Fantasy baseball forecaster for Week 12: June 17-23

Due to a quirky schedule and being limited to DH duty, this could be a dicey week to use Miguel Cabrera in fantasy. Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Quickly jump to any page for specific intel

  • Week 12 is one of the busier ones on the 2019 schedule, with 99 total games scheduled. Twenty-one of 30 teams play on all seven days and only three teams play as few as five times, those all doing so due to early-week interleague series: The Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates, with the latter two squaring off for a pair of games at Pittsburgh's PNC Park Tuesday-Wednesday, and the former playing a pair against their crosstown rivals the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on the same days. The White Sox and Tigers will lose their designated hitters for those two (out of five) games as a result of visiting National League venues, which is terrible news for the Tigers, whose manager Ron Gardenhire said earlier this month that Miguel Cabrera will be limited to DH duty for the remainder of 2019. That means Cabrera can only start as many as three games, and two are expected to be against elite right-handers Trevor Bauer (Friday) and Mike Clevinger (Saturday). The White Sox, meanwhile, will have to choose between Jose Abreu and Yonder Alonso, their first base/DH rotation, for first base duties for those two games in Pittsburgh. That the White Sox used Abreu at first base in the two recent similar games at Washington's Nationals Park and are expected to face a pair of left-handed starters (Cole Hamels and Jon Lester) suggests that Alonso will also make only as many as three weekend starts.

  • Speaking of Clevinger, his anticipated return from a strained teres major muscle in his right upper back represents one of the week's most exciting stories. At the time he landed on the injured list on April 9, he wasn't even expected to pick up a baseball for 6-8 weeks, but in the end, he's on track to miss only nine weeks and six days at the time he marks his return on Monday at Texas' Globe Life Park. That return date sets him up for a two-start week, with the second turn set for Saturday against the aforementioned Tigers, the latter matchup easily driving his fantasy-start status in weekly formats. Yes, Clevinger might face a limited pitch count in the Monday game -- he threw only 58 pitches during his June 6 rehab outing for Triple-A Columbus, and another 67 for Double-A Akron five days later -- and Globe Life Park is one of the most hitting-friendly environments in the game, but his raw talent and elite swing-and-miss stuff make him well worth the roll of the dice.

  • Will Clevinger's healthy return inspire a big week on both sides of the ball for the Cleveland Indians? Perhaps, but if the offense steps up during Week 12, it's less likely to be those good vibes transferring to the team's bats than it is the team's best-in-baseball set of weekly hitting matchups. Again, Globe Life Park represents a great offensive environment for any lineup, and the three weekend games against the Tigers pit the division-rival Indians against a pitching staff that has been hit hard by injuries and has a 5.40 team ERA in June, fifth-worst in the majors. The Indians' hitting grades are great, despite their players' handedness, but a schedule during which they'll face between two and four left-handed starters makes Jordan Luplow, a .300/.373/.733 hitter against lefties this season who has started 17 of 19 games against them, a plug-and-play option in 14-team-plus mixed and AL-only leagues.

  • Big-name pitching returns seem to be the name of the game in Week 12, and Dallas Keuchel's impending Atlanta Braves debut ranks among the top storylines. He's pitched for Double-A Mississippi on June 15, after tossing seven shutout innings of one-hit, nine-strikeout baseball on 77 pitches for Class A Rome on June 10, lining him up for a possible 2019 big league debut on Friday at Washington's Nationals Park. While Keuchel's pitch count shouldn't be as much of an issue at that time as Clevinger's on Monday, the matchup itself -- and his own one-start weekly status -- represents a concern: The opposing Washington Nationals have averaged a second-best-in-baseball 6.0 runs per game the past three weeks (May 24-June 13), and for the season, their .369 team wOBA against left-handed pitchers is fifth best in baseball.

  • With the rise in "opener/follower" pitching arrangements during the past year-and-a-month, I've decided to adjust how I list pitchers in the projected starter grids in order to give you an idea of the value of those "followers" on any given day -- and I've applied this to the pitching rankings (overall and two-start pitchers) as well. On the day of the scheduled outing, so long as the "opener" for a team has been announced, he'll be the one listed, but for outings a few days ahead, I've listed any pitcher highly likely to be assigned the bulk of the innings for that particular game. That's why you'll see Tampa Bay Rays pitchers Yonny Chirinos, Ryan Yarbrough and Jalen Beeks listed as "starters" in five of their seven non-Blake Snell/non-Charlie Morton games in Week 12; they are highly likely to be the pitchers working the majority of the innings on the other days, and valuable choices in leagues that have weekly starts caps (they might not charge your team a start, though lately they have been actually starting). Other pitchers who fit the "follower" description -- though some of them could also actually start -- and are therefore listed: The Mariners' Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone, Angels' Felix Pena and Rangers' Adrian Sampson.

  • A six-game week played entirely on the road represents a disadvantage for any team in a week when 21 squads play a full seven games, but when that six-road-game week belongs to the Colorado Rockies, it's their worst-case scenario. Toss in that they'll have to tangle with opposing starters Zack Greinke (Wednesday), Hyun-Jin Ryu (Friday) and Clayton Kershaw (Sunday), and it's no surprise that the Rockies have the week's least-appealing hitting matchups. Three of the Rockies' six scheduled opposing starters -- add Robbie Ray (Thursday) to the aforementioned Ryu and Kershaw -- are left-handed, so Raimel Tapia, a .275/.302/.451 hitter against lefties and .216/.240/.330 road hitter this season, is a definite sit. Also adjust downward your expectations from left-handed Charlie Blackmon, a .273/.330/.525 hitter against same-handed pitchers and .233/.272/.357 in his road games in 2019.

  • While the Angels are one of the two other teams to lose their DH during a trip to a National League park in Week 12 -- the Houston Astros are the other -- their offense should nevertheless enjoy a bump due to facing Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals pitching staffs that have been hit hard due to injuries in recent weeks. The Blue Jays in particular have the majors' third-worst team ERA the past three weeks (6.01). The Angels are scheduled to face six right-handed starters, making Kole Calhoun (63% available in ESPN leagues), a .255/.345/.490 hitter against righties this season, an obvious fantasy play in all formats. The problem here is the no-DH issue in St. Louis -- during Albert Pujols' return to his first big league city -- as usual DH Shohei Ohtani will be relegated to pinch-hitting duty and Justin Bour, an intriguing lefty who was recently recalled, will duke it out with Pujols for first base at-bats. Ohtani and Bour are great daily-league plays, but AL-only options in weekly formats.

  • The Kansas City Royals could get Hunter Dozier (chest, IL) back by the end of Week 12, so those in leagues with daily transactions should be prepared to activate him upon word of his return to the team, as the Royals enjoy an extremely favorable hitting schedule. The Royals play three games at Seattle's T-Mobile Park against a Mariners pitching staff that has been struggling mightily, and are scheduled to face four left-handed starters. Few teams enjoy as good a grade for righty bats as the Royals, so keep that in mind if you've got Dozier, Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi or Jorge Soler.

  • If you're looking for righty/lefty matchup advantages among players more suited for deep-mixed (think 14-plus-team) or "only" leagues, consider: Derek Dietrich (available in 47%), a .244/.356/.659 hitter against right-handers, whose Cincinnati Reds face six right-handed starters; Avisail Garcia (available in 62%), a .243/.338/.486 hitter against left-handers, whose Rays face three left-handed starters; Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (available in 68%), a .265/.306/.588 hitter against left-handers, whose Blue Jays face five left-handed starters; Renato Nunez (available in 77%), a .293/.348/.610 hitter against left-handers, whose Baltimore Orioles face four left-handed starters; Bryan Reynolds (available in 77%), a .357/.386/.595 hitter against left-handers, whose Pirates face four lefty starters; Ronald Guzman (available in 99%) and Danny Santana (92%), .258/.333/.517 and .328/.357/.534 hitters against right-handers, whose Texas Rangers face six right-handed starters.