Fantasy Forecaster updated Monday, June 17, at 9:50 a.m. ET.
On tap: All eyes will be on the New York Mets-Atlanta Braves doubleheader on Tuesday, games two and three of a rare five-game series, as we'll see the major league debut of Mets prospect Zack Wheeler (the Mets' No. 1 prospect) as well as another start by 2013 breakthrough player Matt Harvey. Wheeler's arrival puts the Mets' rotation under the microscope, as they'll require a six-man rotation to get through fantasy's Week 12 due to being one of two teams -- the Braves are the other -- scheduled to play eight times. But after that point, someone will probably need to go. Will it be Dillon Gee, Jeremy Hefner or Shaun Marcum? The race for rotation spots provides much motivation.
Zack Greinke, on Saturday, will make his first start at San Diego's Petco Park since April 11, which if you recall was the day he suffered a fractured collarbone during a fight with San Diego Padres Carlos Quentin, whom he had hit with a pitch. Though Greinke's Los Angeles Dodgers and the Padres have played each other since -- from April 15-17 in Los Angeles, then there again June 3-5, a series during which Quentin played and Greinke was active -- this will be Greinke's first game against the Padres since his activation, and perhaps his first game against Quentin. Greinke is coming off back-to-back quality starts, and you can be sure that with emotions high for that game, he'll bring his best to the mound.
This is a big week for the American League East's top four contenders, all of whom are separated by no more than five games in the standings. The Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox each take a trip to Detroit's Comerica Park, enduring arguably the worst matchup a pitcher could have (Colorado's Coors Field might be the only one worse in 2013). The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees tangle at Yankee Stadium during the weekend, after the Rays visit Boston to battle the Red Sox in a three-game series spread over two days. And the Yankees get a classic interleague matchup: They host the Dodgers for two week-opening games, during which two of the game's most successful foreign imports, Hyun-Jin Ryu (Tuesday) and Hiroki Kuroda (Wednesday), will pitch.
Though the Rays' schedule might appear challenging on paper, don't overlook how favorable it is for top prospect Wil Myers, who, like Wheeler, will make his major league debut this week. He's set to break into the bigs with immediate trips to Boston's Fenway Park and New York's Yankee Stadium, but as you'll see below, it's the handedness of his team's opposing starters that plays in his favor.
Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
ESPN lineup deadlines | Interleague impact | Projected starting pitchers
Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 12 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
Hitting ratings | Hitting advantages
For the third consecutive week, we have a late lineup deadline on Monday: A 7 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch for the Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals game on ESPN's Monday Night Baseball. It is the only day of the week, however, that has only night games, as Tuesday's two doubleheaders mean 1:05 p.m. ET (Rays at Red Sox) and 1:10 p.m. ET (Mets at Braves) start times. There are also especially early games on Thursday -- 12:35 p.m. ET for the Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds -- and Saturday -- 12:05 p.m. ET for the Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals -- so make sure to set your lineups before heading to lunch those days.
This week's interleague series:
• Colorado Rockies at Toronto Blue Jays (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
• Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Yankees (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Milwaukee Brewers at Houston Astros (3 games, Tuesday-Thursday)
• Houston Astros at Chicago Cubs (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
• Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
• Texas Rangers at St. Louis Cardinals (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
No player is more impacted by interleague play this week than slumping Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman (a .194/.310/.278 hitter in his first 10 games in June), who has played just 35 innings at first base all season. Sure, he could man first instead of Chris McGuiness, but the prospect of missed starts for Berkman coupled with his struggles make him someone to sit this week.
The Rockies, Dodgers, Brewers and Pirates gain the DH, with the Rockies' Tyler Colvin perhaps the candidate to benefit most. A .293/.396/.518 hitter in 55 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs, Colvin homered twice in the second of his first five contests back with the big club, and could serve as the DH plus pick up starts at first base or in right field. In NL-only or deep-mixed leagues, consider adding Colvin.
The Brewers also gain an additional place to squeeze Aramis Ramirez -- he'll presumably be the DH -- Yuniesky Betancourt and Juan Francisco into the same lineup, meaning NL-only owners can start all three with greater confidence this week. Ramirez, naturally, belongs in lineups in all formats.
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.
• Jason Hammel (illness) had to have his start pushed back by a day -- though he's actually not a guarantee to be healthy by Tuesday, either -- forcing Jake Arrieta to make a spot start for the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.
• With Clay Buchholz (neck) looking like a strong bet for the DL, the Boston Red Sox will start Felix Doubront and Alfredo Aceves in Tuesday's doubleheader. They'll also need another starter for Saturday should Buchholz not be ready; Rubby De La Rosa is a strong candidate to fill in.
• Carlos Carrasco will have completed his seven-game suspension in time to assume the Cleveland Indians' vacant fifth-starter spot on Monday.
• Alex Cobb's (concussion) injury coupled with Tuesday's doubleheader puts the Tampa Bay Rays in need of potentially two spot starters this week. Alex Colome will start one of Tuesday's games, with Chris Archer starting the other; Archer is the far more likely starter of those two for Sunday. Jake Odorizzi could be a candidate to fill in for Cobb on Saturday.
• Major league relievers Josh Collmenter and Charles Brewer, and Triple-A starter Randall Delgado, are candidates to assume the Arizona Diamondbacks' vacant fifth-starter spot beginning on Tuesday.
• With Brandon Beachy (Tommy John surgery) no longer a candidate to rejoin the Atlanta Braves' rotation on Tuesday, Alex Wood is the leading candidate to make a spot start.
• Chris Capuano (triceps) is scheduled to rejoin the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation on Wednesday, though the team could push him back as far as Saturday if he runs into any issues during his June 14 rehabilitation start in Triple-A.
• Chris Narveson (finger) could be ready to rejoin the Milwaukee Brewers' rotation on Saturday, but if he is unable to pitch by then, either Tom Gorzelanny or Donovan Hand would fill in.
• Like the Braves, the New York Mets face a decision on whether to start Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, Tuesday's scheduled doubleheader starters, five days later on Sunday. Bank on Harvey getting the ball.
• With Tyler Cloyd optioned to Triple-A, John Lannan (knee) will rejoin the Philadelphia Phillies' rotation beginning on Monday.
• The Pittsburgh Pirates will give Brandon Cumpton a June 15 start in place of the injured A.J. Burnett's (DL, calf), lining Cumpton up for another turn on Thursday.
1. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Mon-BAL (Arrieta), Sat-BOS (TBD)
2. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Tue-CHC (Samardzija), Sun-TEX (Darvish)
3. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Tue-OAK (Parker), Sun-@STL (Wainwright)
4. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Tue-@STL (Wainwright), Sun-HOU (Lyles)
5. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Tue-WSH (Detwiler)
6. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Fri-@SD (Richard)
7. Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Tue-@ATL, Gm. 2 (Wood), Sun-@PHI (Lannan)
8. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Thu-NYM (Niese)
9. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Fri-OAK (Colon)
10. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Tue-PIT (Morton), Sun-@ARI (Corbin)
11. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Thu-COL (Chatwood)
12. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Thu-@LAA (Hanson)
13. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Tue-BAL (Hammel), Sun-BOS (Doubront)
14. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Thu-PIT (Cumpton)
15. Matt Cain (SF) -- Tue-SD (Cashner), Sun-MIA (Eovaldi)
16. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Wed-@MIN (Correia)
17. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Fri-COL (Chacin)
18. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Mon-CHC (Wood), Sat-TEX (Tepesch)
19. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Wed-@PHI (Kendrick)
20. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Tue-@NYY (Hughes), Sun-@SD (Cashner)
21. Kris Medlen (ATL) -- Wed-NYM (Marcum)
22. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Fri-PIT (Cole)
23. Patrick Corbin (ARI) -- Mon-MIA (Turner), Sun-CIN (Latos)
24. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Thu-CHC (Feldman)
25. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Wed-LAD (Capuano)
26. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Fri-@ARI (Miley)
27. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Wed-SD (Stults)
28. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Tue-@TEX (Darvish), Sun-@SEA (Bonderman)
29. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Sat-NYM (Gee)
30. James Shields (KC) -- Mon-@CLE (Carrasco), Sun-CWS (Axelrod)
31. Bartolo Colon (OAK) -- Fri-@SEA (Iwakuma)
32. Mike Leake (CIN) -- Mon-PIT (Liriano), Sat-@ARI (Kennedy)
33. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Thu-BOS (Lackey)
34. Ervin Santana (KC) -- Tue-@CLE (Jimenez)
35. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Sat-TB (TBD)
36. Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Mon-@CIN (Leake), Sat-@LAA (Vargas)
37. Dan Straily (OAK) -- Mon-@TEX (Tepesch), Sat-@SEA (Harang)
38. Jose Fernandez (MIA) -- Wed-@ARI (Cahill)
39. Doug Fister (DET) -- Fri-BOS (Lester)
40. Josh Johnson (TOR) -- Mon-COL (De La Rosa), Sun-BAL (Arrieta)
41. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Fri-@MIL (Peralta)
42. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Mon-NYM (Gee), Sat-@MIL (TBD)
43. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Wed-KC (Mendoza)
44. David Phelps (NYY) -- Fri-TB (Hernandez)
45. Jason Vargas (LAA) -- Mon-SEA (Harang), Sat-PIT (Liriano)
46. Eric Stults (SD) -- Wed-@SF (Bumgarner)
47. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Sat-MIN (Walters)
48. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Wed-SEA (Saunders)
49. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Sat-@SD (Volquez)
50. Paul Maholm (ATL) -- Tue-NYM, Gm. 1 (Wheeler), Sun-@MIL (Figaro)
51. Matt Garza (CHC) -- Fri-HOU (Keuchel)
52. Travis Wood (CHC) -- Mon-@STL (Miller), Sat-HOU (Norris)
53. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Thu-@ATL (Minor)
54. Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Tue-@SF (Cain), Sun-LAD (Ryu)
55. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Thu-@HOU (Harrell)
56. Jeff Locke (PIT) -- Wed-@CIN (Arroyo)
57. Andy Pettitte (NYY) -- Thu-TB (Moore)
58. Ricky Nolasco (MIA) -- Fri-@SF (Lincecum)
59. Bronson Arroyo (CIN) -- Wed-PIT (Locke)
60. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Fri-@DET (Fister)
61. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Fri-BAL (Garcia)
62. Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Fri-@LAA (Weaver)
63. Rick Porcello (DET) -- Wed-BAL (Tillman)
64. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Fri-MIA (Nolasco)
65. Jordan Lyles (HOU) -- Tue-MIL (Figaro), Sun-@CHC (Samardzija)
66. Bud Norris (HOU) -- Mon-CWS (Quintana), Sat-@CHC (Wood)
67. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Wed-MIA (Fernandez)
68. Jacob Turner (MIA) -- Mon-@ARI (Corbin), Sat-@SF (Zito)
69. Phil Hughes (NYY) -- Tue-LAD (Ryu), Sun-TB (Archer)
70. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Mon-@HOU (Norris), Sat-@KC (Davis)
71. Shaun Marcum (NYM) -- Wed-@ATL (Medlen)
72. Miguel Gonzalez (BAL) -- Sat-@TOR (Wang)
73. Alfredo Figaro (MIL) -- Tue-@HOU (Lyles), Sun-ATL (Maholm)
74. Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Wed-@HOU (Bedard)
75. Tommy Milone (OAK) -- Wed-@TEX (Grimm)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Dylan Axelrod (CWS) -- Tue-@MIN (Pelfrey), Sun-@KC (Shields)
Joe Blanton (LAA) -- Tue-SEA (Bonderman), Sun-PIT (Morton)
Jorge De La Rosa (COL) -- Mon-@TOR (Johnson), Sat-@WSH (Haren)
Ross Detwiler (WSH) -- Tue-@PHI (Lee), Sun-COL (Francis)
Felix Doubront (BOS) -- Tue-TB, Gm. 1 (Colome), Sun-@DET (Verlander)
Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Mon-@ATL (Hudson), Sat-@PHI (Hamels)
Aaron Harang (SEA) -- Mon-@LAA (Vargas), Sat-OAK (Straily)
Dan Haren (WSH) -- Mon-@PHI (Lannan), Sat-COL (De La Rosa)
Barry Zito (SF) -- Mon-SD (Volquez), Sat-MIA (Turner)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Chris Archer (TB) -- Tue-@BOS, Gm. 2 (Aceves), Sun-@NYY (Hughes)
Jake Arrieta (BAL) -- Mon-@DET (Scherzer), Sun-@TOR (Johnson)
Jeremy Bonderman (SEA) -- Tue-@LAA (Blanton), Sun-OAK (Parker)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -- Mon-KC (Shields), Sun-MIN (Pelfrey)
Nate Eovaldi (MIA) -- Tue-@ARI (TBD), Sun-@SF (Cain)
Jeff Francis (COL) -- Tue-@TOR (Rogers), Sun-@WSH (Detwiler)
Jason Hammel (BAL) -- Tue-@DET (Verlander)
John Lannan (PHI) -- Mon-WSH (Haren), Sun-NYM (Harvey)
Charlie Morton (PIT) -- Tue-@CIN (Latos), Sun-@LAA (Blanton)
Mike Pelfrey (MIN) -- Tue-CWS (Axelrod), Sun-@CLE (Carrasco)
Nick Tepesch (TEX) -- Mon-OAK (Straily), Sat-@STL (Miller)
Edinson Volquez (SD) -- Mon-@SF (Zito), Sat-LAD (Greinke)
• Hop back aboard the Jarrod Parker bandwagon; the Oakland Athletics' two-start pitcher is riding a seven-quality-starts streak that partly alleviates concerns that one of his two matchups (@TEX, Tuesday) is a challenging one. One of those seven quality starts came at Rangers Ballpark (7 IP, 3 ER, albeit in a losing effort on May 25), and in his career he's a perfect 2-for-2 in that department at that venue. Incidentally, current Texas Rangers hitters have batted a combined .200/.246/.317 in their careers against the right-hander. Parker then rounds out his week with a favorable matchup at Seattle's Safeco Field, where he's 2-for-2 in both wins and quality starts in his career (2.70 ERA, 1.05 WHIP).
On the lower-value tiers, fellow A's two-start pitcher Dan Straily warrants your consideration as well. He tossed seven shutout innings of two-hit baseball in a winning effort at Rangers Ballpark on May 21, he's 2-for-2 in terms of quality starts in his career at that venue, and current Rangers hitters have lifetime .178/.229/.222 triple-slash rates against him. He's also 3-0 with four quality starts, a 2.20 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in his past five starts and is available in more than 90 percent of ESPN leagues (91.2 percent to be exact).
• Gerrit Cole's fantasy owners might want to take a more conservative approach with his lone Week 12 start (@LAA, Friday). Though he sports a blazing fastball, one that he threw 79 percent of the time and which averaged 96.2 mph during his June 11 big league debut, Cole will be challenged by a Los Angeles Angels team that sports .280/.369/.445 triple-slash rates and a 15 percent miss rate on swings against fastballs clocked 94 mph or faster. To compare, the major league averages in those categories are .247/.321/.374 and 19 percent.
• Matt Moore is in the midst of a treacherous portion of his schedule -- he allowed 19 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings combined on June 4 (@DET), June 9 (BAL) and June 14 (KC) -- and with another due up, he is unranked -- and not recommended in mixed formats -- in a road start at Yankee Stadium. Moore served up five runs in three innings in his most recent game there (Sept. 16, 2012), and he had a 4.15 ERA in five starts against them overall since the beginning of last season. It's a risk not worth taking.
Though their team win-loss record against the Pittsburgh Pirates has been less-than-impressive during this time span -- they've won 28 games to the Pirates' 27 -- the Cincinnati Reds' individual pitching success against their division rivals has been stark: They have a 3.12 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in those 55 games. It's that history that props up the team's two-start pitchers, Mike Leake and Mat Latos. Latos is a perfect 5-for-5 in quality starts against the Pirates during his Reds career, with a 1.97 ERA 1.09 WHIP and a 9.56 K/9 ratio during that span. He's also 4-for-4 in quality starts with a 1.73 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his career at Arizona's Chase Field, where he'll pitch on Sunday.
Leake, meanwhile, is 8-for-13 in quality starts in his career against the Pirates, with a 3.28 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in those games. His second matchup is a bit more problematic, however, as he has afforded .333/.362/.422 lifetime triple-slash rates to current members of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
• 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 on Friday):
1. Bud Norris (CWS, Monday): He has a 1.94 ERA and 1.14 WHIP at home since the start of 2012, and the Chicago White Sox have a .659 team OPS on the road.
2. Ross Detwiler (COL, Sunday): He has a 2.69 ERA and 1.26 WHIP at home since 2011, and will be facing a weaker Colorado Rockies team sans Troy Tulowitzki.
3. Barry Zito (MIA, Saturday): He's such a home/road guy (1.94 ERA home, 11.28 road), plus he has a 2.45 ERA in eight career starts against the Miami Marlins.
4. Hector Santiago (@KC, Friday): Current Kansas City Royals have hit .129 with a 35 percent K rate against him; he has 11 1/3 career shutout innings against them.
5. Jordan Lyles (@CHC, Sunday): He has four quality starts in his past five games and is 2-for-2 in the category in his career at Wrigley Field.
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.
• 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: Detroit Tigers 7, Los Angeles Angels 7, St. Louis Cardinals 7, San Francisco Giants 7
Versus RH: Boston Red Sox 7, Oakland Athletics 7, Baltimore Orioles 6, Chicago White Sox 6, Cleveland Indians 6, Arizona Diamondbacks 6, Atlanta Braves 6, Chicago Cubs 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 6, San Francisco Giants 6
Versus LH: New York Mets 5, Cincinnati Reds 4, San Diego Padres 4, Washington Nationals 4
• Though the Tampa Bay Rays have their work cut out for them in Boston and New York this week, that they'll face three left-handed starters -- familiar foes Felix Doubront (Tuesday), Andy Pettitte (Thursday) and CC Sabathia (Saturday) -- might actually play in their favor. The Rays have .293/.357/.460 team triple-slash rates against left-handed pitchers this season, placing them first in baseball in team OPS against that side, and even their lefty hitters seem to succeed against their "weaker" sides: James Loney has .357/.410/.554 rates, Luke Scott .316/.357/.447. But the Rays hitters you'll want for the week are their righties who hit lefties better: Yunel Escobar (.303/.343/.500) and Desmond Jennings (.292/.363/.556) are two prime examples.
Wil Myers will also make his major league debut this week, and as a right-handed hitter who sported .328/.382/.586 triple-slash rates for Triple-A Durham, he's lined up to make a potentially huge splash right away.
• The Mets play eight games this week, so why do they rate so poorly on the hitting side? Simple: Besides the fact that they have the majors' second-worst team OPS overall (.660), they have .216/.289/.347 team rates against left-handed pitchers, their 22.1 percent K rate against that side fifth-worst. Reason A why this is relevant: Daniel Murphy is a .247/.271/.296 hitter against lefties this season. Reason B: Opposing Braves and Philadelphia Phillies pitchers sure look good.
• Austin Jackson has returned to action for the Tigers, and he's back at an opportune time: The opposing Orioles, in town Monday-Wednesday, have the majors' fourth-worst team ERA in June (4.79), and the Red Sox then visit at a time when their two best starters are dealing with poor-performance (Jon Lester) and injury questions (Clay Buchholz) -- the latter leaving the Red Sox with a potential Saturday rotation opening. Jackson needs be activated in all formats immediately, Victor Martinez has picked up his play to the point where he's worth activating for Week 12, and there's little doubt that Torii Hunter's performance should improve now that he'll be slotted back between Jackson and Miguel Cabrera in the lineup.