Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, May 31, at 3:19 p.m. ET.
On tap: Welcome to June, everybody! Once again, we've got just a pair of inter-league series on the schedule, with the Toronto Blue Jays at the Washington Nationals early in the week and the Milwaukee Brewers visiting the Minnesota Twins over the weekend. There are no five-game weeks for any team, and only one Week 9 "overflow" schedule of eight games. That honor goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers, thanks to a Tuesday doubleheader in Colorado, a reschedule of the May 9 game between the clubs that got rained out. Week 9 features several ace pitchers with a pair of starts, including Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, Gerrit Cole and Clayton Kershaw, though the Dodgers' ace's first foray of the week does take place at Coors Field. It's an interesting week for going with visiting clubs, as 26 of the top 30 pitchers in this week's rankings have at least one outing away from home.
The Baltimore Orioles are still trying to figure out if Bud Norris will be back with the team this week or if he'll need another couple of rehab starts before reclaiming his spot in the rotation. Erick Aybar (hamstring) is expected to miss most, if not all, of this weekend's series, but should avoid a trip to the disabled list. James Paxton left Thursday's game with a finger injury, and was subsequently placed on the DL. After a promising debut outing, the Boston Red Sox will keep Eduardo Rodriguez in the rotation, giving them six starters for now. Tyler Wagner will be making a spot-start on May 31 for the Milwaukee Brewers, and if he does as well as Rodriguez did for the Red Sox, there's a chance he may stick around. Jonathan Lucroy (toe) is expected to rejoin the team on Monday. Masahiro Tanaka (forearm, wrist) should be back with the New York Yankees at some point during their series in Seattle.
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Game times have a lot of impact when you're trying to finalize your DFS planning, so it behooves you to take note of every day's first scheduled pitch. This week, they are: Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET (Blue Jays at Nationals, the first of only 11 games on the schedule); Tuesday, 3:10 p.m. ET (Dodgers at Rockies, the first game of the scheduled doubleheader and the only afternoon tilt); Wednesday, 1:45 p.m. ET (Brewers at Cardinals, one of four day games); Thursday, 1:08 p.m. ET (Athletics at Tigers, one of three day games, with only 10 total games on the schedule); Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET (several starts at this time, including the Angels at Yankees); Saturday, 12:05 p.m. ET (Cubs at Nationals, one of nine day games); and Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Orioles at Indians and Angels at Yankees, two of 13 day games). For planning purposes, the Sunday night on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball is the Cardinals at Dodgers at 8:00 p.m. ET.
This week's inter-league series:
Toronto Blue Jays at Washington Nationals (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
Milwaukee Brewers at Minnesota Twins (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
Blue Jays' traditional DH: Jose Bautista has been the team's primary DH since Apr. 27, when a shoulder injury that was giving him difficulty in throwing the ball forced him from his usual spot in right field. Edwin Encarnacion has had a few games at the position in order to give the first baseman a partial day off, with Bautista sitting out on those occasions. Bautista believes that he will be able to return to right field for this series, and if he can, then either Danny Valencia or Chris Colabello will end up being odd-man out.
Brewers' probable DH(s): In the team's prior inter-league series in an American League park, Ryan Braun served as the DH in both games against right-handed pitchers. The Twins are scheduled to go with a trio of righties in this weekend series, so odds are that Braun will get the call again. That would give Gerardo Parra a chance to play in right field. Should Milwaukee want to give Aramis Ramirez a day off for one of these games, then Elian Herrera could get a few extra at-bats in the infield.
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, June 1-7
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) will make his next rehabilitation start for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, putting him on the same schedule as Mike Wright in the Baltimore Orioles' rotation. It is unclear whether Norris will be ready to pitch the next time that turn arrives on Sunday.
The Kansas City Royals didn't alter their rotation following a May 30 postponement, meaning everyone simply moved back by a day.
The Seattle Mariners will need a fill-in for James Paxton (DL, finger) on Tuesday, and the only hints they have provided as to that pitcher's identity are that it won't be Tom Wilhelmsen nor will the team utilize a "bullpen day." Mike Montgomery, however, is considered the leading candidate.
Due to a May 30 postponement, the Chicago Cubs decided to push everyone in their rotation back by a day, including Jason Hammel (fingernail), who had already been pushed back by a day due to injury. Hammel will now pitch on Monday.
Johnny Cueto (elbow) threw a bullpen session on May 31 and declared himself ready to rejoin the Cincinnati Reds' rotation on Tuesday, giving him two starts during Week 9. Jason Marquis has also been demoted to the bullpen, leaving Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen as the team's fourth and fifth starters, presumably working Friday and Saturday, or the same order that they did during the team's May 29-31 weekend series.
Jorge De La Rosa (finger), who had scheduled starts scratched on both May 26 and 30, is expected to rejoin the Colorado Rockies' rotation for the first game of their Tuesday doubleheader. Chris Rusin, who made a successful spot start in De La Rosa's place on May 26, could be a candidate to pitch the second game.
Brandon Morrow (DL, shoulder) is scheduled to throw approximately 60 pitches in a rehabilitation start for Double-A San Antonio on Tuesday, giving him an outside chance at returning to the San Diego Padres on Sunday. In that event, the Padres might push Andrew Cashner up to Saturday, while slotting Morrow into Odrisamer Despaigne's spot, though it's more likely that the team will instead wait to make that swap during Week 10.
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Mon-@COL (Kendrick), Sat-STL (Garcia)
Max Scherzer (WSH) -- Tue-TOR (Estrada), Sun-CHC (Hendricks)
Chris Sale (CWS) -- Wed-@TEX (Martinez)
Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Mon-NYY (Pineda), Sat-TB (Colome)
Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Mon-@SD (Cashner), Sun-@ARI (Collmenter)
Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Thu-@ARI (Hellickson)
Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Tue-@PHI (O'Sullivan), Sun-SD (Cashner)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -- Tue-@KC (Guthrie), Sun-BAL (TBD)
Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Wed-@KC (Duffy)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Mon-@SF (Vogelsong), Sun-@ATL (Wood)
Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Tue-@COL, Gm. 1 (De La Rosa), Sun-STL (Lynn)
Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Sat-BAL (Jimenez)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Thu-@WSH (Gonzalez)
Michael Pineda (NYY) -- Mon-@SEA (Hernandez), Sun-LAA (Richards)
Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Sat-@PHI (Gonzalez)
Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Wed-@DET (Farmer)
Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Mon-TB (Colome), Sun-@NYY (Pineda)
Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Wed-CIN (Leake)
Alex Wood (ATL) -- Mon-@ARI (Bradley), Sun-PIT (Cole)
David Price (DET) -- Sat-@CWS (Danks)
Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Wed-@SF (Hudson)
Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Fri-@BOS (Miley)
Chris Archer (TB) -- Tue-@LAA (Wilson), Sun-@SEA (TBD)
Tyson Ross (SD) -- Fri-@CIN (Iglesias)
Mike Fiers (MIL) -- Tue-@STL (Lynn)
Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) -- Mon-@HOU (Oberholtzer), Sat-@CLE (Salazar)
Lance Lynn (STL) -- Tue-MIL (Fiers), Sun-@LAD (Greinke)
Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Mon-NYM (deGrom), Sun-@CIN (Cueto)
Jeff Samardzija (CWS) -- Tue-@TEX (Lewis), Sun-DET (Simon)
Jon Lester (CHC) -- Wed-@MIA (Haren)
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Wed-@SEA (Walker)
Matt Shoemaker (LAA) -- Sat-@NYY (Warren)
Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Mon-TOR (Dickey), Sat-CHC (Hendricks)
Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Tue-BAL (Wright), Sun-@TOR (Dickey)
Kyle Hendricks (CHC) -- Tue-@MIA (Hand), Sat-@WSH (Zimmermann)
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) -- Thu-BAL (Chen)
Tanner Roark (WSH) -- Fri-CHC (Wada)
Steven Wright (BOS) -- Thu-MIN (Gibson)
Michael Wacha (STL) -- Thu-@LAD (Frias)
Nathan Karns (TB) -- Wed-@LAA (Santiago)
Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Fri-@LAD (Anderson)
Noah Syndergaard (NYM) -- Tue-@SD (Kennedy)
Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Thu-OAK (Hahn)
Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Fri-DET (Greene)
Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Sat-@BOS (Kelly)
Jason Hammel (CHC) -- Mon-@MIA (Urena)
Jaime Garcia (STL) -- Mon-MIL (Garza), Sat-@LAD (Kershaw)
Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Thu-CHC (Arrieta)
Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Sat-PIT (Locke)
Mike Wright (BAL) -- Tue-@HOU (McHugh)
Matt Garza (MIL) -- Mon-@STL (Garcia), Sun-@MIN (Hughes)
Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Fri-@SEA (Happ)
C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-TB (Archer)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Tue-@SF (Heston)
Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Mon-MIN (Pelfrey), Sun-OAK (Graveman)
Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) -- Wed-MIN (May)
Mike Foltynewicz (ATL) -- Wed-@ARI (De La Rosa)
Brett Anderson (LAD) -- Fri-STL (Martinez)
Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Sat-HOU (Oberholtzer)
James Shields (SD) -- Wed-NYM (Gee)
Aaron Sanchez (TOR) -- Fri-HOU (Hernandez)
Williams Perez (ATL) -- Fri-PIT (Morton)
Hector Santiago (LAA) -- Wed-TB (Karns)
Marco Estrada (TOR) -- Tue-@WSH (Scherzer)
Adam Warren (NYY) -- Sat-LAA (Shoemaker)
Jimmy Nelson (MIL) -- Wed-@STL (Lackey)
Carlos Rodon (CWS) -- Thu-@TEX (Gallardo)
Chris Heston (SF) -- Tue-PIT (Burnett)
Jesse Hahn (OAK) -- Thu-@DET (Sanchez)
Shaun Marcum (CLE) -- Fri-BAL (Tillman)
Carlos Frias (LAD) -- Thu-STL (Wacha)
R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Mon-@WSH (Zimmermann), Sun-HOU (McHugh)
John Lackey (STL) -- Wed-MIL (Nelson)
Roenis Elias (SEA) -- Thu-TB (Ramirez)
Josh Collmenter (ARI) -- Tue-ATL (Miller), Sun-NYM (deGrom)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Alex Colome (TB) -- Mon-@LAA (Richards), Sat-@SEA (Hernandez)
Kendall Graveman (OAK) -- Tue-@DET (Simon), Sun-@BOS (Buchholz)
Phil Hughes (MIN) -- Tue-@BOS (Porcello), Sun-MIL (Garza)
Sean O'Sullivan (PHI) -- Tue-CIN (Cueto), Sun-SF (Vogelsong)
Brett Oberholtzer (HOU) -- Mon-BAL (Jimenez), Sat-@TOR (Hutchison)
Alfredo Simon (DET) -- Tue-OAK (Graveman), Sun-@CWS (Samardzija)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Archie Bradley (ARI) -- Mon-ATL (Wood), Sat-NYM (Colon)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) -- Tue-CLE (Carrasco), Sun-TEX (Lewis)
Kyle Kendrick (COL) -- Mon-LAD (Kershaw), Sun-MIA (TBD)
Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Tue-CWS (Samardzija), Sun-@KC (Guthrie)
Mike Pelfrey (MIN) -- Mon-@BOS (Buchholz), Sat-MIL (Wagner)
Ryan Vogelsong (SF) -- Mon-PIT (Cole), Sun-@PHI (O'Sullivan)
The eight-game schedule provides a volume advantage for Dodgers pitchers, and two starts for both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. True, each will have to take the mound in Colorado early in the week, but even with that perceived handicap, it's by no means a death sentence. After all, Kershaw is 4-0 at Coors Field since 2013.
The Nationals are home for seven games this week, where their staff has had an ERA of 2.87 and a .237 BAA -- as compared to a 4.08 ERA, .281 BAA on the road. Jordan Zimmermann and Max Scherzer each go twice, once against a DH-less Blue Jays team hitting just .240 on the road without having to send a pitcher to the plate.
The trio of Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco lead a Cleveland Indians rotation primed for a strong week. Only Carrasco goes twice, but he and Salazar get an Orioles team that strikes out at a rate of 21.9 percent, second-highest in the American League. Kluber joins Carrasco against the Royals, and even though Kansas City has beaten him twice this season, Kluber's K/9 rate is still 9.0 against them.
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):
Mike Fiers (@STL, Tuesday): Road splits have been kind to Fiers, who has a 2.82 ERA away from Milwaukee, to go along with a .267 BAA -- 50 points lower than what he's allowed to hitters at home.
Jimmy Nelson (@STL, Wednesday): If the Cardinals end up struggling against Fiers, why not go right back at them, as the team may end up struggling to adjust to life without Matt Adams. On the plus side for Nelson is his .197 BAA versus right-handed hitters this season.
Matt Shoemaker (@NYY, Saturday): He's facing a New York Yankees team that will have just flown all the way back from Seattle after a six-game West coast trip. On the road, Shoemaker has held opposing lineup to only a .272 on-base percentage.
Nathan Karns (@LAA, Wednesday): Karns goes up against an Angels' lineup hitting just .233 against right-handed pitching this year, and in his two road starts this season, he's done well, allowing just two earned runs, with a K/9 rate of 8.5.
Wei-Yin Chen (@HOU, Thursday): The Orioles' starter has a 2.49 road ERA and Houston's batting average at home this season is only .215. Given the shortened schedule on Thursday, this may be a matchup you'll want to consider.
Carlos Rodon (@TEX, Thursday): The Rangers have fanned 8.5 times per game when the opposing team has trotted out a left-hander. That could be good news for Rodon, who now has his starting legs under him and, in spite of the wildness, may be able to put some K's on the scorecard.
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, June 1-7
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: Los Angeles Dodgers 8, Baltimore Orioles 7, Boston Red Sox 7, Houston Astros 7, Minnesota Twins 7, Seattle Mariners 7, Tampa Bay Rays 7, Arizona Diamondbacks 7, Chicago Cubs 7, Colorado Rockies 7, New York Mets 7, St. Louis Cardinals 7, Washington Nationals 7.
Versus LH: Rays 4, Orioles 2, Tigers 2, Texas Rangers 2, Nationals 2, Cubs 2, Cardinals 2, Diamondbacks 2, Dodgers 2.
The Dodgers certainly have a strong week of hitting lined up with four games in three days at Coors Field to start the week, and then a four-game set in St. Louis where they get to avoid John Lackey. Arizona has a full slate of seven games at home, where they've scored 5.04 runs per game this season. Even having to go against both Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, the Diamondbacks should post strong offensive totals this week. The Red Sox have hit .272 over the past two weeks -- and .294 in their past six games heading into Friday. Two series at Fenway Park, where the team is collectively hitting 38 points higher than on the road, may help. Plus, Scott Kazmir is unlikely to be at full strength for the Athletics even if he is able to make his scheduled Saturday start. The Rays prefer hitting on the road this season, where they are actually two games over .500 with an average of 4.1 runs per game. They are currently projected to see four left-handed starters, and they've hit .255 as a team against LHPs. Not spectacular, but still 15 points higher than against righties.