Fantasy Forecaster updated Monday, Aug. 17, at 11:07 a.m. ET.
On tap: Baseball's best gets some rest in Week 19. Three teams play just five games apiece and all three rank among the eight best in terms of winning percentage for the season -- the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets. All three were first-place teams in their respective divisions entering play on Aug. 14 (the Blue Jays subsequently fell into second during the weekend's series).
This is not necessarily a good thing for fantasy. After all, four of the overall top-10 on our Player Rater hail from these squads -- Zack Greinke (second), Josh Donaldson (eighth), Clayton Kershaw (ninth) and Jacob deGrom (10th) -- while the "past 30" Player Rater split has Donaldson, Jose Bautista and R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays, Curtis Granderson and Matt Harvey of the Mets, and Kershaw in its top 25. We want our stars playing every day. Instead, we'll be looking for values among the wild-card and non-contender class, especially on the mound, as the only member of the top-15 starting pitchers on our Player Rater who starts twice is Gerrit Cole (10th).
In short: Get more inventive this week. The schedule demands that you do.
In addition to the smaller volume of starts by our fantasy aces, we'll have four notable pitching names pitching at Colorado's Coors Field: Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals, and Harvey. Worse yet, for those in desperate need of wins -- yes, they are still a rotisserie category and a significant part of #DFS scoring -- we've two of the bigger names going (or potentially going) head-to-head. On Friday, Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez will tangle in Seattle.
Again, be inventive.
Quickly jump to any section if you want specific intel.
Week 19 begins on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET, with three games scheduled to begin at that time, so fantasy owners in weekly leagues have some additional lineup time.
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 (three games begin at that time); Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET (four games begin at that time); Wednesday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees, one of five day games); Thursday, 7:05 p.m. ET (three games begin at that time); Friday, 4:05 p.m. ET (Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs, the day's only day game); Saturday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Cleveland Indians at Yankees, one of three day games); and Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Indians at Yankees, one of 14 day games).
This week's interleague series:
Dodgers at Houston Astros (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
Blue Jays' traditional DH: Whoever is least healthy at the time. It's generally Edwin Encarnacion (51 DH starts), so the loss of DH effectively shoehorns their three first base/DH options -- Encarnacion, Justin Smoak and Chris Colabello -- into one spot. Colabello, remarkably, has outperformed Encarnacion in wOBA (.379-.355), but the Blue Jays typically -- and understandably -- prefer Encarnacion. However, as Encarnacion has struggled with hamstring, shoulder and now finger issues this season, might this be a good opportunity for them to give him some "rest," relegating him to pinch-hitting duty? There's enough risk of that, plus the Blue Jays play only five games, that all three are poorer mixed-league plays.
Tigers' traditional DH: Victor Martinez, who hasn't logged a single inning in the field this season, and seems unlikely to in Chicago. That's especially true with Miguel Cabrera potentially back to patrol first base no later than that series. It's a six-game week, at least, so Martinez still warrants an AL-only or deep-mixed start.
Royals' traditional DH: Kendrys Morales, whose 102 starts at DH leads the majors. He has also made seven starts at first base, though only two of them came in the Royals' previous seven games in National League parks, both of them against left-handed starters. As the Royals are likely to face two right-handers during the series at Cincinnati, Morales might get only four starts overall this week.
Mets' probable DH(s): Michael Cuddyer is an obvious choice, as he has posted negative Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield in every season since 2007 -- he has minus-57 in the eight seasons since -- and is less than a week removed from a DL stint for a bone bruise beneath his left knee. Still, the problem with the Mets' matchups this week is that they play only five games with a fairly even split between right- and left-handed pitchers, and they've been more mix-and-match as an offense of late. Cuddyer would only warrant a look in mixed leagues if Lucas Duda lands on the DL; that would free up a handful more at-bats for him and other first base/DH/outfield types like Daniel Murphy, Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares.
Dodgers' probable DH: The Dodgers have a much more crowded outfield with Carl Crawford healthy, so they'll presumably use the DH to get an extra outfielder in there, with Crawford, Andre Ethier and Alex Guerrero to the most logical choices to slide in there. The extra lineup spot will alleviate some of the volume loss of a five-game week; the team would traditionally be allotted 48 lineup spots in a six-game week in NL parks (eight non-pitcher spots times six games), and 45 in a five-game week played entirely in the AL like this one (nine spots times five games). Treat your Dodgers outfielders like you would any other, typical week.
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, Aug. 17-23 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.
The Boston Red Sox will recall Matt Barnes to make a Monday spot start in place of Steven Wright (DL, concussion). Wright will be eligible to pitch once that spot arrives next on Saturday, but Barnes would presumably stick around for a second turn if needed.
Josh Tomlin, who joined the Cleveland Indians' rotation on Aug. 15, should get another start on Thursday of Week 19.
The Oakland Athletics are likely to slot Sonny Gray (back spasms) back into their rotation on Monday. They also demoted Aaron Brooks to the minors and designated Brad Mills for assignment, so Felix Doubront will make a spot start for them on Tuesday.
Cole Hamels (groin) is expected to rejoin the Texas Rangers' rotation on Monday. Derek Holland (DL, shoulder) is also scheduled for a rehabilitation start for Double-A Frisco on Aug. 14, and there is a chance, albeit small, that he could rejoin the Rangers after that. He'd be on four days' rest for Wednesday, but the man he'd most likely replace, Chi Chi Gonzalez, is scheduled for Tuesday and Sunday.
With two days off in Week 19, the New York Mets might well skip one of their young starters. Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are the candidates, in that order of likelihood; deGrom could pick up a second start as a result.
The Philadelphia Phillies can push back their vacant fifth-starter spot to Saturday, though they could use one sooner as they are likely trying to keep Aaron Nola's and Adam Morgan's innings in check.
Mike Leake (DL, hamstring) will rejoin the San Francisco Giants' rotation when first eligible on Tuesday. Though Ryan Vogelsong might seem the most logical pitcher replaced, Matt Cain could also be a candidate due to his recent struggles. Vogelsong would merely move back a day to Wednesday if Cain is bumped.
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) -- Tue-@OAK (Doubront)
Chris Sale (CWS) -- Fri-@SEA (Hernandez)
Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Tue-@BAL (Gausman)
Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Fri-CWS (Sale)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -- Fri-@NYY (Tanaka)
Max Scherzer (WSH) -- Thu-@COL (Flande)
Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Wed-@BOS (Kelly)
David Price (TOR) -- Fri-@LAA (Santiago)
Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Sun-@HOU (Feldman)
Noah Syndergaard (NYM) -- Wed-@BAL (Jimenez)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Fri-ATL (Miller)
Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Tue-ARI (Anderson), Sun-SF (Leake): He's one of the very few truly "elite," without-any-risk two-start pitchers this week, and even then, he's a strikeout artist whose second matchup comes against one of the game's better contact-hitting teams.
Johnny Cueto (KC) -- Fri-@BOS (Owens)
Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Mon-@BAL (Tillman), Sun-TB (Odorizzi)
Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Fri-@PIT (Locke)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Mon-ARI (Hellickson), Sat-SF (Heston)
Chris Archer (TB) -- Thu-@HOU (McHugh)
Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Mon-@BOS (Barnes), Sat-@NYY (Severino)
Matt Harvey (NYM) -- Sun-@COL (Hale)
Jon Lester (CHC) -- Wed-DET (Norris)
Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Wed-@COL (De La Rosa)
Michael Wacha (STL) -- Mon-SF (Heston), Sun-@SD (Rea)
Tyson Ross (SD) -- Wed-ATL (Teheran)
Scott Kazmir (HOU) -- Mon-TB (Ramirez), Sat-LAD (Anderson)
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Fri-CLE (Carrasco)
Cole Hamels (TEX) -- Mon-SEA (Walker), Sat-@DET (Boyd): He'd rank at least 10 spots higher if not for his having missed his last start; too much risk to regard him one of the 20 best this week.
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) -- Wed-TB (Karns)
Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Tue-CWS (Danks), Sun-TOR (Hutchison)
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Tue-@TEX (Gonzalez)
Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Tue-@COL (Hale), Sun-MIL (Garza)
Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Sat-@SD (Kennedy)
Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Tue-@HOU (Feldman), Sun-@OAK (Gray)
James Shields (SD) -- Tue-ATL (Wisler)
Taijuan Walker (SEA) -- Mon-@TEX (Hamels), Sun-CWS (Danks)
Marco Estrada (TOR) -- Sat-@LAA (Heaney)
Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Tue-@CHC (Hammel), Sun-TEX (Gonzalez)
Jeff Samardzija (CWS) -- Wed-@LAA (Weaver)
Jason Hammel (CHC) -- Tue-DET (Sanchez), Sun-ATL (Wisler)
Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Fri-MIL (Nelson)
Kevin Gausman (BAL) -- Tue-NYM (deGrom), Sun-MIN (Pelfrey): Who'd have thought that the Mets would represent the tougher of these two matchups? Still, the Twins rank 24th in runs per game (3.08) and 27th in wOBA (.267) in road games since the All-Star break.
Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Fri-STL (Lackey)
Matt Shoemaker (LAA) -- Thu-CWS (Quintana)
Erasmo Ramirez (TB) -- Mon-@HOU (Kazmir), Sat-@OAK (Graveman)
Kyle Hendricks (CHC) -- Thu-ATL (Foltynewicz): The Braves have averaged just 3.2 runs per game since the All-Star break, tied for last in the majors.
Jaime Garcia (STL) -- Wed-SF (Cain)
Lance Lynn (STL) -- Tue-SF (Leake)
Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Tue-@BOS (Rodriguez), Sun-@NYY (Sabathia)
Nathan Karns (TB) -- Wed-@HOU (Keuchel): Oh, if only this game was at Tropicana Field -- ballpark factors -- I'd be all over it as one of the sneaky-good matchups of the week. Still, it's pretty decent.
Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Thu-@LAA (Shoemaker)
Chris Heston (SF) -- Mon-@STL (Wacha), Sat-@PIT (Cole): Heston has a wide platoon split -- 63 points of wOBA (.265 versus righties, .328 lefties) -- which makes the Cardinals matchup a tad scary. That Pirates one, however, is surprisingly good. For one, PNC Park is a good environment for a pitcher; for another, since the All-Star break, the Pirates rank among the leaders in plate appearances accrued by righties, despite ranking among the leaders in PAs against righties.
Joe Ross (WSH) -- Sat-MIL (Jungmann)
Raisel Iglesias (CIN) -- Tue-KC (Volquez), Sun-ARI (Anderson): He has three consecutive quality starts, so in a week light on two-start options, that makes him a more attractive roll of the dice.
Luis Severino (NYY) -- Sat-CLE (Salazar)
Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Thu-TB (Archer)
Taylor Jungmann (MIL) -- Sat-@WSH (Ross)
Andrew Heaney (LAA) -- Mon-CWS (Rodon), Sat-TOR (Estrada)
John Lackey (STL) -- Fri-@SD (Cashner): His 11 consecutive quality starts are the lengthiest such active streak in the majors, and this is a Petco Park game. Strangely, this will be his 379th career start, yet his first ever at Petco.
Chris Bassitt (OAK) -- Fri-TB (Smyly)
Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) -- Wed-NYM (Syndergaard): Don't be too quick here; Jimenez's second-half ERA is 7.43 in five starts, the opposing Mets aren't quite the pushovers offensively that they were a month ago, and the game is in Camden Yards rather than Citi Field, plus includes a DH.
Mike Fiers (HOU) -- Fri-LAD (Wood)
Shelby Miller (ATL) -- Fri-@CHC (Arrieta)
Adam Conley (MIA) -- Tue-@MIL (Cravy), Sun-PHI (Nola): Now we reach the "onlies" tier of two-start pitchers. Conley is unproven at the big-league level, but these are at least above-average matchups for him.
Alex Wood (LAD) -- Fri-@HOU (Fiers)
Jimmy Nelson (MIL) -- Fri-@WSH (Gonzalez)
Aaron Nola (PHI) -- Tue-TOR (Dickey), Sun-@MIA (Conley)
Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Wed-LAD (Latos)
Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Sat-STL (Martinez)
Carlos Rodon (CWS) -- Mon-@LAA (Heaney), Sat-@SEA (Nuno): He's preferably in daily formats, where you could limit him only to the Sunday game at pitching-friendly Safeco Field.
Mike Leake (SF) -- Tue-@STL (Lynn), Sun-@PIT (Liriano)
Nathan Eovaldi (NYY) -- Wed-MIN (Santana)
Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Wed-@SD (Ross)
Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Mon-OAK (Gray), Sat-MIN (Gibson)
Justin Verlander (DET) -- Fri-TEX (Gallardo)
R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Tue-@PHI (Nola): He has seven consecutive quality starts, and a 1.49 ERA in his six starts since the All-Star break, which is sixth-best among qualified pitchers during that span. The main risk here: The Blue Jays could push him up to Aug. 16, in which case he'd draw a less attractive matchup on the road at the Angels.
Matt Garza (MIL) -- Mon-MIA (Nicolino), Sun-@WSH (Zimmermann)
Vidal Nuno (SEA) -- Sat-CWS (Rodon)
CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Tue-MIN (Pelfrey), Sun-CLE (Bauer)
Mat Latos (LAD) -- Wed-@OAK (Chavez)
Justin Nicolino (MIA) -- Mon-@MIL (Garza), Sat-PHI (TBD)
Colin Rea (SD) -- Mon-ATL (Perez), Sun-STL (Wacha)
Edinson Volquez (KC) -- Tue-@CIN (Iglesias), Sun-@BOS (Rodriguez)
Jake Peavy (SF) -- Thu-@PIT (Morton)
Drew Smyly (TB) -- Fri-@OAK (Bassitt): His Aug. 16 performance will influence this matchup, and if he's not pitch-count restricted, a game at Oakland's O.co Coliseum could be an intriguing one for those looking to stream starters.
Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Wed-CWS (Samardzija)
Chi Chi Gonzalez (TEX) -- Tue-SEA (Iwakuma), Sun-@DET (Sanchez): ...Annnnnnd we reach the "no thank you" two-start pitchers. Gonzalez is coming off a poor return start to the majors, the Mariners matchup would be more attractive at Petco and the Tigers should have Miguel Cabrera back before Sunday's game.
Josh Tomlin (CLE) -- Thu-@NYY (Nova)
Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Sun-@LAA (Richards)
David Hale (COL) -- Tue-WSH (Zimmermann), Sun-NYM (Harvey)
Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Fri-@COL (Gray)
Keyvius Sampson (CIN) -- Wed-KC (Guthrie)
Bryan Mitchell (NYY) -- Mon-MIN (Gibson)
Yordano Ventura (KC) -- Sat-@BOS (TBD)
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Fri-MIN (Milone)
Chase Anderson (ARI) -- Tue-@PIT (Liriano), Sun-@CIN (Iglesias)
Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) -- Tue-CLE (Bauer), Sun-KC (Volquez)
Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Sat-@COL (Rusin)
Jon Gray (COL) -- Fri-NYM (Colon)
Hector Santiago (LAA) -- Fri-TOR (Price)
Williams Perez (ATL) -- Mon-@SD (Rea), Sat-@CHC (Haren)
Patrick Corbin (ARI) -- Thu-@CIN (Lamb)
Dan Haren (CHC) -- Sat-ATL (Perez)
Kyle Gibson (MIN) -- Mon-@NYY (Mitchell), Sat-@BAL (Tillman)
Brett Anderson (LAD) -- Sat-@HOU (Kazmir)
John Lamb (CIN) -- Thu-ARI (Corbin)
Tyler Cravy (MIL) -- Tue-MIA (Conley)
Ervin Santana (MIN) -- Wed-@NYY (Eovaldi)
Scott Feldman (HOU) -- Tue-TB (Odorizzi), Sun-LAD (Greinke)
Tom Koehler (MIA) -- Wed-@MIL (Peralta)
Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Thu-@DET (Simon)
Wade Miley (BOS) -- Thu-KC (Duffy)
Daniel Norris (DET) -- Wed-@CHC (Lester)
Robbie Ray (ARI) -- Wed-@PIT (Happ)
Charlie Morton (PIT) -- Thu-SF (Peavy)
Matt Wisler (ATL) -- Tue-@SD (Shields), Sun-@CHC (Hammel)
Mike Montgomery (SEA) -- Wed-@TEX (Perez)
Yovani Gallardo (TEX) -- Fri-@DET (Verlander)
Jorge De La Rosa (COL) -- Wed-WSH (Strasburg)
Matt Boyd (DET) -- Sat-TEX (Hamels)
Henry Owens (BOS) -- Fri-KC (Cueto)
Wily Peralta (MIL) -- Wed-MIA (Koehler)
Brad Hand (MIA) -- Thu-PHI (Williams)
Jeremy Hellickson (ARI) -- Mon-@PIT (Cole), Sat-@CIN (DeSclafani)
Yohan Flande (COL) -- Thu-WSH (Scherzer)
Aaron Harang (PHI) -- Fri-@MIA (TBD)
Mike Foltynewicz (ATL) -- Thu-@CHC (Hendricks)
Mark Buehrle (TOR) -- Wed-@PHI (Morgan)
Matt Barnes (BOS) -- Mon-CLE (Salazar)
Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Thu-CLE (Tomlin)
Rubby De La Rosa (ARI) -- Fri-@CIN (Holmberg)
J.A. Happ (PIT) -- Wed-ARI (Ray)
John Danks (CWS) -- Tue-@LAA (Richards), Sun-@SEA (Walker)
Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) -- Sat-ARI (Hellickson)
Danny Duffy (KC) -- Thu-@BOS (Miley)
Alfredo Simon (DET) -- Thu-TEX (Lewis)
Jeff Locke (PIT) -- Fri-SF (Bumgarner)
David Holmberg (CIN) -- Fri-ARI (De La Rosa)
Martin Perez (TEX) -- Wed-SEA (Montgomery)
Miguel Gonzalez (BAL) -- Thu-MIN (Duffey)
Tommy Milone (MIN) -- Fri-@BAL (Chen)
Jerome Williams (PHI) -- Thu-@MIA (Hand)
Kendall Graveman (OAK) -- Sat-TB (Ramirez)
Matt Cain (SF) -- Wed-@STL (Garcia)
Joe Kelly (BOS) -- Wed-CLE (Kluber)
Adam Morgan (PHI) -- Wed-TOR (Buehrle)
Chris Rusin (COL) -- Sat-NYM (Niese)
Felix Doubront (OAK) -- Tue-LAD (Kershaw)
Tyler Duffey (MIN) -- Thu-@BAL (Gonzalez)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) -- Wed-@CIN (Sampson)
Mike Pelfrey (MIN) -- Tue-@NYY (Sabathia), Sun-@BAL (Gausman)
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, Aug. 10-16 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 7, Boston Red Sox 7, New York Yankees 7, Tampa Bay Rays 7, Chicago White Sox 7, Cleveland Indians 7, Minnesota Twins 7, Houston Astros 7, Los Angeles Angels 7, Texas Rangers 7, Atlanta Braves 7, Miami Marlins 7, Pittsburgh Pirates 7, Arizona Diamondbacks 7, San Francisco Giants 7.
Versus RH: Yankees 7, Braves 7, Orioles 6, Red Sox 6, Marlins 6, St. Louis Cardinals 6, Padres 6. Ten teams face five right-handed starters.
That Rockies rating might seem out of place, until you recall the aforementioned four starting pitchers scheduled to face them: Zimmermann, Strasburg, Scherzer and Harvey -- not to mention Jonathon Niese, who has 10 quality starts and a 2.76 ERA in his past 11 games. That's not to say that you should sit all your Rockies hitters, as Charlie Blackmon (11th), Nolan Arenado (22nd), DJ LeMahieu (24th) and Carlos Gonzalez (37th) all rank among the 40 best hitters on our Player Rater, more than earning their "automatic" status when they're scheduled to play fully at Coors, while Jose Reyes is well worth your consideration thanks in large part to his speed. It's the matchups-class Rockies hitters who should be avoided where possible. That includes Brandon Barnes, Kyle Parker, Ben Paulsen and the catchers.
Great American Ball Park boosts offensive numbers, especially for the lefties, and anytime the Cincinnati Reds play exclusively there, they're well worth your while. Five games against right-handed starters, too, represents a better schedule for them, considering two of their better-known bats are left-handers Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Bruce is a .260/.305/.603 hitter against righties since the All-Star break -- that's good for a whopping .342 isolated power - but on the lower tiers, don't forget about Eugenio Suarez, who has batted .312/.337/.506 against righties during that same time span.
Games at Great American are good for the visitors, too, considering the Reds' relative rotation inexperience, and that's an important factor regarding the Royals' schedule. They play just five games, which fuels their "5" rating, but this is one of the better five-game schedules you'll see this season. After all, the Royals' weekend schedule includes three games at Boston's Fenway Park, facing Wade Miley, Henry Owens and either Matt Barnes or Steven Wright. The aforementioned Kendrys Morales is a weaker play with the loss of the DH for two games, but Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Ben Zobrist and Salvador Perez should all remain in your lineup.