Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, July 29 at 8:10 p.m. ET.
On tap: We continue to hold our collective breath, as there is sure to be a lot of player movement over the weekend and into early next week, with the trade deadline set for Tuesday. We've already seen Wandy Rodriguez get dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates, a move that sent Kevin Correia to the bullpen, and Anibal Sanchez now wears a Detroit Tigers hat. Both pitchers are expected to make their debuts with their new clubs this weekend and are scheduled to pitch again Friday, Aug. 3.
Whether or not Ryan Dempster continues to pitch for the Chicago Cubs is up in the air, though at the moment he is slated to pitch again Monday. His second start of the week might well be for another team.
This week we'll see if the Baltimore Orioles continue to be contenders, or if they're merely pretenders. They get two three-game sets on the road, where the team is actually 28-23 on the year despite being outscored by 26 runs. A trip to visit both the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays could send them right out of the playoff hunt should they falter completely, and so far in 2012, they have losing records against both of these divisional foes.
ESPN leagues: Week 16
For those of you in weekly-transaction leagues, there is plenty of time to get your Week 16 lineups in, as there are currently no day games scheduled for Monday (or on Tuesday, for that matter). For the rest of the week, it's all early starts, including on Friday, when there's a doubleheader between Miami and Washington in the nation's capital that kicks off at 4:05 p.m. ET. Here are this week's other scheduled first pitches by day:
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.
1. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) -- Tue-PHI (Lee), Sun-MIA (Nolasco)
2. David Price (TB) -- Mon-@OAK (Griffin), Sun-BAL (Gonzalez)
3. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Tue-@WAS (Strasburg), Sun-ARI (Cahill)
4. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Mon-@TEX (Feldman), Sat-@CHW (Floyd)
5. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Sat-CHC (Maholm)
6. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) -- Fri-MIA, Gm. 1 (Johnson)
7. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Sat-@NYY (Kuroda)
8. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Mon-NYM (Hefner), Sat-@COL (Francis)
9. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Sat-MIL (TBD)
10. Roy Halladay (PHI) -- Sat-ARI (Saunders)
11. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Thu-@TEX (Harrison)
12. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) -- Sat-MIA (Buehrle)
13. Josh Johnson (MIA) -- Fri-@WAS, Gm. 1 (Zimmermann)
14. A.J. Griffin (OAK) -- Mon-TB (Price), Sat-TOR (Happ)
15. Drew Pomeranz (COL) -- Wed-STL (Westbrook), Sun-SF (Lincecum)
16. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Fri-PIT (Rodriguez)
17. Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Fri-@COL (Sanchez)
18. R.A. Dickey (NYM) -- Fri-@SD (Richard)
19. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Sat-SEA (Hernandez)
20. Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Mon-@LAD (Harang), Sun-@PHI (Lee)
21. Tommy Hanson (ATL) -- Mon-MIA (Buehrle), Sat-HOU (Norris)
22. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Mon-DET (Scherzer), Sat-MIN (De Vries)
23. Doug Fister (DET) -- Sat-CLE (Jimenez)
24. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Tue-SD (Marquis), Sun-PIT (Bedard)
25. Chris Sale (CHW) -- Wed-@MIN (Diamond)
26. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Tue-@BOS (Beckett)
27. Marco Estrada (MIL) -- Mon-HOU (Norris), Sun-@STL (Lohse)
28. Tommy Milone (OAK) -- Tue-TB (Shields), Sun-TOR (Laffey)
29. Michael Fiers (MIL) -- Wed-HOU (Lyles)
30. Matt Cain (SF) -- Wed-NYM (Niese)
31. Travis Blackley (OAK) -- Fri-TOR (Cecil)
32. Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Sat-BAL (Chen)
33. Tim Hudson (ATL) -- Fri-HOU (Harrell)
34. Freddy Garcia (NYY) -- Mon-BAL (Gonzalez), Sun-SEA (Iwakuma)
35. Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Sat-@TB (Hellickson)
36. Joe Kelly (STL) -- Fri-MIL (Wolf)
37. Wandy Rodriguez (PIT) -- Fri-@CIN (Latos)
38. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Tue-NYM (Harvey), Sun-@COL (Pomeranz)
39. Clayton Richard (SD) -- Fri-NYM (Dickey)
40. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Fri-SEA (Millwood)
41. Mark Buehrle (MIA) -- Mon-@ATL (Hanson), Sat-@WAS (Gonzalez)
42. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Tue-HOU (Keuchel)
43. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Thu-SD (Ohlendorf)
44. Carlos Villanueva (TOR) -- Wed-@SEA (Beavan)
45. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Thu-@WAS (Detwiler)
46. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Wed-TB (Cobb)
47. Ross Detwiler (WAS) -- Thu-PHI (Hamels)
48. Chad Billingsley (LAD) -- Fri-CHC (Samardzija)
49. Jake Peavy (CHW) -- Tue-@MIN (Blackburn)
50. Ian Kennedy (ARI) -- Fri-@PHI (Blanton)
51. Matt Harrison (TEX) -- Thu-LAA (Wilson)
52. Ryan Dempster (CHC) -- Mon-PIT (Bedard)
53. Jason Vargas (SEA) -- Tue-TOR (Laffey)
54. Barry Zito (SF) -- Thu-NYM (Young)
55. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Fri-CLE (Masterson)
56. Mike Leake (CIN) -- Mon-SD (Volquez), Sat-PIT (McDonald)
57. Ben Sheets (ATL) -- Wed-MIA (Zambrano)
58. Zack Greinke (LAA) -- Fri-@CHW (Humber)
59. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Fri-@LAD (Billingsley)
60. Jeff Karstens (PIT) -- Wed-@CHC (Wood)
61. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Thu-@COL (Friedrich)
62. Josh Beckett (BOS) -- Tue-DET (Verlander), Sun-MIN (Blackburn)
63. Paul Maholm (CHC) -- Sat-@LAD (Kershaw)
64. Jose Quintana (CHW) -- Mon-@MIN (De Vries), Sun-LAA (Santana)
65. Aaron Harang (LAD) -- Mon-ARI (Cahill), Sun-CHC (TBD)
66. Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) -- Sat-@DET (Fister)
67. Zach McAllister (CLE) -- Wed-@KC (Mendoza)
68. Felix Doubront (BOS) -- Fri-MIN (Liriano)
69. Derek Holland (TEX) -- Tue-LAA (Santana), Sun-@KC (Hochevar)
70. Ricky Nolasco (MIA) -- Tue-@ATL (Jurrjens), Sun-@WAS (Strasburg)
71. Erik Bedard (PIT) -- Mon-@CHC (Dempster), Sun-@CIN (Bailey)
72. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Thu-MIA (Eovaldi)
73. Joe Blanton (PHI) -- Fri-ARI (Kennedy)
74. Kyle Lohse (STL) -- Tue-@COL (Francis), Sun-MIL (Estrada)
75. A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Tue-@CHC (TBD)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Tue-@SF (Lincecum), Sun-@SD (Marquis)
Kris Medlen (ATL) -- Tue-MIA (Nolasco), Sun-HOU (Keuchel)
Edinson Volquez (SD) -- Mon-@CIN (Leake), Sat-NYM (Hefner)
Aaron Laffey (TOR) -- Tue-@SEA (Vargas), Sun-@OAK (Milone)
Bud Norris (HOU) -- Mon-@MIL (Estrada), Sat-@ATL (Hanson)
Miguel Gonzalez (BAL) -- Mon-@NYY (Garcia), Sun-@TB (Price)
Max Scherzer (DET) -- Mon-@BOS (Buchholz), Sun-CLE (Lowe)
Ervin Santana (LAA) -- Tue-@TEX (Holland), Sun-@CHW (Floyd)
Derek Lowe (CLE) -- Tue-@KC (Hochevar), Sun-@DET (Scherzer)
Jason Marquis (SD) -- Tue-@CIN (Bailey), Sun-NYM (Harvey)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Luke Hochevar (KC) -- Tue-CLE (Lowe), Sun-TEX (Holland)
Cole De Vries (MIN) -- Mon-CHW (Quintana), Sat-@BOS (Buchholz)
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Mon-TOR (Romero), Sun-@NYY (Garcia)
Jeff Francis (COL) -- Tue-STL (Lohse), Sat-SF (Bumgarner)
Nick Blackburn (MIN) -- Tue-CHW (Peavy), Sun-@BOS (Beckett)
• Our pick this week for the top pitching staff in Baseball Challenge is the Los Angeles Dodgers'. They play only six games, but all six are at home, where the staff has a 2.58 ERA, the third-best home ERA in all of baseball. Plus, they're playing two teams that don't score much on the road: Arizona (172 road runs, ranked 29th overall) and the Chicago Cubs (181 road runs, 25th). Throw in the outside chance that either Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza joins the staff in time to pitch a "revenge" matchup against the team that sent them packing and you have the makings of a solid fantasy week. Other recommended BBC pitching staffs: Oakland Athletics (TB-3, TOR-4), Atlanta Braves (MIA-4, HOU-3), Washington Nationals (PHI-3, MIA-4), New York Yankees (BAL-3, SEA-3).
• Kyle Lohse has a 7.20 ERA in three career starts at Coors Field, and Tim Lincecum's 4-3 record and 4.31 ERA there came when he was a much different pitcher than he is today. Both of these guys could struggle this week, especially against a Colorado Rockies team that is hitting .289 at home this season. Madison Bumgarner, on the other hand, has had some success in Denver, with a 2-2 record and 2.84 ERA in his four starts at Coors Field, including a 4-2 win there on April 12.
• Max Scherzer might be in over his head this week, even though he has gone 4-0 in his past five starts, with a 9.84 K/9 rate. In five career starts against the Red Sox, he has a 9.82 ERA, and current Red Sox hitters have a .296 batting average and .841 OPS against him. His track record versus the Indians, the second team he'll face, is only a little better: 5-4, 5.09 ERA, .272 BAA, .854 OPS.
• Most of you remember Stephen Strasburg's major league debut, when he struck out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates over seven innings, walking none. He burst on to the national scene with a 5-2 victory. Few people recall, however, that in his second start, five days later versus the Indians, he walked five and made it only 5 1/3 innings before his pitch count got the better of him. So while Matt Harvey's 11-strikeout debut for the New York Mets was exciting to see, let's not lose our minds here. Next week he has the benefit of two favorable road matchups in San Francisco (.259 at home) and San Diego (.227 at home), but keep your expectations in check.
• We know, we know, if you own Jered Weaver, you start him without hesitation. However, we'd be remiss not to point out his shaky track record in Texas, where he's slated to pitch Monday. The Rangers have eaten him alive at home, as Weaver is just 2-7 with a 5.21 career ERA there, including his lone 2012 loss, a 13-6 pasting he received courtesy of the Rangers back on May 13. A trip to Chicago at the end of the week should make you feel better, though. At U.S. Cellular, Weaver is 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA, and the current White Sox lineup is hitting just .211 against him.
Among streaming starter -- something Tristan defines as single-start options in daily leagues among pitchers owned in 25 percent of ESPN leagues or fewer -- options for Week 16, here are my picks by day:
Monday, July 30: Marco Estrada versus Houston Astros
Tuesday, July 31: Matt Harvey at San Francisco Giants
Wednesday, August 1: Jeff Karstens at Chicago Cubs
Thursday, August 2: Josh Tomlin at Kansas City Royals
Friday, August 3: Travis Blackley verusus Toronto Blue Jays
Saturday, August 4: Wei-Yin Chen at Tampa Bay Rays
Sunday, August 5: Jair Jurrjens versus Houston Astros
Friday, July 20: Drew Pomeranz -- 3 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Saturday, July 21: Ben Sheets -- W, QS, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Sunday, July 22: Joe Blanton -- QS, 8 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Monday, July 23: Mike Minor -- QS, 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Tuesday, July 24: Paul Maholm -- W, QS, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
Wednesday, July 25: Homer Bailey -- QS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 K
Thursday, July 26: Jake Westbrook -- W, QS, 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Week's total: 7 GS, 3 W (42.9%), 6 QS (85.7%), 46 IP, 42 H, 16 ER, 11 BB, 39 K, 3.13 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Season total: 101 GS, 41 W (40.5%), 55 QS (54.5%), 611 IP, 590 H, 263 ER, 208 BB, 466 K, 3.87 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
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.
• The Boston Red Sox have been slumping, with a team batting average over the past week of only .210. However, we can break that down into two distinct groups: Carl Crawford, Cody Ross and Mike Aviles are a combined 4-for-45 (.089), while the quartet of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Will Middlebrooks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia has hit a collective .323 (21-for-65). With seven games at home against two staffs that have been pretty generous on the road -- Detroit (4.17 ERA) and Minnesota (5.03 ERA) -- we're banking on these two groups coming together and meeting somewhere closer to the .300 neighborhood over the next few days.
• Brandon Phillips is hitting .386 with two homers and 10 RBIs over the past two weeks. Drew Stubbs has also been hot, with a .341 batting average and eight RBIs. San Diego and Pittsburgh rank 22nd and 24th, respectively, in terms of road ERA, and Cincinnati is tied for fifth in the majors with 65 home runs at home. The first-place Reds are primed to defend their lead in this highly anticipated weekend set with the upstart Pirates.
• Even after their latest streak -- including an 84 percent win percentage in July entering Friday -- Oakland's lineup is still ranked just 13th in the American League with a .229 batting average, and it's 12th in slugging at .382. That shows how big a hole they dug for themselves at the beginning of the season. Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Inge, Chris Carter and Seth Smith have combined for 14 home runs over the past two weeks, Coco Crisp is hitting .406 over this stretch, and Jonny Gomes has eight hits in his past 19 at-bats (.421). Right now this A's lineup gets an "A" from us.
• Most teams have their ups and downs, but not the Houston Astros. It's all "down" with them, as they lead the National League in strikeouts with 815 and rank 26th in OPS at .681. Their team batting average has gotten progressively worse each month of the season, dropping from .257 in April to .244 in May, .238 in June, and now a woeful .219 in July. When your lone "bright spot" can reasonably be said to be Carlos Corporan, a catcher called up to replace the injured Jason Castro, that pretty much says it all. But hey, Corporan has gone
7-for-18 (.389) in his eight games with the club.