Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, May 3, at 5:45 p.m. ET.
On tap: The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals combined to score 54 runs during a three-game series April 27-29, the most total runs in any three-game series since Aug. 23-25, 2010 (Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco Giants). As Week 5 concludes, the Braves and Nationals will be at it again, playing three games at Washington's Nationals Park, and five of the six pitchers who worked during this past series are scheduled to pitch during the rematch: Eric Stults, Julio Teheran and Alex Wood for the Braves, and Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann for the Nationals.
It happens approximately two to three times per year, but the two-time (and three in four years) defending National League Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, heads to baseball's least favorable park for pitchers, Colorado's Coors Field, on Saturday. Thankfully, it's his second of two starts, as he begins with a Monday assignment at Milwaukee's Miller Park. But in Kershaw's defense, he has managed a Bill James Game Score of at least 85 in two of his past four games at Coors, and from 2010 to '14, he enjoyed an average Game Score of 58 in 10 starts there.
Quickly jump to any section, if you want specific intel
ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines
Fantasy owners in leagues with weekly transactions get some additional time to set their rosters, as games don't begin until 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday.
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, 7:05 p.m. ET (Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals); Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET (Marlins at Nationals and Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates); Wednesday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Marlins at Nationals, one of three day games); Thursday, 1:10 p.m. ET (Oakland Athletics at Minnesota Twins, one of five day games); Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET (four different games begin then); Saturday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees, one of five day games); and Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Orioles at Yankees, one of 14 day games).
This week's interleague series:
Baltimore Orioles at New York Mets (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday
Cincinnati Reds at Chicago White Sox (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
Orioles' traditional DH: Jimmy Paredes, at least recently; he has eight starts at DH in the team's past 10 games (entering play on May 1). He did make a start at second base on April 23 and he made 14 starts at third base in 2014, so it's possible he could get a start at either position, though the wiser assumption for his fantasy owners would be that he'll start only the four games at New York's Yankee Stadium.
Reds' probable DH(s): Devin Mesoraco. Yes, he's still on their active roster! It makes a lot of sense to DH Mesoraco if he hasn't been placed on the DL by Friday, as he has made three pinch-hitting appearances in the Reds' 16 games since his last appearance at catcher, so clearly the team values him for his bat. Mesoraco's owners forced to keep him active due to their roster rules should at least receive a decent handful of at-bats during the weekend.
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.
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter is renowned for unexpectedly shuffling his rotation, and with the team having endured April 27, 28 and 30 and Monday off days, anything goes with the team's rotation this week. What's listed above follows the Orioles' current order, but if they're to skip anyone, Bud Norris is the one who has struggled the most thus far.
The Cleveland Indians will need a fifth starter to replace T.J. House (DL, shoulder) sometime this week, but thanks to Monday's off day, they can push that spot in their rotation back as far as Saturday. Zach McAllister, Bruce Chen and Shaun Marcum could all be candidates to assume the spot, once it's needed.
The Toronto Blue Jays demoted Daniel Norris to Triple-A Buffalo on May 1, and will replace him in their rotation with Marco Estrada. It's presumed that Estrada will slide directly into that spot on Tuesday.
Brett Oberholtzer (DL, blister) struggled during a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Fresno on April 30, so he will make at least another rehab start before rejoining the Houston Astros' rotation. Samuel Deduno will get another start in his place on Wednesday.
The Kansas City Royals flip-flopped Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas in their rotation, putting Vargas in line for a Tuesday start and Guthrie on Saturday. Meanwhile, both Yordano Ventura (7 games) and Edinson Volquez (5 games) dropped their appeals of their suspensions, forcing the Royals to shuffle the remainder of their rotation. Volquez is eligible to return on May 2, and he'll then pitch on four days' rest on Thursday of Week 5, while Ventura is eligible to return on Friday.
Ricky Nolasco rejoined the Minnesota Twins' rotation on May 2, replacing Tommy Milone, lining Nolasco up for a Thursday start during Week 5. Phil Hughes, who left his April 29 start early with a hip injury, is expected to make his next scheduled start on Monday.
The New York Yankees haven't formally named Chase Whitley their fifth starter in Masahiro Tanaka's (DL, forearm) absence, but Whitley appears the likeliest candidate, starting Monday's and Saturday's games.
Alex Colome rejoined the Tampa Bay Rays' rotation on May 1, lining him up for a Wednesday start during Week 5.
With Archie Bradley (DL, head) out, the Arizona Diamondbacks will call upon Robbie Ray to fill his spot in the rotation beginning on Tuesday.
Mike Foltynewicz is scheduled to join the Atlanta Braves' rotation on May 1, replacing Trevor Cahill, but it is unclear whether the move is permanent. Foltynewicz's next turn would arrive on Wednesday.
Michael Lorenzen was the first man called by the Cincinnati Reds to fill in for the injured Homer Bailey (DL, elbow), on April 29, and if the team keeps him in the rotation on regular turn, he'd be a two-start Week 5 pitcher. The team could use Monday's off day, however, to push him back as far as Saturday.
The Colorado Rockies flip-flopped Kyle Kendrick and Tyler Matzek in their rotation in order to split up their left-handers, putting Matzek in line for a Monday start and Kendrick on Saturday.
Mat Latos, who left his April 29 start with a hamstring injury, has been cleared to make his scheduled start for the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.
Carlos Frias and Scott Baker were scheduled to make spot starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 1 and 2, the former replacing the injured Brandon McCarthy (DL, elbow), and they're the most likely candidates to pitch in those spots on Wednesday and Thursday of Week 5. The team could, however, turn to Mike Bolsinger, Zach Lee or Joe Wieland for those starts.
The New York Mets, baseball's only team facing a five-game Week 5 schedule, could use Monday's and/or Thursday's off days to skip a starter if they wish. As they utilized six starters during Week 4 to provide their usual five extra rest, however, it appears likely that the team will go with the projected five above.
Chad Billingsley (DL, elbow) made a fourth minor league rehabilitation start on April 30, and will join the Philadelphia Phillies' rotation on Tuesday, replacing the demoted-to-the-minors David Buchanan. With a Thursday off day, the Phillies are likely to go with just four starters for Week 5.
Tyler Lyons will make a spot start for the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday in place of the injured Adam Wainwright (DL, Achilles'). It is unclear whether Lyons would pitch again on Sunday, the next date that turn in the rotation arrives, as Marco Gonzales (MiLB DL, shoulder) is expected to assume Wainwright's old spot for the long haul once he's healthy.
Tristan's Week 5 pitcher rankings: Top 75
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Mon-@MIL (Lohse), Sat-@COL (Kendrick)
Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Fri-@PHI (Hamels)
Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Mon-@LAA (Shoemaker), Sun-OAK (Chavez)
Max Scherzer (WSH) -- Wed-MIA (Koehler)
Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Sat-@CWS (Danks)
Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Mon-SD (Ross), Sat-MIA (Phelps)
Chris Sale (CWS) -- Wed-DET (Simon)
Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Tue-MIA (Latos)
Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Tue-@MIL (Garza), Sun-@COL (Matzek)
Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Thu-@KC (Volquez)
Michael Pineda (NYY) -- Tue-@TOR (Estrada), Sun-BAL (Norris)
Tyson Ross (SD) -- Mon-@SF (Bumgarner), Sat-@ARI (Collmenter)
David Price (DET) -- Fri-KC (Ventura)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Thu-@STL (Lackey)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -- Wed-@KC (Duffy)
Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Tue-SEA (Paxton), Sun-HOU (Feldman)
Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Fri-STL (Wacha)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Wed-CIN (Leake)
Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Tue-@KC (Vargas), Sun-MIN (May)
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) -- Mon-TEX (Detwiler), Sat-@LAA (Shoemaker)
Chris Archer (TB) -- Thu-TEX (Martinez)
Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Fri-NYM (Harvey)
Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Fri-@SEA (Walker)
Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Mon-@BOS (Buchholz), Sat-TEX (Detwiler)
Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Wed-BAL (Jimenez)
Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Wed-@MIN (Gibson)
Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Tue-@SF (Vogelsong), Sun-@ARI (Ray)
Jon Lester (CHC) -- Wed-@STL (Lynn)
Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Mon-CHC (Wood), Sat-@PIT (Worley)
Jason Hammel (CHC) -- Fri-@MIL (Nelson)
Alex Wood (ATL) -- Mon-PHI (Harang), Sun-@WSH (Zimmermann)
Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Sat-KC (Guthrie)
Matt Shoemaker (LAA) -- Mon-SEA (Hernandez), Sat-HOU (Keuchel)
Drew Smyly (TB) -- Tue-@BOS (Porcello), Sun-TEX (Rodriguez)
Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Mon-MIA (Phelps), Sun-ATL (Wood)
Jesse Hahn (OAK) -- Mon-@MIN (Hughes), Sat-@SEA (Happ)
Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Tue-@MIN (May), Sun-@SEA (Hernandez)
Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Fri-ATL (Stults)
Michael Wacha (STL) -- Fri-@PIT (Liriano)
Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Thu-@LAA (Santiago)
Jeff Samardzija (CWS) -- Tue-DET (Greene), Sun-CIN (Lorenzen)
James Shields (SD) -- Fri-@ARI (Anderson)
Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Fri-MIN (Pelfrey)
Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Wed-@SF (Heston)
Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) -- Thu-@PIT (Burnett)
Phil Hughes (MIN) -- Mon-OAK (Hahn), Sat-@CLE (TBD)
Lance Lynn (STL) -- Wed-CHC (Lester)
Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) -- Wed-@NYM (deGrom)
Aaron Harang (PHI) -- Mon-@ATL (Wood), Sat-NYM (Niese)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Thu-CIN (DeSclafani)
Shelby Miller (ATL) -- Tue-PHI (Billingsley)
Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Mon-TB (Odorizzi), Sun-@TOR (Dickey)
Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Sat-@PHI (Harang)
Mike Fiers (MIL) -- Thu-LAD (Baker)
Kyle Hendricks (CHC) -- Tue-@STL (Lyons), Sun-@MIL (Garza)
Drew Pomeranz (OAK) -- Thu-@MIN (Nolasco)
John Lackey (STL) -- Thu-CHC (Arrieta)
Shane Greene (DET) -- Tue-@CWS (Samardzija), Sun-KC (Vargas)
Josh Collmenter (ARI) -- Mon-@COL (Matzek), Sat-SD (Ross)
Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Tue-BAL (Norris)
Travis Wood (CHC) -- Mon-@STL (Martinez), Sat-@MIL (Lohse)
Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Sat-@WSH (Fister)
Matt Garza (MIL) -- Tue-LAD (Greinke), Sun-CHC (Hendricks)
R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Mon-NYY (Whitley), Sun-BOS (Buchholz)
Jimmy Nelson (MIL) -- Fri-CHC (Hammel)
Doug Fister (WSH) -- Sat-ATL (Teheran)
Taijuan Walker (SEA) -- Fri-OAK (Gray)
Mat Latos (MIA) -- Tue-@WSH (Strasburg), Sun-@SF (Vogelsong)
Mike Leake (CIN) -- Wed-@PIT (Cole)
Rick Porcello (BOS) -- Tue-TB (Smyly)
Brandon Morrow (SD) -- Thu-@ARI (Hellickson)
Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Thu-DET (Lobstein)
Hector Santiago (LAA) -- Thu-HOU (McHugh)
Dan Haren (MIA) -- Thu-@SF (Hudson)
Aaron Sanchez (TOR) -- Fri-BOS (Miley)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Chad Billingsley (PHI) -- Tue-@ATL (Miller), Sun-NYM (Gee)
Scott Feldman (HOU) -- Tue-TEX (Rodriguez), Sun-@LAA (Richards)
Jeff Locke (PIT) -- Tue-CIN (Lorenzen), Sun-STL (TBD)
Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Mon-LAD (Kershaw), Sat-CHC (Wood)
Michael Lorenzen (CIN) -- Tue-@PIT (Locke), Sun-@CWS (Samardzija)
David Phelps (MIA) -- Mon-@WSH (Zimmermann), Sat-@SF (Bumgarner)
Jason Vargas (KC) -- Tue-CLE (Salazar), Sun-@DET (Greene)
Chase Whitley (NYY) -- Mon-@TOR (Dickey), Sat-BAL (Chen)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Ross Detwiler (TEX) -- Mon-@HOU (Keuchel), Sat-@TB (Odorizzi)
Tyler Matzek (COL) -- Mon-ARI (Collmenter), Sun-LAD (Greinke)
Trevor May (MIN) -- Tue-OAK (Chavez), Sun-@CLE (Salazar)
Bud Norris (BAL) -- Tue-@NYM (Colon), Sun-@NYY (Pineda)
Robbie Ray (ARI) -- Tue-@COL (Lyles), Sun-SD (Cashner)
Wandy Rodriguez (TEX) -- Tue-@HOU (Feldman), Sun-@TB (Smyly)
Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Tue-SD (Cashner), Sun-MIA (Latos)
Through one month's action, the Houston Astros sport baseball's third-best team ERA (3.04) and the game's best WHIP (1.05). And while much of the credit goes to the team's Nos. 1-2 starters Dallas Keuchel, the No. 3 starting pitcher on our Player Rater, and Collin McHugh, No. 28 among starters, the Astros' Week 5 schedule could make their entire staff look fantasy-relevant. Keuchel is one of the team's two-start pitchers -- Scott Feldman is the other -- as he faces both the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels, teams that rank among the seven worst in the game in terms of wOBA. In deeper leagues, even Feldman, who is 4-for-5 in quality starts thus far, is worth a look. And let's not overlook the performance of closer Luke Gregerson, the No. 12 relief pitcher on our Player Rater who could rack up several saves this week.
Though the St. Louis Cardinals have been forced to scramble to fill Adam Wainwright's vacated rotation spot, they get a Week 5 schedule that should make things at least somewhat easier from the pitching matchups front. Even Tuesday fill-in Tyler Lyons, a candidate for a two-start week, has NL-only use facing the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, who rank second and third in terms of highest strikeout rate among offenses. Those same matchups make two-start pitcher Carlos Martinez one of the week's standouts; he is a perfect 4-for-4 in quality starts thus far and has made vast improvements against left-handed hitters, who have .220/.304/.420 rates against him (they had .297/.387/.462 against him in 2014).
Here are this week's Streamer's Delight picks:
Jason Hammel (@MIL, Friday): His low ESPN ownership percentage is inexplicable, as he has a 2.84 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in his past 13 regular-season games (12 starts). And now he faces a Milwaukee Brewers team that has the majors' third-worst wOBA (.279) and fourth-fewest runs scored (71).
Danny Duffy (@CLE, Wednesday): He has three consecutive quality starts against the Cleveland Indians, and that makes sense, considering how lefty-heavy that lineup is. Incidentally, the 2015 Indians haven't performed nearly at the level of the 2014 squad; they have the majors' 25th-best wOBA against lefties (.289).
Jonathon Niese (@PHI, Saturday): He has thrown nine consecutive quality starts versus the Philadelphia Phillies, and 16 in 20 starts overall, during which he has a 2.92 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. And these days, the Phillies don't have nearly as potent an offense as they did during those earlier stages of Niese dominance.
Drew Pomeranz (@MIN, Thursday): Between spring training and his four regular-season starts, he has a 3.27 K-to-walk ratio, which is a greater number than he has had in any of his four previous professional seasons. Now he faces the Minnesota Twins, who rank among the bottom 10 in baseball in wOBA (.297, 23rd) and hard-hit average (.130, 23rd) against left-handed pitchers.
Jesse Hahn (@MIN, Monday): On a day light on streaming candidates, go with the ground-baller -- his career rate is 52.2 percent -- facing a Twins offense that ranks 26th in wOBA (.284) and 23rd in runs scored (86) overall.
Dillon Gee (@PHI, Sunday): He can be a serviceable fantasy option when the matchup is right, as it is against the light-hitting Phillies. He had three quality starts in four games versus the Phillies in 2014, including a quality start at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 9.
Jesse Chavez (@MIN, Tuesday): He's a serviceable matchups type, and the Twins represent a favorable such matchup. In seven of their past eight games against a right-handed starter, the Twins have been held to three or fewer runs.
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: New York Yankees 7, Tampa Bay Rays 7, Minnesota Twins 7, Houston Astros 7, Los Angeles Angels 7, Oakland Athletics 7, Texas Rangers 7, Miami Marlins 7, Chicago Cubs 7, Milwaukee Brewers 7, St. Louis Cardinals 7, Arizona Diamondbacks 7, Los Angeles Dodgers 7, San Diego Padres 7, San Francisco Giants 7.
Home games: Angels 7, Brewers 7, Giants 7, Toronto Blue Jays 6, Chicago White Sox 6, Washington Nationals 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 6, Colorado Rockies 6.
Versus RH: Giants 7, Baltimore Orioles 6, Athletics 6, Marlins 6, Cubs 6, Diamondbacks 6.
Versus LH: Cardinals 4, Detroit Tigers 3, Astros 3, Angels 3, Rockies 3.
The Yankees certainly picked the right time -- OK, so technically the schedule-makers picked it for them -- to face the slow-starting Orioles and Blue Jays rotations. Only one of their 10 combined starters has a FIP beneath 4.50 (Ubaldo Jimenez, 3.57), and the Yankees will miss him by one day; he pitches Wednesday, a day before the Yankees-Orioles series at New York's Yankee Stadium begins. Even better: The Yankees rank second in baseball in team wOBA against left-handed pitchers (.364), only percentage points behind the Blue Jays, and they'll face two lefty starters this week in Mark Buehrle (Wednesday) and Wei-Yin Chen (Saturday). Both possess ERAs greater than 5.00 in their careers against the Yankees, and Buehrle's track record against them cannot be understated: He is 1-14 with a 6.21 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 21 career starts, only nine of them quality starts. It has been 11 years since Buehrle managed a Game Score greater than 59 against them.
This grants both Alex Rodriguez and Chris Young matchups advantages, especially Young, who has started all seven Yankees games against a left-handed starter and batted .476/.577/1.095 against lefties so far this season. Expect Young to pick up at least three starts this week, the two against lefties and at least one against the right-handers, thanks to his scorching start. There's also an outstanding chance that he could play 4-5 times, and the right-handers the Yankees face aren't exactly elite.
The Dodgers benefit similarly, beginning the week facing a slumping Brewers staff at homer-friendly Miller Park, then concluding with a three-game series at Colorado's Coors Field. Despite it being a four-game series, the Dodgers miss the Brewers' only pitcher with a sub-4.60 ERA or sub-4.49 FIP (Jimmy Nelson, 4.03/3.62), and the Rockies sport the game's worst team WHIP (1.49) and hard-hit average (.184). And with Yasiel Puig on the DL, there are matchups opportunities all over the team's outfield, from Andre Ethier to Alex Guerrero to Scott Van Slyke. Fantasy owners in daily leagues can maximize matchup opportunities all seven days, but those in weekly formats will probably extract the most utility from Ethier, as the Dodgers face five righty starter and Ethier is a .300/.417/.625 hitter against righties this season.
Don't underrate that perfect "10" rating for Diamondbacks baserunners. Their two opponents, the Rockies and Padres, have afforded the fifth- and third-most stolen bases thus far. That the Rockies series will be played at Coors Field only improves matters; it's a hitting-friendly environment that benefits base hits as much as runs scored and home runs, meaning plenty of baserunners to attempt steals. Paul Goldschmidt (5-for-5 in stolen-base attempts), Chris Owings (4-for-4), A.J. Pollock (4-for-6) and Ender Inciarte (3-for-4) should all be mainstays in your Week 5 lineup.