Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, April 26, at 10:35 p.m. ET.
On tap: Riding high off their 10-game, season-opening homestand sweep -- a franchise record, and the longest such streak by any team in 24 years -- the New York Mets open homestand No. 2 on Thursday, with a four-game, weekend series versus the preseason division favorite Washington Nationals. It's another pitching-rich series for said Mets, and the Nationals, too, as Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey kick that series off for the Mets, while the Nationals will throw Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer in the four games. The Mets took two of three in these teams' season-opening series in Washington, D.C., outscoring the Nationals 10-6 combined, and the matchups suggest another weekend of helpful ERA, WHIP and K's from both sides.
Speaking of intriguing pitching matchups, we'll have a Madison Bumgarner-Clayton Kershaw rematch on Monday in Los Angeles, after the two managed quality starts against one another in a game decided by the bullpens on April 22.
For all the attention Yordano Ventura has received this season for his four early, not-decided-by-his-manager exits, the fact remains that he's the No. 38 starting pitcher on our Player Rater, with three of those starts resulting in a Bill James Game Score of 58 or greater (that's tied with 15 others for third place, trailing only the four totaled by Johnny Cueto and Scherzer). The Kansas City Royals sophomore aims to rebound from consecutive ejections in a road start at Cleveland's Progressive Field on Wednesday. All eyes will surely be upon him.
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ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines
Monday's games get underway beginning at 6:05 p.m. ET -- that's the first pitch for Royals at Cleveland Indians -- so for the first time in 2015, we have a later lineup deadline for fantasy owners in weekly leagues.
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, 6:05 p.m. ET (Royals at Indians); Tuesday, 6:10 p.m. ET (Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox and Royals at Indians); Wednesday, 12:35 p.m. ET (Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds, one of four day games); Thursday, 1:45 p.m. ET (Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals, one of two day games); Friday, 2:20 p.m. ET (Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs, the only day game); Saturday, 1:35 p.m. ET (New York Yankees at Red Sox, one of seven day games); and Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Blue Jays at Indians, one of 14 day games).
This week's interleague series:
Astros' traditional DH: Evan Gattis. Entering play on April 24, Gattis had made all 14 of his starts this season at DH, and in only two of those did he manage to reach base at least twice, and in only two did he manage at least two total bases. Put those together and he hardly looks like an essential man to slot in at either first base (Chris Carter's usual spot) or left field (a Colby Rasmus/Robbie Grossman platoon), though the latter is the more likely arrangement if Gattis is to get a start at all at Petco. Though the Seattle Mariners, Gattis and the Astros' weekend opponent, will start two left-handers during their weekend series, this is a good week to sit him in mixed leagues.
Angels' traditional DH: C.J. Cron. Considering that Albert Pujols had made 15 of his 16 starts at first base (through April 23), the other at DH, Pujols is unlikely to take a seat for Cron at all during the series at San Francisco's AT&T Park. Considering Cron was batting .154/.214/.282 through 11 games and the Oakland Athletics will throw two right-handed starters during the Angels' week-opening series, he's another player to sit in mixed formats.
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.
P: The starting pitcher's projected Bill James Game Score, accounting for past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days), opponent and ballpark. A "50" is typically deemed a "quality start" by this measure, while a "70" is considered a dominant start.
April 25 rainouts caused each of the Chicago White Sox's, Kansas City Royals', Chicago Cubs' and Cincinnati Reds' rotations, and April 26 rainouts the Colorado Rockies' and San Francisco Giants' rotations, to be pushed back by one day apiece. The Cubs, however, kept Jason Hammel on a Monday-Sunday schedule, while the Reds swapped Mike Leake and Homer Bailey in their rotation.
The Los Angeles Angels pushed C.J. Wilson's (elbow) April 23 start to April 25, and while his injury isn't expected to be serious, his status should be monitored leading into Week 4. Meanwhile, Matt Shoemaker (bereavement) is scheduled to rejoin the Angels' rotation on Wednesday.
Ricky Nolasco (DL, elbow) threw a 60-pitch bullpen session on April 22 and was scheduled for a rehabilitation start for Class A Cedar Rapids on April 25, keeping him in line with Trevor May in the Minnesota Twins' rotation. Though Nolasco might need more than one rehab start, it's possible he could be ready to return to the Twins on Thursday.
Chase Whitley will make a spot start for the New York Yankees on Tuesday, in order to give the team's other starters an extra day's rest. It appears that the team will go with a six-man rotation for Week 4.
The Oakland Athletics demoted Kendall Graveman to Triple-A Sacramento on April 26, and will presumably replace him in the rotation with Jesse Chavez. It is unclear if Chavez will merely slide into Graveman's vacated spot; he would be on four days' rest as early as Tuesday.
The Seattle Mariners placed Hisashi Iwakuma (DL, lat) on the DL on April 24, and promoted Roenis Elias to assume his turn on April 26. It is presumed that Elias would pitch again the next time that spot arrives on Friday.
Drew Smyly (DL, shoulder) rejoined the Tampa Bay Rays' rotation on April 24, lining him up for a Wednesday start during Week 4. It is unclear, however, whether Matt Andriese or Erasmo Ramirez will remain as the team's fifth starter, whether the team will activate Alex Colome for that assignment, or the team will use Thursday's off day to skip that turn in the rotation. Jake Odorizzi would pick up a second start this week should the Rays choose to go with only four starters.
The Los Angeles Dodgers decided to promote Scott Baker on April 26 to serve as their fifth starter, while pushing their other starters back a day apiece. Brandon McCarthy (elbow) is questionable for Friday's start, however, creating some uncertainty with the team's weekend rotation. The Dodgers could choose to use Thursday's off day to skip his turn, in which case Clayton Kershaw would pick up a second start.
The Philadelphia Phillies plan to recall Severino Gonzalez for a spot start on Tuesday. It is unclear whether he will make another start on Sunday.
Adam Wainwright (DL, Achilles') was placed on the DL by the St. Louis Cardinals on April 26. It is unclear who will pitch when his turn in the rotation arrives on Thursday; Tim Cooney, Tyler Lyons and Carlos Villanueva are the three most logical candidates.
Tristan's Week 4 pitcher rankings: Top 75
Max Scherzer (WSH) -- Tue-@ATL (Teheran), Sun-@NYM (Gee)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Tue-SF (Vogelsong)
Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Tue-MIL (Lohse), Sun-@ATL (Teheran)
Chris Sale (CWS) -- Wed-@BAL (Gonzalez)
Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Fri-WSH (Gonzalez)
Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Mon-KC (Vargas), Sat-TOR (Sanchez)
David Price (DET) -- Mon-@MIN (Milone), Sat-@KC (Vargas)
Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Mon-@LAD (Anderson), Sun-LAA (Weaver)
Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Thu-@NYM (deGrom)
Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Wed-@TEX (Rodriguez)
Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Wed-SF (Heston)
Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Thu-WSH (Strasburg)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Sat-MIL (Fiers)
Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Mon-@STL (Lackey), Sat-@MIA (Haren)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -- Fri-TOR (Buehrle)
Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Tue-LAA (Weaver), Sun-@TEX (Gallardo)
Tyson Ross (SD) -- Tue-HOU (Hernandez)
Jeff Samardzija (CWS) -- Tue-@BAL (Tillman), Sun-@MIN (Pelfrey)
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Tue-TB (Odorizzi)
Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Sat-@STL (Lackey)
Michael Pineda (NYY) -- Wed-TB (Smyly)
Jimmy Nelson (MIL) -- Mon-@CIN (Marquis), Sun-@CHC (Wood)
James Shields (SD) -- Mon-HOU (McHugh), Sun-COL (Kendrick)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Wed-@CHC (Hendricks)
Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Tue-@MIN (Pelfrey), Sun-@KC (Guthrie)
Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Mon-@SD (Shields), Sat-SEA (Walker)
Shane Greene (DET) -- Wed-@MIN (Hughes)
Michael Wacha (STL) -- Tue-PHI (McGowan), Sun-PIT (Worley)
Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Thu-@OAK (Kazmir)
Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Wed-@ATL (Wood)
Chris Archer (TB) -- Sat-@BAL (Norris)
John Lackey (STL) -- Mon-PHI (Hamels), Sat-PIT (Liriano)
Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Tue-@NYY (Tanaka)
Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Wed-HOU (Keuchel)
Alex Wood (ATL) -- Wed-WSH (Zimmermann)
Jon Lester (CHC) -- Fri-MIL (Peralta)
Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Tue-WSH (Scherzer), Sun-CIN (Cueto)
Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Tue-KC (Guthrie), Sun-TOR (Hutchison)
Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Fri-@NYM (Harvey)
Doug Fister (WSH) -- Mon-@ATL (Stults), Sat-@NYM (Niese)
Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Thu-LAA (Richards)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Fri-@STL (Lynn)
Matt Shoemaker (LAA) -- Wed-@OAK (Hahn)
Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Tue-@BOS (Buchholz), Sun-@CLE (Bauer)
Lance Lynn (STL) -- Fri-PIT (Burnett)
Yordano Ventura (KC) -- Wed-@CLE (Salazar)
Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Wed-KC (Ventura)
Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Tue-@OAK (Gray), Sun-@SF (Bumgarner)
Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) -- Fri-@ATL (Cahill)
Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Wed-@MIA (Latos)
Jason Hammel (CHC) -- Tue-PIT (Locke)
Aaron Sanchez (TOR) -- Mon-@BOS (Kelly), Sat-@CLE (Kluber)
C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Fri-@SF (Hudson)
Travis Wood (CHC) -- Mon-PIT (Worley), Sun-MIL (Nelson)
Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Wed-PHI (Harang)
Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) -- Mon-CWS (Noesi), Sun-TB (Karns)
Drew Smyly (TB) -- Wed-@NYY (Pineda)
Vance Worley (PIT) -- Mon-@CHC (Wood), Sun-@STL (Wacha)
Shelby Miller (ATL) -- Thu-CIN (Leake)
Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Wed-MIL (Garza)
Hector Santiago (LAA) -- Sat-@SF (Lincecum)
Taijuan Walker (SEA) -- Mon-@TEX (Gallardo), Sat-@HOU (McHugh)
Mike Fiers (MIL) -- Sat-@CHC (Arrieta)
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) -- Wed-@SD (Cashner)
Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Fri-COL (De La Rosa)
Danny Duffy (KC) -- Thu-DET (Simon)
Jarred Cosart (MIA) -- Mon-NYM (Gee), Sun-PHI (McGowan)
Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Sat-WSH (Fister)
Mike Leake (CIN) -- Thu-@ATL (Miller)
Archie Bradley (ARI) -- Tue-COL (Lyles)
Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Thu-@MIN (May)
Jesse Hahn (OAK) -- Wed-LAA (Shoemaker)
Dan Haren (MIA) -- Sat-PHI (Hamels)
Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Fri-@TEX (Lewis)
Kyle Hendricks (CHC) -- Wed-PIT (Cole)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Brett Anderson (LAD) -- Mon-SF (Bumgarner), Sun-ARI (Anderson)
Chase Anderson (ARI) -- Mon-COL (Kendrick), Sun-@LAD (Anderson)
Yovani Gallardo (TEX) -- Mon-SEA (Walker), Sun-OAK (Gray)
Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Mon-@MIA (Cosart), Sun-WSH (Scherzer)
J.A. Happ (SEA) -- Tue-@TEX (Detwiler), Sun-@HOU (Hernandez)
Nathan Karns (TB) -- Mon-@NYY (Warren), Sun-@BAL (Jimenez)
Joe Kelly (BOS) -- Mon-TOR (Sanchez), Sun-NYY (Warren)
Jason Marquis (CIN) -- Mon-MIL (Nelson), Sat-@ATL (Stults)
Jason Vargas (KC) -- Mon-@CLE (Kluber), Sat-DET (Price)
Adam Warren (NYY) -- Mon-TB (Karns), Sun-@BOS (Kelly)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) -- Tue-@CLE (Bauer), Sun-DET (Sanchez)
Roberto Hernandez (HOU) -- Tue-@SD (Ross), Sun-SEA (Happ)
Kyle Kendrick (COL) -- Mon-@ARI (Anderson), Sun-@SD (Shields)
Dustin McGowan (PHI) -- Tue-@STL (Wacha), Sun-@MIA (Cosart)
Tommy Milone (MIN) -- Mon-DET (Price), Sat-CWS (Noesi)
Hector Noesi (CWS) -- Mon-@BAL (Jimenez), Sat-@MIN (Milone)
Mike Pelfrey (MIN) -- Tue-DET (Sanchez), Sun-CWS (Samardzija)
Eric Stults (ATL) -- Mon-WSH (Fister), Sat-CIN (Marquis)
Yes, they scored 10 runs in a 16-10 loss to the Reds on April 21, but as far as gauging the general productivity of the Brewers in the short term, put that game aside. The Brewers represent a favorable matchup for any opposing pitching staff, having gotten off to a miserable, worst-wOBA-in-the-league (.262) start, and three of their starters are on the DL in Scooter Gennett, Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy. The opposing Reds stand out from a pitching perspective, with their greatest example this: Despite a fastball that averaged more than 3 mph lower (91.0) than his did in all of 2014 (94.1), Homer Bailey managed a respectable Game Score of 49 against these Brewers on April 23. Granting the Reds the home-field advantage, even at a hitting-friendly environment of their own in Great American Ball Park, swings things to the point that Johnny Cueto is an outstanding Tuesday starter (especially in #DFS), Mike Leake is worth a look mixed leagues and Jason Marquis has streaming value in deeper mixed and NL-only.
Couple those matchups with four games at Atlanta's Turner Field against the beneath-the-league's-average-wOBA Braves -- and arguably they're not even that good an offense on paper -- and Reds pitchers warrant the week-long thumbs-up. Anthony DeSclafani is one of Friday's most intriguing matchups candidates, in fact, and for those who worry a bit about young pitchers in road starts, consider that he's 4-0 with a 0.70 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in eight career games (three starts) on the road.
The Cubs draw the aforementioned Brewers during a weekend series at Wrigley Field, and their week's matchups get the thumbs-up thanks to all six being played at home. That their first three come against the Pirates, hitting just .225/.279/.370 as a team with the majors' third-highest team strikeout rate (23.2 percent), represents another plus.
Kyle Hendricks, Wednesday's starter, could sure use a standout performance, and a home assignment might result in one. Thus far during his young career, he has an ERA nearly a run and three quarters lower at home (2.12) than on the road (3.83), and he has one more quality start there (5) than on the road (4).
Here are this week's Streamer's Delight picks (players selected were available in at least two-thirds of ESPN leagues as of our Friday publishing date):
Jason Hammel (MIL, Sunday): Since the beginning of 2014, he has a 3.62 ERA and 1.14 WHIP (the major-league averages are 3.82 and 1.27), and the Milwaukee Brewers have mere .223/.275/.337 rates and a fifth-worst-in-baseball .273 team wOBA against right-handers thus far in 2015.
Vance Worley (@CHC, Monday): He's a probable no-go in #DFS -- Cueto's opponent -- but a Cubs matchup is a good one for him from a K's perspective. Besides, Worley has a 3-0 record, 1.97 ERA and average Game Score of 60 in five career starts versus the Cubs.
Hector Santiago (@SF, Saturday): He's off to a solid start, placing among the Player Rater's top 40 starters (through April 23), and now faces a Giants team that ranks among the majors' bottom 10 in terms of wOBA (.291), runs scored (2.9 per game) and isolated power (.103).
Rafael Montero (@MIA, Tuesday): He'll make a spot start for the Mets, facing a Marlins team that's lacking in much left-handed thump. It's a risk/reward play; the Marlins have a .122 isolated power and 24.1 percent K rate versus righties (the majors' averages are .142 and 20.9 percent).
James Paxton (@HOU, Thursday): On an awful day for streaming, why not pick on an Astros team that has whiffed in 27.1 percent of its plate appearances against left-handers? Fairness to both sides of the matchup: Their .197 isolated power versus lefties is sixth-best.
Tom Koehler (PHI, Friday): Home games suit him nicely; he has 11 quality starts and a 3.00 ERA in his past 16 starts at Marlins Park. He was also 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts in 2014 against the Phillies, whose offense isn't any better this season.
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.
H: Hitters' matchup rating, which accounts for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. L: Hitters' matchup rating accounting only for left-handed hitters. R: Hitters' matchup rating accounting for only right-handed hitters. S: Base stealing matchup rating, which accounts for the opponent's catchers' ability to gun down opposing base stealers. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst.
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: Chicago White Sox 7, Cleveland Indians 7, Detroit Tigers 7, Houston Astros 7, Kansas City Royals 7, Minnesota Twins 7, Seattle Mariners 7, Toronto Blue Jays 7, Atlanta Braves 7, Cincinnati Reds 7, New York Mets 7, Philadelphia Phillies 7, St. Louis Cardinals 7, Washington Nationals 7.
Versus LH: San Francisco Giants 3, Indians 3, Tigers 3, Astros 3, Twins 3, Padres 3, Nationals 3.
While the Mariners attempt to straighten out their early-season pitching woes, they need to lean on an offense responsible for the majors' 12th-best team wOBA (.310), fifth-most home runs (19) and seventh-best isolated power (.157), which makes their 3.9 runs-per-game average somewhat puzzling. Trips to Texas' Globe Life Park (3 games, Monday-Wednesday) and Houston's Minute Maid Park (4 games, Thursday-Sunday), however, grants them an opportunity to boost that runs total. The Mariners had a .285/.357/.465 team triple-slash line in nine games at Minute Maid Park in 2014, their .363 wOBA there the highest in any ballpark in which they played.
The toughest opposing starter the Mariners will face all week is Collin McHugh (Saturday), with four of their other six opponents right-handed, significant in that the Mariners have a lot of lefty hitters. But in defense of the righties, Minute Maid Park boosts right-handed power, while the week-opening series will feature two left-handed Rangers starters. Expect continued success from Nelson Cruz, with Austin Jackson and Mike Zunino well worth activating. Jackson, incidentally, is a lifetime .305/.353/.484 hitter in 21 games at Globe Life Park.
For an entire week played at San Diego's Petco Park, the Padres' hitters don't have nearly as bad matchups as you might assume. Here's their significant advantage: They have the majors' best wOBA against left-handers (.407, 90 points better than the league's average) and they added several right-handed thumpers to their lineup during the offseason. And this isn't only about Matt Kemp or Justin Upton; Derek Norris is a .647 hitter (11-for-17, 5 doubles) and Jedd Gyorko a .500 hitter (5-for-10, 4 walks), and both Wil Myers and Will Middlebrooks warrant your lineup spot facing a week of matchups like this, which includes three games out of six versus a lefty starter.
Similarly, don't shy from White Sox hitters simply because they're playing on the road, away from their homer-friendly home digs. Their advantage this week is six games versus right-handed starters, including three of those (out of a four-game series) against the pitching-starved Twins. The White Sox possess baseball's widest righty/lefty split favoring the side against right-handers; they have a .317 wOBA against them, but only .235 against lefties. Speedster Micah Johnson in particular stands out, as he has started 11 of the team's 12 games (through April 23) against a right-hander, batting .281 (9-for-32) against righties, and his team's stolen base ratings grade an "8."