (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
• Cleveland Indians at Miami Marlins (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
Kansas City Royals at New York Mets (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
• New York Yankees at Los Angeles Dodgers (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• New York Yankees at San Diego Padres (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
San Francisco Giants at Tampa Bay Rays (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
• Washington Nationals at Detroit Tigers (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)

The D-backs are playing their six games this week in three different AL stadiums, which means plenty of at-bats for their designated hitter. The DH position has gone 2-for-17 with 5 K's for Arizona this year. Jason Kubel is a "natural" at this position, posting solid career numbers of .271/.339/.453 in 1,164 at-bats when slotted as a designated hitter. Just beware that he has been sitting versus lefties recently, and two of the pitchers his team faces this week are southpaws (Jon Lester and Felix Doubront) and two right-handers are bona fide aces (David Price and Yu Darvish), making Kubel an undesirable option for standard-sized leagues.

The Giants visit Tropicana Field for the weekend, but don't alter your lineup around their DH situation. The club doesn't have that muscle-bound extra hitter to throw in there, so expect Andres Torres or Kensuke Tanaka to fill that spot. Bruce Bochy could also tell Buster Posey to leave his catcher's gear in the locker room and take some hacks as a DH, the way he did earlier this season.

The Nationals have just two games in an AL park this week, but those two will come versus the Tigers, with Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander on the hill. I assume the Nats will use left-handed-hitting Chad Tracy as their DH against these two right-handers, but he is not likely to do much, considering he is 0-for-9 in his career versus Sanchez and has never faced Verlander.

The American League team losing the DH spot the most this week is the Yankees, for five games. Vernon Wells and Melky Mesa should be grabbing a lot of pine in the next seven days, now that New York has officially acquired Alfonso Soriano to be the team's regular DH. He'll most likely play left field in NL ballparks. The Indians and Royals are both giving up their DH spot for the weekend. That means fewer at-bats for Mark Reynolds and Eric Hosmer, as Billy Butler shifts to first base for the three-game set at Citi Field.

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

• With both Cliff Lee was scratched from his July 27 start with a stiff neck, which could obviously signify he is actually hurt, or it could be that the Phillies are ready to trade Lee to a contender and don't want to risk further injury and allow the deal to fall through. I'm keeping Lee in his next scheduled turn in the rotation on Friday at home against the Atlanta Braves, but stay tuned to this developing situation!.

• It was reported Friday that the New York Mets are going with a six-man rotation, adding Jenrry Mejia to the fray. The 23-year-old Mejia threw seven shutout innings in his season debut on Friday, inducing 14 groundballs and recording more strikeouts (seven) than fly balls allowed (six). Mejia's addition to the rotation also helps the Mets limit the innings on young studs Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, who now has just one start this week instead of two.

• With both Tim Hudson (ankle) and Paul Maholm (wrist) landing on the DL this week, the Atlanta Braves have replaced them with Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood, who are each penciled in for two starts this week. Beachy has shone in his rehab from Tommy John surgery and looks ready to pitch Monday for the first time since June 16, 2012. Just don't expect him to throw more than 12 innings this week. Wood has been shaky in two starts this year, allowing five runs and 15 baserunners in just 7 1/3 innings. That has prompted the team to go after Bud Norris, who would maintain his two-start status if he joins the Braves before Wood's next turn in the rotation on Tuesday. If Norris is traded, the Astros, who have Monday off, would likely just move all their pitchers up a day. That would make Erik Bedard and Jordan Lyles both two-start pitchers, but these two guys are no better than AL-only options for pitching-starved owners.

• There's a possibility that Stephen Strasburg could make two starts this week on normal rest, if Davey Johnson decides to skip Taylor Jordan on Sunday, Aug. 4. Johnson has already said that Jordan will not pitch more than 30 innings for the rest of the season, so this could be an opportune time to rest him. Strasburg would rank among my top seven pitchers for the week if he also gets the ball Sunday in Milwaukee.

• Thursday's rainout in Boston adds another game for the Rays and Red Sox this week; the game will be made up Monday. That's great news for owners of both David Price and Brandon Workman, who will now be making two starts this week. With his complete-game win at Fenway on Wednesday, Price is now 9-5 with a 3.09 ERA in his career versus the Sox. Workman, who has a 2.92 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in his two starts this season, will pitch twice at home versus the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Ervin Santana
The Royals could trade Ervin Santana this week, which would have significant impact on a few teams.

Ervin Santana has been the subject of many trade rumors recently, but his fantasy owners probably want him to stick with the Kansas City Royals based on his eight quality starts in 11 games at Kauffman Stadium this year (2.71 ERA, 1.07 WHIP). This week, he'll visit two favorable pitching venues when he faces the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday and New York Mets on Sunday. Santana is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four starts versus the Twins since 2011, and has never had the pleasure of facing the Mets' weak lineup.

Brandon McCarthy will return to the hill on Friday, bumping Tyler Skaggs from the rotation and back down to Triple-A. However, considering that game is at Fenway Park against a powerful Boston Red Sox lineup, don't bother activating McCarthy this week.

Jason Vargas is getting closer to returning since undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot from his armpit. There is a "TBD" in the Angels schedule on Thursday, but it doesn't appear Vargas will be ready to fill that slot. That's why I assume Garrett Richards will make a spot start to open the four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays, because L.A. has finally closed the door on the Joe Blanton starting experience.

• There's an outside chance some team will want to acquire New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes, which could make Andy Pettitte a two-start pitcher because of Thursday's day off. The veteran lefty would face the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres on the road, making him a viable play in deeper fantasy formats this week. With all the Alex Rodriguez hubbub on his injury rehab status and lifetime ban, the team hasn't announced when it will call up Michael Pineda for the stretch run.

• The Brewers will give Tyler Thornburg a spot start for Tuesday's doubleheader. Donovan Hand was hit by a pitch on his throwing hand Tuesday (he's lucky his name isn't Donovan Head), but he's expected to make his next start Sunday, which puts Hand on track for an Aug. 3 start versus the Washington Nationals.

Tyler Lyons will reportedly pitch the first half of Tuesday's doubleheader in Pittsburgh. Although the lefty could certainly twirl a quality start at PNC Park to help out daily players, Lyons will be sent right back down to Triple-A after the game, so plan accordingly.

• The Chicago Cubs rotation is riddled with "undecideds" after Tuesday's doubleheader that should feature the team debut of Jake Arrieta, who was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in the Scott Feldman trade. This will more than likely be a one-and-done situation for Arrieta, but it's not as if the Cubs have a gaggle of pitchers who will keep Arrieta down in Triple-A permanently. The big mystery with the rotation is when Scott Baker will be ready to return from the DL (elbow). He had hoped to be back in the majors by this point, but he has pitched poorly in his past two rehab outings, allowing 10 runs in just 5 2/3 innings. I suspect Baker will make another start or two in the minors and the Cubs will let Chris Rusin take the mound Thursday.

• The Dodgers had to make a fifth starter decision between veterans Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly, who just came off the DL on Wednesday. The verdict came quickly, with Lilly designated for assignment, leaving Capuano as Saturday's starter at Wrigley Field and the No. 5 man for the time being.

• With Collin McHugh optioned to Triple-A on Sunday, the Rockies will reportedly give the ball to Chad Bettis for Thursday's start.

Brian's Week 15 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Thu-@MIA (Koehler)
2. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Wed-NYY (Kuroda)
3. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Sat-CWS (Danks)
4. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Wed-@PIT (Locke)
5. David Price (TB) -- Mon-@BOS (Doubront), Sun-SF (Zito)
6. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Mon-@TEX (Garza), Sat-TOR (Rogers)
7. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Thu-ARI (Delgado)
8. Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Mon-STL (Westbrook), Sat-COL (De La Rosa)
9. Matt Moore (TB) -- Sat-SF (Lincecum)
10. Matt Garza (TEX) -- Mon-LAA (Weaver), Sat-@OAK (Parker)
11. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Fri-@MIL (Gorzelanny)
12. Jose Fernandez (MIA) -- Fri-CLE (Jimenez)
13. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Tue-NYY (Pettitte), Sun-@CHC (Villanueva)
14. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Tue-@DET (Sanchez)
15. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Thu-@BOS (Dempster)
16. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Fri-ATL (Medlen)
17. Ervin Santana (KC) -- Tue-@MIN (Pelfrey), Sun-@NYM (Hefner)
18. Patrick Corbin (ARI) -- Sat-@BOS (Doubront)
19. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Fri-@SD (Cashner)
20. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Wed-@DET (Verlander)
21. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-@TEX (Holland), Sun-TOR (Buehrle)
22. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Fri-@TB (Archer)
23. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Wed-COL (Chatwood)
24. A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Tue-STL, Gm. 1 (Lyons), Sun-COL (Nicasio)
25. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Thu-@CLE (Masterson)
26. Bartolo Colon (OAK) -- Wed-TOR (Dickey)
27. Derek Holland (TEX) -- Tue-LAA (Wilson), Sun-@OAK (Griffin)
28. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Tue-WSH (Strasburg)
29. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Thu-SF (Cain)
30. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Wed-@LAD (Kershaw)
31. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Wed-WSH (Gonzalez)
32. Chris Archer (TB) -- Fri-SF (Bumgarner)
33. Matt Cain (SF) -- Thu-@PHI (Hamels)
34. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Tue-@PIT, Gm. 2 (Gomez), Sun-@CIN (Leake)
35. Jeff Locke (PIT) -- Wed-STL (Wainwright)
36. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Fri-@CIN (Arroyo)
37. Wily Peralta (MIL) -- Wed-@CHC (Jackson)
38. James Shields (KC) -- Thu-@MIN (Diamond)
39. Travis Wood (CHC) -- Fri-LAD (Ryu)
40. Jake Peavy (CWS) -- Tue-@CLE (Kazmir), Sun-@DET (Porcello)
41. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Wed-@BOS (Lackey)
42. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Tue-@SD (Volquez)
43. Felix Doubront (BOS) -- Mon-TB (Price), Sat-ARI (Corbin)
44. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Fri-@CHC (Wood)
45. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Mon-MIL (Lohse), Sat-LAD (Capuano)
46. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Wed-ARI (Miley)
47. A.J. Griffin (OAK) -- Mon-TOR (Rogers), Sun-TEX (Holland)
48. Alexi Ogando (TEX) -- Fri-@OAK (Milone)
49. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Tue-@MIA (Eovaldi)
50. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Fri-ARI (McCarthy)
51. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Thu-CWS (Sale)
52. Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Tue-HOU (Norris), Sun-SEA (Saunders)
53. Ricky Nolasco (LAD) -- Thu-@CHC (Rusin)
54. Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Fri-COL (Chacin)
55. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Wed-@SD (Stults)
56. Doug Fister (DET) -- Fri-CWS (Santiago)
57. John Lackey (BOS) -- Wed-SEA (Iwakuma)
58. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Tue-@CHC, Gm. 1 (Villanueva)
59. Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Mon-@CHC (Samardzija), Sun-WSH (Jordan)
60. Brandon Beachy (ATL) -- Mon-COL (De La Rosa), Sat-@PHI (Pettibone)
61. Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Thu-HOU (Lyles)
62. Mike Leake (CIN) -- Mon-@SD (O'Sullivan), Sun-STL (Lynn)
63. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Sat-TEX (Garza)
64. Kris Medlen (ATL) -- Fri-@PHI (Lee)
65. Jhoulys Chacin (COL) -- Fri-@PIT (Cole)
66. Tony Cingrani (CIN) -- Sat-STL (Westbrook)
67. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Fri-KC (Davis)
68. Jenrry Mejia (NYM) -- Wed-@MIA (Alvarez)
69. Jacob Turner (MIA) -- Mon-NYM (Hefner), Sat-CLE (McAllister)
70. Jarred Cosart (HOU) -- Sat-@MIN (Gibson)
71. Wade Miley (ARI) -- Wed-@TB (Hellickson)
72. Miguel Gonzalez (BAL) -- Wed-HOU (Bedard)
73. Scott Kazmir (CLE) -- Tue-CWS (Peavy), Sun-@MIA (Eovaldi)
74. Eric Stults (SD) -- Wed-CIN (Bailey)
75. Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Sat-@SD (Ross)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Mark Buehrle (TOR) -- Tue-@OAK (Straily), Sun-@LAA (Wilson)
Jorge De La Rosa (COL) -- Mon-@ATL (Beachy), Sat-@PIT (Liriano)
Nate Eovaldi (MIA) -- Tue-NYM (Wheeler), Sun-CLE (Kazmir)
Jeremy Hefner (NYM) -- Mon-@MIA (Turner), Sun-KC (Santana)
John Lannan (PHI) -- Tue-SF (Zito), Sun-ATL (Wood)
Zach McAllister (CLE) -- Mon-CWS (Danks), Sat-@MIA (Turner)
Juan Nicasio (COL) -- Tue-@ATL (Wood), Sun-@PIT (Burnett)
Bud Norris (HOU) -- Tue-@BAL (Chen), Sun-@MIN (Pelfrey)
Brandon Workman (BOS) -- Tue-SEA (Saunders), Sun-ARI (Kennedy)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
John Danks (CWS) -- Mon-@CLE (McAllister), Sat-@DET (Scherzer)
Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Tue-@TB (Hernandez), Sun-@BOS (Workman)
Sean O'Sullivan (SD) -- Mon-CIN (Leake), Sun-NYY (Hughes)
Mike Pelfrey (MIN) -- Tue-KC (Santana), Sun-HOU (Norris)
Esmil Rogers (TOR) -- Mon-@OAK (Griffin), Sat-@LAA (Weaver)
Joe Saunders (SEA) -- Tue-@BOS (Workman), Sun-@BAL (Chen)
Carlos Villanueva (CHC) -- Tue-MIL, Gm. 1 (Gallardo), Sun-LAD (Greinke)
Jake Westbrook (STL) -- Mon-@PIT (Liriano), Sat-@CIN (Cingrani)
Alex Wood (ATL) -- Tue-COL (Nicasio), Sun-@PHI (Lannan)
Barry Zito (SF) -- Tue-@PHI (Lannan), Sun-@TB (Price)

Pitching advantages

• My first-ever Forecaster rankings aren't too bold, with the usual suspects near the top. But I never thought I'd see the day when I'd rather have Bartolo Colon on my fantasy roster than Justin Verlander. Colon is 13-3 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP this season, and has more strikeouts in his past three starts (14) than Verlander does (10). Although Verlander has the weaker hitting opponent (Washington Nationals) than Colon, who is facing the Toronto Blue Jays, I just can't look past Verlander's 5.52 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over his past 10 starts. Also, in two seasons with the A's, Colon has thrived in front of the passionate Oakland fans, going 10-7 with a 3.09 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 79 K's and 16 walks at O.co Coliseum.

• 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. Wily Peralta (@CHC, Wednesday): He has an 0.31 ERA (1 ER in 29 1/3 IP), .161 opponents' BA and 8.0 K/9 rate in four July starts.
2. Felix Doubront (SEA, Tuesday): He hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in 13 straight starts, going 4-3 with a 2.71 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .217 opponents' BA and 7.7 K/9.
3. Wei-Yin Chen (HOU, Tuesday and SEA, Sunday): He's allowed three runs or fewer in 10 of 11 starts this season, and since returning from the DL, he's 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. He has a great chance to pick up two home wins this week.
4. Dillon Gee (KC, Friday): He's thrown eight quality starts in his past 10 outings, going 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 7.3 K/9. The addition of Jenrry Mejia to the Mets rotation pushes Gee back to a home start instead of pitching in Miami, which I see as favorable based on his home (2.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) and road (5.46 ERA, 1.58 WHIP) splits.
5. Jenrry Mejia (@MIA, Wednesday): He was brilliant in his season debut on Friday in the nation's capital (7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K's) and faces a Marlins team whose current hitters are 1-for-9 combined against the 23-year-old righty.
6. Jacob Turner (NYM, Monday and CLE, Sunday): This week, he also pitches twice at home, where he's 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and .204 opponents' BA.
7. Jarred Cosart (@MIN, Saturday): His six strikeouts and six walks over his first two career starts don't impress me, but the fact that he allowed only one run in 15 innings to the A's and Rays shows that he has moxie. A trip to Target Field should result in another quality outing for the 23-year-old righty.
8. Scott Kazmir (CWS, Tuesday and @MIA, Sunday): His ratings are off the charts with these two awful lineups to face this week. Kazmir has also been on fire over his past seven starts, going 3-0 with a 1.60 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, .148 opponents' BA and 7.0 K/9.
9. Eric Stults (CIN, Wednesday): This tough matchup keeps him low on the list, but he has dominated at Petco Park this season with a 5-1 mark, 2.45 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and respectable 6.6 K/9 rate. The lefty has also held the Reds to a .527 OPS in 10 2/3 innings, having not allowed an extra-base hit to them in 46 plate appearances.
10. Ivan Nova (@SD, Saturday): This is a great pitching matchup for Nova, who has thrown four straight quality starts versus much better lineups than San Diego (Baltimore, Texas, Tampa Bay and Kansas City). His numbers during these four starts are an impressive 2.64 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 8.2 K/9.

• Here are this week's Honorable Mention pitchers who didn't make the Top 75 but are still viable starts for AL-/NL-only formats or deeper mixed leagues this week:
1. Dan Straily (TOR, Tuesday): This is not an ideal opponent to be facing, but before getting rocked Thursday (4 1/3 IP, 5 ER), Straily was 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 0.74 WHIP in his previous four home starts.
2. Ryan Dempster (SEA, Wednesday): If he didn't get blasted by the Mariners in Safeco Field two weeks ago (3 1/3 IP, 9 H, 7 R), Dempster would have made my Top 75. Expect the strikeout artist (8.4 K/9) to recover at home, where he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in seven straight starts.
3. Jose Quintana (@CLE, Wednesday): He's pitched very well versus Cleveland in his brief career, going 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and jaw-dropping .455 opponents' OPS in these 30 1/3 innings.
4. Chad Gaudin (@PHI, Wednesday): Most of his success this year has been at spacious AT&T Park (1.96 ERA, 1.15 WHIP), but he hasn't been too shabby on the road either, with a 3.55 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 32 K's in 38 innings (7.6 K/9).
5. Samuel Deduno (HOU, Friday): Speaking of Target Field, Deduno, the de facto ace of the Twins staff, has thoroughly enjoyed pitching in front of his home fans over the past two years. In these 11 starts, he's 7-2 with a 2.77 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .184 opponents' BA and .268 opponents' slugging percentage. Deduno is a strong win candidate against Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros, the worst team in the majors.
6. Bruce Chen (@NYM, Saturday): He has been outstanding in two starts since rejoining the rotation, holding two excellent lineups (Indians and Orioles) to a combined one run and four hits in 12 innings, with one walk and eight strikeouts. No reason he can't keep chugging against the lowly Mets in his first-ever visit to Citi Field.

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:
Home games: Chicago Cubs 8, Pittsburgh Pirates 8, Boston Red Sox 7, Miami Marlins 7, Baltimore Orioles 6, Minnesota Twins 6, Oakland Athletics 6, Philadelphia Phillies 6, San Diego Padres 6

Versus RH: Milwaukee Brewers 7, Pittsburgh Pirates 7, Chicago White Sox 6, Miami Marlins 6, New York Mets 6, Toronto Blue Jays 6
Versus LH: Boston Red Sox 4, San Francisco Giants 4, Tampa Bay Rays 4, Atlanta Braves 3, Chicago Cubs 3, Detroit Tigers 3, Los Angeles Angels 3, Los Angeles Dodgers 3, St. Louis Cardinals 3

• Not only do the Pirates play eight games this week (Cubs and Cardinals also play eight), but seven of those are against right-handed starters. The Pirates are 50-30 when a righty opposes them, which is the second best such record in the majors. This gives great value to 1B Garrett Jones, who has just 16 at-bats versus lefties this season, but a solid .779 OPS (10 homers, 20 doubles in 266 AB) when facing right-handers. Switch-hitting 2B Neil Walker has been loads better versus righties (.800 OPS) than southpaws (.435 OPS) this season.

• The Brewers also log seven games against right-handed starters, which gives a slight boost to Jonathan Lucroy (.830 OPS versus RHP, .804 OPS versus LHP), but the team is just 33-34 in this situation, so it's not a great advantage. The four teams playing six games versus right-handed starters (Blue Jays, Mets, Marlins and White Sox) are not doing cartwheels either; they have four of the eight worst records versus RHP starters this year. The Blue Jays are the only one among the four that scores more than four runs per game (4.4) when facing a righty starter.

• The Red Sox, Rays and Giants will each face four left-handers this week, which is just fine with the two AL teams in this group. The Rays lead the majors with a 21-11 record (.656) versus southpaw starters, and the Red Sox are second with a 21-13 mark (.618) when lefties start against them. For Tampa Bay, look to OF Desmond Jennings (.945 OPS vs. LHP), 2B Ryan Roberts (.932 OPS vs. LHP) and OF Sam Fuld (.924 OPS vs. LHP) to do some heavy lifting this week. For Boston, don't forget about 3B Jose Iglesias (.885 OPS vs. LHP) and OF Jonny Gomes (.768 OPS vs. LHP). San Francisco is 14-18 (.438, 22nd in majors) versus lefty starters this season, but 2B Marco Scutaro (.852 OPS vs. LHP) and 1B Brandon Belt (.801 OPS vs. LHP) have no problems facing southpaws.