Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, May 24, at 8:02 a.m. ET.
On tap: It's the busiest week of the year to date, as a season-high 98 games are scheduled. Only two interleague series are on the schedule, so there are no shortened, five-game weeks; every team plays at least six games and 12 teams play a full seven. But Week 8 features not one, but two eight-game weeks, as both the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox have the busiest schedules due to a traditional doubleheader on Thursday, which is a makeup of their April 27-28 postponements. The Orioles will play all eight of their games at Camden Yards, giving them a significant advantage, but the White Sox have a more taxing travel schedule, making the one-day stop in Baltimore between three-game stops in Toronto and Houston.
Despite the packed schedule, Week 8 features a relatively weak crop of two-start pitchers, with Madison Bumgarner and David Price the only two clear ace-caliber fantasy starters among the group. In all, 12 pitchers generally labeled their team's "fifth starter" are scheduled for two starts out of 44 two-start pitchers total. It is therefore a dangerous week to trust quantity over quality from your starting pitchers.
The early portion of the week might welcome some significant names back from injury: Jose Reyes (DL, cracked rib) began a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Buffalo on May 21 and is expected to be activated on Monday; Josh Hamilton (DL, shoulder surgery) is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock and could be activated on Monday; Yan Gomes (DL, knee) is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus and is on track to be activated on May 24, one day before Week 8 begins; Ben Zobrist (DL, knee) was scheduled to have his rehab assignment moved to Triple-A Nashville for May 22-23 and could be activated on Monday; and Sean Doolittle (DL, shoulder) is expected to pitch for Nashville on May 22 and also could be activated on Monday.
Quickly jump to any section, if you want specific intel
Memorial Day features a baseball fan's dream: All 30 teams in action, with start times spanning from 1 p.m. to 9:05 p.m. ET, meaning potentially 11-plus hours of nonstop baseball. Two of those games are also on ESPN: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees at 1 p.m. ET, and Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics at 4 p.m. ET.
The Memorial Day holiday also results in an early lineup deadline, so those of you in weekly leagues need set your lineups in advance of 1 p.m. before heading out to your holiday festivities. Don't forget!
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 p.m. ET (Royals at Yankees, one of 10 day games); Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET (Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs, on ESPN); Wednesday, 12:05 p.m. ET (Texas Rangers at Cleveland Indians, one of 11 day games); Thursday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Chicago White Sox at Baltimore Orioles, a straight doubleheader that represents the day's only two day games); Friday, 4:05 p.m. ET (Royals at Cubs, the day's only day game); Saturday, 2:10 p.m. ET (Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins, one of seven day games); and Sunday, 1:10 p.m. ET (Nationals at Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins at New York Mets, two of 13 day games). For planning purposes, also be aware that there are two Sunday night games: Tigers at Los Angeles Angels at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, and Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres at 9:10 p.m. ET,
This week's inter-league series:
San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Angels (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
Kansas City Royals at Chicago Cubs (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
Padres' probable DH(s): Justin Upton or Cory Spangenberg. With Wil Myers on the DL, the Padres will likely use the DH on a rotational, get-an-extra-part-timer-in-there basis, with Abraham Almonte (if Upton DHs) and either Yangervis Solarte, Jedd Gyorko or Spangenberg himself (if Spangenberg DHs) the ones who benefit depending upon the arrangement. All four players become moderately better fantasy plays in NL-only or deep-mixed formats with the potential for as many as 2-4 additional weekly PAs apiece.
Royals' traditional DH: Kendrys Morales, who has taken every DH plate appearance in the Royals' first 40 games. He could sneak in a game at first base -- he appeared in 14 games there for the Seattle Mariners last season, including two of the team's 10 in National League parks -- but it'd be difficult for the Royals to sit Eric Hosmer, who is off to a scorching start. Morales could get a start Sunday against left-handed Tsuyoshi Wada, but expect Hosmer to start at least two games of the series, meaning Morales' playing time will suffer the most.
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.
Projected starting pitchers, May 25-31
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.
Bud Norris (DL, bronchitis) is eligible to rejoin the Baltimore Orioles' rotation on Tuesday, and the team will need a sixth starter no later than the second game of their Thursday doubleheader. It seems likely that the team will keep Mike Wright on rotation for Thursday while activating Norris for the other Thursday game. Remember, the team has roster flexibility with the 26th-man rule on that date, so even if Wright is demoted before then, he'd be eligible to be recalled to start either game.
The White Sox, who need a sixth starter this week due to Thursday's doubleheader, will give Hector Noesi a spot start on Monday, then push Carlos Rodon back to one of those Thursday games. Noesi will probably also need to pitch Saturday as a result, making him a two-start pitcher.
The Kansas City Royals pushed Danny Duffy (shoulder) back in their rotation from May 23 to Tuesday, though it's possible he could be scratched from that start as well. Jason Vargas (DL, shoulder) could be a candidate to rejoin their rotation in the near future.
With Drew Pomeranz (DL, shoulder) sidelined, the Oakland Athletics will promote Kendall Graveman from Triple-A Nashville to start on May 23. That'd line Graveman up for a Thursday start during Week 8.
The Cincinnati Reds scratched Johnny Cueto (elbow) from his scheduled May 24 start and replaced him with Raisel Iglesias, forcing them to use Michael Lorenzen as their fifth starter on Tuesday. It is unclear whether Cueto would be ready to then take his next turn on Saturday, but Iglesias would probably get that assignment as well if needed. The Reds could also slot Cueto in sooner and push everyone else back by a day.
The Miami Marlins placed both Mat Latos (DL, knee) and Henderson Alvarez (DL, shoulder) on the DL on May 22, leaving them without starters for either Tuesday or Wednesday. It is unclear who will make either start, though Andre Rienzo and Jose Urena are two leading candidates. Justin Nicolino, who pitched for Triple-A New Orleans on May 23, could be a candidate later in the week or when those spots next arrive after Wednesday.
Charlie Morton (DL, hip) is expected to rejoin the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation early on Monday.
The Washington Nationals will use Tanner Roark as their fifth starter on Monday, pushing Jordan Zimmermann back a day to Tuesday. It is unclear whether the team will then use Thursday's off day to push Roark back into Week 9. Zimmermann would become a two-start pitcher in that event. Roark might be on a limited pitch count on Monday, having just been converted from relief.
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Tue-ATL (Teheran)
Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Sat-MIA (Koehler)
Chris Sale (CWS) -- Thu-@BAL, Gm. 1 (Norris)
Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Tue-TEX (Rodriguez), Sun-@SEA (Happ)
Max Scherzer (WSH) -- Wed-@CHC (Lester)
Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Tue-@MIL (Garza), Sun-ATL (Teheran)
Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Wed-@TB (Archer)
Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Tue-PHI (Williams)
David Price (DET) -- Tue-@OAK (Chavez), Sun-@LAA (Shoemaker)
Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Thu-@SEA (Paxton)
Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Sat-WSH (Gonzalez)
Tyson Ross (SD) -- Mon-@LAA (Weaver), Sat-PIT (Morton)
Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Fri-NYY (Capuano)
Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Fri-@CIN (DeSclafani)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -- Wed-TEX (Lewis)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Fri-KC (Volquez)
Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Wed-SD (Cashner)
Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Fri-@SD (Shields)
Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Fri-COL (Lyles)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Wed-MIA (TBD)
Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Wed-ATL (Wood)
Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Tue-@LAD (Kershaw), Sun-@SF (Bumgarner)
Chris Archer (TB) -- Wed-SEA (Hernandez)
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) -- Mon-@BAL (Chen), Sun-CWS (Danks)
Alex Wood (ATL) -- Wed-@LAD (Greinke)
Matt Shoemaker (LAA) -- Tue-SD (Despaigne), Sun-DET (Price)
Michael Pineda (NYY) -- Wed-KC (Young)
Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Mon-SEA (Elias), Sun-@BAL (Tillman)
Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Tue-DET (Price), Sun-NYY (Warren)
Noah Syndergaard (NYM) -- Wed-PHI (O'Sullivan)
Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Mon-ARI (Anderson), Sun-LAD (Anderson)
Jon Lester (CHC) -- Wed-WSH (Scherzer)
Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Fri-@SEA (Walker)
Mike Fiers (MIL) -- Fri-ARI (De La Rosa)
Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Fri-@LAA (Santiago)
Michael Wacha (STL) -- Sat-LAD (Frias)
Shelby Miller (ATL) -- Thu-@SF (Heston)
Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Fri-@HOU (McCullers)
Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Wed-DET (Simon)
James Paxton (SEA) -- Thu-CLE (Kluber)
Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Mon-SD (Ross), Sat-DET (Greene)
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Mon-HOU (Keuchel), Sat-TB (Ramirez)
Jimmy Nelson (MIL) -- Sat-ARI (Hellickson)
Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Mon-PHI (Gonzalez)
Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Tue-@MIN (Pelfrey), Sun-@TEX (Rodriguez)
Adam Warren (NYY) -- Tue-KC (Duffy), Sun-@OAK (Chavez)
Brett Anderson (LAD) -- Mon-ATL (Perez), Sun-@STL (Martinez)
Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Wed-@BAL (Jimenez)
Roenis Elias (SEA) -- Mon-@TB (Odorizzi), Sat-CLE (Marcum)
Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) -- Wed-HOU (McHugh)
Lance Lynn (STL) -- Wed-ARI (Collmenter)
Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Mon-CWS (Noesi), Sun-@MIN (Nolasco)
Jason Hammel (CHC) -- Sat-KC (Ventura)
Jeff Samardzija (CWS) -- Wed-@TOR (Estrada)
Nathan Karns (TB) -- Fri-@BAL (Gonzalez)
Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Wed-@LAA (Richards)
Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Sat-@CIN (Cueto)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Thu-@SD (Kennedy)
Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Tue-@CHC (Hendricks)
Aaron Sanchez (TOR) -- Sat-@MIN (Gibson)
Rick Porcello (BOS) -- Wed-@MIN (Hughes)
Shaun Marcum (CLE) -- Mon-TEX (Klein), Sat-@SEA (Elias)
James Shields (SD) -- Fri-PIT (Liriano)
Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Mon-SF (Lincecum), Sun-ARI (Anderson)
Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Sun-MIA (Phelps)
Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Tue-HOU (Feldman), Sun-TB (Odorizzi)
Dan Haren (MIA) -- Fri-@NYM (Gee)
Miguel Gonzalez (BAL) -- Fri-TB (Karns)
John Lackey (STL) -- Fri-LAD (Bolsinger)
Carlos Rodon (CWS) -- Thu-@BAL, Gm. 2 (Wright)
J.A. Happ (SEA) -- Tue-@TB (Colome), Sun-CLE (Salazar)
Carlos Frias (LAD) -- Sat-@STL (Wacha)
C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Thu-DET (Lobstein)
Chase Anderson (ARI) -- Mon-@STL (Martinez), Sun-@MIL (Lohse)
Chris Heston (SF) -- Thu-ATL (Miller)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Nathan Eovaldi (NYY) -- Mon-KC (Guthrie), Sat-@OAK (Hahn)
Shane Greene (DET) -- Mon-@OAK (Hahn), Sat-@LAA (Weaver)
Joe Kelly (BOS) -- Mon-@MIN (Nolasco), Sat-@TEX (Klein)
Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Mon-@MIL (Lohse), Sat-ATL (Perez)
Jeff Locke (PIT) -- Tue-MIA (TBD), Sun-@SD (Despaigne)
Charlie Morton (PIT) -- Mon-MIA (Phelps), Sat-@SD (Ross)
Williams Perez (ATL) -- Mon-@LAD (Anderson), Sat-@SF (Lincecum)
David Phelps (MIA) -- Mon-@PIT (Morton), Sun-@NYM (Niese)
Tanner Roark (WSH) -- Mon-@CHC (Wada), Sun-@CIN (Marquis)
Wandy Rodriguez (TEX) -- Tue-@CLE (Salazar), Sun-BOS (Buchholz)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Eddie Butler (COL) -- Mon-@CIN (Marquis), Sun-@PHI (Gonzalez)
John Danks (CWS) -- Tue-@TOR (Dickey), Sun-@HOU (Keuchel)
Odrisamer Despaigne (SD) -- Tue-@LAA (Shoemaker), Sun-PIT (Locke)
Severino Gonzalez (PHI) -- Mon-@NYM (Colon), Sun-COL (Butler)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) -- Mon-@NYY (Eovaldi), Sun-@CHC (Wada)
Jesse Hahn (OAK) -- Mon-DET (Greene), Sat-NYY (Eovaldi)
Phil Klein (TEX) -- Mon-@CLE (Marcum), Sat-BOS (Kelly)
Jason Marquis (CIN) -- Mon-COL (Butler), Sun-WSH (Roark)
Ricky Nolasco (MIN) -- Mon-BOS (Kelly), Sun-TOR (Hutchison)
Tsuyoshi Wada (CHC) -- Mon-WSH (Roark), Sun-KC (Guthrie)
The eight-game schedule provides a volume advantage for Orioles pitchers, but more importantly, it's a week of favorable matchups for them and not a single one of their six starters this week is owned in more than 67.8 percent of ESPN leagues (that's Ubaldo Jimenez's percentage). They open the week with three games against the Astros, who rank 29th in terms of both strikeout rate (24.6 percent) and miss rate on swings (26.8 percent); then they play a straight doubleheader against a White Sox team that ranks 23rd in runs per game (3.68) and 21st in team weighted on-base average (.299) in road games, not to mention the fact that it might rest some regulars in either contest; then they conclude with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays, who have .228/.305/.375 triple-slash rates while averaging 3.00 runs per game against the Orioles since the beginning of last season.
Wei-Yin Chen, Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez, slated to pitch Monday/Saturday, Wednesday and Friday, have all pitched effectively to date and warrant your consideration. Chen, in particular, is 9-for-15 in quality starts, with a 3.39 ERA in his career against the Rays. Meanwhile, Tuesday/Sunday starter Chris Tillman could be worth the dice roll, especially as he's 9-for-12 in quality starts with a 3.01 ERA and 0.94 WHIP against the Rays since the beginning of 2011.
Baseball's best strikeout-generating pitching staff, the Cleveland Indians (25.8 percent K rate), gets a week of strikeout-friendly matchups, with three home games against the Texas Rangers and four at Seattle's Safeco Field. Those opponents rank 26th (23.3 percent) and 24th (22.6 percent) in terms of strikeout rates on offense, making Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer outstanding plays despite their one-start status. Two-start pitcher Danny Salazar is the standout, however, and it's possible that fellow two-start pitcher Shaun Marcum could have some AL-only appeal.
It's another week played entirely at home for the New York Mets, who since the beginning of last season have the majors' fifth-best home ERA (3.14). This one is a particularly attractive one from the pitching side, with three games apiece versus the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins, who rank 30th and 21st in terms of runs per game this season. The Noah Syndergaard-Dillon Gee fifth-starter debate rages on, causing a six-man rotation at least for this week, but for another week, at least, it should be the Syndergaard show, and his Wednesday matchup versus the Phillies is one of the week's most sneaky-good matchups.
Here are this week's Streamer's Delight picks (only pitchers available in at least two-thirds of ESPN leagues, meaning no more than 33.3 percent ownership, as of our publishing date of Fridays):
Matt Shoemaker (SD, Tuesday): Recent struggles aside, he's a pitcher who typically performs at his best in home games -- he has a 2.98 ERA in those, compared to 4.62 on the road -- but who also garners an advantage when facing teams unfamiliar with him. When it's the first time he has started against an opponent, he has a 2.66 ERA in his career; he has a 5.08 ERA when he has started against a team before. And this will be his first career turn versus the righty-heavy Padres.
Jimmy Nelson (ARI, Saturday): He's one of the more underrated command specialists in the game, should be owned in more leagues than he is and it's always a wise move to lean on home starts when streaming. Nelson has a 2.83 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 26.7 percent K rate in four games at Miller Park this year.
Mike Fiers (ARI, Friday): With Fiers, it's always a play for K's -- his 27.7 percent rate is ninth-best out of 140 pitchers with at least five starts -- and this one's an upside dice roll against an Arizona Diamondbacks offense that runs rather hot and cold on the road. They have been shut out three times in their past 12 road contests.
Brett Anderson (ATL, Monday): He has enjoyed a slight strikeout uptick in his past two starts -- 29.4 percent K rate -- and gets a Dodger Stadium matchup against an Atlanta Braves team that has a wOBA 28 points lower against left-handers (.288) than right-handers (.316).
Chris Heston (@ATL, Thursday): His success has been fueled by strong performance with his sinker and curveball, and the Braves have been one of the worst-performing offenses against those two pitches to date. In addition, Turner Field is a pitching-friendly venue, which provides an additional advantage.
Chase Anderson (@MIL, Sunday): He has a 1.42 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in his four starts away from hitter-friendly Chase Field, and he'll be facing a Milwaukee Brewers team batting .233/.293/.381 against right-handers, with a 24th-ranked .297 team wOBA against them.
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 matchup chart, May 25-31
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: Baltimore Orioles 8, Chicago White Sox 8, Boston Red Sox 7, New York Yankees 7, Cleveland Indians 7, Detroit Tigers 7, Los Angeles Angels 7, Oakland Athletics 7, Seattle Mariners 7, Texas Rangers 7, Atlanta Braves 7, Pittsburgh Pirates 7, San Diego Padres 7, San Francisco Giants 7.
Home games: Orioles 8, Angels 7, Athletics 7, Minnesota Twins 6, New York Mets 6, Chicago Cubs 6, Cincinnati Reds 6, Milwaukee Brewers 6, St. Louis Cardinals 6.
Versus RH: Mariners 7, Giants 7, Red Sox 6, Yankees 6, White Sox 6, Rangers 6, Mets 6, Philadelphia Phillies 6, Cubs 6.
Versus LH: Indians 4, Tampa Bay Rays 3, Tigers 3, Houston Astros 3, Athletics 3, Braves 3.
If there's any week for the slumping Boston Red Sox offense to rebound, it's this: Three games at Minnesota's Target Field, a surprisingly hitting-friendly venue, followed by four at Texas' Globe Life Park. Consider that Ricky Nolasco, Mike Pelfrey, Nick Martinez, Phil Klein and Wandy Rodriguez represent five of their seven scheduled opponents, and a sixth, Phil Hughes, is an extreme fly-baller. If this winds up being Rusney Castillo's 2015 debut week, he'd warrant immediate placement into your lineup.
But even if Castillo doesn't get promoted, two left-handed (or switch-hitting) Red Sox should be mainstays in your lineup: Pablo Sandoval, a .365/.440/.573 hitter versus right-handers this season; David Ortiz, .292/.423/.528 against them. A third, Brock Holt -- a .290/.362/.403 hitter against righties -- could be the week's sneaky-good hitting play if Castillo indeed waits another week in the minors.
The Toronto Blue Jays, who currently have merely a "very good" schedule, could have that description elevated to a "dream" schedule should the White Sox decide to start Hector Noesi over Carlos Rodon on Monday. Even with Rodon slotted there, though, he's walk-prone enough to drive the Blue Jays' offensive ratings upward, and the weekend series at Minnesota's Target Field is a sneaky-good one for their hitters. Consider: Edwin Encarnacion is a lifetime .357/.448/.696 hitter in 16 career games there; Jose Bautista is a .356/.424/.966 hitter in 14 games there, his 11 homers at Target most by any visiting player; Josh Donaldson is a .345/.424/.552 hitter in eight games there; and Russell Martin is a .333/.350/.833 hitter with three homers in five games there. All four players' numbers illustrate how Target Field isn't nearly the pitchers' park that people think, but rather neutral-to-hitter-friendly, and it could mean huge things in store for the entire Blue Jays lineup in Week 8.