On tap: The mathematical midpoint of the 2014 regular season -- also the traditional fantasy baseball season -- arrives near the conclusion of Week 13. Barring any postponements between now and then, half the season will be in the books once one game is officially completed Sunday. Remember: Quarter poles tend to be good times to reassess your fantasy teams' strengths and weaknesses.
Two members of the 2002 amateur draft's first round return to the cities of their drafting teams, with Zack Greinke pitching Monday at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium and Scott Kazmir pitching Wednesday at New York's Citi Field. Greinke has twice pitched as a visiting player in Kansas City, the city he called home when he won the 2009 American League's Cy Young Award, both of those games resulting in quality starts for a combined ERA of 1.17. Kazmir, meanwhile, has never pitched at Citi Field, but he once faced the Mets, last Sept. 6: He threw six shutout, four-hit, no-walk innings, striking out 12. Small samples, yes, but more to heap onto their piles of "must-start" arguments.
By the way, Clayton Kershaw, who tossed a no-hitter June 18 that resulted in a 102 Bill James Game Score, the second-highest such number by any starter in a nine-inning game since World War I (Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game in 1998 was the only one better, at 105), is scheduled to follow Greinke in the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation during that series in Kansas City (he'll pitch Tuesday).
Three doubleheaders grace the weekend schedule, two of them the result of makeup games: The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles play a pair Friday at Camden Yards, while the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies tangle for two Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. The other represents a scheduling oddity: The Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs double-dip Saturday, in Wrigley Field's first scheduled doubleheader in nearly 31 years, but then take Sunday off, a decision made to help lessen neighborhood traffic in connection with Chicago's annual Pride Parade.
These additional games result in an eight-game week for the Phillies, and 15 seven-game weeks, including for the Rays, Orioles and Braves. The significance is that three other teams -- the Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks -- play five-game schedules, so there's a definite quantitative advantage afoot in Week 13.
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Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 13 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
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There are only night games Monday and Tuesday of Week 13, meaning fantasy owners in leagues with weekly transactions have some additional time to set their lineups. Two games begin at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday: Chicago White Sox at Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies.
There are day games from Wednesday through Sunday, with these the first games of the respective days: Pittsburgh Pirates at Tampa Bay Rays at 12:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Atlanta Braves at Houston Astros at 2:10 p.m. ET on Thursday, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday (that the first game of their doubleheader), Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs at 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, and Chicago White Sox at Toronto Blue Jays at 1:07 p.m. ET on Sunday.
This week's interleague series:
• Los Angeles Dodgers at Kansas City Royals (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
• Pittsburgh Pirates at Tampa Bay Rays (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
• Cleveland Indians at Arizona Diamondbacks (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Oakland Athletics at New York Mets (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Atlanta Braves at Houston Astros (3 games, Tuesday-Thursday)
• Oakland Athletics at Miami Marlins (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
The Athletics, traditionally a mix-and-match team, have one less lineup spot with which to play during their abbreviated five-game week, and their typical designated hitters, Alberto Callaspo and John Jaso, will have to fight for at-bats at second base and catcher throughout Week 13. As the Athletics are scheduled to face four right-handers, Jaso could pick up two to three starts ahead of Derek Norris behind the plate, though that might result in an even division of those duties that limits both players' value to AL-only or daily formats. Callaspo, meanwhile, might factor in at second base, but again his value will probably be limited to AL-only and daily leagues.
Hanley Ramirez, who has dealt with minor bumps and bruises recently, will almost assuredly get two to three of the starts as the Dodgers' DH in Kansas City, freeing up an infield spot for Jamie Romak, Carlos Triunfel or Justin Turner. None warrant a look.
Though the Pirates used their DH to squeeze both members of their first-base platoon, Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez, into the lineup in four of their past five games in American League parks, they have a different construction that doesn't guarantee it in Tampa Bay. Josh Harrison has dropped back into a super-utility role, which often results in DH status in these games; reserve outfielders Travis Snider and Jose Tabata are also candidates when the matchup is right. NL-only owners should have greater confidence in Harrison's playing time, but don't count on many more at-bats for the others.
How will the Indians squeeze Lonnie Chisenhall, Carlos Santana and Nick Swisher, who combined have accounted for 25 of the team's 33 starts among first base, third base and DH in their past 11 games, into two lineup spots in Arizona? Santana probably won't catch, as he hasn't played an inning behind the plate since returning from the DL, so the team might sit Chisenhall against lefty Wade Miley on Tuesday and Swisher against righty Chase Anderson on Wednesday, so long as the team feels comfortable using Santana at third base in the former game. As it's a five-game week for the Indians, brace for more limited contributions from all three anyway.
Ryan Doumit started both of the Braves' two games in AL parks earlier this season at DH, so expect him to man that spot again in Houston. After all, the next most-logical choice would be Dan Uggla, except that he's a right-handed hitter, and the Astros are scheduled to pitch three right-handers in the series. In a 12-plus-team, two-catcher league (or any format deeper than that), Doumit warrants the one-week look.
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.
• Kevin Gausman was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk by the Baltimore Orioles on June 20, but thanks to baseball's doubleheader rule, he'll be the 26th man for their Friday double-dip, giving the team six starters for the week
• The Boston Red Sox's rotation is in a state of flux due to Felix Doubront's (shoulder) and Clay Buchholz's (knee) impending returns, as well as Brandon Workman's six-game suspension, which expires following Monday's game. Doubront was scheduled to start June 20, and Buchholz was deemed ready to rejoin the rotation during fantasy's Week 13; Buchholz would be on four days' rest Tuesday (or five Wednesday) after he tossed 87 pitches and six scoreless innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on June 19. Between these three and Rubby De La Rosa, the team has two rotation spots to fill from four pitchers, so be prepared for further changes to the listed order above.
• Rain postponed Zach McAllister's (back) return to the Cleveland Indians' rotation, originally scheduled for June 19, and he wasn't scheduled to start before Week 13. With two off days, the Indians demoted him to the minors.
• Tyler Skaggs (hamstring) threw a bullpen session June 18 and is a candidate to rejoin the Los Angeles Angels' rotation this week. He could slide into Matt Shoemaker's spot, which next arrives Saturday of Week 13.
• Brad Mills replaced Drew Pomeranz (hand) in the Oakland Athletics' rotation June 20, and he will next pitch on Tuesday as the team pushed back Sonny Gray to give him some additional rest and keep Gray's innings in check.
• The Toronto Blue Jays, seeking to give R.A. Dickey (groin) two additional days' rest, pushed the knuckleballer back to June 22, promoting Liam Hendriks for a spot start June 20. It's unclear whether Hendriks figures into the rotation after that one turn, but if he doesn't, the team's Week 13 rotation would follow the order above.
• Gavin Floyd left his June 19 start with a fractured elbow and was placed on the DL. Alex Wood, who threw 73 pitches in his most recent start for Triple-A Gwinnett on June 18, will replace him on Wednesday. The Braves will still need a spot starter for Friday's doubleheader.
• The Colorado Rockies, who demoted Juan Nicasio to Triple-A Colorado Springs on June 16, recalled Christian Friedrich to assume his rotation spot June 21. That turn would align with Thursday of Week 13, but it probably depends upon Friedrich's performance; Pedro Hernandez and Franklin Morales are potential alternatives.
• Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said that Gerrit Cole (shoulder) could rejoin the rotation as early as Saturday, though Cole's former rotation spot arrives Thursday of Week 13. Vance Worley is likely to get another turn on that date, but Cole could be a candidate to replace Edinson Volquez on Sunday, or the team could choose to go to six starters for one turn through the rotation.
• The St. Louis Cardinals placed both Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha on the DL, and Carlos Martinez, who filled in for Wacha on June 22, will fill in for him again on Friday. The team will need another spot starter to replace Garcia on Wednesday.
• Andrew Cashner was scratched from his Monday start by the San Diego Padres -- the reason remains unclear -- and Odrisamer Despaigne will fill in at least for that turn. Cashner remains scheduled for Sunday, though the team could again use Despaigne or push that spot back a couple days if needed.
1. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Tue-@KC (Duffy), Sun-STL (Miller)
2. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Sat-MIN (Hughes)
3. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Mon-BOS (Lackey), Sun-CLE (Masterson)
4. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Mon-@BAL (Chen), Sat-@TOR (Stroman)
5. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Sat-@HOU (Peacock)
6. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Sat-BOS (Lester)
7. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Wed-@MIL (Estrada)
8. David Price (TB) -- Wed-PIT (Morton)
9. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Fri-CIN (Cueto)
10. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Mon-@KC (Guthrie), Sat-STL (Lynn)
11. Drew Smyly (DET) -- Tue-@TEX (Lewis), Sun-@HOU (Feldman)
12. John Lackey (BOS) -- Mon-@SEA (Hernandez), Sun-@NYY (Whitley)
13. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Fri-@SF (Bumgarner)
14. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Sat-@MIA (Eovaldi)
15. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Thu-MIA (Koehler)
16. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Mon-CIN (Simon), Sat-WSH, Gm. 1 (Gonzalez)
17. Adam Wainwright (StL) -- Thu-@LAD (Beckett)
18. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Tue-@CHC (Arrieta), Sun-@SF (Hudson)
19. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Mon-@MIL (Garza), Sat-@CHC, Gm. 1 (Samardzija)
20. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Fri-@PHI (Kendrick)
21. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Mon-PIT (Volquez), Sat-@BAL (Tillman)
22. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Wed-@TEX (Tepesch)
23. Tim Hudson (SF) -- Tue-SD (Hahn), Sun-CIN (Bailey)
24. Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Fri-@MIA (DeSclafani)
25. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Wed-BOS (Buchholz)
26. Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Tue-@NYM (Colon)
27. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Wed-@CHC (Jackson)
28. Chris Archer (TB) -- Tue-PIT (Locke), Sun-@BAL (Chen)
29. A.J. Burnett (PHI) -- Wed-MIA (Alvarez)
30. Doug Fister (WSH) -- Thu-@CHC (Wood)
31. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-MIN (Gibson), Sun-@KC (Guthrie)
32. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Tue-@COL (De La Rosa), Sun-@LAD (Kershaw)
33. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Mon-@COL (Chacin), Sat-@LAD (Greinke)
34. Tyson Ross (SD) -- Fri-ARI (Collmenter)
35. Tanner Roark (WSH) -- Fri-@CHC (Hammel)
36. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Tue-WSH (Zimmermann), Sun-COL (De La Rosa)
37. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Tue-@ARI (Miley), Sun-@SEA (Hernandez)
38. Matt Garza (MIL) -- Mon-WSH (Gonzalez), Sat-COL (Chacin)
39. James Shields (KC) -- Wed-LAD (Haren)
40. Matt Cain (SF) -- Mon-SD (Despaigne), Sat-CIN (Simon)
41. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Fri-@HOU (Keuchel)
42. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Thu-@HOU (Cosart)
43. Alfredo Simon (CIN) -- Mon-@CHC (Samardzija), Sat-@SF (Cain)
44. Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Mon-CWS (Sale), Sun-TB (Archer)
45. Roenis Elias (SEA) -- Sat-CLE (Tomlin)
46. Phil Hughes (MIN) -- Sat-@TEX (Darvish)
47. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Wed-SD (Kennedy)
48. Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Tue-OAK (Kazmir), Sun-@PIT (Locke)
49. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Fri-STL (Martinez)
50. Andrew Heaney (MIA) -- Tue-@PHI (Buchanan), Sun-OAK (Milone)
51. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Tue-@MIL (Gallardo)
52. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Wed-@ARI (Anderson)
53. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Wed-OAK (Mills)
54. David Buchanan (PHI) -- Tue-MIA (Heaney), Sun-ATL (Harang)
55. Kevin Gausman (BAL) -- Fri-TB, Gm. 1 (Odorizzi)
56. Jeff Locke (PIT) -- Tue-@TB (Archer), Sun-NYM (Colon)
57. Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Tue-CIN (Bailey)
58. Jason Hammel (CHC) -- Fri-WSH (Roark)
59. Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Sun-ARI (Bolsinger)
60. Jake Peavy (BOS) -- Tue-@SEA (Ramirez)
61. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Sat-@NYY (Tanaka)
62. Jesse Hahn (SD) -- Tue-@SF (Hudson)
63. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Fri-CWS (Danks)
64. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Thu-MIN (Nolasco)
65. Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Fri-@BAL, Gm. 1 (Gausman)
66. Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Fri-@LAD (Ryu)
67. Marcus Stroman (TOR) -- Mon-NYY (Whitley), Sat-CWS (Sale)
68. Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Wed-@SF (Lincecum)
69. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Tue-@BAL (Gonzalez), Sun-@TOR (Buehrle)
70. Josh Collmenter (ARI) -- Fri-@SD (Ross)
71. Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Fri-@SEA (Young)
72. Travis Wood (CHC) -- Thu-WSH (Fister)
73. Brandon McCarthy (ARI) -- Sat-@SD (Stults)
74. Danny Duffy (KC) -- Tue-LAD (Kershaw)
75. Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Fri-COL (Matzek)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Mark Buehrle (TOR) -- Tue-NYY (Phelps), Sun-CWS (Quintana)
Jhoulys Chacin (COL) -- Mon-STL (Lynn), Sat-@MIL (Garza)
Nate Eovaldi (MIA) -- Mon-@PHI (Hernandez), Sat-OAK (Gray)
Kyle Gibson (MIN) -- Tue-@LAA (Wilson), Sun-@TEX (Lewis)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) -- Mon-LAD (Greinke), Sun-LAA (Wilson)
Chase Whitley (NYY) -- Mon-@TOR (Stroman), Sun-BOS (Lackey)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Jorge De La Rosa (COL) -- Tue-STL (Miller), Sun-@MIL (Gallardo)
Scott Feldman (HOU) -- Tue-ATL (Harang), Sun-DET (Smyly)
Aaron Harang (ATL) -- Tue-@HOU (Feldman), Sun-@PHI (Buchanan)
Roberto Hernandez (PHI) -- Mon-MIA (Eovaldi), Sat-ATL, Gm. 1 (Santana)
Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Tue-DET (Smyly), Sun-MIN (Gibson)
Edinson Volquez (PIT) -- Mon-@TB (Cobb), Sat-NYM (Niese)
• Rookie Andrew Heaney, fresh off a solid big-league debut that earned him a 62 Game Score on June 19, makes career starts Nos. 2 and 3 in what's a two-start week. His first outing is a road game at the light-hitting Philadelphia Phillies, an obviously good matchup, but it's his second, a home game versus the Oakland Athletics, that could warrant your concern. In Heaney's defense, though, he'll be facing an A's team short a designated hitter and one that probably hasn't had much time to scout him. The Athletics have a wOBA 11 points lower against lefties than righties, too, which is enough to justify keeping Heaney active in weekly transaction leagues.
• The Chicago Cubs are one game above .500 at Wrigley Field but 11 games beneath it in road contests, and one of the primary reasons why is the strength of their pitching there:
Jeff Samardzija: 1.64 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 7 GS, 6 QS
Jake Arrieta: 0.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 3 GS, 1 QS
Edwin Jackson: 3.22 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6 GS, 3 QS
Travis Wood: 2.58 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 6 GS, 5 QS
Jason Hammel: 2.20 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 5 GS, 4 QS
Samardzija, the team's two-start pitcher, along with Arrieta and Hammel, are the team's strongest Week 13 options, but a case could be made for all five Cubs starters. After all, the opposing Cincinnati Reds have been one of baseball's worst road teams thus far (.249/.303/.363 rates, 3.9 runs per game), while the visiting Washington Nationals have .226/.300/.335 rates and a 3.7 runs-per-game average the past two weeks (June 6-19). All this also results in good news for closer Neil Ramirez.
• Expect a major bounce-back week from the San Francisco Giants, who play all seven of their games at AT&T Park. Giants pitchers as a whole have a 3.22 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 38 home games, so if you had any doubt about their starters -- and you might, since Matt Cain and Tim Hudson are coming off awful outings, and Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong are both available in more than 60 percent of ESPN leagues -- you shouldn't. Consider the career track records of these pitchers facing these matchups:
Matt Cain (SD, Monday): 7 W, 3.04 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in 32 starts
Tim Hudson (SD, Tuesday): 7 W, 2.71 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in 15 games (14 starts)
Tim Lincecum (SD, Wednesday): 14 W, 2.47 ERA, 1.17 WHIP in 27 starts
Ryan Vogelsong (CIN, Thursday): 1 W, 3.73 ERA, 1.31 WHIP in past five starts
Cain (CIN, Saturday): 4 W, 3.54 ERA, 1.33 WHIP in 10 starts
Hudson (CIN, Sunday): 5 W, 3.20 ERA, 1.24 WHIP in eight starts
• 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): Trevor Bauer (@SEA, Friday): Three of his six starts since his recall have been quality starts, and he has a 22.7 percent K rate in those games. Now he faces a Seattle Mariners offense with the majors' third-worst weighted on-base average in the past calendar month (May 20-June 19), .287.
Danny Duffy (LAD, Tuesday): It's difficult to bet against a pitcher riding the kind of streak he has facing the schedule he has his past three outings; the Los Angeles Dodgers also have mediocre .226/.305/.366 rates against left-handers this season.
Jarred Cosart (ATL, Thursday): What he has done to elevate his game of late -- he has eight quality starts in his past 10 games -- comes down to the improvement of his cutter. The Atlanta Braves, meanwhile, have .190/.277/.280 rates on plate appearances that ended with a cutter, whiffing 37 times against them, second-most in the majors.
Tommy Milone (@MIA, Sunday): Remember when the Miami Marlins were one of the majors' best home teams? No longer: They have .230/.304/.351 rates and have averaged 3.9 runs per game there the past calendar month (May 20-June 19). Milone also has four quality starts in his past five appearances.
Kevin Gausman (TB, Friday): He's a command artist riding a streak of three consecutive quality starts who should be able to capitalize upon a home game against a struggling Tampa Bay Rays offense.
Brandon McCarthy (@SD, Saturday): He tossed seven shutout innings of three-hit, six-strikeout baseball at San Diego's Petco Park on May 3, and his 2.90 year-to-date xFIP bodes well for him in a park that affords pitchers good fortune on batted balls.
Kevin Gausman (CWS, Wednesday): The Chicago White Sox have hit right-handers well this season (.314 wOBA) and have a .321 wOBA the past two weeks (June 6-20), but Gausman is a command artist riding a streak of three consecutive quality starts who should be able to rise above the challenge.
Wei-Yin Chen (CWS, Monday): Monday is an awful day for streaming -- only seven of the day's scheduled starters are available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues -- so Chen gets the nod primarily based upon his recent hot streak of three consecutive quality starts. It helps that the opposing White Sox have the majors' sixth-worst wOBA against left-handers in 2014 (.291).
Best days to stream (accounting both quality and quantity of candidates): Thursday, Friday, Wednesday, Sunday, Saturday, Tuesday and Monday.
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.
• 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: Philadelphia Phillies 8, Baltimore Orioles 7, Toronto Blue Jays 7, Chicago Cubs 7, Milwaukee Brewers 7, San Francisco Giants 7.
Versus RH: San Francisco Giants 7, Seattle Mariners 6, Atlanta Braves 6, Cincinnati Reds 6, Colorado Rockies 6, Los Angeles Dodgers 6, Philadelphia Phillies 6, San Diego Padres 6. Nine teams face five right-handed starters.
Versus LH: Milwaukee Brewers 4, Baltimore Orioles 3, Chicago White Sox 3, Houston Astros 3, Kansas City Royals 3, Toronto Blue Jays 3, New York Mets 3, St. Louis Cardinals 3. Six teams face two left-handed starters.
• There is no better time for the Detroit Tigers, winners of only 10 of their past 30 games, to fatten up than against the back end of the Texas Rangers' rotation, as well as a Houston Astros pitching staff that, in spite of some surprising starters' performances, has a paper-thin bullpen. This is a schedule that, despite all six games being played on the road, stands out as the best in the league among hitters, and that's a good thing: There are some Tigers hitters out there for the taking on free agency.
Austin Jackson is a .309/.373/.529 hitter with three home runs and 18 runs scored in 15 career games at Texas' Globe Life Park, J.D. Martinez is a .407 hitter with three home runs in the past seven days (June 13-19) and Alex Avila is a .311/.407/.467 hitter with three home runs in 13 career games at Globe Life.
• The Cleveland Indians couldn't have a rougher schedule for hitters. Besides the shortened schedule -- again, five games -- the team has to face Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in their Sunday series finale, and the Indians will see two left-handers in their other four games. Why is that significant? Consider that the Indians have .237/.311/.333 team triple-slash rates against left-handers, compared with .264/.335/.422 against right-handers, so there's a definitive matchups advantage to garner ... and it's not when facing a schedule like this.
The two safest Indians to use this week are the ones most likely to play against pitchers of either handedness with the best seasonal stats against lefties: That's Yan Gomes (.310/.351/.352) and Michael Brantley (.294/.390/.482). Lonnie Chisenhall (.424/.472/.576) can also handle lefties, but with the loss of the DH for two games, there's an excellent chance he's not going to play all five contests.