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'The Nine' for Week 10
It's another week of starting pitchers returning from injuries, with the San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner (DL: finger) the headliner. He's scheduled to rejoin the big league club in time for a Tuesday start at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks after tossing 8 1/3 innings of two-hit, one-run, 15-strikeout baseball during his two-start minor league rehabilitation stint, with the reports off those games as well as the matchup itself propelling him into clear "start" status in fantasy. St. Louis Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez (DL: shoulder) is expected to rejoin the big league rotation on Tuesday after a lone, so-so rehab start for Double-A Springfield on May 31, but the right-hander's two-start matchups (versus Miami Marlins, at Cincinnati Reds) are so favorable that he, too, should be immediately activated. Anthony DeSclafani, coming off a quality start for Triple-A Louisville on May 30 in what was his fourth minor league rehab appearance, is set to rejoin the Reds' rotation on Tuesday, aligning him for a two-start week as well. He's the riskiest of the three, due in large part to his extended injury absence and up-and-down rehab stint, but the two-start week is a benefit and his matchups grade roughly league average. As for other rehabbing starters, the Chicago White Sox are likely to activate Carlos Rodon (DL: shoulder) during the weekend as they'll need a spot starter no later than Saturday.
A pair of pitchers who returned during Week 9 now align for two-start Week 10 schedules -- this sure seems like the week's theme -- with the Pittsburgh Pirates' Joe Musgrove (available in nearly 75 percent of ESPN leagues) and Tampa Bay Rays' Nathan Eovaldi (available in more than 90 percent) both having looked outstanding since their recent activations. Both pitchers' matchups are below-average, however, and Musgrove's second turn at the Chicago Cubs grades as rather poor, so do you believe in the matchups or the pitchers' small-sample returns? The ratings say weight the former, but it'd be understandable if those in leagues where two-start volume matters -- think points-based leagues especially -- roll the dice.
The Detroit Tigers get the benefit of the league's busiest Week 10 schedule: Eight games, caused by their playing a Monday doubleheader against the New York Yankees, that a rescheduling of their April 14-15 weekend postponements. Eight games in a week where four other teams play only five times and another 21 play just six games represents a sizable volume advantage, though don't be too hasty to load up on Tigers. The team is scheduled to face top-50 fantasy starters Luis Severino (Monday), Eduardo Rodriguez (Wednesday), Trevor Bauer (Friday), Mike Clevinger (Saturday) and Corey Kluber (Sunday), and the team's stolen-base matchups are about as poor as they could be due to six of their games coming against the two toughest teams to run against, the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. The best news for the Tigers is the fact that Miguel Cabrera (hamstring) is back from the DL and should get a hefty amount of playing time, while James McCann (available in roughly 75 percent of ESPN leagues), a .273/.347/.523 hitter against left-handers this season, is a handy matchups play with the Tigers scheduled to face three lefty starters.
It's a good thing when an offense gets to face a team that ranks 29th in both ERA (5.13) and WHIP (1.50), and it's even better when that offense gets an additional game against such a staff, which is true of the Minnesota Twins as a result of their Tuesday doubleheader at home against the White Sox, that a make-up of their April 13 "snow-out." The Twins play the entirety of their seven-game week at home at Target Field, they'll miss Los Angeles Angels ace Shohei Ohtani during their June 8-10 weekend series, and they'll draw games against worst-in-ERA-among-qualifiers Lucas Giolito (7.53) and White Sox fifth starter Hector Santiago during their June 5-7 week-opening series. Fresh-off-the-DL Miguel Sano (available in nearly one-quarter of ESPN leagues) has two homers in his past four games (entering play on June 1) and should be active everywhere, and you should be able to squeeze value in deeper leagues from Logan Morrison (available in nearly 90 percent), Mitch Garver and Ehire Adrianza (both available in more than 99 percent), all of whom have been playing practically every day of late.
The Colorado Rockies finally seem to be hitting, having scored 39 runs in the first six games of their scheduled nine-game homestand May 25-June 3, and enter Week 10 with their top six hitters in the lineup -- DJ LeMahieu (scheduled for activation June 1), Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story and Ian Desmond -- in action for what will be only the 11th time in the same game all year (entering play on June 1). Their week begins on the road, but at another hitting-friendly venue in Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, and concludes back at Coors Field against the Diamondbacks. The Rockies will probably face nothing but right-handed starters in their six games -- Patrick Corbin will likely only pitch in the Diamondbacks' week-opening series at San Francisco -- which is especially good news for Gerardo Parra (available in nearly 95 percent of ESPN leagues), a .300/.347/.418 hitter against right-handers this season who has started nine of the team's past 10 games against a righty starter.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks, the visitors for that weekend series at Coors Field, also benefit from three scheduled games against left-handed starters, even if one of them (on Tuesday) is Bumgarner. The counterargument on Bumgarner is that he threw 47 and 74 pitches in his two minor league rehabilitation starts and might not be kept in the game quite as late as usual, and we've seen in other recent examples of pitchers fresh off lengthy DL stints that they occasionally struggle with command and/or velocity (see: Kershaw, Clayton, and Reyes, Alex). The Diamondbacks (entering play on June 1) had the widest wOBA split in baseball favoring hitting left-handed pitchers (.336 against them versus .277 against righties, for a 59-point swing), in large part because that's the one part of slugger Paul Goldschmidt's game that has been going right: He's a .308/.410/.712 hitter against them in what has been an otherwise miserable season for him. This might be the week for Goldschmidt to get his year back on track, but it's also another opportunity for two beneath-the-radar Diamondbacks righties, Nick Ahmed (.286/.322/.607 against lefties this season, available in nearly 95 percent of ESPN leagues) and John Ryan Murphy (.343/.343/.743, available in nearly 99 percent). Incidentally, on the pitching side, Zack Godley is one of the riskiest two-start Week 10 pitchers, as a result of his career-worst 11.2 percent walk rate as well as his second turn coming during that series at Coors.
The "Subway Series" between the New York Mets and Yankees always seems to generate headlines -- in New York, at least -- but for fantasy, the takeaway from these teams' three-game weekend series is that the Yankees, whose outfield is cluttered enough as it is, will lose the designated hitter and therefore have to sit one of Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton for each of those contests. Thankfully for the Yankees, they draw a matchup benefit in the aforementioned doubleheader at Detroit's Comerica Park, against (likely) a pair of so-so right-handers, beefing their Week 10 schedule up to seven games. They're projected to face Mets righty Noah Syndergaard (DL: finger) on Sunday, but in the event Syndergaard suffers a setback, left-hander Jason Vargas would probably start instead, boosting the Yankees' hitting matchups. All four outfield/DH types should be kept active everywhere, with the only players best left to your sidelines being the bench bats Tyler Austin, Austin Romine and Neil Walker. Yes, this means that Greg Bird (available in roughly 55 percent of ESPN leagues and 4-for-16 with one home run since his activation) should be slotted back into all of your lineups, too.
The three hosting teams for interleague play during Week 10 -- the Indians, Mets and Washington Nationals -- as well as one of the visitors -- the Milwaukee Brewers, who visit the Indians Tuesday and Wednesday -- suffer the disadvantage of resulting five-game weeks. Toss in the fact that the Baltimore Orioles (who visit the Mets Tuesday and Wednesday) and Rays (who visit the Nationals on the same days) will lose their DH for two of their six games and there's a distinct volume disadvantage for these six squads. This is especially bad news for Orioles DH Mark Trumbo, whose arthritic knee might not afford him the opportunity to play right field in interleague games as often, and Brad Miller, who might be bumped off of first base for usual DH C.J. Cron.
For those seeking weekly righty/lefty matchup plays, consider the following hitters with standout schedules: Curtis Granderson (available in roughly 95 percent of ESPN leagues) is a .246/.381/.430 hitter against right-handed pitchers this season, and his Toronto Blue Jays are scheduled to face five righty starters. Chad Pinder (available in more than 98 percent) is a .313/.411/.500 hitter against left-handers this season, has started 17 of the Oakland Athletics' 20 games against a lefty starter, and his Athletics are set to face a pair of left-handed starters. Max Stassi (available in nearly 95 percent) is a .361/.400/.590 career hitter against left-handed pitchers, is the Houston Astros' current starting catcher with Brian McCann (DL: knee) sidelined, and his Astros are set to face five left-handed starters. Danny Valencia (available in nearly 99 percent) is a .263/.344/.474 hitter against left-handers this season, has started all but one of the Baltimore Orioles' 19 games against a lefty starter, and his Orioles will likely face three left-handed starters. Ben Zobrist (available in roughly 75 percent) is a .293/.398/.478 hitter against right-handers this season, has started six of the Cubs' past eight games against a righty starter despite the healthy return of Jason Heyward, and his Cubs are scheduled to face nothing but righty starters.