Fantasy Forecaster: Week 2

Updated: April 7, 2013, 11:12 AM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, April 7, at 11:12 a.m. ET.

On tap: Week 2 grants us our first glimpses of the new, smaller outfield dimensions at both San Diego's Petco Park and Seattle's Safeco Field (detailed analysis of these changes is available in our Draft Kit). Both the San Diego Padres (LAD-3, COL-3) and Seattle Mariners (HOU-3, TEX-4) play a full week at their respective home venues, including one series apiece against mediocre-at-best pitching (Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros, respectively). Coincidentally, these teams' homer leaders entering April 5 -- Yonder Alonso (1) and Michael Morse (4) -- possess power potential that should be enhanced by the Petco and Safeco adjustments; it's good timing for both to be swinging the bat well.

Fantasy Forecaster

The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics enjoy a rematch of their 2012 American League Division Series at Oakland's O.co Coliseum, where the Athletics won Games 3 and 4 to push the series to a deciding fifth game won by the Tigers. Justin Verlander, who won two games for the Tigers in that series, pitches Saturday, while Jarrod Parker, who lost two for the A's, pitches on Sunday.

Over in the National League, two series that pit key division rivals highlight the schedule. The Cincinnati Reds visit the St. Louis Cardinals from Monday through Wednesday in a series that typically brings a higher level of intensity, dating back to an Aug. 10, 2010, brawl between the two teams that resulted in a seven-game suspension for Reds ace Johnny Cueto. Cueto won't pitch in this series, and neither will Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals host the Atlanta Braves from Friday through Sunday in a series in which both Stephen Strasburg (Saturday) and Gio Gonzalez (Sunday) are scheduled to pitch. Those two Nationals pitchers, incidentally, had a combined 4.31 ERA and only three quality starts in nine games against the Braves in 2012.

The list of Week 2 two-start pitchers features three veteran right-handers who will be under the microscope: Roy Halladay, who had a puzzling 5-run, 9-K, 3 1/3-inning stat line in his first start of 2013 and has faced questions about both his velocity and location, gets a pair of softer matchups in the New York Mets and Miami Marlins. Tim Lincecum, who walked seven hitters in five innings in his first start of 2013 and has a 5.04 ERA since the beginning of 2012, hosts the Rockies before traveling to Chicago's Wrigley Field. And Hiroki Kuroda, knocked out of his first start with an injured hand as a result of being struck by a line drive, is expected back to face the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles. All three are riskier fantasy plays as a result of opening-week developments, and all three bear careful attention for your future scouting. Nevertheless, all three make my top 75 starters below.

Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
ESPN league deadlines | Interleague impact | Projected starting pitchers
Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 1 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
Hitting ratings | Hitting advantages

ESPN leagues: Roster settings

Week 2 has an earlier start -- 2:05 p.m. ET -- as six teams host their home openers on Monday, four of them before the usual 7 p.m. ET start time for evening contests: The Boston Red Sox host the Orioles at 2:05 p.m. ET, the Chicago Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers at 2:20 p.m. ET, the Kansas City Royals host the Minnesota Twins at 4:10 p.m. ET, and the St. Louis Cardinals host the Reds at 4:15 p.m. ET. In fact, there is a day game on each of the seven days of Week 2, thanks in large part to the Tigers playing their entire Tuesday-through-Thursday series versus the Toronto Blue Jays with 1:05 p.m. ET start times. Make sure to address your lineups early this week, whether you play in a league with weekly or daily transactions.

Interleague impact

This week's interleague series:
Chicago White Sox at Washington Nationals (3 games, Tuesday-Thursday)
New York Mets at Minnesota Twins (3 games, Friday-Sunday)

[+] EnlargeAdam Dunn
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireAdam Dunn can still don the leather when he needs to, sometimes at the expense of Paul Konerko.

Adam Dunn's White Sox make their first trip to Washington's Nationals Park, where the lefty slugger belted 39 home runs as a member of the Nationals from 2009 to '10, but in his first trip there since then, he'll have to play a defensive position in order to exact any revenge. Fortunately, Dunn started eight of the White Sox's nine games at National League parks in 2012, five of them in left field (over Dayan Viciedo) and three at first base (over Paul Konerko), and particularly telling about his importance to the team is this: He started all three of those games against left-handed starters -- two of them ahead of Konerko -- meaning that Konerko's and Viciedo's fantasy owners should probably be more concerned about lost at-bats than Dunn's.

The Mets, meanwhile, gain the designated hitter, and will probably utilize it to keep one of their weaker defenders off the field. Lucas Duda (4 DH starts out of 9 interleague games in American League parks in 2012) and Jordany Valdespin (2 DH starts) are obvious candidates, and Valdespin's NL-only owners have to be hoping he finds a way into all three of those lineups considering he sat the Mets' entire 2013 season-opening series. Plan as if he will.

Any Jonathon Niese start in an interleague game warrants his career stat line in those games being cited: He's 5-for-9 in quality starts with a 5.07 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. He did shut out the Twins for six innings in his only career start against them (June 27, 2010), but it's still worth pointing out that he's no guarantee for ace-caliber stats.

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

• Though Trevor Bauer took the first turn as the Cleveland Indians' No. 5 starter on April 6, he was expected to be returned to Triple-A afterward, with Carlos Carrasco expected to next take that spot beginning on Tuesday.
• It's possible that the Royals will use Thursday's off day to skip fifth starter Luis Mendoza, in which case Jeremy Guthrie would get two starts.
Cole De Vries (forearm) suffered a setback and was placed on the DL, leaving Pedro Hernandez to take his spot beginning on April 7 and presumably start on Saturday as well.
• Hiroki Kuroda (finger) completed a bullpen session on April 5 and has been cleared to make his scheduled Monday start.
• The Athletics demoted Dan Straily to Triple-A following his April 5 start, leaving Bartolo Colon as their fifth starter.
• Fifth starter Nick Tepesch will join the Texas Rangers' rotation Tuesday.
• The Braves could use Thursday's off day to skip fifth starter Julio Teheran, allowing Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm and Kris Medlen to pitch the series at Washington on their usual four days' rest.
Chad Billingsley (finger) is scheduled for activation on Wednesday, after having made a rehabilitation start on April 4.
Aaron Laffey is currently filling in for Shaun Marcum (neck), and the Mets haven't yet said whether Marcum would be ready by Saturday.
• The Pittsburgh Pirates used a Week 1 off day to push back fifth starter Jeff Locke once; might they do it again this week? It's possible that A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald will pitch the series against the Reds.

Tristan's Week 1 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Tue-CWS (Peavy), Sun-ATL (Maholm)
2. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Mon-COL (De La Rosa), Sat-@CHC (Jackson)
3. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Fri-@ARI (Corbin)
4. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Mon-@STL (Garcia), Sun-@PIT (Rodriguez)
5. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Sat-@OAK (Anderson)
6. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Sat-ATL (Hudson)
7. Matt Cain (SF) -- Fri-@CHC (Samardzija)
8. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Tue-NYM (Gee)
9. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Sat-HOU (Harrell)
10. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Thu-TEX (Harrison)
11. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Fri-@SEA (Iwakuma)
12. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Sat-@MIA (Fernandez)
13. Jake Peavy (CWS) -- Tue-@WSH (Gonzalez), Sun-@CLE (Carrasco)
14. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Sat-@CLE (Jimenez)
15. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Tue-TOR (Morrow), Sun-@OAK (Parker)
16. David Price (TB) -- Sat-@BOS (Lester)
17. Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Mon-@PHI (Halladay), Sun-@MIN (Correia)
18. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Sat-@PIT (Locke)
19. Kris Medlen (ATL) -- Tue-@MIA (LeBlanc)
20. Brandon Morrow (TOR) -- Tue-@DET (Sanchez), Sun-@KC (Santana)
21. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-OAK (Parker), Sun-HOU (Humber)
22. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Tue-@LAA (Wilson), Sun-DET (Sanchez)
23. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Thu-@SD (Marquis)
24. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Mon-@CLE (Jimenez), Sat-BAL (Hammel)
25. Jaime Garcia (STL) -- Mon-CIN (Latos), Sun-MIL (Estrada)
26. Alexi Ogando (TEX) -- Mon-TB (Hellickson), Sat-@SEA (Saunders)
27. Josh Johnson (TOR) -- Thu-@DET (Fister)
28. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Mon-PIT (Rodriguez), Sun-LAD (Beckett)
29. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Sat-@KC (Shields)
30. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Sat-MIL (Gallardo)
31. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Fri-BAL (Tillman)
32. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Mon-@TEX (Ogando), Sun-@BOS (Buchholz)
33. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Fri-SF (Cain)
34. Brett Anderson (OAK) -- Sat-DET (Verlander)
35. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Mon-BAL (Chen), Sun-TB (Hellickson)
36. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Sat-TB (Price)
37. Wandy Rodriguez (PIT) -- Mon-@ARI (Cahill), Sun-CIN (Latos)
38. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Sat-LAD (Ryu)
39. Doug Fister (DET) -- Thu-TOR (Johnson)
40. Paul Maholm (ATL) -- Mon-@MIA (Slowey), Sun-@WSH (Gonzalez)
41. Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Thu-@CHC (Villanueva)
42. James Shields (KC) -- Sat-TOR (Dickey)
43. Andy Pettitte (NYY) -- Tue-@CLE (Carrasco), Sun-BAL (Chen)
44. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Wed-CWS (Floyd)
45. Matt Moore (TB) -- Wed-@TEX (Holland)
46. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Sat-@WSH (Strasburg)
47. Roy Halladay (PHI) -- Mon-NYM (Harvey), Sun-@MIA (Slowey)
48. Edwin Jackson (CHC) -- Mon-MIL (Estrada), Sat-SF (Bumgarner)
49. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Fri-@BOS (Lackey)
50. Brandon McCarthy (ARI) -- Tue-PIT (McDonald)
51. Josh Beckett (LAD) -- Tue-@SD (Richard), Sun-@ARI (Cahill)
52. Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Wed-@CHC (Feldman)
53. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Fri-@OAK (Colon)
54. Wade Miley (ARI) -- Wed-PIT (Sanchez)
55. Matt Harrison (TEX) -- Thu-@SEA (Hernandez)
56. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Tue-CIN (Arroyo)
57. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Tue-COL (Nicasio), Sun-@CHC (Wood)
58. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Fri-@MIN (Worley)
59. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Wed-@STL (Westbrook)
60. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Wed-@MIA (Sanabia)
61. Derek Holland (TEX) -- Wed-TB (Moore)
62. Tommy Hanson (LAA) -- Fri-HOU (Norris)
63. Ervin Santana (KC) -- Mon-MIN (Correia), Sun-TOR (Morrow)
64. Dan Haren (WSH) -- Thu-CWS (Quintana)
65. Marco Estrada (MIL) -- Mon-@CHC (Jackson), Sun-@STL (Garcia)
66. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Fri-TEX (Darvish)
67. Travis Wood (CHC) -- Tue-MIL (Peralta), Sun-SF (Lincecum)
68. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Sat-@STL (Wainwright)
69. Ross Detwiler (WSH) -- Fri-ATL (Teheran)
70. Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Wed-@SD (Stults)
71. Jason Vargas (LAA) -- Thu-OAK (Griffin)
72. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Tue-@PHI (Lee)
73. Philip Humber (HOU) -- Mon-@SEA (Saunders), Sun-@LAA (Wilson)
74. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Fri-MIL (Fiers)
75. Jhoulys Chacin (COL) -- Sat-@SD (Volquez)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Mon-@BOS (Buchholz), Sun-@NYY (Pettitte)
Jorge De La Rosa (COL) -- Mon-@SF (Bumgarner), Sun-@SD (Richard)
Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) -- Mon-NYY (Kuroda), Sat-CWS (Sale)
Clayton Richard (SD) -- Tue-LAD (Beckett), Sun-COL (De La Rosa)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -- Tue-NYY (Pettitte), Sun-CWS (Peavy)
Kevin Correia (MIN) -- Mon-@KC (Santana), Sun-NYM (Harvey)
Brandon Maurer (SEA) -- Tue-HOU (Bedard), Sun-TEX (Tepesch)
Joe Saunders (SEA) -- Mon-HOU (Humber), Sat-TEX (Ogando)
Kevin Slowey (MIA) -- Mon-ATL (Maholm), Sun-PHI (Halladay)
Nick Tepesch (TEX) -- Tue-TB (Carmona), Sun-@SEA (Maurer)

Pitching advantages

[+] EnlargeYovani Gallardo
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Yovani Gallardo has struggled against the division-rival Cardinals over the course of his career.

Yovani Gallardo's poor career performance against the Cardinals is astonishing; he has one win, five quality starts, a 6.72 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in 14 career starts against them, and last year he had a 12.34 ERA against them in three meetings (though he did have a quality start in his last turn on Sept. 7). This is actually a bad-career-numbers-all-around week for Cardinals foes: Mat Latos (Monday's starter) is 1-for-7 in quality starts against the Redbirds with a 9.00 ERA, Bronson Arroyo (Tuesday) is 16-for-31 with a 4.56 ERA, Homer Bailey (Wednesday) is 5-for-13 with a 5.00 ERA, and Marco Estrada (Sunday) is 1-for-2 with a 4.66 ERA (includes five relief appearances). That's not to say all are must-sits -- the rankings above should prove that -- but temper your expectations, especially with the Cardinals potentially getting David Freese back later in the week. Here's another reason to do so: The Cardinals were one of the hottest-hitting teams in home games at the onset of 2012, batting .297/.341/.492 in their first 24 games at Busch Stadium.

• In defense of those Cincinnati Reds pitchers, their weekend series at Pittsburgh's PNC Park presents as compelling a set of matchups as the St. Louis ones warrant concern. The three Reds scheduled to pitch in Pittsburgh -- Mike Leake (Friday), Johnny Cueto (Saturday) and Mat Latos (Sunday) -- had a combined 2.60 ERA against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, and they were a perfect 6-for-6 altogether in terms of quality starts at PNC Park.

Roy Halladay is perhaps the diciest start of Week 2, and the reason he gets the nod -- in larger leagues, mind you -- is this: Current New York Mets are combined .184/.215/.264 lifetime hitters with a 1.5 percent walk and 30.0 percent strikeout rate against Halladay, while the Miami Marlins scored one run total during their three-game, season-opening series and play in a pitching-friendly home ballpark. To be fair, current Marlins are combined .293/.312/.401 hitters against Halladay, so if you can pick and choose between his starts, you want the Mets one.

• Among deeper sleepers for Week 2: Philip Humber (Monday, @SEA), who pitched a perfect game the last time he worked at Safeco Field (April 21, 2012); Barry Zito (Wednesday, COL), who has limited current Colorado Rockies hitters to lifetime .220/.289/.291 rates combined; Felix Doubront (Thursday, BAL), who has limited current Baltimore Orioles hitters to .233/.292/.367 career rates plus a 29.2 percent strikeout rate combined; Patrick Corbin (Friday, LAD), a command specialist who had a 2.92 ERA in his home games, as well as a 1.88 ERA in three games (two starts) versus the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012; Tommy Hanson (Friday, HOU), who has had to become increasingly reliant upon his slider as his fastball has waned and who will be facing a Houston Astros team that struck out 18 times on sliders alone during its season-opening series; and Jhoulys Chacin (Saturday, @SD), who has held current San Diego Padres to a .143 batting average and 20.0 percent strikeout rate in their combined careers.

• I'm historically a proponent of benching pitchers for their first starts fresh off the disabled list, but NL-only and deep-mixed (14 teams and larger) owners might need to consider Chad Billingsley for his 2013 debut at San Diego's Petco Park. Among venues in which he has made at least five starts in his career, his 1.05 WHIP at Petco is his best in any ballpark, and his 2.36 ERA there is his third best. Also, current Padres hitters have combined for .223/.318/.266 lifetime rates and a 24.3 percent strikeout rate against him.

• Those scared to use Tim Lincecum should at least consider this: He had two quality starts, a 3.10 ERA and 16 strikeouts in his three starts against the Rockies that were at AT&T Park, and he tossed a quality start with seven K's in 6 1/3 innings in his only turn at Chicago's Wrigley Field (Sept. 1) in 2012. Even if he has slipped into "matchups" territory in mixed leagues, these represent two above-average ones, at the very least.

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

• One big reason the Braves enjoyed relative success against Nationals "co-aces" Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg in 2012 was Jason Heyward; he was 11-for-22 (.500 BA) against them last year. Don't be terrified seeing those names on paper, as the Braves' lineup packs some punch, and in weekly-transactions leagues it's a huge plus that they'll open the week facing Marlins starters like Kevin Slowey (Monday), Wade LeBlanc (Tuesday) and Alex Sanabia (Wednesday). Chris Johnson, who enjoyed a torrid spring and performed well in starts against left-handers in two of the team's three-game, season-opening series, warrants NL-only and deep-mixed attention facing three left-handed starters in Week 2. He might start every day at first base, in fact, with Freddie Freeman on the DL. Dan Uggla (.471/.550/.941 lifetime against Strasburg) and Evan Gattis are also worth a look.

• That Yankees perfect-10 rating is more a tip of the cap to past Yankees statistics -- remember that historical numbers influence the ratings -- as well as a set of seven matchups against non-ace starting pitchers than it is a sign that you should load up on the Francisco Cervellis of the world. AL-only owners might want to consider Cervelli -- now's as good a time as any if you must -- but the true advantage here is the six games against right-handed starters, which plays directly into the hands of Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay. Hafner, in fact, will be making his first trip back to Cleveland since leaving the Indians following last season. Brennan Boesch, too, could warrant a look in AL-only leagues.

• The Mariners actually experience two advantages during their first series of 2013 at Safeco Field. The obvious one is the shrunken outfield dimensions, which as noted in the Draft Kit, seem to favor right-handed power like that possessed by Morse and Jesus Montero. But the Mariners also benefit from facing five right-handed starters, which stacks the deck in favor of their lefty bats, like Michael Saunders, Raul Ibanez, Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley. Expect this team to approach these games -- at least until we know how the "new" Safeco will ultimately play -- with a greater air of confidence, meaning this might be a surprisingly productive week for the Mariners' lineup.