Fantasy Forecaster: Week 6

Updated: May 5, 2014, 8:35 AM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Fantasy Forecaster updated Monday, May 5, at 8:35 a.m. ET.

On tap: Coming off a Week 5 that was light on games played -- 89 games scheduled, seven of which were postponed and only four then made up later in the week -- Week 6 features a heartier schedule, albeit with a large disparity of games played by teams. There are 98 total games on the grid, but individual teams play as many as eight games (Seattle Mariners, thanks to a Wednesday doubleheader) or as few as five (Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds, who tangle in a two-day interleague matchup). In total, 16 teams play a full seven games, so there's a quantitative advantage once again.

Fantasy Forecaster

"Traditional rivalries" -- or at least that's what Major League Baseball calls them, as Texas Rangers-Colorado Rockies hardly seems a natural fit for the description -- begin this week, resulting in a schedule with a larger volume of interleague contests. Of the 98 scheduled games, 26 are interleague affairs, 14 of them in American League parks where National League teams will gain a designated hitter.

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw -- the consensus preseason No. 1 starting pitcher -- returns from the disabled list in time for a pair of starts, pitching first at Washington's Nationals Park, then at home versus the San Francisco Giants. Kershaw tallied 56 (for Class A Rancho Cucamonga) and 86 pitches (for Double-A Chattanooga) in his two rehabilitation starts, whiffing 36 percent of the batters he faced with a 1.80 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in the games; he had 25.6, 1.83 and 0.92 numbers in those categories for the Dodgers in 2013. There's no reason to expect Kershaw to be limited to 100 pitches in his first start, so get him back into your lineup immediately.

Kershaw isn't the only pitcher on the comeback trail: Doug Fister (lat strain) should make his Washington Nationals debut either Wednesday or Friday. Meanwhile, two other pitchers will be making their second starts of 2014: Hisashi Iwakuma (torn tendon in finger) will pitch Thursday versus the Kansas City Royals, while Mike Minor is scheduled to make his second start of the season Wednesday versus the St. Louis Cardinals. Each has a favorable Game Score rating, warranting immediate activation, as well.

Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
ESPN lineup deadlines | Interleague impact | Projected starting pitchers
Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 6 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
Hitting ratings | Hitting advantages

ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines

Week 6 begins with ESPN's Monday Night Baseball: St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves has a 7 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch, meaning fantasy owners in leagues with weekly transactions have additional time to set their lineups.

Tuesday and Friday have later start times, as well, for those of you in daily-transactions leagues: Tuesday's action begins with a quartet of 7:05 p.m. ET games, while Friday has two that begin at that time. It's Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday that have the earliest start times: Two games begin pre-1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, beginning with San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates at 12:35 p.m. ET, and there are six day games in total. There are two day games on Thursday, beginning with Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians on 12:05 p.m. ET. Saturday has three day games, beginning with Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays at 1:07 p.m. ET, while Sunday has its traditional 14 day games out of 15 total.

Interleague impact

This week's interleague series:
Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs (2 games, Monday-Tuesday)
• Texas Rangers at Colorado Rockies (2 games, Monday-Tuesday)
• Toronto Blue Jays at Philadelphia Phillies (2 games, Monday-Tuesday)
• Kansas City Royals at San Diego Padres (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
• Cincinnati Reds at Boston Red Sox (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox (2 games, Wednesday-Thursday)
• Colorado Rockies at Texas Rangers (2 games, Wednesday-Thursday)
• Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays (2 games, Wednesday-Thursday)
Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago White Sox (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
New York Yankees at Milwaukee Brewers (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
• Washington Nationals at Oakland Athletics (3 games, Friday-Sunday)

While there are a larger number of interleague games this week than usual, the good news is that no American League team plays more than three games in a National League ballpark, where it would lose its designated hitter. Unfortunately, no National League team plays more than three in an American League ballpark, so those teams don't gain enough of an advantage with the addition of the DH.

The Royals, still, are the most impacted by the schedule, as Billy Butler is their usual DH and Eric Hosmer their first baseman, and that represents a difficult choice for them (and therefore those players' fantasy owners) because the team faces two left-handed Padres starters in their three-game series at San Diego's Petco Park. The team might go with a straight platoon at first base, making neither one an attractive choice because of their early-season struggles and high ground-ball rates.

NL-only owners might be able to squeeze some value out of the DH choices for the Diamondbacks or Nationals. For the former, either Eric Chavez or Alfredo Marte could benefit from an additional start or three. Considering Marte's hot start in Triple-A -- he had .342/.409/.468 triple-slash rates in 26 games -- he might get the bulk of those at-bats. For the latter, Kevin Frandsen, Nate McLouth and Steven Souza have been mixed and matched at either outfield corner, and a pair of left-handed starters working for the Athletics during the three-game weekend series might make Souza an attractive one-week (or multiday) plug-in.

The Yankees are the other team most significantly impacted by the interleague schedule, as they play three games in Milwaukee's Miller Park. Without a DH, Alfonso Soriano will be forced to either pinch hit or play left field, and that the Brewers will start three right-handers suggests that Soriano might suffer the largest decline in at-bats. It's possible, however, that Brett Gardner or Carlos Beltran could sit a game in the series.

Projected starting pitchers

The chart below lists each of the 30 MLB teams' schedules and projected starting pitchers, and provides a projected Bill James Game Score 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 have recently been going with "bullpen days" in their fifth-starter spot, with Hector Noesi their "starter" for those games; that is their apparent plan again Tuesday. It's unclear whether Noesi will make another start on Sunday, but Chris Sale, Felipe Paulino or Tommy Hanson could be candidates.
• After demoting Carlos Carrasco to their bullpen during the past week, the Cleveland Indians will recall Josh Tomlin to fill their fifth-starter void beginning on Tuesday.
• The Detroit Tigers announced that Robbie Ray will fill in for the injured Anibal Sanchez on Tuesday, though they haven't yet promised him a second start on Sunday. Sanchez won't be eligible to return for Sunday, but Ray's performance Tuesday will dictate whether he gets another start.
Scott Feldman (biceps) is scheduled to rejoin the Houston Astros' rotation on Friday at Baltimore. He'll replace Brad Peacock, though Peacock is scheduled to pitch Wednesday, meaning that Collin McHugh, Jarred Cosart and Brett Oberholtzer (into Week 7) will presumably be pushed back by a day each once the weekend arrives.
• The Minnesota Twins placed Mike Pelfrey on the disabled list on May 2, meaning Samuel Deduno will assume his rotation spot and make two starts in Week 6.
• The New York Yankees have the option of pushing fifth starter David Phelps back, as they did this past week when rainouts allowed, because of Thursday's off day. In that event, Hiroki Kuroda would pick up a second start.
• The Oakland Athletics will need a spot starter for one of Wednesday's doubleheader games, and they were not willing to announce their choice as of May 4. Josh Lindblom, who got the last such assignment during a doubleheader and was aligned with a Wednesday schedule, and Arnold Leon were the two leading candidates.
• The Seattle Mariners will need a spot starter of their own for that game, with Erasmo Ramirez, set for a May 2 start and therefore on schedule, the leading candidate.
Brandon Morrow (finger) landed on the DL on May 3, casting the Toronto Blue Jays' Week 6 rotation into doubt. Marcus Stroman was to be recalled May 4 to fortify the bullpen, and it's unclear whether he'd be moved into the rotation this week. J.A. Happ is Monday's starter, and presumably the team will just push Drew Hutchison and Mark Buehrle back by a day and keep Stroman in relief as a fallback option to Dustin McGowan.
Ervin Santana (thumb) was scratched by the Atlanta Braves for his Tuesday start, and Gavin Floyd will take that turn in Santana's place. Santana is expected to return during the weekend series, meaning a six-man rotation for Week 6 is the most likely scenario, though the Braves have said they want to avoid a six-man arrangement long-term.
Tony Cingrani (shoulder) was placed on the DL on May 1, but the Cincinnati Reds can merely use Monday's and Thursday's off days to skip his spot in the rotation.
Jhoulys Chacin (shoulder) rejoined the Colorado Rockies' rotation on May 4, setting him up for his second start of 2014 on Friday. He'll slide right into the spot previously occupied by Tyler Chatwood, who is now on the DL.
• Clayton Kershaw is expected to rejoin the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation Tuesday, as the team decided during the May 2-4 weekend to keep Zack Greinke on regular rest. Either way, both are aligned as two-start pitchers.
Cole Hamels (flu) had to be scratched from his scheduled May 4 start, forcing him and Roberto Hernandez to swap spots in the Philadelphia Phillies' rotation. Hamels is now a two-start Week 6 pitcher, with starts on Tuesday and Sunday.
• The Pittsburgh Pirates will give Jeff Locke their open start on Monday, though it's unclear whether he'll also pitch Sunday. Wandy Rodriguez is also on the comeback trail and could be a candidate by the weekend.
• The St. Louis Cardinals will need a fifth starter for Tuesday's game, and assuming he's not needed in relief before then, Tyler Lyons should take that assignment.
• The Washington Nationals' rotation is entirely unclear beyond Monday, due to Doug Fister's (lat) impending return, Taylor Jordan's demotion and Stephen Strasburg's short outing on May 2. All indications as of May 4 were that the team would ask a spot start from Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen or Blake Treinen on Tuesday, Strasburg would pitch on normal rest on Wednesday, Fister would return to the rotation on Friday and Tanner Roark would be skipped this turn through the rotation.

Tristan's Week 6 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Mon-HOU (Cosart), Sat-MIN (Gibson)
2. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Tue-@WSH (TBD), Sun-SF (Hudson)
3. Jose Fernandez (MIA) -- Fri-@SD (Ross)
4. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Fri-BOS (Buchholz)
5. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Mon-@WSH (Zimmermann), Sat-SF (Petit)
6. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Wed-LAD (Haren)
7. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Fri-@MIL (Gallardo)
8. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Tue-TOR (Hutchison), Sun-@NYM (Niese)
9. Michael Wacha (STL) -- Fri-@PIT (Liriano)
10. Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Mon-SEA (Young), Sun-WSH (Zimmermann)
11. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Wed-@OAK, Gm. 1 (Straily)
12. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Wed-@TOR (Buehrle)
13. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Tue-@BOS (Doubront), Sun-COL (Nicasio)
14. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Mon-CWS (Quintana), Sat-@ATL (Santana)
15. Nate Eovaldi (MIA) -- Mon-NYM (Niese), Sat-@SD (Stults)
16. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Sat-WSH (Gonzalez)
17. David Price (TB) -- Thu-BAL (Jimenez)
18. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Fri-COL (Chacin)
19. Yordano Ventura (KC) -- Mon-@SD (Stults), Sat-@SEA (Young)
20. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Fri-CHC (Hammel)
21. Adam Wainwright (StL) -- Wed-@ATL (Minor)
22. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Mon-@ATL (Harang), Sun-@PIT (TBD)
23. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Fri-@LAD (TBD)
24. David Phelps (NYY) -- Mon-@LAA (Weaver), Sun-@MIL (Garza)
25. Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Tue-@TB (Archer), Sun-HOU (Cosart)
26. James Shields (KC) -- Wed-@SD (Cashner)
27. Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Tue-SEA (Elias)
28. Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Wed-KC (Shields)
29. Chris Archer (TB) -- Tue-BAL (Tillman), Sun-CLE (Tomlin)
30. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Fri-MIN (Hughes)
31. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Mon-LAD (Greinke), Sun-@OAK (Kazmir)
32. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Mon-@MIA (Eovaldi), Sun-PHI (Hamels)
33. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Sat-@MIL (Lohse)
34. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Mon-NYY (Phelps), Sun-@TOR (Hutchison)
35. Tim Hudson (SF) -- Tue-@PIT (Morton), Sun-@LAD (Kershaw)
36. Robbie Erlin (SD) -- Tue-KC (Guthrie), Sun-MIA (Alvarez)
37. Drew Smyly (DET) -- Thu-HOU (Keuchel)
38. Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Tue-@PHI (Hamels), Sun-LAA (Weaver)
39. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Sat-@OAK (Gray)
40. Matt Garza (MIL) -- Mon-ARI (Bolsinger), Sun-NYY (Phelps)
41. Marco Estrada (MIL) -- Tue-ARI (Collmenter)
42. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Mon-@CHC (Samardzija), Sat-ARI (Miley)
43. Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Fri-STL (Wacha)
43. Alex Wood (ATL) -- Sun-CHC (Jackson)
44. Yusmeiro Petit (SF) -- Mon-@PIT (Locke), Sat-@LAD (Greinke)
45. Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Thu-MIA (Turner)
46. A.J. Burnett (PHI) -- Thu-@TOR (Dickey)
47. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Thu-KC (Duffy)
48. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Thu-PHI (Burnett)
49. Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Wed-MIN (Nolasco)
50. John Lackey (BOS) -- Sun-@TEX (Ross)
51. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Sat-@PIT (Volquez)
52. Roenis Elias (SEA) -- Tue-@OAK (Chavez), Sun-KC (Guthrie)
53. Tyson Ross (SD) -- Fri-MIA (Fernandez)
54. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Sat-@TEX (Perez)
55. Martin Perez (TEX) -- Mon-@COL (Lyles), Sat-BOS (Lester)
56. Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Wed-SF (Lincecum)
56. Aaron Harang (ATL) -- Mon-STL (Miller)
57. Jake Peavy (BOS) -- Wed-CIN (Leake)
58. Dan Haren (LAD) -- Wed-@WSH (Strasburg)
59. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Wed-STL (Wainwright)
60. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Thu-MIN (Correia)
61. Edwin Jackson (CHC) -- Tue-CWS (Noesi), Sun-@ATL (Wood)
62. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Wed-@PIT (Cole)
63. Ervin Santana (ATL) -- Sat-CHC (Samardzija)
64. Josh Collmenter (ARI) -- Tue-@MIL (Estrada)
65. Zach McAllister (CLE) -- Mon-MIN (Gibson), Sat-@TB (Bedard)
66. Hector Santiago (LAA) -- Wed-NYY (Nuno)
67. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Fri-NYY (Tanaka)
68. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-NYY (Kuroda)
69. Wily Peralta (MIL) -- Wed-ARI (Arroyo)
70. Jenrry Mejia (NYM) -- Fri-PHI (Hernandez)
71. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Wed-@MIA (Koehler)
72. Alfredo Simon (CIN) -- Sat-COL (Lyles)
73. Doug Fister (WSH) -- Fri-@OAK (Milone)
74. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Fri-@TB (Odorizzi)
75. Rick Porcello (DET) -- Wed-HOU (Peacock)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Henderson Alvarez (MIA) -- Tue-NYM (Colon), Sun-@SD (Erlin)
Mike Bolsinger (ARI) -- Mon-@MIL (Garza), Sun-@CWS (TBD)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) -- Tue-@SD (Erlin), Sun-@SEA (Elias)
Kyle Kendrick (PHI) -- Mon-TOR (Happ), Sat-@NYM (Gee)
Robbie Ross (TEX) -- Tue-@COL (Nicasio), Sun-BOS (Lackey)
Eric Stults (SD) -- Mon-KC (Ventura), Sat-MIA (Eovaldi)
Josh Tomlin (CLE) -- Tue-MIN (Deduno), Sun-@TB (Archer)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Jarred Cosart (HOU) -- Mon-@DET (Scherzer), Sun-@BAL (Tillman)
Samuel Deduno (MIN) -- Tue-@CLE (Tomlin), Sun-@DET (TBD)
Kyle Gibson (MIN) -- Mon-@CLE (McAllister), Sat-@DET (Scherzer)
J.A. Happ (TOR) -- Mon-@PHI (Kendrick), Sat-LAA (Skaggs)
Jordan Lyles (COL) -- Mon-TEX (Perez), Sat-@CIN (Simon)
Juan Nicasio (COL) -- Tue-TEX (Ross), Sun-@CIN (Bailey)
Chris Young (SEA) -- Mon-@OAK (Kazmir), Sat-KC (Ventura)

Pitching advantages

• Though the San Diego Padres can't seem to hit, they can certainly pitch. Weeks in which they play a full seven games at home, at pitching-friendly Petco Park, represent obvious team-wide matchup opportunities. When those seven games come against a pair of teams that rank among the bottom 10 in baseball in terms of runs per game, wOBA and home runs, the Kansas City Royals and Miami Marlins, it's doubly advantageous. Besides Andrew Cashner, who is 100 percent owned, the other four Padres starters remain available in at least 60 percent of ESPN leagues.

Two-start pitchers Eric Stults and Robbie Erlin stand out in particular because of the ballpark, as well as their left-handedness. After all, the visiting Royals rank second-worst against lefties in terms of wOBA (.266, behind a .233/.298/.296 triple-slash), while the Marlins rank third-worst in road games (.274 wOBA, .215/.287/.333). In leagues with weekly transactions, both warrant a place in your lineup.

• Let's not discount those Marlins matchups, however, other than the fact that two teams cannot secure the win in the same game; this is a problem when the two tangle for four at San Diego's Petco Park from Thursday to Sunday. The Marlins' road hitting woes drag their pitching matchups down slightly -- at least in Rotisserie or points-based leagues with a wins reward -- but if your object is ERA, WHIP or K's, their staff as a whole should provide you pleasant production.

Nate Eovaldi, highlighted in my Week 6 Forecaster two-start video, has a pair of outstanding matchups upon which to build. But there are two other Marlins pickup candidates in even deeper leagues: Henderson Alvarez has three quality starts and a 3.00 ERA in his past four games, while Jacob Turner makes his second start off the DL at Petco against the ice-cold Padres lineup.

• The Detroit Tigers have the American League's most favorable matchups, and while four of their five current starters are owned in more than half of ESPN leagues, that means they're quite the Week 6 selection in team-based games such as our Baseball Challenge. Seven home games -- four against the Houston Astros, three versus the Minnesota Twins -- suit them well, considering their current four starters combined have a 3.56 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 7.83 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio in their careers at Comerica Park. Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly remain available in a small handful of ESPN leagues, and both stack up well against an Astros team that (just like last year) leads the majors in terms of strikeout rate (24.5 percent of their PAs) and has mere .208/.282/.362 triple-slash numbers in road games.

But rookie Robbie Ray, acquired in the winter's Doug Fister trade, is the intriguing pickup for Week 6. Ray, who had a 1.59 ERA and 21 K's compared with five walks in five starts for Triple-A Toledo, is scheduled to make his major league debut Tuesday against the Astros, lining him up for a potential second start Sunday versus the Minnesota Twins. Ray's command -- albeit in a limited sample -- makes him someone who could make an instant impact, and past research of mine has shown that it's wiser to use a rookie in his first one to two big league starts than later in that year. I wouldn't be at all surprised by him tossing a quality start Tuesday, earning a second start on Sunday and racking up useful stats in that one as well; I'd take the chance.

• Here are this week's Streamer's Delight picks (pitchers must be available in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues as of our publishing time Friday):

1. Tyson Ross (MIA, Friday): His average fastball velocity has increased more recently -- 92.7 in his past four starts -- and he'll be facing a Miami Marlins team that has averaged 2.7 runs per game with a .274 wOBA in road games in 2014.
2. Jonathon Niese (@MIA, Monday): Three consecutive quality starts shows that Niese is at the top of his game, and while the Miami Marlins have enjoyed greater success at home than on the road, that they still call a pitching-friendly venue their home makes this a nice matchup for the lefty.
3. Jose Quintana (ARI, Saturday): The Arizona Diamondbacks are off to an awful start, and Quintana has pitched well at home since the beginning of 2013, with a quality-start percentage of 62 and a 3.28 ERA in his 21 games.
4. Drew Hutchison (@PHI, Tuesday): It's a play for strikeouts; Hutchison's 27.3 percent K rate ranks ninth among qualifiers, and he's facing a Philadelphia Phillies team that has whiffed in 22 percent of its PAs against righties this year.
5. Matt Harrison (COL, Thursday): No team in baseball has a wider home/road wOBA split than the Colorado Rockies; theirs is 107 points wide (.409 home, .302 road).
6. Jeremy Guthrie (@SD, Tuesday): Petco Park games are obvious streaming opportunities, especially with the San Diego Padres ranked dead last in baseball in both runs per game (2.66) and wOBA (.262).
7. Roenis Elias (KC, Sunday): He has a 3.25 ERA and 24.8 percent K rate in his past four starts, two of which came against the Texas Rangers and one against the New York Yankees. The Kansas City Royals, meanwhile, have baseball's second-worst wOBA against left-handers thus far (.266).

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: Detroit Tigers 7, Oakland Athletics 7, San Diego Padres 7, Tampa Bay Rays 6, Atlanta Braves 6, Milwaukee Brewers 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 6. Three teams play five home games.
Versus RH: San Diego Padres 7, Cleveland Indians 6, Minnesota Twins 6, Tampa Bay Rays 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 6. Seven teams face five right-handers.
Versus LH: Houston Astros 3, Kansas City Royals 3, Seattle Mariners 3, Texas Rangers 3, Toronto Blue Jays 3, Chicago Cubs 3, Colorado Rockies 3, Miami Marlins 3, Philadelphia Phillies 3, Washington Nationals 3. No other team faces more than two left-handers.

• A week heavy on right-handed pitching works to the Cleveland Indians' benefit. Thus far this season, they have a wOBA 47 points higher against righties (.314) than lefties (.267), and seven of their nine usual starters either bat from the left side or are switch-hitters. Their week-opening opponent, the Minnesota Twins, have an entirely right-handed rotation, while their week-closing foe, the Tampa Bay Rays, will be throwing their two weakest current starters in their series. The one lefty the Indians face is Erik Bedard; current Indians combined have .279/.367/.488 triple-slash rates and an average of one home run per 21.5 at-bats against him. David Murphy (3-for-13 without an extra-base hit) is the one Indian who has historically struggled against Bedard.

Michael Bourn is especially under the microscope. He hasn't been nearly the base stealer from 2013-14 that he was earlier in his career, and last season, he had a higher batting average against the Minnesota Twins (.315) than any American League Central team, though he was just 1-for-5 attempting steals against them. Bourn is also battling a hamstring injury that threatens his status for the week, so keep tabs on the news surrounding him on Monday before setting your lineups.

• Though the Cincinnati Reds have a shortened schedule -- they play just five games, including two at Boston's Fenway Park -- they still draw three outstanding hitter matchups in the weekend's series versus the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies will throw three right-handed starters; this Reds team has a wOBA 24 points higher against righties (.316) than lefties (.292) this season.

The limited volume of games means it's a bad idea to use lesser-profile Reds such as Brayan Pena or Chris Heisey, but the favorable set of matchups supports keeping names such as Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips in your lineup.

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