Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, Aug. 18 at 5:09 p.m. ET.
On tap: The "innings cap" debate is heating up, so it's fitting that this week, two of the most productive fantasy starting pitchers of 2013, the Miami Marlins' Jose Fernandez and the St. Louis Cardinals' Shelby Miller, will each work twice. Fernandez's cap has been reported to be between 150 and 170 innings, so the most conservative approach to his workload would have these being his final two starts of 2013. Miller's hasn't been hinted, but the Cardinals have lightened his load in recent weeks, with mixed results. The good news: Barring a total shutdown decision, both pitchers must work twice this week; their teams each play seven games.
The Tampa Bay Rays have an opportunity to open up more of a lead in the American League East race, playing three games at Baltimore's Camden Yards before returning home to host the New York Yankees for three. The team recently got back a healthy Alex Cobb and might soon get Matt Moore back in the starting five; the Rays also have the majors' seventh best wOBA (weighted on-base average) since the All-Star break, which alleviates any worry about their No. 26 ranking in runs scored. This team will be plenty motivated this week.
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A New York Mets at Minnesota Twins rescheduled interleague game, a makeup of their April 14 postponement, results in an earlier-than-usual lineup deadline in Week 20, that game scheduled to begin at 2:10 p.m. ET. Make sure to set your lineups early, and be forewarned that it sets up a week during which there are day games every day except Friday. Heads up, owners in leagues with daily transactions: Tuesday also has a 1.05 p.m. ET game, that the first game of the Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees doubleheader.
For those of you in ESPN standard head-to-head leagues, know that this is the next-to-last week of the regular season. The fantasy playoffs begin two weeks from Monday, in Week 22 on Monday, Sept. 1.
This week's interleague series:
• New York Mets at Minnesota Twins (1 make-up game, Monday)
• Boston Red Sox at San Francisco Giants (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
• Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
• Detroit Tigers at New York Mets (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
• Washington Nationals at Kansas City Royals (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
This is the week of interleague play that AL-only owners have probably dreaded all season, as one of the greatest designated hitters of all time, David Ortiz, and his Boston Red Sox play an entire week in National League venues, where they'll lack the luxury of the DH. This is the first time since the May 27-30 "traditional rivalry" portion of the interleague schedule -- that the only time all year when teams play nothing but interleague games -- that the Red Sox hit the road for NL cities, so it's difficult to get a read on how the Red Sox might proceed. Ortiz and Mike Napoli split the first-base starts May 29-30 at Philadelphia, and it's possible that the two will comprise a straight platoon at the position this week. Thankfully, the Red Sox avoid Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner during the San Francisco series as well as Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw during the Los Angeles series, which boosts the stock of Napoli and Ortiz despite their playing-time loss. Ortiz might get all four starts against back-end right-handers, so maybe he caught a break in the scheduling.
Victor Martinez probably won't be so lucky. He was limited to pinch-hitting duty in the Tigers' previous four interleague contests in NL venues, meaning he's at risk to sit half of the team's six scheduled games this week. Perhaps he'll sneak in a start at first base -- he has nine starts there this season and much better wOBA (.407) than Prince Fielder (.299) since the All-Star break -- but Martinez's owners in mixed leagues should brace for some lost playing time this week.
The Nationals, meanwhile, have some options with the three-game addition of the DH. An extra lineup spot means a handful more PAs for bench pieces like Scott Hairston, Stephen Lombardozzi and/or Chad Tracy; Hairston could either DH or give one of the starting outfielders a rest in the role, the team could shuffle their second and third basemen to get Lombardozzi in, or Tracy or Adam LaRoche could share the DH role. NL-only owners, those in the deepest such formats, are the only ones who benefit.
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.
• Scott Kazmir (dead arm) is scheduled to rejoin the Cleveland Indians' rotation Aug. 18, setting him up for his next turn on Saturday.
• The Houston Astros continue to give no indication that they'll stray from their current six-man rotation.
• It's unclear how the New York Yankees will approach their need for a sixth starter this week due to Tuesday's doubleheader. They could push that spot back as far as Saturday, as projected above, or fill it as early as Tuesday. Current relievers David Huff and Adam Warren appear to be leading candidates.
• Matt Moore (elbow) is scheduled to play catch on Sunday, per the Tampa Bay Times, at which point he'll be re-evaluated. The Times reports that he might be ready to return by the weekend; that could result in David Price's second start being pushed back or Roberto Hernandez or Chris Archer being removed from the rotation.
• Alexi Ogando (shoulder) will miss his scheduled Monday start after complaining of soreness following his Aug. 13 outing. Josh Lindblom or Ross Wolf could make a spot start in his place on Tuesday.
• As with the Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays will need a sixth starter this week, and could fit that pitcher in as early as Tuesday or as late as Saturday (the latter projected above). The team hasn't hinted whom they'll use, though it has been widely speculated that neither Sean Nolin nor Marcus Stroman is close to a promotion.
• The Atlanta Braves pushed Kris Medlen back to Friday after he was needed in relief on Aug. 17.
• The New York Mets placed Jenrry Mejia (elbow) on the disabled list, but it's unclear whether they'll immediately replace him in the rotation. Carlos Torres is expected to get that spot next time it's needed, as projected above, but thanks to an off day Thursday, the Mets could push him back to next week.
• John Lannan (knee) was placed on the DL on Aug. 16, leaving the Philadelphia Phillies without a starter for Tuesday and Sunday's games. Tyler Cloyd, who last pitched Aug. 14 and has a 1.89 ERA in his past eight starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, might be the leading candidate. Roy Halladay (shoulder), who might make only one more rehabilitation start, could return by the end of the week.
• The Milwaukee Brewers haven't announced which starter will be displaced once Yovani Gallardo (hamstring) is activated on Aug. 17, but Tyler Thornburg is the most likely candidate.
• Ross Ohlendorf (shoulder) made a rehabilitation start for Class A Potomac on Aug. 16, lining him up to rejoin the Washington Nationals' rotation on Wednesday. He'll replace Taylor Jordan, who has been shut down for the season. There is no indication that the team will push back Dan Haren, who made a relief appearance on Aug. 17.
1. David Price (TB) -- Mon-@BAL (Tillman), Sun-NYY (Nova)
2. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Thu-@MIA (Alvarez)
3. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Sat-@CWS (Santiago)
4. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Sat-@NYM (Harvey)
5. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Thu-@CHC (Wood)
6. Jose Fernandez (MIA) -- Mon-LAD (Ryu), Sat-COL (Manship)
7. Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Sat-DET (Scherzer)
8. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Mon-CLE (Salazar), Sun-@SEA (Harang)
9. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Wed-@MIA (Eovaldi)
10. Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Mon-@SD (Cashner), Sat-@SF (Lincecum)
11. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Fri-PIT (Morton)
12. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Fri-LAA (Richards)
13. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Wed-MIN (Correia)
14. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Mon-@MIA (Fernandez), Sat-BOS (Dempster)
15. Tony Cingrani (CIN) -- Tue-ARI (Corbin), Sun-MIL (Estrada)
16. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Thu-TOR (Happ)
17. Patrick Corbin (ARI) -- Tue-@CIN (Cingrani), Sun-@PHI (TBD)
18. Matt Cain (SF) -- Thu-PIT (Locke)
19. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Fri-ATL (Medlen)
20. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Thu-@STL (Kelly)
21. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Tue-@MIL (Lohse), Sun-ATL (Beachy)
22. A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Tue-@SD (Ross), Sun-@SF (Vogelsong)
23. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Thu-ARI (Cahill)
24. Matt Garza (TEX) -- Mon-HOU (Lyles), Sun-@CWS (Danks)
25. Ervin Santana (KC) -- Tue-CWS (Danks), Sun-WSH (Haren)
26. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Thu-MIN (Albers)
27. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Fri-TEX (Perez)
28. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Fri-ARI (Miley)
29. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Mon-@SF (Lincecum), Sun-@LAD (Capuano)
30. Doug Fister (DET) -- Fri-@NYM (Torres)
31. Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Mon-TB (Price), Sun-OAK (Parker)
32. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Sat-@STL (Miller)
33. Dan Haren (WSH) -- Tue-@CHC (Rusin), Sun-@KC (Santana)
34. Jhoulys Chacin (COL) -- Fri-@MIA (Koehler)
35. Derek Holland (TEX) -- Wed-HOU (Bedard)
36. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Mon-@MIL (Estrada), Sat-ATL (Teheran)
37. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Wed-COL (Nicasio)
38. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Fri-MIL (Gallardo)
39. Jarrod Parker (OAK) -- Mon-SEA (Harang), Sun-@BAL (Tillman)
40. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Wed-@OAK (Griffin)
41. Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Tue-STL (Lynn)
42. Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Tue-TOR, Gm. 1 (Rogers), Sun-@TB (Price)
43. Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Wed-@SD (Kennedy)
44. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Mon-WSH (Zimmermann), Sat-@SD (Stults)
45. James Shields (KC) -- Thu-CWS (Quintana)
46. Brandon Beachy (ATL) -- Tue-@NYM (Wheeler), Sun-@STL (Lynn)
47. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Mon-BOS (Lester), Sat-PIT (Liriano)
48. Kris Medlen (ATL) -- Fri-@STL (Wainwright)
49. Bruce Chen (KC) -- Sat-WSH (Zimmermann)
50. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Mon-@CHC (Samardzija), Sat-@KC (Chen)
51. Wade Miley (ARI) -- Fri-@PHI (Hamels)
52. Tyson Ross (SD) -- Tue-PIT (Burnett)
53. Jake Peavy (BOS) -- Tue-@SF (Vogelsong)
54. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Tue-ATL (Beachy)
55. Bronson Arroyo (CIN) -- Mon-ARI (Delgado), Sat-MIL (Peralta)
56. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Fri-@KC (Davis)
57. Alex Wood (ATL) -- Wed-@NYM (Niese)
58. Chris Rusin (CHC) -- Tue-WSH (Haren), Sun-@SD (Cashner)
59. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Mon-@MIN (Gibson), Sun-DET (Porcello)
60. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Wed-@LAA (Williams)
61. Rick Porcello (DET) -- Tue-MIN (Pelfrey), Sun-@NYM (Gee)
62. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Tue-SEA (Saunders)
63. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Tue-@BAL (Gonzalez)
64. Marco Estrada (MIL) -- Mon-STL (Miller), Sun-@CIN (Cingrani)
65. Randall Delgado (ARI) -- Mon-@CIN (Arroyo), Sat-@PHI (Martin)
66. Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Wed-PIT (Cole)
67. Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Mon-PIT (Liriano), Sun-CHC (Rusin)
68. Travis Wood (CHC) -- Thu-WSH (Strasburg)
69. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-CLE (McAllister)
70. Jacob Turner (MIA) -- Tue-LAD (Capuano), Sun-COL (De La Rosa)
71. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Fri-@TB (Hernandez)
72. Felix Doubront (BOS) -- Wed-@SF (Gaudin)
73. A.J. Griffin (OAK) -- Wed-SEA (Iwakuma)
74. Chris Archer (TB) -- Sat-NYY (TBD)
75. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Wed-@NYY (Pettitte)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
John Danks (CWS) -- Tue-@KC (Santana), Sun-TEX (Garza)
Jorge De La Rosa (COL) -- Tue-@PHI (TBD), Sun-@MIA (Turner)
Miguel Gonzalez (BAL) -- Tue-TB (Cobb)
Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Mon-@LAA (Weaver), Sun-MIN (Pelfrey)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Chris Capuano (LAD) -- Tue-@MIA (Turner), Sun-BOS (Lester)
Kyle Gibson (MIN) -- Mon-NYM (Gee), Sat-@CLE (Kazmir)
Aaron Harang (SEA) -- Mon-@OAK (Parker), Sun-LAA (Weaver)
Jeff Manship (COL) -- Mon-@PHI (Martin), Sat-@MIA (Fernandez)
Ethan Martin (PHI) -- Mon-COL (Manship), Sat-ARI (Delgado)
Mike Pelfrey (MIN) -- Tue-@DET (Porcello), Sun-@CLE (Salazar)
Esmil Rogers (TOR) -- Tue-@NYY, Gm. 1 (Nova), Sun-@HOU (Oberholtzer)
Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Tue-BOS (Peavy), Sun-PIT (Burnett)
• These Pittsburgh Pirates are for real, and they'll visit two of the more pitching-friendly venues in baseball, San Diego's Petco Park (3 games, Monday-Wednesday) and San Francisco's AT&T Park (4 games, Thursday-Sunday). Three-fifths of the Pirates' rotation is owned in 90 percent or more of ESPN leagues, but just in case you had any fears about A.J. Burnett's back-to-back so-so starts in Colorado and St. Louis, or Francisco Liriano's stinker at Colorado's Coors Field, let these matchups convince you otherwise. They are the team's two-start pitchers, making one start apiece against the teams ranked 27th (.292) and 26th (.297) in wOBA in home games.
Gerrit Cole, who reportedly won't face an innings cap but who has had his routine altered to keep his workload in check of late, has quite a matchup Wednesday at Petco. His strength is his blazing fastball, which routinely tops 95 mph; the opposing Padres have the majors' sixth worst wOBA against pitches of that speed or faster (.261, behind .219/.283/.287 triple-slash rates). Even Charlie Morton, who has four quality starts in his past six outings, is worth a look in larger leagues.
• Home games suit the Cincinnati Reds much more than you might think; there's a perception that Great American Ball Park is a no-go for any pitcher. Consider that the Reds, in home games, rank seventh in ERA (3.44), fifth in WHIP (1.18) and fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.20) in the majors. Another short-term advantage for the Reds is that with Johnny Cueto slow to recover from a lat strain, there's stability in the team's current starting five.
Look at the individuals' stats at Great American: Tony Cingrani has a 2.65 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, Bronson Arroyo a 3.07 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, Mat Latos a 3.13 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, Homer Bailey a 3.39 ERA and 1.05 WHIP and Mike Leake a 3.91 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. They'll be facing two teams that rank among the majors' bottom half offensively in road games, the Arizona Diamondbacks (4 games, Monday-Thursday) and Milwaukee Brewers (3 games, Friday-Sunday), so load up on Reds.
• If the Kansas City Royals are to mount a serious playoff push, this is as good a week as any in which to do it, one with six games against the lighter-hitting offenses of the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals. Bruce Chen (1.96 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in home games), Ervin Santana (3.12 and 1.19) and Jeremy Guthrie (4.06 and 1.24) have all pitched better at Kauffman Stadium than on the road, and in the case of Chen, he'll be facing a Nationals team weaker against lefties than righties.
• Here are this week's Streamer's Delight picks -- players need to be available in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues as of our publishing time (Fridays):
1. Sonny Gray (SEA, Tuesday): He has back-to-back quality starts, and the once-hot Seattle Mariners have cooled in the past 10 days (.217/.280/.354, .281 wOBA).
2. Rick Porcello (MIN, Tuesday, or @NYM, Sunday): His 3.40 career ERA versus the Minnesota Twins is his best against any opponent (10-plus starts), and, as usual, Citi Field ranks one of the game's most pitching-friendly parks in 2013.
3. Andrew Cashner (CHC, Sunday): He has a 2.51 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, and seeks revenge against his former mates, who hit him hard on May 1 at Wrigley Field.
4. Felix Doubront (@SF, Wednesday): The San Francisco Giants have .203/.261/.262 team rates (.235 wOBA) against left-handers since the All-Star break.
5. Chris Rusin (WSH, Tuesday): He has three quality starts in his past four games and the Washington Nationals rank 29th in wOBA versus left-handers (.278).
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 left- or right-handed starters:
Home games: Cincinnati Reds 7, Miami Marlins 7, Philadelphia Phillies 7, San Francisco Giants 7
Versus LH: Texas Rangers 4, Miami Marlins 4, San Francisco Giants 4
Versus RH: Los Angeles Angels 6, Minnesota Twins 6, Chicago Cubs 6, Cincinnati Reds 6, Los Angeles Dodgers 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 6
• After changing managers on Aug. 16, might the Philadelphia Phillies enjoy somewhat of a rebirth? Perhaps, but that's mostly thanks to their matchups, as well as because home games have represented a significant advantage for them to date. Consider their home/road splits in 2013:
Home: .250/.309/.419, .311 wOBA; .242/.310/.425, .314 wOBA since All-Star break
Road: .252/.302/.373, .293 wOBA; .214/.258/.324, .255 wOBA since All-Star break
Michael Young has the most extreme such splits among active Phillies, with a .298/.365/.483 triple-slash line and .369 wOBA at home, compared to .253/.314/.330 and .287 on the road, this season. He'll also benefit from three games against left-handed starters; he has .319/.371/.457 rates against lefties since the beginning of 2010. Perhaps the most intriguing Phillies bat, however, is Darin Ruf, available in nearly 60 percent of ESPN leagues. He's a fellow right-handed hitter, and has .329/.429/.657 numbers in his first 22 career games at Citizens Bank Park.
• Enjoy what might be the Cleveland Indians' final standout week on the hitting side; their brutal rest-of-year schedule was a topic of this week's "60 Feet, 6 Inches." This could be their best chance at rallying back into either the American League Central or wild-card races, as they'll face the reeling Los Angeles Angels rotation (their 5.07 second-half ERA is second worst in the majors) and the lacking-in-star-talent Minnesota Twins starting five.
With five right-handed starters on the Indians' schedule, this might well be the week for left-handed hitters Michael Bourn (.212/.288/.313 since the All-Star break), Lonnie Chisenhall (.176/.222/.196) and Jason Kipnis (.268/.333/.381) to break out of their second-half funks. That the Indians' matchups are stolen-base friendly, too, helps. Still, these three and their teammates might well be worth shopping at week's end, should your league have not reached its trade deadline.
• The Houston Astros' hitting matchups have the potential to be sneaky-good this week, especially with Texas Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando unable to make his scheduled Monday start against them. Having added switch-hitting Robbie Grossman and Jonathan Villar to their lineup in recent weeks, the Astros have a significantly better team wOBA against right-handers (.305) than left-handers (.276) since the All-Star break, reversing a first-half trend.
Jose Altuve is the only Astros player owned in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues, meaning there are plenty of pickup opportunities from this squad. Grossman (47.2 percent owned) and Villar (21.8) rank high on that list, as does the left-handed Jason Castro (46.5), who is a .292/.356/.493 hitter against righties this season.