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Fantasy Forecaster: Week of June 30

Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, June 29, at 10:36 a.m. ET.

On tap: Fresh off his second career no-hitter -- both of them have come against the San Diego Padres and, in fact, in two of his past four games against them, all of which have occurred within the past calendar year -- Tim Lincecum enjoys a two-start week, concluding with a rematch against those very Padres, this time at pitching-friendly Petco Park. Lincecum is 11-for-15 in quality starts with a 2.68 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 30.8 percent strikeout rate in his career at Petco, and in his four starts there since the beginning of 2013, he has averaged a 61.3 Game Score.

Bryce Harper is on track to return from a torn UCL in his left thumb this week, and the Washington Nationals could welcome him back as early as Monday, after the star outfielder went 9-for-14 (.643 AVG) with four home runs in the first five games of his minor league rehabilitation assignment, including a three-homer game for Double-A Harrisburg on June 28. Fantasy owners should immediately activate Harper, who despite a week in which his Nationals will face three left-handed starters, has shown enough during his rehab stint and is talented enough to receive immediate everyday at-bats to warrant such a move.

Taijuan Walker is on track to make his 2014 debut Monday, as Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon on June 28 declared the rookie the favorite for the rotation spot vacated when Erasmo Ramirez was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma on June 25. Walker most recently pitched a shutout for Tacoma on June 24, and he has a 4.11 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 22.5 percent K rate (8.51 as a ratio per nine innings) in his six starts for the team. Walker would be a two-start pitcher to begin his major league season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers make a four-game, weekend trip to Colorado's Coors Field, the worst venue in baseball for a pitcher to visit. What's the significance? Simple: The Dodgers are the only team to place three starting pitchers among the top 25 on our Player Rater to date, Clayton Kershaw (sixth), Josh Beckett (ninth) and Zack Greinke (16th), and all three of them will make a start at Coors during the series.

Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
ESPN lineup deadlines | Interleague impact | Projected starting pitchers
Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 14 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
Hitting ratings | Hitting advantages

ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines

It's another late-start week, as the Week 14 action kicks off with Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees on ESPN's Monday Night Baseball at 7 p.m. ET.

The holiday weekend, however, results in a greater number of day games Friday: There is an 11:05 a.m. ET game -- that is not a misprint, it's the rare morning game -- as Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals kicks off the 4th of July action. Saturday's games begin at 2:10 p.m. ET, while Sunday's commence at 1:05 p.m. ET. If you play in a daily league, make sure you get those lineups in early.

As for the remainder of the week, there is a single day game both Tuesday -- Milwaukee Brewers at Toronto Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET -- and Thursday -- St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants, 3:45 p.m. ET. Wednesday, which is "getaway day" for many teams, has seven day games, the first beginning at 12:37 p.m. ET: That's the finale of the Brewers-Blue Jays series. Why the early start for the Tuesday game of that series? Simple: July 1 is Canada Day, a national holiday in Canada.

Interleague impact

This week's interleague series:
• Chicago Cubs at Boston Red Sox (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Dodgers (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
• Milwaukee Brewers at Toronto Blue Jays (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
Texas Rangers at New York Mets (3 games, Friday-Sunday)

Nick Swisher was relegated to pinch-hitting duty in each of the Indians' past two interleague games at National League parks, one each against a left- and right-handed starter, hinting that a similar arrangement will be in order at Dodger Stadium from Monday through Wednesday. Much of the rationale for that guess is that Carlos Santana, who manned third base (ahead of Lonnie Chisenhall) for two games and catcher (ahead of Yan Gomes) for one in the team's April 25-27 series at San Francisco, has yet to play an inning anywhere other than at first base or designated hitter since his June 6 return from the disabled list. Santana could handle third base with Swisher at first when the Indians face left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu on Wednesday, but Chisenhall's improvements make it doubtful; Swisher is a player worth sitting in shallow formats.

The Rangers have been using the DH to squeeze four of their outfielders into their daily lineup, so the loss of the DH at Citi Field from Friday through Sunday merely means that Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Choice should be pressed into a straight left-field platoon. The Mets will throw two right- and one left-handed starter in the series, affecting Choice the most; he's a sit, considering his fantasy value is entirely rooted in power (i.e. counting stats).

Though the Brewers tend to use the DH to shore up their defense -- Aramis Ramirez has a team-high eight starts (in 15 games) at that position in American League parks since the beginning of last season -- the net result for fantasy is the same as that of the Cubs; there's no clear-cut beneficiary of the extra lineup spot. Lyle Overbay picked up three of those five extra starts in 2014, with Martin Maldonado and Jordan Schafer the other two, while four different Cubs have scored the extra spot: Chris Coghlan, Ryan Kalish (right field with Nate Schierholtz at DH), Mike Olt and Luis Valbuena (those two alternating between third base and DH). Overbay could be worth the desperation NL-only corner infield plug-in, but that's about the extent of it.

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

• With Bud Norris (groin) landing on the DL in advance of their June 27 doubleheader, the Baltimore Orioles will need a spot starter for Tuesday's game, with T.J. McFarland the leading candidate from a group that also includes Double-A left-hander Tim Berry. It'd presumably be a one-and-done arrangement; the team can have everyone else pitch on four days' rest the remainder of the week. However, it is also unclear on which date Kevin Gausman, who was demoted to short-season Class A Aberdeen following his June 27 start in order to retain his eligibility for recall, will return to the rotation; he's expected back sometime this week. The most obvious day is Sunday, but the team could promote Gausman as early as Wednesday and push everyone else back by a day.
• The Cleveland Indians pushed Justin Masterson (knee) back by two days, from June 29 to Tuesday of Week 14. Zach McAllister was expected to be promoted sometime during the week to serve as the team's fifth starter, so he'll be the emergency option for Tuesday, otherwise he might make a start on Saturday.
• Dallas Keuchel (wrist) was scratched from his June 28 start by the Houston Astros, with Brett Oberholtzer filling in, and it's unclear whether Keuchel will be ready the next time his turn in the rotation arrives on Thursday. Oberholtzer would presumably make that start as well if Keuchel isn't ready to go.
• Tyler Skaggs (hamstring) made a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Salt Lake on June 26, allowing seven runs (two earned) in three innings, and the Los Angeles Angels plan to activate him during Week 14. He'd be on his traditional four days' rest for Tuesday, but the team could slot him in either Wednesday's or Thursday's game with Matt Shoemaker presumably starting the other contest.
• Taijuan Walker will be promoted by the Seattle Mariners on Monday to assume the rotation spot of Erasmo Ramirez, who was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma on June 25. Walker is on track to be a two-start pitcher in Week 14.
• Following his June 28 start, Anthony DeSclafani was demoted to Triple-A New Orleans by the Miami Marlins. The team can push his spot in the rotation back to Saturday thanks to Monday's off day, but DeSclafani wouldn't be eligible to return then; Brian Flynn is a candidate to make that start.
• Shelby Miller (back) is scheduled to make his June 29 start, setting him up for a Saturday turn in fantasy's Week 14; Lance Lynn (blister) is also on track to pitch on Friday. Fill-in starter Marco Gonzales is aligned with Tuesday's (and therefore also Sunday's) game, but thanks to Monday's off day, the Cardinals could push him and/or anyone else back if desired.

Tristan's Week 14 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Fri-@COL (De La Rosa)
2. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Thu-@BAL (Chen)
3. David Price (TB) -- Tue-@NYY (Kuroda), Sun-@DET (Porcello)
4. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Thu-TB (Bedard)
5. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Thu-@MIN (Hughes)
6. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Sat-@CWS (Quintana)
7. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Fri-SEA (Elias)
8. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Wed-@SD (Ross)
9. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Thu-STL (Martinez)
10. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Tue-COL (Friedrich)
11. Adam Wainwright (StL) -- Wed-@SF (Vogelsong)
12. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Mon-OAK (Kazmir), Sat-TB (Archer)
13. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Mon-@SD (Hahn), Sun-MIL (Gallardo)
14. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Wed-@MIA (Koehler)
15. Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Mon-@BOS (Peavy), Sun-@WSH (Zimmermann)
16. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Thu-TOR (Dickey)
17. Alex Wood (ATL) -- Mon-NYM (Wheeler), Sun-ARI (Miley)
18. A.J. Burnett (PHI) -- Tue-@MIA (Alvarez), Sun-@PIT (Locke)
19. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Wed-NYM (DeGrom)
20. Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Mon-@DET (Sanchez), Sat-TOR (Buehrle)
21. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Sat-@WSH (Gonzalez)
22. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Mon-COL (Flande), Sun-CHC (Arrieta)
23. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Wed-CLE (Bauer)
24. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Mon-@LAD (Haren), Sun-KC (Duffy)
25. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Tue-STL (Gonzales), Sun-@SD (Hahn)
26. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Tue-@CWS (Carroll), Sun-HOU (Cosart)
27. Mike Leake (CIN) -- Tue-@SD (Kennedy)
28. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Tue-@HOU (Cosart)
29. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Sat-CHC (Samardzija)
30. Tyson Ross (SD) -- Wed-CIN (Cueto)
31. Danny Duffy (KC) -- Mon-@MIN (Pino), Sun-@CLE (Kluber)
32. David Phelps (NYY) -- Mon-TB (Archer), Sat-@MIN (Pino)
33. John Lackey (BOS) -- Sat-BAL (Jimenez)
34. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Fri-MIA (Heaney)
35. Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Wed-@DET (Verlander)
36. Josh Beckett (LAD) -- Tue-CLE (Masterson), Sun-@COL (Friedrich)
37. Drew Smyly (DET) -- Fri-TB (Cobb)
38. Chris Archer (TB) -- Mon-@NYY (Phelps), Sat-@DET (Sanchez)
39. Rick Porcello (DET) -- Tue-OAK (Mills), Sun-TB (Price)
40. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Sat-MIL (Garza)
41. Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Mon-@CWS (Noesi), Sat-HOU (McHugh)
42. James Shields (KC) -- Tue-@MIN (Nolasco)
43. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Mon-@ATL (Wood), Sun-TEX (Saunders)
44. Jake Peavy (BOS) -- Mon-CHC (Arrieta), Sun-BAL (TBD)
45. Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Fri-PHI (Hernandez)
46. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Wed-OAK (Chavez)
47. Tanner Roark (WSH) -- Fri-CHC (Hammel)
48. Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Mon-SEA (Walker), Sat-@LAA (Richards)
49. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Tue-NYM (Matsuzaka)
50. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Thu-@COL (Chacin)
51. Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Wed-@NYY (Nuno)
52. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Tue-TB (Price), Sun-@MIN (Nolasco)
53. Phil Hughes (MIN) -- Thu-NYY (Tanaka)
54. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Fri-@DET (Smyly)
55. Jesse Hahn (SD) -- Mon-CIN (Latos), Sun-SF (Lincecum)
56. Taijuan Walker (SEA) -- Mon-@HOU (McHugh), Sun-@CWS (Noesi)
57. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Fri-HOU (Feldman)
58. Brandon Workman (BOS) -- Wed-CHC (Wood)
59. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Sat-MIA (TBD)
60. Matt Cain (SF) -- Fri-@SD (Stults)
61. Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) -- Mon-TEX (Tepesch), Sat-@BOS (Lackey)
62. Yordano Ventura (KC) -- Fri-@CLE (Tomlin)
63. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Thu-@OAK (Gray)
64. Roenis Elias (SEA) -- Fri-@CWS (Sale)
65. Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Tue-CIN (Leake)
66. Charlie Morton (PIT) -- Wed-ARI (Anderson)
67. Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Sat-TEX (Tepesch)
68. Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Thu-@SF (Bumgarner)
69. Jarred Cosart (HOU) -- Tue-SEA (Iwakuma), Sun-@LAA (Weaver)
70. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Fri-BAL (Gonzalez)
71. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Sun-@CIN (Latos)
72. Wade Miley (ARI) -- Tue-@PIT (Locke), Sun-@ATL (Wood)
73. Brad Mills (OAK) -- Tue-@DET (Porcello), Sun-TOR (Hutchison)
74. Doug Fister (WSH) -- Wed-COL (Matzek)
75. Matt Garza (MIL) -- Sat-@CIN (Bailey)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Henderson Alvarez (MIA) -- Tue-PHI (Burnett), Sun-@STL (Gonzales)
Marco Gonzales (STL) -- Tue-@SF (Lincecum), Sun-MIA (Alvarez)
Dan Haren (LAD) -- Mon-CLE (Kluber), Sat-@COL (Flande)
Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Tue-MIL (Estrada), Sun-@OAK (Mills)
Hector Noesi (CWS) -- Mon-LAA (Richards), Sun-SEA (Walker)
Ricky Nolasco (MIN) -- Tue-KC (Shields), Sun-NYY (Kuroda)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Yohan Flande (COL) -- Mon-@WSH (Zimmermann), Sat-LAD (Haren)
Christian Friedrich (COL) -- Tue-@WSH (Strasburg), Sun-LAD (Beckett)
Jeff Locke (PIT) -- Tue-ARI (Miley), Sun-PHI (Burnett)
Yohan Pino (MIN) -- Mon-KC (Duffy), Sat-NYY (Phelps)
Joe Saunders (TEX) -- Tue-@BAL (McFarland), Sun-@NYM (Wheeler)
Nick Tepesch (TEX) -- Mon-@BAL (Jimenez), Sat-@NYM (Colon)

Pitching advantages

• Speaking of those Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors, before you slip into a panic with your Kershaws, Greinkes and Becketts, consider their track records there:

Clayton Kershaw (Thursday): Point out his 5.03 ERA in 14 career starts at Coors if you wish; I'll stress that he has a 3.12 ERA and 1.12 WHIP en route to three victories in four starts there since the beginning of last season.
Zack Greinke (Friday): He has a 4.63 ERA in four career starts there, two of them quality starts, though one of the QS was on June 7 (7 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 6 K).
Josh Beckett (Sunday): He's 3-1 with three quality starts, a 3.82 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in his five career starts at Coors.

Now, none of these numbers is extraordinary, and that's to be expected from any pitcher working at Coors. Still, no one will or should bench Kershaw, and that Beckett is a two-start pitcher with a home start Tuesday (versus the Cleveland Indians) supports his candidacy as a start in all leagues. Greinke is the question mark; he had an ordinary outing in Kansas City on June 23 and has a so-so Coors history. Nevertheless, as you can see from the rankings above, I'd still start him.

• Conversely, could a trip to pitching-friendly Petco Park be the cure for what has ailed the San Francisco Giants' rotation of late? Giants starters have the majors' 26th-ranked ERA in June (4.58), and Matt Cain has gone three consecutive and Tim Hudson two consecutive turns without a quality start. A three-game series at home versus the middle-of-the-road St. Louis Cardinals offense, followed by three at Petco, should help. Besides Lincecum -- his Petco stats were mentioned earlier -- check out the other two scheduled Petco starters' career track records there:

Matt Cain (Friday): He's 13-for-16 in quality starts, including an active streak of eight in a row, with a 2.29 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 26.7 percent strikeout rate at Petco. Amazingly, Cain has been able to win only four of those 16 games.
Tim Hudson (Saturday): He's 4-for-7 in quality starts, including an active streak of three in a row, with a 3.43 ERA and 20.8 percent K rate at Petco.

• 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):
Mike Leake (@SD, Tuesday): This isn't merely feasting upon the San Diego Padres and a Petco Park matchup. Has anyone else noticed that Leake has whiffed 25 percent of the batters he has faced in his past seven starts? To put that into perspective, in his first 116 career games, his K rate was a mere 16 percent.
Danny Duffy (@CLE, Sunday): No team has a wider wOBA split favoring right-handers (.329) over left-handers (.292) than the Cleveland Indians; opposing lefty starters have an 11-4 record, 3.55 ERA and 1.23 WHIP against them this season (the major league averages for lefty starters are a 3.98 ERA and 1.31 WHIP).
Carlos Martinez (@SF, Thursday): He throws hard -- his fastball has averaged 97.2 mph in his big-league career -- and the San Francisco Giants have the majors' second-highest K (27 percent) swing-and-miss (25 percent) rates against pitches clocked 94 mph or faster.
Taijuan Walker (@HOU, Monday): His strength is his mid-90s fastball, and the opposing Houston Astros have missed on a greater percentage of their swings against fastballs than any other team (21 percent).
Roenis Elias (@CWS, Friday): The Chicago White Sox have awful .209/.269/.319 triple-slash rates against left-handers since June 2, coincidentally the date Jose Abreu returned from the DL. They also have the majors' second-most K's this season against curveballs (115), Elias' preferred "out" pitch.
Jose Quintana (SEA, Saturday): Though not as wide as the Indians' split, the Seattle Mariners' lefty (.282)-righty (.303) splits are nevertheless fifth-most in the majors. Quintana, meanwhile, is coming off back-to-back quality starts.
Tom Koehler (PHI, Wednesday): He pitched a quality start with six K's in six innings against these Philadelphia Phillies on June 26, and he's 6-for-8 in quality starts with a 3.06 ERA and 1.02 WHIP at Marlins Park this season.

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

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: Detroit Tigers 7, Minnesota Twins 7, Boston Red Sox 6, Chicago White Sox 6, Atlanta Braves 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 6, San Diego Padres 6, Washington Nationals 6. No other team plays more than four home games.
Versus RH: Kansas City Royals 6, New York Yankees 6, Oakland Athletics 6, Cincinnati Reds 6, Colorado Rockies 6, San Diego Padres 6. Ten teams face five right-handed starters.
Versus LH: Detroit Tigers 4, Texas Rangers 3, Toronto Blue Jays 3, Los Angeles Dodgers 3, New York Mets 3, Washington Nationals 3. Eleven teams face two left-handed starters.

• Though the Dodgers' pitchers have their work cut out for them in Coors, their hitters should reap the rewards. Well, the right-handed ones should, at least. After all, this team has a .325 wOBA against right-handers, compared with .296 against left-handers, and the Dodgers are set to face three lefty starters in the week.

The key takeaway comes from the matchups/daily league angle, and he's a player available in more than 99 percent of ESPN leagues: Scott Van Slyke, who has started all 21 team games against a left-handed starter and batted .291/.451/.727 against lefties overall (including all six of his home runs), should pick up three starts at Coors, as all of the Dodgers' three lefty opponents are Rockies pitchers.

Van Slyke isn't the only pickup candidate, though. Catcher A.J. Ellis is a .321/.418/.571 hitter with three homers and 14 RBIs in 16 career games at Coors, and he has started all eight of the team's games against a lefty in which he was on their active roster. Also among must-starts, consider Matt Kemp's Coors history: He's a .327/.403/.630 hitter with 13 homers and 48 RBIs in 56 career games there, including 9-for-24 with two homers and eight RBIs in six games there since the beginning of 2013.

• The Los Angeles Angels, owners of .274/.335/.409 team triple-slash rates and a 4.8 runs-per-game average that ranked seventh-best in the month of June, enjoy a week with three games at homer-friendly U.S. Cellular Field, followed by a four-game series at home versus a Houston Astros staff who has gone just 6-for-12 in quality starts the past two weeks (June 13-26) and has a 4.71 relief ERA that ranks second-worst in baseball. Is it any wonder that Angels hitters are good fantasy plays in Week 14?

Two in particular stand out as worthwhile pickups to start: Kole Calhoun, a .333/.382/.536 hitter in 19 games in the month of June, and C.J. Cron, a .283/.313/.500 hitter in 16 games in the month who has effectively taken over as a regular starter following the release of Raul Ibanez.