Fantasy Forecaster updated Monday, April 13, at 12:08 a.m. ET.
On tap: Seven teams have their home openers Monday, with the New York Mets' seven-game Week 2 schedule particularly intriguing to fantasy owners. Why? Simple: They'll start Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey in their first two home games of 2015, aligning both for two-start weeks; they'll face the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins (deGrom starting Monday and Saturday, Harvey Tuesday and Sunday). It'll also be our first look at Citi Field's new, smaller dimensions, which were designed to help their left-handed sluggers like Curtis Granderson. Keep this in mind: The Mets face nothing but right-handers in Week 2, so those cozier right-center field dimensions will presumably be put to an immediate test.
Among the other teams hosting home openers Monday: The Boston Red Sox, who begin an interleague series against the Washington Nationals, facing Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg in the first two games; Minnesota Twins; Toronto Blue Jays; Pittsburgh Pirates, who begin an interleague series of their own against the Detroit Tigers; St. Louis Cardinals, who get Adam Wainwright for their opener thanks to a Week 1 rainout; and San Francisco Giants.
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Seven home openers Monday results in six day games -- the Blue Jays are the only one of those seven first-time-in-2015 hosts to play a Monday night game -- with the Phillies at Mets game, scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET, the first one of the day (and week). Fantasy owners will need to set their lineups early for Week 2, whether they're playing in daily, weekly or DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) formats.
Remember that game times have tremendous influence upon DFS planning, so be aware of every day's first scheduled pitch. This week, they are: Monday, 1:10 p.m. ET (Phillies at Mets, one of six day games); Tuesday, 6:10 p.m. ET (Nationals at Red Sox); Wednesday, 12:05 p.m. ET (Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians, one of four day games); Thursday, 1:10 p.m. ET (Kansas City Royals at Twins, one of two day games); Friday, 1:08 p.m. ET (White Sox at Detroit Tigers, one of two day games); Saturday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Phillies at Nationals, one of seven day games); and Sunday, 1:07 p.m. ET (Atlanta Braves at Blue Jays, one of 14 day games).
As a reminder to those who might have "old-school-Rotisserie" draft times during the April 10-12 weekend, if your league has not yet drafted, be aware that drafts that occur after the start of the regular season will lock the drafted starting lineups into place retroactively, meaning that if you draft an injured or minor league player into an active roster spot, that player will remain there either through all of Week 1 in a weekly league, or until the next eligible roster deadline in a daily league. In other words, if you draft Anthony Rendon as your starting second baseman in a Sunday, April 12, draft, he will remain in place in that spot through that day, even though he will be on the DL for the first few weeks of the season.
To ensure that your lineup locks the way you want it mid-draft within the draft room, when selecting a player, use the "Choose Slot" option beneath the "Draft Player" button to place him into any empty slot.
This week's interleague series:
Nationals at Red Sox (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
Tigers at Pirates (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
Braves at Blue Jays (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
Nationals' probable DH(s): Tyler Moore, Clint Robinson, Dan Uggla or ... Jayson Werth? Yes, Werth (shoulder surgery) could be ready to return as the DH sometime during the Boston series, assuming all goes well with an April 9-12 rehabilitation stint with Class A Potomac. If he's not ready, expect the Nationals to piece the DH together, with Danny Espinosa -- he could play second base if Uggla serves as the DH -- and Robinson the ones most likely to pick up extra at-bats.
Tigers' traditional DH: Victor Martinez. If you're hoping for Martinez to sneak in a few games at catcher, don't count on it; it's unlikely the Tigers would test him there after he had knee surgery as recently as Feb. 10. He did, however, start nine of 10 Tigers games in National League venues in the field in 2014, seven of those at first base, with Miguel Cabrera shifting to third base, and it's possible the team could do that while sacrificing defense for 2-3 of their games in Pittsburgh. This might come down to how healthy the Tigers feel Martinez is, making it a coin flip between him and Nick Castellanos as to which one suffers the most lost at-bats.
Mariners' traditional DH: Nelson Cruz. It's reasonable to assume the Mariners would play Cruz in right field for all three games in L.A., being that they used him there in two of their first three contests when they had the DH spot available in 2015. Cruz's former team, the Baltimore Orioles, played him in the field in all 10 interleague games -- all in left field -- and in 70 total games at either corner outfield spot in 2014. He's clearly capable, so the Dustin Ackley-Justin Ruggiano-Seth Smith-Rickie Weeks jumble will have to battle for at-bats in left field those three days; I'd guess Ruggiano starts Wednesday against the left-handed Brett Anderson, and Ackley and Smith each gets a start against the two righties.
Braves' probable DH: Alberto Callaspo, who was the DH in 34 of his 108 starts for the Oakland Athletics in 2014, and can slide there to free the team up to start both him and Chris Johnson. It's possible, though, that the Braves will rotate DHs, with Jonny Gomes and Kelly Johnson candidates to pick up extra at-bats.
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.
With off days Monday and Thursday, the White Sox will almost assuredly skip their fifth starter, Hector Noesi.
The Indians, who also have Monday and Thursday days off, will skip Zach McAllister to keep their other four starters closer to four days' rest.
Justin Verlander (triceps) is eligible to return from the DL on Monday, but the Tigers have merely said that they hope to have him back once his spot in the rotation next arrives, which would be on Saturday.
The Tampa Bay Rays chose to start Steven Geltz in what was a "bullpen day" on April 10, but their traditional fourth and fifth starters are expected to be Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Andriese. They'll need to fill those spots Tuesday (plus Sunday) and Wednesday, with Andriese expected to start Tuesday.
Scott Baker is considered the leading candidate to serve as the Dodgers' fifth starter, once the team needs one Tuesday.
1. Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Tue-PHI (Buchanan), Sun-MIA (Koehler)
2. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Fri-COL (Kendrick)
3. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Sat-TEX (Lewis)
4. Max Scherzer (WSH) -- Fri-PHI (O'Sullivan)
5. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Fri-@STL (Wacha)
6. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Tue-@BOS (Masterson), Sun-PHI (Buchanan)
7. Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Mon-PHI (Harang), Sat-MIA (Latos)
8. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Thu-ARI (Bradley)
9. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Mon-MIL (Garza), Sun-CIN (Leake)
10. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Sat-@DET (Verlander)
11. David Price (DET) -- Fri-CWS (Samardzija)
12. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Mon-@PIT (Cole), Sun-CWS (Quintana)
13. Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -- Tue-CWS (Quintana), Sun-@MIN (May)
14. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Fri-@MIN (Pelfrey)
15. Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Wed-DET (Simon)
16. Michael Pineda (NYY) -- Mon-@BAL (Chen), Sun-@TB (Andriese)
17. Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Tue-CIN (DeSclafani)
18. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Mon-@BOS (Porcello), Sat-PHI (Harang)
19. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Thu-@WSH (Fister)
20. Jon Lester (CHC) -- Mon-CIN (Leake), Sun-SD (Cashner)
21. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Sat-COL (Lyles)
22. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Fri-@KC (Guthrie)
23. Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Mon-@HOU (Feldman), Sun-@KC (Duffy)
24. Tyson Ross (SD) -- Sat-@CHC (Hendricks)
25. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Mon-TB (Odorizzi), Sat-ATL (Wood)
26. Mike Fiers (MIL) -- Thu-@STL (Lackey)
27. Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Mon-DET (Sanchez), Sun-MIL (Garza)
28. Danny Duffy (KC) -- Mon-@MIN (May), Sun-OAK (Kazmir)
29. James Shields (SD) -- Fri-@CHC (Hammel)
30. Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Mon-@TOR (Dickey), Sat-NYY (Tanaka)
31. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Tue-@CLE (Carrasco), Sun-@DET (Sanchez)
32. Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Mon-ARI (De La Rosa), Sun-@CHC (Lester)
33. Alex Wood (ATL) -- Sat-@TOR (Dickey)
34. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Sat-@HOU (Keuchel)
35. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Fri-@TOR (Hutchison)
36. Michael Wacha (STL) -- Fri-CIN (Cueto)
37. James Paxton (SEA) -- Mon-@LAD (McCarthy), Sun-TEX (Detwiler)
38. John Lackey (STL) -- Thu-MIL (Fiers)
39. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Wed-MIL (Peralta)
40. Matt Garza (MIL) -- Mon-@STL (Wainwright), Sun-@PIT (Cole)
41. Jeff Samardzija (CWS) -- Fri-@DET (Price)
42. Brandon McCarthy (LAD) -- Mon-SEA (Paxton), Sun-COL (Butler)
43. Rick Porcello (BOS) -- Mon-WSH (Zimmermann), Sun-BAL (Chen)
44. Shelby Miller (ATL) -- Mon-MIA (Latos), Sun-@TOR (Norris)
45. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Fri-@HOU (Hernandez)
46. Matt Shoemaker (LAA) -- Mon-@TEX (Detwiler), Sun-@HOU (Feldman)
47. Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Fri-ATL (Teheran)
48. A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Tue-DET (Greene)
49. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Wed-@BOS (Miley)
50. Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Wed-OAK (Pomeranz)
51. Daniel Norris (TOR) -- Tue-TB (Andriese), Sun-ATL (Miller)
52. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Tue-@LAD (Baker)
53. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Sat-@STL (Martinez)
54. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Sat-BAL (Tillman)
55. Jesse Hahn (OAK) -- Sat-@KC (Ventura)
56. Shane Greene (DET) -- Tue-@PIT (Burnett)
57. Drew Pomeranz (OAK) -- Wed-@HOU (McHugh)
58. Dan Haren (MIA) -- Wed-@ATL (Stults)
59. Doug Fister (WSH) -- Thu-PHI (Hamels)
60. Aaron Sanchez (TOR) -- Thu-TB (Archer)
61. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Sat-@TB (Odorizzi)
62. Yordano Ventura (KC) -- Sat-OAK (Hahn)
63. Chris Archer (TB) -- Thu-@TOR (Sanchez)
64. Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Sat-@BOS (Buchholz)
65. T.J. House (CLE) -- Sat-@MIN (Hughes)
66. Taijuan Walker (SEA) -- Wed-@LAD (Anderson)
67. Jason Vargas (KC) -- Thu-@MIN (Milone)
68. Tim Hudson (SF) -- Tue-COL (Bergman), Sun-ARI (Hellickson)
69. Dallas Keuchel (HOU) -- Sat-LAA (Wilson)
70. Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Fri-MIA (Alvarez)
71. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Tue-@BAL (Gonzalez)
72. Justin Masterson (BOS) -- Tue-WSH (Strasburg)
73. Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Wed-CWS (Danks)
74. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Wed-PHI (Williams)
75. Jason Hammel (CHC) -- Fri-SD (Shields)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Mon-NYY (Pineda), Sun-@BOS (Porcello)
Aaron Harang (PHI) -- Mon-@NYM (DeGrom), Sat-@WSH (Zimmermann)
Chris Heston (SF) -- Mon-COL (Butler), Sat-ARI (De La Rosa)
Scott Feldman (HOU) -- Mon-OAK (Kazmir), Sun-LAA (Shoemaker)
Tom Koehler (MIA) -- Tue-@ATL (Cahill), Sun-@NYM (Harvey)
Mat Latos (MIA) -- Mon-@ATL (Miller), Sat-@NYM (DeGrom)
Mike Leake (CIN) -- Mon-@CHC (Lester), Sun-@STL (Wainwright)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Matt Andriese (TB) -- Tue-@TOR (Norris), Sun-NYY (Pineda)
David Buchanan (PHI) -- Tue-@NYM (Harvey), Sun-@WSH (Strasburg)
Eddie Butler (COL) -- Mon-@SF (Heston), Sun-@LAD (McCarthy)
Rubby De La Rosa (ARI) -- Mon-@SD (Cashner), Sat-@SF (Heston)
Ross Detwiler (TEX) -- Mon-LAA (Shoemaker), Sun-@SEA (Paxton)
Jeremy Hellickson (ARI) -- Tue-@SD (Despaigne), Sun-@SF (Hudson)
Trevor May (MIN) -- Mon-KC (Duffy), Sun-CLE (Carrasco)
Despite the comment above about Citi Field's smaller dimensions, it's the Mets' pitchers who have the greater set of matchups than their hitters in Week 2. They'll host the Phillies for three games (Monday-Wednesday) and the Marlins for four (Thursday-Sunday); those two teams totaled nine runs in six games in their opening series, all played in their home venues. Now they'll hit the road, facing an underrated Mets rotation, and a pitching staff that had an ERA in home games (3.25) that was half a run better than on the road (3.75) in 2014.
Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey couldn't ask for much better matchups; was there any question that both would rank among my top eight starting-pitching plays for the week? And while Bartolo Colon and Jonathon Niese earned less-generous rankings, both are worthy plays, as Colon had a 3.73 ERA and Niese 2.74 at Citi Field in 2014.
Thanks to a pair of series against the Twins (road games Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) and Oakland Athletics (home games Friday-Sunday), the Royals should provide some beneath-the-radar value in Week 2. Four of their five starters -- Jeremy Guthrie being the exception -- project for better-than-50 Game Scores in their matchups, with Danny Duffy receiving two of them. A home game in particular is a plus for Yordano Ventura, who exited his first start of 2015 with a right thumb cramp; he has a 3.03 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 2.84 K-to-walk ratio in his career at Kauffman Stadium (3.33, 1.37 and 1.84 in road games).
Here are this week's Streamer's Delight picks:
1. T.J. House (@MIN, Saturday): The Twins managed two total extra-base hits during their season-opening series, and they haven't hit House well historically; he's 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in four career starts against them.
2. Shelby Miller (MIA, Monday): His success relies quite a bit upon his curveball, and the opposing Marlins were 0-for-10 with three K's against that pitch during their season-opening series ... which included a five-shutout-inning performance by Miller.
3. Drew Pomeranz (@HOU, Wednesday): Left-handers lacking in extreme ground-ball rates can be risky picks at Minute Maid Park, but in Pomeranz's case, his 33-percent K rate (11.12 as calculated per nine innings) during spring training makes him an attractive gamble facing the whiff-prone Houston Astros.
4. Anthony DeSclafani (@CHC, Tuesday): He has a better slider than I thought, one which was responsible for four of his six K's during his 2015 debut, and now he faces a Chicago Cubs team that has struck out a major league-leading 378 times against sliders since the beginning of 2014.
5. Kyle Hendricks (SD, Saturday): The San Diego Padres are an extremely righty-heavy offense, and Hendricks had 9.00 K-to-walk and 55-percent ground-ball ratios against right-handed hitters in 2014.
6. Aaron Sanchez (TB, Thursday): It's a home game for this hard thrower, and it comes against a Tampa Bay Rays offense that batted just .202/.324/.360 during its season-opening series and lacks much in the way of star power.
7. Tim Hudson (ARI, Sunday): Some career histories are difficult to ignore, such as Hudson's 9-1 record, 2.01 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 13 career start against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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 right- or left-handed starters:
Total games: Tampa Bay Rays 7, Blue Jays 7, Arizona Diamondbacks 7, Marlins 7, Mets 7, Phillies 7, Giants 7, Nationals 7.
Home games: Blue Jays 7, Mets 7, Giants 7, Red Sox 6, Houston Astros 6, Twins 6, Chicago Cubs 6, Dodgers 6, Pirates 6, Cardinals 6.
Versus RH: Mets 7, Blue Jays 6, Diamondbacks 6, Cubs 6, Marlins 6, Phillies 6, Pirates 6, Cardinals 6, Giants 6.
Versus LH: Tigers 3, Astros 3, Twins 3, Texas Rangers 3.
Any week facing two left-handed starters would be a favorable one for the Los Angeles Angels; since the beginning of 2014, they have the majors' third-best wOBA (.335) and best hard-hit average (.175) against lefties. But a week like this one, which couples those two games against lefties with three against righties who have ERAs greater than four since 2012 -- Nick Martinez (4.34), Roberto Hernandez (4.61) and Scott Feldman (4.09) -- as well as a spot starter on Wednesday represents an outstanding one. No one needs to be advised to activate players such as Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun, but this is a good week to load up on the team's lesser-relied-upon right-handed bats. Chris Iannetta is now their regular catcher, and he has .267/.383/.483 rates against lefties since the beginning of 2014. David Freese' .391 wOBA against lefties during that same time span is only percentage points behind Trout's (.391). And C.J. Cron, who tends to get every start against a lefty anyway, also started one of the team's first two games of 2015 against a righty.
This week represents quite the contrast in starting-pitching opponents for the Nationals; they had to deal with young flamethrowers deGrom and Harvey in Week 1. Now they battle only Cole Hamels and Rick Porcello among "elite" (and only potentially, in the latter's case) opponents in a seven-game Week 2. Wilson Ramos, Dan Uggla, Yunel Escobar and Michael Taylor are better fantasy plays accordingly, and Taylor, remember, has been leading off for this team and hit well during the team's season-opening series. That the Nationals also gain an additional lineup spot for three of the contests -- the DH, referenced above -- only helps to boost this team's counting-numbers potential.
Finally, the Mets' pitching matchups aren't the only ones that favor them. As hinted multiple times above, their hitters stack up exceptionally against the back end of the Phillies' rotation -- they'll miss Hamels during their week-opening series -- and a Marlins team that got a poor first start from Mat Latos. All seven Mets opponents are right-handed, so that shorter right-center field fence at Citi Field might work to the benefit of lefty Mets sluggers Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda.