Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, July 19, at 10:32 a.m. ET.
On tap: The traditional second half of the baseball season begins on Friday, July 17, with a doubleheader between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox, featuring a 2:10 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch for the first game. From there, what's termed Week 15 is actually lengthier than a week; in ESPN leagues, it is a 10-day scoring period that extends through the games of Sunday, July 26. Do the math: With five-man rotations, that means that every starting pitcher on a team without an off day -- that's 12 of the 30 -- will make two starts, as will the entire White Sox's rotation, due to the composition of their schedule, while four of the five starters on the other 17 teams will make two starts apiece. It's therefore a quality-over-quantity week, from a matchup perspective.
Teams often shuffle their rotations exiting the All-Star break, and some are more forthcoming with their plans than others. As of the most recent update, the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals had not formally announced their fifth starters. What's listed in the pitching grid below represents either official team announcements or high-probability guesses, with the remainder subject to greater risk of change than in a typical week. Check back leading up to the week's first pitch, as the Forecaster will receive updates where applicable.
Speaking of "greater risk of change," Major League Baseball's annual trade deadline arrives on Friday, July 31, at 4 p.m. ET, precisely 14 days, one hour and 50 minutes after the start of fantasy's Week 15, and four days and 17 hours (assuming an 11 p.m. ET finish to the Sunday, July 26, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game) after the week's conclusion. Trades might begin to influence rosters during the course of Week 15, and fantasy owners should be aware that two oft-rumored starting pitcher trade candidates, Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels, have scheduled starts during the July 24-26 weekend.
Among the week's player-specific storylines:
Aaron Nola will make his major league debut for the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, July 21, against the Tampa Bay Rays at home. Unfortunately, it is likely that Nola will make only one start during Week 15 due to the construction of the schedule.
Brandon Beachy, just one start removed from his second Tommy John surgery, returns to Atlanta's Turner Field to face his former team, on Monday, July 20.
Martin Perez returns from a Tommy John surgery of his own to start the Texas Rangers' first game of the second half, Friday, July 17, at Houston's Minute Maid Park.
Shelby Miller returns to St. Louis' Busch Stadium for the first time since his Nov. 17, 2014, trade, as he faces the St. Louis Cardinals and Jason Heyward, who will be facing his former team since being included in that same deal, on Saturday, July 25.
Josh Hamilton returns to Los Angeles' Angel Stadium for the first time since his April 27 trade to the Texas Rangers, for a three-game series Friday, July 24-Sunday, July 26.
For those of you who play in offsite leagues that separate Week 15 into separate weeks -- three-day, Friday, July 17-Sunday, July 19, and seven-day, Monday, July 20-Sunday, July 26 scoring periods -- the following pitchers are confirmed not starting during the July 17-19 weekend: Brett Anderson, Cody Anderson, Chris Bassitt, Brandon Beachy, Mark Buehrle, A.J. Burnett, Wei-Yin Chen, Gerrit Cole, Rubby De La Rosa, Felix Doubront, Jacob deGrom, Odrisamer Despaigne, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Garza, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Gibson, Gio Gonzalez, Kendall Graveman, David Hale, Jason Hammel, J.A. Happ, Matt Harrison, Matt Harvey, Andrew Heaney, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Heston, Tim Hudson, Raisel Iglesias, Brian Johnson, Nathan Karns, Ian Kennedy, Mat Latos, Kyle Lohse, Michael Lorenzen, Carlos Martinez, Matt Moore, Aaron Nola, Ivan Nova, Mike Pelfrey, David Phelps, Clayton Richard, Carlos Rodon, Wandy Rodriguez, Chris Rusin, Danny Salazar, Matt Shoemaker, Alfredo Simon, Jason Vargas, Yordano Ventura, Michael Wacha, Taijuan Walker, Jered Weaver, Matt Wisler, Alex Wood and Steven Wright.
Some of these pitchers, however, are therefore aligned for two starts during the July 20-26 week: Brett Anderson, Beachy, Buehrle, Burnett, Chen, Cole, deGrom, De La Rosa, Despaigne, Eovaldi, Garza, Gibson, Gonzalez, Graveman, Happ, Harvey, Hellickson, Hudson, Johnson, Kennedy, Latos, Lorenzen, Martinez, Moore, Phelps, Richard, Rodon, Rodriguez, Rusin, Salazar, Simon, Ventura, Walker, Wisler and Wright. Where applicable, especially strong matchups for split-week leagues are noted in the sections below.
Quickly jump to any section, if you want specific intel
In ESPN leagues, Week 15 encompasses the entire 10-day period beginning with the games on Friday, July 17, and ending with the games on Sunday, July 26. This means that head-to-head matchups will extend through 10 days, while leagues with weekly transactions will lock for the entire 10-day period on Friday.
The Friday, July 17, slate begins with the first game of the Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox doubleheader, scheduled for 2:10 p.m. ET.
Remember that game times have tremendous influence upon #DFS planning, so be aware of every day's first scheduled pitch. This week, they are: Friday 7/17, 2:10 p.m. ET (Royals at White Sox, Game 1 of a doubleheader, the day's only day game); Saturday 7/18, 1:05 p.m. ET (Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees, one of four day games); Sunday 7/19, 1:05 p.m. ET (Mariners at Yankees, one of 14 day games); Monday 7/20, 7 p.m. ET (New York Mets at Washington Nationals, on ESPN's Monday Night Baseball); Tuesday 7/21, 7:05 p.m. ET (three games begin at that time); Wednesday 7/22, 12:10 p.m. ET (Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves, one of seven day games); Thursday 7/23, 1:05 p.m. ET (Baltimore Orioles at Yankees, one of four day games); Friday 7/24, 4:05 p.m. ET (Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs, the day's only day game); Saturday 7:25, 4:05 p.m. ET (three of the day's four day games begin at that time); and Sunday 7/26, 1:10 p.m. ET (three of 14 day games begin at that time).
This week's interleague series:
Pittsburgh Pirates at Kansas City Royals (3 games, Monday 7/20-Wednesday 7/22)
Tampa Bay Rays at Philadelphia Phillies (3 games, Monday 7/20-Wednesday 7/22)
Texas Rangers at Colorado Rockies (3 games, Monday 7/20-Wednesday 7/22)
St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago White Sox (2 games, Tuesday 7/21-Wednesday 7/22)
Indians at Milwaukee Brewers (2 games, Tuesday 7/21-Wednesday 7/22)
Royals at Cardinals (1 game, Thursday 7/23)
Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants (3 games, Friday 7/24-Sunday 7/26)
Indians' traditional DHs: David Murphy and Ryan Raburn in a straight platoon have combined to start 19 of the team's past 24 games in American League ballparks, with Michael Brantley (2), Jason Kipnis (2) and Brandon Moss (1) sneaking in the other five starts as "half-days off." As the Indians will face nothing but right-handers in their five games in National League parks to begin the week, Murphy might pick up a start or two at one of the corner outfield spots, but there's not enough promise of playing time to make him worth a look this week, except in the deepest of AL-only formats. Raburn, meanwhile, is actually the greater AL-only choice of the two, being that he'll be deployed as a pinch hitter at optimal times (read: against lefty relievers) in NL parks, and he could then start all four of the team's July 23-26 weekend series against the White Sox's four left-handed scheduled starters.
Pirates' probable DH(s): A rotation, granting players like Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen "half-days off." In such an arrangement, Travis Ishikawa and Sean Rodriguez might pick up the additional starts in the field, though in a 10-day week, 2-3 starts won't put either on the NL-only radar.
Rays' traditional DH: John Jaso and Joey Butler are in a straight platoon, though Jaso started six consecutive games, five of them at DH, including the Rays' only one against a left-handed starter, to conclude the first half. Jaso could start in left field in the Rays' two scheduled games versus Phillies right-handed starters, and his weekly matchups are favorable enough that it's well worth chancing it.
Rangers' traditional DH: Prince Fielder. He'll battle with Mitch Moreland for first-base starts at Coors Field, and considering Fielder has the greater wOBA of the two (.399-.375) plus started three games there to Moreland's one in past interleague games at NL parks this year, Fielder has to be considered the favorite to start at least two times this week. Being that it's a Coors series, however, whichever is limited to pinch-hitting duty for the majority of the series will still experience enough of a matchup boost to be well worth starting in all leagues.
Cardinals' probable DH(s): Matt Holliday, in all probability, as it'd be wise for the Cardinals to ease his defensive burden within the first week following his activation from the DL. That'll at least clear up some of the first base/outfield clutter, meaning players like Randal Grichuk and Mark Reynolds won't be at as much risk of lost at-bats during Week 15. Lesser platoon men like Peter Bourjos, Dan Johnson, Tommy Pham and Xavier Scruggs, however, probably won't receive enough at-bats to warrant consideration in NL-only leagues.
Royals' traditional DH: Kendrys Morales, who has started and played all but two innings of the Royals' 80 games, 76 of those at DH, in AL venues thus season. He has two starts in the team's six previous interleague contests, both of them against a left-handed starter, so odds are that he won't displace Eric Hosmer from first base against Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn. Still, only one start lost from an 11-game week hardly detracts from Morales' fantasy appeal.
Athletics' traditional DH: Billy Butler, who leads the majors in both games (80) and plate appearances (338) at DH. He could be an option at first base, where Ike Davis and Stephen Vogt are currently platooning, so Butler's playing time shouldn't be in significant enough jeopardy that he should be benched in deeper-mixed/AL-only leagues. If anyone's playing time will be impacted to the point he'd be a lesser Week 15 play, it'd probably be Davis.
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, July 17-26 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.
Kevin Gausman is tentatively scheduled to be recalled as the Baltimore Orioles' fifth starter beginning on Tuesday, July 22, but the team could use Monday's off day to push Gausman back as far as Saturday, July 25.
The Houston Astros will bring Collin McHugh back on four days' rest to pitch Wednesday, July 22, and they will use Lance McCullers as their fifth starter on Thursday, July 23. The Astros haven't yet named a fourth starter, pitching Monday, July 21 (and Sunday, July 26), but Vincent Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer and Dan Straily are all candidates.
As a result of their Friday, July 17, doubleheader, the Kansas City Royals will need a spot/sixth starter no later than Tuesday, July 21, announcing Jason Vargas (DL, hip), who made a rehabilitation start for Double-A Northwest Arkansas on July 13, as that individual. It is unclear, however, who will be removed from the rotation later in that week, though based upon the order of the Royals' rotation, Yordano Ventura's second start of the week could be in jeopardy of being pushed back into Week 16.
Jered Weaver (DL, hip) is expected to throw a simulated game on either Monday, July 20, or Tuesday, July 21, and if all goes well he might be ready to return to the Los Angeles Angels' rotation on either Saturday, July 25, or Sunday, July 26. It is unclear, however, whether he will replace Andrew Heaney or Matt Shoemaker, so the team's July 25-26 starters are uncertain because of the three candidates for two games.
Though the New York Yankees have announced a five-man rotation to begin the second half, they have also suggested they might slot in a sixth starter soon, perhaps before the conclusion of Week 15. Nathan Eovaldi would likely lose his second start in that event.
With Jesse Hahn (DL, forearm) sidelined, the Oakland Athletics will give Chris Bassitt a start the next time they need a fifth starter, on Saturday, July 25.
Jeremy Hellickson (blister), who was originally scheduled to start on Saturday, July 18, has been pushed back in the Arizona Diamondbacks' rotation to Tuesday, July 21., to give him a few additional days' rest.
The Cincinnati Reds, who announced the rotation listed above, are also considering swapping Anthony DeSclafani and Michael Lorenzen in their rotation. The Reds will also need a spot starter for their Wednesday, July 22, doubleheader, with Tony Cingrani a leading candidate.
Mat Latos (toes) missed his final start of the first half for the Marlins, so there's some risk he might not be ready in time for his Tuesday, July 21, start. He has been announced by the team as that starter, though, so odds are good he'll be able to pitch.
Matt Garza (DL, shoulder) is expected to be activated by the Milwaukee Brewers in time to start on Tuesday, July 21.
The St. Louis Cardinals will use Tim Cooney on Sunday, July 19, as Jaime Garcia (DL, groin) isn't expected to be ready by then. Garcia could be available the next time that spot arrives in the rotation, on Saturday, July 25.
The Washington Nationals, haven't yet decided upon their fifth starter, but Stephen Strasburg won't be ready to rejoin them before Week 15 concludes. Joe Ross is the leading candidate for that assignment after Tanner Roark was used in relief during the July 17-19 weekend.
These rankings include the entire slate of projected starters, in order to provide a more organized approach to favorable matchups, #DFS tidbits and the "Streamer's Delight" picks. Notes for relevant pitchers are included below.
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Sat 7/18-@WSH (Fister), Thu 7/23-@NYM (Colon)
Chris Sale (CWS) -- Sun 7/19-KC (Duffy), Sat 7/25-@CLE (Carrasco)
Max Scherzer (WSH) -- Sun 7/19-LAD (Greinke), Fri 7/24-@PIT (Locke)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -- Sun 7/19-@CIN (Cueto), Sat 7/25-CWS (Sale): If you're surprised by Carrasco's generous ranking, consider this: The Cincinnati Reds had .140/.191/.233 rates and a major league-worst .193 wOBA against righties in the first 12 days of July (pre-All-Star break), while the Chicago White Sox have the majors' 25th-ranked team wOBA versus righties for the season (.298).
Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Sun 7/19-@WSH (Scherzer), Fri 7/24-@NYM (Niese)
Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Sat 7/18-@CIN (DeSclafani), Fri 7/24-CWS (Quintana)
Jose Fernandez (MIA) -- Fri 7/17-@PHI (Morgan), Wed 7/22-@ARI (Ray)
Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Sun 7/19-@NYY (Sabathia), Fri 7/24-TOR (Dickey): Hernandez is 6-for-7 in quality starts with a 5-1 record, 1.37 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in his career at New York's Yankee Stadium.
Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Sun 7/19-@ATL (Miller), Sat 7/25-PHI (Hamels)
Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Sun 7/19-@ARI (Corbin), Sat 7/25-OAK (Bassitt)
Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Sat 7/18-@MIL (Nelson), Thu 7/23-WSH (Fister)
Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Tue 7/21-@WSH (TBD), Sun 7/26-LAD (Anderson): They might not be the most favorable matchups, but deGrom's raw ability makes him the highest-rated two-start pitcher for the July 20-26 period, for those of you in leagues that split up this 10-day period into two weeks.
Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Fri 7/17-MIN (Santana), Wed 7/22-TOR (Doubront)
David Price (DET) -- Sat 7/18-BAL (Tillman), Thu 7/23-SEA (Iwakuma)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Tue 7/21-@KC (Vargas), Sun 7/26-WSH (TBD)
Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Sun 7/19-CLE (Carrasco), Sat 7/25-@COL (Butler): No pitcher in the top 15 has a more risk/reward week of matchups. Cueto's second start is scheduled at Coors Field, and that's if he's not traded before then, threatening his ability to even have a second start during the scoring period. Thankfully, his first start represents a great matchup, as it's a game played under National League rules against a Cleveland Indians team with .216/.283/.333 rates, a 20.3 percent strikeout rate and the majors' worst wOBA against righties (.274) in the past month.
Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Sun 7/19-MIA (Haren), Sat 7/25-@CHC (Arrieta)
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Fri 7/17-SEA (Montgomery), Thu 7/23-BAL (Jimenez)
Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Mon 7/20-@WSH (Gonzalez), Sat 7/25-LAD (Beachy)
Chris Archer (TB) -- Sun 7/19-@TOR (Estrada), Sat 7/25-BAL (Gonzalez): They look like polarized matchups, but consider this: Archer is a perfect 3-for-3 in wins and quality starts, with a 0.41 ERA, 0.50 WHIP and 31.6 percent strikeout rate, against the Toronto Blue Jays this season. In the one of those games that took place at the Rogers Centre, he tossed seven shutout innings of two-hit, two-walk, 11-strikeout ball.
Jon Lester (CHC) -- Sat 7/18-@ATL (Banuelos), Fri 7/24-PHI (Billingsley)
Tyson Ross (SD) -- Sat 7/18-COL (Bettis), Thu 7/23-MIA (Koehler)
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) -- Sun 7/19-TEX (Gallardo), Sat 7/25-@KC (Duffy)
Noah Syndergaard (NYM) -- Fri 7/17-@STL (Lynn), Wed 7/22-@WSH (Zimmermann)
Michael Pineda (NYY) -- Sat 7/18-SEA (Iwakuma), Fri 7/24-@MIN (Hughes)
Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Tue 7/21-@CWS (Rodon), Sun 7/26-ATL (Wisler)
Brett Anderson (LAD) -- Tue 7/21-@ATL (Wood), Sun 7/26-@NYM (deGrom): As noted in the Forecaster video, Anderson is a sneaky two-start Week 15 play, and he's especially attractive as a pickup for those of you in leagues that separate the July 20-26 week into its own seven-day scoring period. In fact, he's a potential top-15 fantasy starting pitcher in those leagues.
Lance Lynn (STL) -- Fri 7/17-NYM (Syndergaard), Thu 7/23-KC (Young)
Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Sun 7/19-MIN (Milone), Fri 7/24-@SF (Peavy)
Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Tue 7/21-@MIL (Garza), Sun 7/26-CWS (Rodon)
Jeff Samardzija (CWS) -- Fri 7/17-KC, Gm. 1 (Volquez), Wed 7/22-STL (Wacha)
Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Sat 7/18-MIN (Hughes), Thu 7/23-TOR (Hutchison)
Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Fri 7/17-LAD (Bolsinger), Wed 7/22-NYM (Syndergaard)
Taijuan Walker (SEA) -- Tue 7/21-@DET (Greene), Sun 7/26-TOR (Buehrle)
John Lackey (STL) -- Sat 7/18-NYM (Colon), Fri 7/24-ATL (Banuelos)
Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Fri 7/17-BAL (Jimenez), Wed 7/22-SEA (Montgomery)
Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Sat 7/18-KC (Guthrie), Fri 7/24-@CLE (Kluber)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) -- Mon 7/20-@KC (Ventura), Sat 7/25-WSH (Gonzalez)
Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) -- Fri 7/17-@DET (Sanchez), Thu 7/23-@NYY (Tanaka)
Shelby Miller (ATL) -- Sun 7/19-CHC (Arrieta), Sat 7/25-@STL (TBD)
Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Sat 7/18-BOS (Porcello), Thu 7/23-MIN (Santana)
Dan Haren (MIA) -- Sun 7/19-@PHI (Hamels), Fri 7/24-@SD (Cashner)
Michael Wacha (STL) -- Wed 7/22-@CWS (Samardzija)
Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Fri 7/17-TEX (Perez), Wed 7/22-BOS (Miley)
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Sat 7/18-@NYY (Pineda), Thu 7/23-@DET (Price)
Marco Estrada (TOR) -- Sun 7/19-TB (Archer), Sat 7/25-@SEA (Happ)
Mike Montgomery (SEA) -- Fri 7/17-@NYY (Tanaka), Wed 7/22-@DET (Sanchez)
Alex Wood (ATL) -- Tue 7/21-LAD (Anderson)
Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Fri 7/17-@CIN (Leake), Thu 7/23-CWS (Danks): Despite Bauer's pattern of inconsistency, the similar statement for Carrasco above applies to Bauer. Go ahead and risk it.
Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Mon 7/20-NYM (Harvey), Sat 7/25-@PIT (Burnett)
Yovani Gallardo (TEX) -- Sun 7/19-@HOU (Keuchel), Sat 7/25-@LAA (TBD)
Kyle Hendricks (CHC) -- Fri 7/17-@ATL (Teheran), Wed 7/22-@CIN, Gm. 1 (Leake): In leagues that separate the weeks, he's a considerably better option for the three-day, July 17-19 scoring period than the seven-day, July 20-26 one that follows it, as a matchup at the Freddie Freeman-less Atlanta Braves at Turner Field is better than one at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. He'd rank a good 10 spots higher in the former, but 10 lower in the latter.
Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) -- Sun 7/19-@LAA (Santiago), Fri 7/24-DET (Verlander)
Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Fri 7/17-@TOR (Hutchison), Wed 7/22-@PHI (Morgan)
Mike Bolsinger (LAD) -- Fri 7/17-@WSH (Zimmermann), Wed 7/22-@ATL (Teheran)
Mat Latos (MIA) -- Tue 7/21-@ARI (Hellickson), Sun 7/26-@SD (Despaigne)
Carlos Rodon (CWS) -- Tue 7/21-STL (Martinez), Sun 7/26-@CLE (Salazar)
Matt Cain (SF) -- Fri 7/17-@ARI (Ray), Wed 7/22-@SD (Shields)
Mike Fiers (MIL) -- Fri 7/17-PIT (Morton), Thu 7/23-@ARI (Anderson)
C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Fri 7/17-BOS (Miley), Wed 7/22-MIN (Pelfrey)
Taylor Jungmann (MIL) -- Sun 7/19-PIT (Locke), Sat 7/25-@ARI (De La Rosa): He has three consecutive quality starts and a 2.15 ERA for the season to date, so despite his modest strikeout rate (18.9 percent), he has earned at least some trust.
Hector Santiago (LAA) -- Sun 7/19-BOS (Rodriguez), Fri 7/24-TEX (Lewis)
Manny Banuelos (ATL) -- Sat 7/18-CHC (Lester), Fri 7/24-@STL (Lackey): Though the St. Louis Cardinals' offense will receive a bit of a boost against them with the healthy return of Matt Holliday, they have still struggled mightily against left-handers of late, with .229/.305/.328 rates, a 25.8 percent strikeout rate and a 25th-ranked .284 wOBA against them in the past month.
Andrew Heaney (LAA) -- Mon 7/20-BOS (Wright): There's an excellent chance that Heaney will get two starts in Week 15, with the second coming against the Texas Rangers, who are considerably less productive against left-handers. Unfortunately, with Jered Weaver working his way back from injury, there's no guarantee of that, which is why Heaney ranks here rather than 10-15 spots higher.
Ervin Santana (MIN) -- Fri 7/17-@OAK (Gray), Thu 7/23-@LAA (Richards)
James Shields (SD) -- Fri 7/17-COL (De La Rosa), Wed 7/22-SF (Cain)
Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Fri 7/17-CHC (Hendricks), Wed 7/22-LAD (Bolsinger)
Lance McCullers (HOU) -- Thu 7/23-BOS (Porcello)
Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Fri 7/17-TB (Odorizzi), Thu 7/23-@OAK (Kazmir): This is about the point to draw the line in standard mixed leagues; remember that there will be more two-start pitchers slotted higher in the rankings than this once the remaining teams announce their rotations. With the Tampa Bay Rays sporting more left-handed hitters on their active roster and the game being played in hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, Hutchison's week-opening matchup has all the makings of a "trap."
Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Sun 7/19-COL (Butler), Fri 7/24-MIA (Haren)
Jason Hammel (CHC) -- Tue 7/21-@CIN (Iglesias): Remember, it's his first start since having his July 8 start cut short after one inning due to a hamstring injury.
Robbie Ray (ARI) -- Fri 7/17-SF (Cain), Wed 7/22-MIA (Fernandez): It's all about that Miami Marlins matchup. They have baseball's worst strikeout rate against lefties in the past month (27.1 percent) and have a mere .089 isolated power against them during that time.
Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Sun 7/19-@STL (Cooney), Fri 7/24-LAD (Greinke)
Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Mon 7/20-SF (Hudson), Sat 7/25-MIA (Phelps)
Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Sat 7/18-@STL (Lackey), Thu 7/23-LAD (Kershaw)
Wade Miley (BOS) -- Fri 7/17-@LAA (Wilson), Wed 7/22-@HOU (McHugh)
Steven Wright (BOS) -- Mon 7/20-@LAA (Heaney), Sat 7/25-DET (Simon)
Patrick Corbin (ARI) -- Sun 7/19-SF (Bumgarner), Fri 7/24-MIL (Nelson)
Brandon Beachy (LAD) -- Mon 7/20-@ATL (Wisler), Sat 7/25-@NYM (Harvey)
R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Sat 7/18-TB (Ramirez), Fri 7/24-@SEA (Hernandez)
Phil Hughes (MIN) -- Sat 7/18-@OAK (Kazmir), Fri 7/24-NYY (Pineda): He's another pitcher with polarized matchups, making him a much better play in July 17-19 split-week formats than in ESPN leagues, where owners will have to absorb his tougher matchup against his former team.
Matt Wisler (ATL) -- Mon 7/20-LAD (Beachy), Sun 7/26-@STL (Martinez): Wisler has enjoyed some wizardry during his first five major league starts, as he lacks an elite pitch to use against lefties; they have .295/.392/.500 rates against him thus far. That's an issue when facing these matchups, as the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals possess the fifth- (-.025) and third-widest (-.027) team righty/lefty wOBA splits leaning towards the side that hits right-handers better.
Kendall Graveman (OAK) -- Tue 7/21-TOR (Buehrle), Sun 7/26-@SF (Hudson)
Doug Fister (WSH) -- Sat 7/18-LAD (Kershaw), Thu 7/23-@PIT (Liriano)
Chris Heston (SF) -- Tue 7/21-@SD (Despaigne)
Brian Johnson (BOS) -- Tue 7/21-@HOU (TBD), Sun 7/26-DET (Greene)
Odrisamer Despaigne (SD) -- Tue 7/21-SF (Heston), Sun 7/26-MIA (Latos)
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Tue 7/21-@NYY (Eovaldi), Sun 7/26-@TB (Moore)
Erasmo Ramirez (TB) -- Sat 7/18-@TOR (Dickey), Fri 7/24-BAL (Tillman)
Matt Garza (MIL) -- Tue 7/21-CLE (Salazar), Sun 7/26-@ARI (Hellickson)
Matt Shoemaker (LAA) -- Tue 7/21-MIN (Gibson): It'd be dangerous to rank him any higher than this, as Shoemaker is in greater jeopardy of being ousted from the rotation once Jered Weaver returns. There's a pretty good chance this will be Shoemaker's only start of the week.
Kyle Gibson (MIN) -- Tue 7/21-@LAA (Shoemaker), Sun 7/26-NYY (Eovaldi): He's a substantially better fantasy play in leagues that separate the July 20-26 week into its own scoring period; he's a top-50 potential starting pitcher in those leagues. In ESPN leagues, however, his matchups are too challenging to elevate him in a week where so many pitchers are scheduled to work twice.
Aaron Nola (PHI) -- Tue 7/21-TB (Karns)
Cody Anderson (CLE) -- Wed 7/22-@MIL (Lohse)
Adam Morgan (PHI) -- Fri 7/17-MIA (Fernandez), Wed 7/22-TB (Odorizzi): Everyone from here now is an effective "no-thank-you," including in "onlies" formats. Some individual matchups can be exploited, but in weekly formats there's too much risk involved with each.
David Phelps (MIA) -- Mon 7/20-@ARI (De La Rosa), Sat 7/25-@SD (Kennedy)
Nathan Karns (TB) -- Tue 7/21-@PHI (Nola)
Tom Koehler (MIA) -- Sat 7/18-@PHI (Billingsley), Thu 7/23-@SD (Ross): He's a mediocre pitcher who has trouble getting lefties out -- .210 isolated power allowed this season -- and the Philadelphia Phillies sport a lot of lefties in their lineup.
Mike Leake (CIN) -- Fri 7/17-CLE (Bauer), Wed 7/22-CHC, Gm. 1 (Hendricks)
Matt Moore (TB) -- Mon 7/20-@PHI (Buchanan), Sun 7/26-BAL (Chen)
Charlie Morton (PIT) -- Fri 7/17-@MIL (Fiers), Wed 7/22-@KC (Volquez)
Tommy Milone (MIN) -- Sun 7/19-@OAK (Chavez), Sat 7/25-NYY (Sabathia)
CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Sun 7/19-SEA (Hernandez), Sat 7/25-@MIN (Milone)
Jimmy Nelson (MIL) -- Sat 7/18-PIT (Liriano), Fri 7/24-@ARI (Corbin)
Yordano Ventura (KC) -- Mon 7/20-PIT (Burnett), Sun 7/26-HOU (TBD): The Houston Astros matchup is potentially worth exploiting, if your league has daily transactions. No one whiffs more against righties than the Astros.
Jeff Locke (PIT) -- Sun 7/19-@MIL (Jungmann), Fri 7/24-WSH (Scherzer)
Danny Duffy (KC) -- Sun 7/19-@CWS (Sale), Sat 7/25-HOU (Keuchel)
Jorge De La Rosa (COL) -- Fri 7/17-@SD (Shields), Wed 7/22-TEX (Perez): I'd roll the dice on De La Rosa in the July 17 start, if my league affords me to split up his matchups; heads up to those of you in split-week formats. The San Diego Padres have baseball's third-worst wOBA against lefties (.264) and second-worst K rate (26.6 percent) against lefties in the past month. Oh, and it's a Petco Park, not Coors Field, assignment.
Edinson Volquez (KC) -- Fri 7/17-@CWS, Gm. 1 (Samardzija), Wed 7/22-PIT (Morton)
Kevin Gausman (BAL) -- Wed 7/22-@NYY (Nova): He's a "no" for me regardless of format with only one matchup at a ballpark so favorable for left-handed power. That said, I'll be watching, as his performance indeed could influence his future assignments.
Justin Verlander (DET) -- Sun 7/19-BAL (Gonzalez), Fri 7/24-@BOS (Rodriguez)
Rubby De La Rosa (ARI) -- Mon 7/20-MIA (Phelps), Sat 7/25-MIL (Jungmann)
J.A. Happ (SEA) -- Mon 7/20-@DET (Simon), Sat 7/25-TOR (Estrada)
Mark Buehrle (TOR) -- Tue 7/21-@OAK (Graveman), Sun 7/26-@SEA (Walker)
Chase Anderson (ARI) -- Sat 7/18-SF (Peavy), Thu 7/23-MIL (Fiers)
Jake Peavy (SF) -- Sat 7/18-@ARI (Anderson), Fri 7/24-OAK (Chavez)
Clayton Richard (CHC) -- Mon 7/20-@CIN (Lorenzen), Sun 7/26-PHI (Buchanan)
Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Sat 7/18-@HOU (Feldman), Fri 7/24-@LAA (Santiago)
Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Wed 7/22-CLE (Anderson)
Martin Perez (TEX) -- Fri 7/17-@HOU (McHugh), Wed 7/22-@COL (De La Rosa)
Tim Hudson (SF) -- Mon 7/20-@SD (Kennedy), Sun 7/26-OAK (Graveman)
Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Sat 7/18-@DET (Price), Fri 7/24-@TB (Ramirez)
Tim Cooney (STL) -- Sun 7/19-NYM (Niese)
Rick Porcello (BOS) -- Sat 7/18-@LAA (Richards), Thu 7/23-@HOU (McCullers)
Chris Bassitt (OAK) -- Sat 7/25-@SF (Bumgarner)
Chris Rusin (COL) -- Mon 7/20-TEX (Rodriguez), Sun 7/26-CIN (Lorenzen)
Nathan Eovaldi (NYY) -- Tue 7/21-BAL (Chen), Sun 7/26-@MIN (Gibson)
Miguel Gonzalez (BAL) -- Sun 7/19-@DET (Verlander), Sat 7/25-@TB (Archer)
Jason Vargas (KC) -- Tue 7/21-PIT (Cole)
Jeremy Hellickson (ARI) -- Tue 7/21-MIA (Latos), Sun 7/26-MIL (Garza)
Alfredo Simon (DET) -- Mon 7/20-SEA (Happ), Sat 7/25-@BOS (Wright)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) -- Sat 7/18-@CWS (Quintana), Fri 7/24-HOU (Feldman)
Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) -- Sat 7/18-CLE (Kluber), Fri 7/24-@COL (Bettis)
Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Wed 7/22-BAL (Gausman)
Raisel Iglesias (CIN) -- Tue 7/21-CHC (Hammel)
Chad Billingsley (PHI) -- Sat 7/18-MIA (Koehler), Fri 7/24-@CHC (Lester)
Chris Young (KC) -- Fri 7/17-@CWS, Gm. 2 (Danks), Thu 7/23-@STL (Lynn)
Wandy Rodriguez (TEX) -- Mon 7/20-@COL (Rusin), Sun 7/26-@LAA (TBD)
Chad Bettis (COL) -- Sat 7/18-@SD (Ross), Fri 7/24-CIN (DeSclafani)
Scott Feldman (HOU) -- Sat 7/18-TEX (Lewis), Fri 7/24-@KC (Guthrie)
Shane Greene (DET) -- Tue 7/21-SEA (Walker), Sun 7/26-@BOS (Johnson)
Michael Lorenzen (CIN) -- Mon 7/20-CHC (Richard), Sun 7/26-@COL (Rusin)
Kyle Kendrick (COL) -- Tue 7/21-TEX (Harrison)
John Danks (CWS) -- Fri 7/17-KC, Gm. 2 (Young), Thu 7/23-@CLE (Bauer)
Felix Doubront (TOR) -- Wed 7/22-@OAK (Gray)
David Buchanan (PHI) -- Mon 7/20-TB (Moore), Sun 7/26-@CHC (Richard)
Mike Pelfrey (MIN) -- Wed 7/22-@LAA (Wilson)
Matt Harrison (TEX) -- Tue 7/21-@COL (Kendrick)
Eddie Butler (COL) -- Sun 7/19-@SD (Cashner), Sat 7/25-CIN (Cueto)
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, July 17-26 H: Hitters' matchup rating, which accounts for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as the 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: Kansas City Royals 11, Boston Red Sox 10, Chicago White Sox 10, Detroit Tigers 10, Los Angeles Angels 10, Seattle Mariners 10, Miami Marlins 10, New York Mets 10, Washington Nationals 10, Chicago Cubs 10, Cincinnati Reds 10, Pittsburgh Pirates 10, Arizona Diamondbacks 10, Los Angeles Dodgers 10, San Diego Padres 10.
Home games: Angels 10, Diamondbacks 10, Padres 10, Tigers 7, Reds 7, St. Louis Cardinals 7, New York Yankees 6, White Sox 6, Royals 6, Houston Astros 6, Oakland Athletics 6, Atlanta Braves 6, Philadelphia Phillies 6, Nationals 6, Colorado Rockies 6.
Versus RH: White Sox 9, Diamondbacks 9, Padres 9, Dodgers 8, Baltimore Orioles 7, Tampa Bay Rays 7, Toronto Blue Jays 7, Angels 7, Mariners 7, Texas Rangers 7, Marlins 7, Nationals 7, Cubs 7, Reds 7, Pirates 7, San Francisco Giants 7.
What stands out about the Astros' matchups this week is the caliber of starting pitching they'll face: Though the Red Sox haven't yet been announced their Tuesday, July 21, starter, regardless of whom they choose, the Astros, all week, will face only one pitcher who has more than 0.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), Yovani Gallardo (3.4). Two of their possible opponents will be making their first appearances of 2015, Martin Perez (season debut, Friday, July 17) and Brian Johnson (potential major league debut on the 21st). But perhaps more importantly, the Astros are baseball's most strikeout-prone team, and only two of the possible 10 starters they'll face have K rates greater than the majors' starting-pitching average (19.2 percent): Justin Masterson (21.4) and Yordano Ventura (19.9), neither of whom represents a terrifying individual matchup.
It'd be ideal for the righty-power-heavy Astros lineup if the Red Sox slotted lefty Johnson into that series, as while the Astros have a minimal rate-driven righty/lefty split, they make considerably greater contact against lefties. They'll face either four lefties, with that split dividing the appeal of Chris Carter/Jon Singleton, their first-base platoon. Both warrant looks based on the overall matchups, but the limited volume of plate appearances keeps them in deeper-mixed and AL-only territory. Evan Gattis is a good fantasy option facing that many lefties, while Colby Rasmus and Preston Tucker are attractive due to five right-handed starting pitcher opponents. Gattis and Tucker are the most logical plays facing this schedule.
Much will be said about the Mets' treacherous second-half-opening schedule, which will be played against the No. 1 (Cardinals), No. 9 (Nationals) and No. 4 (Dodgers) pitching staffs in terms of first-half ERA. But as things align, it appears as if they'll be fortunate enough to avoid baseball's No. 2 (Max Scherzer), No. 13 (Carlos Martinez) and No. 30 (Michael Wacha) pitchers in terms of WAR, though a late change by the Dodgers unfortunately does align them with No. 23 Clayton Kershaw. Though the Mets have precious few mixed-league fantasy options to consider even in weeks with favorable matchups, the schedule isn't that devastating that Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy need be placed on your bench.
During the first three months of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays typically struggled against right-handers, so a week during which they might face as many as seven righty starters perhaps doesn't look like a favorable one for them. But consider this: Since July 3, coincidentally the day after their nightmarish series versus the Cleveland Indians, they have baseball's 17th-ranked wOBA against righties (.306). Much of that has to do with the healthy returns of the left-handed John Jaso (.471/.500/.765 against righties since that date) and James Loney (.323/.405/.452), but David DeJesus (.368/.429/.526) has also contributed to their recent uptick. Considering that the Rays will face four middling-to-mediocre righties in Week 15, all three players should be on your radar, even in somewhat shallow mixed formats.
The White Sox's favorable team hitting rating is influenced by a favorable four-game series at U.S. Cellular Field the weekend of July 17-19. In a league that separates the scoring periods or grants you daily lineup flexibility, White Sox hitters could be sneaky plays to begin Week 15. Adam Eaton (.347/.420/.569 against righties in the past month) and Adam LaRoche (.242 isolated power against righties in the past month) are especially attractive options, even in ESPN leagues that lock in the full 10-day period. After all, the White Sox face nine right-handed starters during the full week, so while some of the individuals during the latter stages present challenges, those two lefty bats are well worth the risk.