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Fantasy Forecaster: May 23-29

Rich Hill has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all 13 starts over the past two seasons, and he is slated for two starts in Week 8. Don Feria/Getty Images

Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, May 22, at 10:12 p.m. ET.

On tap: The Washington Nationals and New York Mets, preseason favorites to finish one-two in the National League East (in no particular order), begin Week 8 with a rematch. After the Nationals took two games out of three during their May 17-19 series at New York's Citi Field, the teams will move to Washington's Nationals Park for a three-game series Monday through Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday's pitching matchups are identical to those from the final two games of their previous series, both of which the Nationals won. The spotlight is on Tuesday's starters: the Mets' Matt Harvey, who has struggled severely thus far, and Nationals' Stephen Strasburg, who has been exceptional to date, and who has a 2.33 ERA (fifth among qualifiers), 0.91 WHIP (fourth) and 167 strikeouts (third) since Aug. 8, 2015.

David Price and the Boston Red Sox visit Toronto's Rogers Centre for the second time this season -- they played a two-game series there April 8-10 -- but May 29 will represent Price's first start at the venue against his former teammates. Though facing that righty-power-laden lineup represents a somewhat challenging matchup for the lefty, his two-start week coupled with what might be a massive week of hitting numbers from the Red Sox lineup gives him extremely good counting-numbers appeal (wins, K's). The Red Sox open the week with a three-game series at home against the 29th-in-ERA Colorado Rockies, and they pace the majors in terms of team batting average (.296), slugging percentage (.484), runs per game (5.85) and wOBA (.368).

Due to a May 22 postponement, the Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates will play a make-up game at Pittsbugh's PNC Park on Monday, giving both teams seven games in Week 8. They had previously been scheduled to play six times apiece. This also moves up the start time of Week 8, as the start time of this game is 12:35 p.m. ET.

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ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines

The Rockies-Pirates Monday make-up game, which wasn't on the original schedule, causes an early start time to Week 8. That game begins at 12:35 p.m. ET, so make sure to set your lineups in advance of that. In addition, the first game of the Monday Indians-White Sox doubleheader begins at 5:10 p.m. ET.

Remember that game times have tremendous influence upon daily planning, so be aware of every day's first scheduled pitch. This week, they are:

Monday, May 23: 12:35 p.m. ET (Rockies at Pirates, one of two day games)
Tuesday, May 24: 12:10 p.m. ET (Tampa Bay Rays at Miami Marlins, the day's only day game)
Wednesday, May 25: 1:05 p.m. ET (Mets at Nationals, one of seven day games)
Thursday, May 26: 12:35 p.m. ET (Arizona Diamondbacks at Pirates, one of three day games)
Friday, May 27: 2:20 p.m. ET (Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs, the day's only day game)
Saturday, May 28: 1:07 p.m. ET (Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays, one of nine day games)
Sunday, May 29: 1:07 p.m. ET (Red Sox at Blue Jays, one of 14 day games)


Interleague impact

This week's interleague series:

  • Phillies at Detroit Tigers (3 games, May 23-25)

  • Rays at Marlins (2 games, May 23-24)

  • Rockies at Red Sox (3 games, May 24-26)

  • Marlins at Rays (2 games, May 25-26)

  • Pirates at Texas Rangers (3 games, May 27-29)

Phillies' probable DH(s): Ryan Howard has 20 starts at DH, all of them since Jim Thome's first departure from the team after the 2005 season. If that holds, it would free up first base for Tommy Joseph to play against three right-handers in Detroit. It's possible the Phillies could use the DH as a sort of off day for another player, perhaps Maikel Franco, to give Andres Blanco a start in one of the games, but Howard and Joseph are the players most likely to benefit from additional plate appearances.

Rays' traditional DH: A Corey Dickerson/Brandon Guyer platoon, meaning that the loss of the DH effectively forces the team to squeeze the two of them and Desmond Jennings into both left and center field, unless they're willing to sit right fielder Steven Souza Jr. and make it a four-man rotation. That the opposing Marlins will start one lefty (Wei-Yin Chen) and one righty (Tom Koehler) suggests that Guyer will get the Monday start and Dickerson the Tuesday start.

Rockies' probable DH(s): Unless the team recalls Brandon Barnes, Tom Murphy or Ben Paulsen from Triple-A Albuquerque, it'll probably be Ryan Raburn, a DH for 26 starts for the 2015 Cleveland Indians. That'd mean as many as four starts for Raburn -- three in that series and the May 28 game at Coors against lefty Madison Bumgarner -- putting him on the mixed-league radar.

Marlins' probable DH(s): As the Rays will start one righty (Matt Andriese) and one lefty (Drew Smyly) during the two-game series at Tampa Bay, Ichiro Suzuki will likely play right field with Giancarlo Stanton at DH on May 25, with Chris Johnson serving as the DH on Thursday. It's possible, however, that Ichiro will start both games in right field with Stanton at DH.

Pirates' probable DH(s): Though Matt Joyce was the Pirates' DH for both games of their April 11-12 series in Detroit, the difference in this series is that the Rangers will start three left-handers. Sean Rodriguez might therefore get the extra starts instead, with him, David Freese or Jung Ho Kang serving as the DH.


Projected starting pitchers

The chart below lists each of the 30 MLB teams' schedules and projected starting pitchers and provides a projected Bill James Game Score for each day's starter.

Projected starting pitchers, May 23-29
P: The starting pitcher's projected Bill James Game Score, accounting for 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.


Pitching scuttlebutt

  • Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles have kept Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman on strict every-fifth-day schedules in May, with Kevin Gausman, Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright slotting in the open spaces (Gausman getting the top priority of those three), so expect more of the same in Week 8. That means Wright will most likely move back to the May 28 game.

  • Chicago White Sox: Needing a spot starter for one game of their doubleheader on Monday, the White Sox will recall Erik Johnson from Triple-A Charlotte to start Game 2. He'll presumably serve as the "26th man," then be returned to the minors afterward.

  • Indians: Needing a spot starter for one game of their doubleheader on Monday, the Indians will recall Cody Anderson from Triple-A Columbus to start Game 2. It is unclear whether he will then remain on the roster, though he'll probably serve as the 26th man before being returned to the minors afterward.

  • Minnesota Twins: Pat Dean made a spot start for the Twins on Saturday, but it seems likely that his turn will be skipped in Week 8 because of an off day Thursday.

  • Los Angeles Angels: It is unclear how quickly the Angels will slot newly signed Tim Lincecum into their rotation, but chances are he'll need to make a minor league start or three to build up his pitch count before joining the big league club, meaning his Angels debut probably won't happen during Week 8.

  • Oakland Athletics: With Sonny Gray (DL; trapezius) sidelined, the Athletics will need a spot starter for Wednesday's game. Eric Surkamp is ineligible to be recalled that soon unless another player lands on the DL, leaving Zach Neal as the most likely candidate.

  • Rangers: Yu Darvish (DL; elbow) is expected to rejoin the Rangers' rotation on Saturday, replacing Cesar Ramos. Cole Hamels will move up a day in the order and pitch Friday.

  • Atlanta Braves: The Braves added Casey Kelly to their rotation May 22, presumably setting him up for a Saturday start during Week 8.

  • Cincinnati Reds: With Tim Adleman (DL; oblique) sidelined, the Reds will recall Daniel Wright from Triple-A Louisville to make a Tuesday start.

  • Pirates: Ryan Vogelsong will make a spot start for the Pirates on Monday, after Juan Nicasio threw one inning during the May 22 rainout. The remainder of the team's rotation will apparently remain in order.

  • Diamondbacks: Rubby De La Rosa, who was skipped during Week 7, will rejoin the Diamondbacks' rotation on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

  • Rockies: Jordan Lyles will make a spot start for the Rockies on Monday, and Jorge De La Rosa (DL; groin) will rejoin the rotation on Tuesday. Chad Bettis, who threw eight pitches on May 22 before the game was postponed, will make his next start on Wednesday. It appears that Chris Rusin will be the pitcher bumped to make room for De La Rosa.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers: After the Dodgers played a lengthy extra-inning game on May 22 that required them to use Ross Stripling in relief, they might opt for a spot starter in Stripling's place when his turn next arrives on Tuesday.

  • San Diego Padres: Andrew Cashner (DL; hamstring) will rejoin the Padres' rotation on Tuesday, pushing James Shields back to Wednesday and presumably bumping Christian Friedrich.


Tristan's Week 8 pitcher rankings


Hitting ratings

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 23-29
H: Hitters' matchup rating, which accounts for the opposing starting pitcher's 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 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst.


Hitting advantages

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:

As mentioned above, the Red Sox have an outstanding set of hitting matchups and, yes, that's despite the fact that they'll face Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman on May 28. The other five games, however, grade above-average to excellent, and the team is hitting on all cylinders of late. Most interesting will be the team's approach to left field, with Brock Holt on the seven-day concussion DL. Blake Swihart, recalled in a corresponding move on Friday, could serve in a straight platoon with Chris Young, meaning potentially four starts for the former and two for the latter, making Swihart a more-than-adequate fill-in No. 2 fantasy catcher, even in mixed formats.

The Brewers have an equally attractive set of hitting matchups, though in their case, one disadvantage is their right-handed leaning coupled with four games against right-handed starters. Nevertheless, as two of those righties are Mike Foltynewicz (Wednesday) and Alfredo Simon (May 28), that's four extremely good matchups for even the righty bats, and it's enough to drive things for owners of Ryan Braun, Chris Carter and Jonathan Lucroy. The lefties, though, get the biggest boost: Jonathan Villar is a great play facing teams that generally start A.J. Pierzynski and Tucker Barnhart behind the plate; Scooter Gennett and Kirk Nieuwenhuis also stand out in larger leagues (think 14-plus-team mixed and NL-only).

You probably think of the Rangers as a lefty-leaning offense, and their eight-point wOBA swing favoring their performance against righties (.322 against them, .314 against lefties) might only further that sentiment. A closer look at the individuals, however, reveals that four Rangers hitters have been outstanding against left-handers this season: Elvis Andrus (.345/.367/.517 triple-slash rates), Adrian Beltre (.311/.380/.467), Ian Desmond (.349/.404/.628) and Ryan Rua (.357/.400/.500). Rua in particular is available in a large majority of ESPN leagues and is a worthwhile addition in almost anything deeper than standard formats, in a week in which they'll face three left-handed starters while playing entirely at home.