Fantasy Forecaster: Week of July 7

Updated: July 7, 2014, 10:18 AM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Fantasy Forecaster updated Monday, July 7, at 10:18 a.m. ET.

On tap: Major League Baseball's traditional first half -- different from its mathematical first half, which arrived on June 30 -- concludes with a busy Week 15, as 22 of the 30 teams play at least seven games. The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds, in fact, play eight games apiece thanks to a Tuesday day-night doubleheader at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. Though those teams enjoy a volume advantage, consider this one a quality-over-quantity week when strategizing matchups.

Fantasy Forecaster

The week's interleague matchups are compelling, as 10 of the 13 games, including the two "traditional rivalry" series, involve teams that could be eventual World Series combatants. The American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers host the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers for two games, in which Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer will battle Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke. The Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, both of which are in the thick of their respective Eastern Divison races, will play home-and-home series for a total of four games. And the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics will battle the NL wild card-leading San Francisco Giants in a home-and-home series totaling four contests of their own.

Speaking of that Athletics-Giants series, the Oakland Athletics picked a good time to make a major rotation splash: They acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs right in time for a seven-game week including those four against the Giants, plus a three-game set at Seattle's Safeco Field, representing one of the most pitching-friendly schedules of Week 15. Samardzija will make his second Athletics start against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Friday; that should be one of the most enticing pitching matchups to watch all week. Hammel, meanwhile, will make his Athletics debut on Wednesday at San Francisco's AT&T Park.

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

The week kicks off with ESPN's Monday Night Baseball, as the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians battle at Progressive Field at 7 p.m. ET. Fantasy owners in weekly leagues have more time to set their lineups for a fourth consecutive week.

For those of you in daily leagues, there is at least one day game on every other day of the week: Tuesday has one, the first game of the aforementioned Cubs-Reds doubleheader; Wednesday has four, beginning with Dodgers at Tigers at 1:08 p.m. ET; Thursday has four, starting with the Cubs-Reds series finale at 12:35 p.m. ET; Friday has one, Atlanta Braves at Cubs at 4:05 p.m. ET; Saturday has nine, the first one Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians at 3:05 p.m. ET; and Sunday, as usual, has 14, kicking off with White Sox-Indians at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Interleague impact

This week's interleague series:
• Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals (2 games, Monday-Tuesday)
• Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles (2 games, Wednesday-Thursday)
• San Francisco Giants at Oakland Athletics (2 games, Monday-Tuesday)
• Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants (2 games, Wednesday-Thursday)
• Los Angeles Dodgers at Detroit Tigers (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
Minnesota Twins at Colorado Rockies (3 games, Friday-Sunday)

Kendrys Morales has made 19 of his 22 starts at designated hitter for the Twins this season, and the team must make the decision in three of their six games whether his bat is valuable enough to risk his mediocre-at-best defense at first base. That Joe Mauer is now on the disabled list might make it seem that the Twins would risk it, but keep in mind that the Rockies' rotation is almost entirely left-handed, and Morales has always been a better hitter against righties than lefties (he has hit just .172/.167/.276 against southpaws this year). Still, fellow first base option Chris Parmelee is left-handed, so Morales should start at least two of the three at first base, and perhaps all three, meaning that Parmelee's AL-only owners should bench him for Week 15.

Gaining the DH is a big advantage for the Nationals, allowing them some clarity with their Bryce Harper-Ryan Zimmerman-Anthony Rendon-Danny Espinosa, four-men-for-three-positions dilemma. Zimmerman will presumably DH during the two games, though Espinosa, the odd man out most nights in National League parks, has .238/.312/.298 triple-slash rates, zero home runs and two stolen bases in 26 games since June 1, which makes him appear to be a shaky start even with the extra at-bats.

The Orioles have slotted usual DH Nelson Cruz in left field in all five of their interleague games in NL venues this season; Steve Pearce is the player at risk of two lost starts. The Giants should continue to rotate players such as Buster Posey and Michael Morse into their DH role, meaning Hector Sanchez, Tyler Colvin or Adam Duvall could pick up an additional start. The Athletics, meanwhile, use their DH as an "off day" for their regulars, so losing that role shouldn't have any significant impact.

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

• A July 5 doubleheader results in a 10-games-in-nine-days arrangement for the Baltimore Orioles, forcing them to find an extra starter no later than Wednesday of Week 15. Kevin Gausman, who was demoted to short-season Class A Aberdeen for a July 2 start, started their July 6 game on three days' rest; it is unclear whether he would then remain in the rotation. Bud Norris (groin) is expected to return from the DL on Tuesday, making it likely that Gausman won't pitch during Week 15.
• That same doubleheader forces the Boston Red Sox into the same arrangement, and their Wednesday spot starter is unknown. It's presumed that neither Jon Lester nor John Lackey would start on three days' rest -- Brandon Workman would pick up a second start if either did -- so Rubby De La Rosa (he pitched July 1 for Triple-A Pawtucket), Felix Doubront or Allen Webster (he'd be on five days' rest) could be a candidate to fill in that day.
• The Los Angeles Angels utilized a six-man rotation for one turn through due to their July 1 doubleheader, but they are expected to revert to five starters early in Week 15. Hector Santiago, who had a mediocre outing on July 5, is a more likely candidate to be bumped than Matt Shoemaker.
• The acquisition of Brandon McCarthy throws the New York Yankees' rotation somewhat out of order; he was on a Tuesday schedule but instead will make his Yankees debut on Wednesday. Monday's start, vacated when Vidal Nuno was traded, will be filled by Shane Greene. Chase Whitley will be skipped on Wednesday, and it is unclear whether he or Greene would pitch Saturday, or whether Whitley might start sooner than then.
• Following their trade with the Chicago Cubs, the Oakland Athletics will slot newly acquired starters Jeff Samardzija into their July 6 (and therefore also Friday of Week 15) game, replacing Brad Mills, and Jason Hammel into their Wednesday game, replacing the demoted-to-Triple-A-Sacramento Tommy Milone.
• The Seattle Mariners announced plans to push back Felix Hernandez from Thursday to Friday, though that leaves their latter-half-of-Week-15 rotation somewhat in question. A spot starter will be needed on Thursday, and it is unclear whether the team will then use six starters for the week, as projected above, or skip either Taijuan Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma or Chris Young during the weekend.
Jeremy Hellickson's (elbow) 30-day rehabilitation stint window expired July 6, and he will rejoin the Tampa Bay Rays' rotation on Tuesday in place of Erik Bedard.
• Vidal Nuno will slide into Brandon McCarthy's former rotation spot with the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching on Tuesday.
• The Chicago Cubs haven't formally announced long-term replacements for Samardzija and Hammel in their rotation, but they have three openings to fill with an eight-game Week 15 schedule. Tsuyoshi Wada will be recalled to start one of Tuesday's doubleheader games, and Carlos Villanueva, who started in Samardzija's stead on July 5, could get another turn on Thursday. That leaves Wednesday's game wide open, with Chris Rusin, Dallas Beeler, Dan Straily and Kyle Hendricks candidates.
• The Cincinnati Reds are likely to recall David Holmberg, who had his July 4 start for Triple-A Louisville shortened to 50 pitches, to start one of the games of their Tuesday doubleheader.
• The Miami Marlins demoted Andrew Heaney to Triple-A New Orleans on July 5, leaving them with only four starters for Week 15. Thursday's off day allows them to push off their next fifth-starter decision until after the All-Star break.
• Jon Niese (shoulder, back) could be a candidate for the DL, which might settle the New York Mets' impending rotation crunch. Dillon Gee (lat) threw 75 pitches for Class A Brooklyn in his third rehabilitation start on July 4, and he'd be on schedule to assume Niese's spot on Wednesday.
Joe Kelly (hamstring) threw 49 pitches in a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Memphis on July 1, after which St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Kelly will need two more rehab starts, likely to take place on July 6 and 11. He's aligned with Marco Gonzales in the rotation, so the team could always change course and hand Kelly the Friday assignment in Week 15.

Tristan's Week 15 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Thu-SD (Despaigne)
2. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Wed-HOU (Keuchel)
3. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Tue-@CLE (Bauer), Sun-@BAL (Norris)
4. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Wed-LAD (Greinke)
5. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Fri-OAK (Samardzija)
6. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Mon-BAL (Tillman), Sat-@PHI (Hamels)
7. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Tue-@OAK (Gray), Sun-ARI (Anderson)
8. Adam Wainwright (StL) -- Mon-PIT (Morton), Sat-@MIL (Estrada)
9. David Price (TB) -- Sat-TOR (Hutchison)
10. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Wed-@BOS (TBD)
11. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Tue-CHC, Gm. 1 (Wood), Sun-PIT (Worley)
12. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Tue-@NYM (DeGrom), Sun-@CHC (Wood)
13. Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Fri-ATL (Wood)
14. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Mon-@MIL (Estrada), Sat-WSH (Strasburg)
15. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Tue-SF (Bumgarner), Sun-@SEA (Iwakuma)
16. Tyson Ross (SD) -- Tue-@COL (Morales), Sun-@LAD (Ryu)
17. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Mon-MIN (Correia), Sun-OAK (Gray)
18. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Tue-@DET (Verlander), Sun-SD (Ross)
19. Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Mon-SF (Vogelsong), Sat-@SEA (Walker)
20. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Tue-LAD (Ryu), Sun-@KC (Vargas)
21. James Shields (KC) -- Mon-@TB (Odorizzi), Sat-DET (Porcello)
22. Alex Wood (ATL) -- Fri-@CHC (Arrieta)
23. Jeff Samardzija (OAK) -- Fri-@SEA (Hernandez)
24. A.J. Burnett (PHI) -- Fri-WSH (Zimmermann)
25. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Thu-@BAL (Gonzalez)
26. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Thu-CHC (TBD)
27. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Fri-@KC (Duffy)
28. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Mon-TOR (Happ), Sat-@TEX (Mikolas)
29. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Wed-@DET (Scherzer)
30. John Lackey (BOS) -- Fri-@HOU (Feldman)
31. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Fri-PIT (Locke)
32. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Mon-@NYM (Matsuzaka), Sat-@CHC (Jackson)
33. Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Thu-@SF (Hudson)
34. Doug Fister (WSH) -- Tue-BAL (Norris), Sun-@PHI (Kendrick)
35. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Wed-KC (Ventura)
36. Marco Estrada (MIL) -- Mon-PHI (Hamels), Sat-STL (Wainwright)
37. Charlie Morton (PIT) -- Mon-@STL (Wainwright), Sat-@CIN (Leake)
38. Jason Hammel (OAK) -- Wed-@SF (Cain)
39. Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Mon-@COL (Matzek), Sat-@LAD (Beckett)
40. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Fri-CWS (Noesi)
41. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Wed-PIT (Cole)
42. Drew Smyly (DET) -- Thu-@KC (Guthrie)
43. Yordano Ventura (KC) -- Wed-@TB (Cobb)
44. Rick Porcello (DET) -- Sat-@KC (Shields)
45. Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Wed-@STL (Lynn)
46. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Fri-@PHI (Burnett)
47. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Mon-CWS (Carroll), Sun-@HOU (Cosart)
48. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Mon-NYY (Greene), Sat-CWS (Carroll)
49. Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Tue-PIT (Worley), Sun-@MIL (Peralta)
50. Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Fri-@TEX (Tepesch)
51. Mike Leake (CIN) -- Mon-CHC (Jackson), Sat-PIT (Morton)
52. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Thu-CWS (Quintana)
53. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Fri-ARI (Bolsinger)
54. Josh Beckett (LAD) -- Sat-SD (Kennedy)
55. Jesse Hahn (SD) -- Fri-@LAD (Haren)
56. Chris Archer (TB) -- Fri-TOR (Buehrle)
57. Matt Garza (MIL) -- Thu-PHI (Buchanan)
58. Tom Koehler (MIA) -- Mon-@ARI (Anderson), Sat-@NYM (Matsuzaka)
59. Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Thu-ATL (Harang)
60. Josh Collmenter (ARI) -- Wed-MIA (Eovaldi)
61. David Phelps (NYY) -- Thu-@CLE (House)
62. Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Tue-ATL (Teheran), Sun-MIA (Hand)
63. Phil Hughes (MIN) -- Tue-@SEA (Young), Sun-@COL (Matzek)
64. Tyler Skaggs (LAA) -- Tue-TOR (Dickey), Sun-@TEX (Martinez)
65. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Tue-@LAA (Skaggs)
66. Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Mon-KC (Shields), Sun-TOR (Happ)
67. Marcus Stroman (TOR) -- Wed-@LAA (Shoemaker)
68. Jason Vargas (KC) -- Tue-@TB (Hellickson), Sun-DET (Verlander)
69. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Thu-@BOS (Lester)
70. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Wed-ATL (Santana)
71. Danny Duffy (KC) -- Fri-DET (Sanchez)
72. Ervin Santana (ATL) -- Wed-@NYM (Gee)
73. Jake Peavy (BOS) -- Sat-@HOU (McHugh)
74. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Fri-MIA (Alvarez)
75. Alfredo Simon (CIN) -- Wed-CHC (TBD)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Tue-NYY (Tanaka), Sun-CWS (Danks)
Brad Hand (MIA) -- Tue-@ARI (McCarthy), Sun-@NYM (DeGrom)
J.A. Happ (TOR) -- Mon-@LAA (Weaver), Sun-@TB (Odorizzi)
Kyle Kendrick (PHI) -- Tue-@MIL (Peralta), Sun-WSH (Fister)
Tyler Matzek (COL) -- Mon-SD (Kennedy), Sun-MIN (Hughes)
Wily Peralta (MIL) -- Tue-PHI (Kendrick), Sun-STL (Martinez)
Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Mon-@WSH (Strasburg), Sat-NYY (Nuno)
Travis Wood (CHC) -- Tue-@CIN, Gm. 1 (Cueto), Sun-ATL (Teheran)
Vance Worley (PIT) -- Tue-@STL (Martinez), Sun-@CIN (Cueto)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Chase Anderson (ARI) -- Mon-MIA (Koehler), Sun-@SF (Bumgarner)
Scott Carroll (CWS) -- Mon-@BOS (Buchholz), Sat-@CLE (Masterson)
Kevin Correia (MIN) -- Mon-@SEA (Iwakuma), Sat-@COL (Flande)
Jarred Cosart (HOU) -- Mon-@TEX (Mikolas), Sun-BOS (Buchholz)
John Danks (CWS) -- Tue-@BOS (Workman), Sun-@CLE (Bauer)
Edwin Jackson (CHC) -- Mon-@CIN (Leake), Sat-ATL (Minor)
Nick Martinez (TEX) -- Tue-HOU (Peacock), Sun-LAA (Skaggs)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (NYM) -- Mon-ATL (Minor), Sat-MIA (Koehler)
Miles Mikolas (TEX) -- Mon-HOU (Cosart), Sat-LAA (Weaver)
Bud Norris (BAL) -- Tue-@WSH (Fister), Sun-NYY (Tanaka)
Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Mon-@OAK (Chavez), Sat-ARI (Miley)

Pitching advantages

• Eight home games, despite them being played at a hitter-friendly venue in Great American Ball Park, represents far and away Week 15's most favorable pitching schedule, as the Cincinnati Reds stand out in a big way in weekly formats like our Baseball Challenge. Since June 11, the Reds' 2.97 staff ERA ranks fifth in the majors and their starters are 15-for-21 in quality starts with a 2.59 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Consider this a "get them all into every lineup" kind of week, and yes, that includes Mike Leake, despite his disappointing 39 Game Score outing at Petco Park on July 1.

[+] EnlargeMike Leake
Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesMike Leake has a respectable 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP this season.

After all, the Reds are 7-2 against the Pirates this season, limiting their division rivals to a mere 3.3 runs-per-game average. Against the Cubs, meanwhile, the Reds are 5-3 while allowing 31 total runs, and bear in mind that since-demoted Tony Cingrani was responsible for six of them in two of the team's losses. Consider the matchup history of the team's projected Week 15 rotation:

Mike Leake (CHC, Monday): 7-2 record, 10 QS, 3.04 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 14 GS
Johnny Cueto (CHC, Tuesday): 8-6 record, 11 QS, 2.91 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 19 GS
Alfredo Simon (CHC, Wednesday): 3 W, 3-for-3 in QS, 2.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 13 G
Homer Bailey (CHC, Thursday): 8-3 record, 7 QS, 4.32 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 15 GS
Mat Latos (PIT, Friday): 5-1 record, 8 QS, 2.96 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 11 GS
Mike Leake (PIT, Saturday): 6-3 record, 10 QS, 3.40 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 17 GS
Johnny Cueto (PIT, Sunday): 15-4 record, 14 QS, 2.18 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 24 GS

• The New York Mets, owners of a 3.67 ERA (ranked 11th in the majors since 2009, accounting only home games) and 1.29 WHIP (13th) at Citi Field during the venue's history, also benefit from a week played entirely at home. They've held the opposing Atlanta Braves to a 4.1 runs-per-game average and the Miami Marlins to a 2.6 runs-per-game average this season, with Zack Wheeler a particular standout against the Marlins (his scheduled Friday opponent): He's a perfect 4-for-4 in quality starts against them, with a 0.96 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 29.1 percent strikeout rate (9.64 calculated as a per-nine-innings ratio). In a maddeningly unpredictable campaign for the sophomore, Wheeler is about as safe a choice as one could ask in that game.

Bartolo Colon, meanwhile, has dominated the Braves in a pair of 2014 outings, both of which were quality starts (April 8 and 19). Current Braves have combined for .247/.307/.346 lifetime triple-slash rates against the right-hander.

• Though the Oakland Athletics' rotation has struggled of late -- their starting five had a 5.93 ERA and 1.59 WHIP during their past two turns through (June 22-July 2) -- the Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel acquisitions provide the team a major boost, and a home-and-home series against their across-the-bay rivals the San Francisco Giants followed by a three-game set at Seattle's Safeco Field should inspire a rebound for the three incumbents as well. After all, the Giants have the majors' fourth-worst weighted on-base average (wOBA) in the past three weeks (June 13-July 3), while the Athletics as a team have a 2.77 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and are 25-for-41 in quality starts and 11-for-12 in saves at Safeco Field since the beginning of the 2010 season. Granted, the three pitchers projected to pitch at Safeco -- Samardzija, Jesse Chavez and Sonny Gray -- have amassed only 12 career innings at the venue, but its pitching-friendly nature makes all three worth consideration. Samardzija, too, threw a quality start at Safeco on June 29, 2013, further supporting all three as solid fantasy options.

• 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 on Friday):
1. Tom Koehler (@NYM, Saturday): He has owned the Mets throughout his career, riding back-to-back quality starts against them and posting a 2.49 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 10 career games (seven starts) overall.
2. Jose Quintana (@BOS, Thursday): He has six quality starts in his past eight games, and the Boston Red Sox team batted just .233/.293/.345 against left-handers in June. Quintana tossed a gem in his only other career outing at Fenway Park, eight innings of five-hit, shutout baseball on July 19, 2012.
3. Danny Duffy (DET, Friday): Current Detroit Tigers have combined for .181/.304/.340 triple-slash rates against Duffy in his career; he has a 3.68 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in his eight lifetime starts against that particular opponent.
4. Drew Hutchison (@TB, Saturday): He has a 2.23 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 10 road starts, which makes sense considering Rogers Centre is a hitter's park. He's also a Florida native who tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings to win at Tropicana Field on April 1.
5. Kyle Gibson (@SEA, Wednesday): Five of his past seven starts resulted in Game Scores of 60-plus, and they all came against better offenses than that of the Seattle Mariners. Incidentally, a major reason for Gibson's recent success is the improvement of his two-seam fastball; the Mariners are one of the game's worst against that pitch.
6. Tyler Matzek (SD, Monday): He's coming off back-to-back road quality starts, and despite the Coors assignment, he faces a San Diego Padres team that batted just .124 against left-handed pitchers in the month of June.
7. Chris Young (MIN, Tuesday): Safeco Field has treated him well, as he has five wins, six quality starts, a 2.19 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in eight starts there. The Minnesota Twins, meanwhile, have below-average .232/.306/.353 team road rates.

Best days to stream (accounting for both quality and quantity of candidates): Saturday, Wednesday, Sunday, Tuesday, Monday, Thursday, Friday.

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: Cincinnati Reds 8, Cleveland Indians 7, Seattle Mariners 7, Texas Rangers 7, Milwaukee Brewers 7, New York Mets 7, Tampa Bay Rays 6, Colorado Rockies 6. No other team plays more than five home games.
Versus RH: Seattle Mariners 7, Philadelphia Phillies 7, Pittsburgh Pirates 7, St. Louis Cardinals 7, Cleveland Indians 6, Houston Astros 6, Kansas City Royals 6, Los Angeles Angels 6, New York Yankees 6, Oakland Athletics 6, Atlanta Braves 6, Los Angeles Dodgers 6. Nine teams face five right-handed starters.
Versus LH: Minnesota Twins 4, San Diego Padres 4, Boston Red Sox 3, Detroit Tigers 3, Tampa Bay Rays 3, Texas Rangers 3, Chicago Cubs 3, Cincinnati Reds 3. Six teams face two left-handed starters.

• Eight home games -- remembering that, again, Great American Ball Park is a hitter-friendly venue -- is an advantageous schedule for the Reds' hitters, too. That the team will face struggling starters Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood, not to mention the back end of the Cubs' depleted rotation fresh off the trades of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, only supports their case. Normally a player with balanced home/road splits, Joey Votto could have wider numbers: He's a .326/.466/.630 hitter in 27 home games, compared to .208/.345/.250 in 33 road contests. Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco, meanwhile, have significantly better slugging percentages at home than on the road.

[b] Weeks in which the Indians face more right- than left-handers -- they're scheduled to battle six righty starters -- tend to boost their weekly hitting rating. That they'll face a New York Yankees rotation currently in flux, while missing Chris Sale in the Chicago White Sox's rotation, only supports their cause. Michael Brantley (.350/.397/.550 in 36 home games) and Lonnie Chisenhall (.324/.386/.510 in 32) have been effective MVP candidates at Progressive Field this season, while Yan Gomes is another Indians hitter you need to activate during a week played entirely at home (.305/.357/.476).

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