Fantasy Forecaster: June 13-19

Fantasy Forecaster updated Monday, June 13, at 9:39 a.m. ET.

On tap: The American League Central race heats up in Week 11, as the top four teams in the standings are within 4½ games of one another (entering play on June 13), and all four teams play nothing but one another. The Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals will square off -- the only matchups between them we won't see are White Sox-Royals and Indians-Tigers, but we'll see each of the other four combinations -- with the Royals having the advantage of volume (seven games) and home games (all seven), and the White Sox the disadvantage of only six games, three of them on the road, and the worst combination in terms of their opponents' combined winning percentage and run differential.

Two of the four teams face rotation questions entering the week: The White Sox's two-start pitcher is James Shields, who served up seven runs (three on home runs) in two innings' work in his White Sox debut on June 8, after allowing 10 runs (two on homers) in 2 2/3 innings' work in his previous start for the San Diego Padres. Meanwhile, the Royals' June 17 scheduled starter is Yordano Ventura, who on June 9 was handed a nine-game suspension that he immediately appealed. It is unclear whether his appeal will be heard during Week 11, but considering Rougned Odor's appeal of his suspension received a ruling within nine days, Ventura's start might be in jeopardy.

The majors' winningest team, the Chicago Cubs, visit the National League's (and majors') second-winningest team, the Washington Nationals, at Nationals Park from June 13-15. Though both teams certainly have productive offenses, pitching might well be the series' top storyline: The Cubs boast baseball's best team ERA (2.62) as well as the lowest starters' ERA (2.30) of any team during the live-ball era, while the Nationals will pitch Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nos. 11 and 6 starting pitchers on our Player Rater, on June 13 and 15.

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ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines

ESPN's Monday Night Baseball game kicks off Week 11, as Cubs at Nationals has a 7 p.m. ET start. Fantasy owners have more time to set their weekly lineups this week.

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, June 13: 7 p.m. ET (Cubs at Nationals on ESPN)
Tuesday, June 14: 12:37 p.m. ET (Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays, the day's only day game)
Wednesday, June 15: 3:10 p.m. ET (New York Yankees at Colorado Rockies, one of five day games)
Thursday, June 16: 12:10 p.m. ET (Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves, one of three day games)
Friday, June 17: 2:20 p.m. ET (Pittsburgh Pirates at Cubs, Friday's only day game)
Saturday, June 18: 2:10 p.m. ET (Yankees at Minnesota Twins, one of nine day games)
Sunday, June 19: 1:10 p.m. ET (four of 14 day games begin at that time)

Interleague impact

This week's interleague series:

Phillies' probable DH(s): Ryan Howard, who started all three Phillies games at Detroit's Comerica Park May 23-25 at DH, all against right-handed starters, will presumably do the same against the Blue Jays' scheduled righties on June 13 and 14. Tommy Joseph will play first base, and since the Phillies will face at least two left-handed starters during their final five games of the week, Joseph should be guaranteed a minimum of four starts and be a viable deep-mixed/NL-only play.

Yankees' traditional DH: Alex Rodriguez, who hasn't played an inning in the field since May 23, 2015. He'll serve as a pinch-hitter in the two games at Colorado's Coors Field, so don't be fooled into this being a Coors-fueled matchups bump for him, as he'll almost assuredly receive a maximum of two plate appearances in those games. Rodriguez's stats -- .259 (14-for-54) with two home runs in 13 games since returning from the DL -- are respectable enough to warrant using in shallow-mixed even in a four-start week for him, but don't make the mistake of assuming he's a great play seeing those Coors games on his schedule.

Astros' traditional DH: Evan Gattis remains the team's leader in DH starts both for the season (27) and since his May 17 recall (12), but he has also been the team's starting catcher for eight of their past 12 contests. He'll almost assuredly start one of the two games in St. Louis at catcher, probably the June 14 game against lefty Jaime Garcia, but a five-game week does limit his value in a shallow-mixed, one-catcher league. Still, he's worth your start considering how weak the position; it's Jason Castro whose value will drop beneath the "start-worthy" cut.

Blue Jays' traditional DH: Edwin Encarnacion, who has started nine of the Blue Jays' past 10 games in National League parks at first base ahead of Justin Smoak. Encarnacion has an outstanding chance at doing the same in both games in Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, though Smoak could sneak in a start. Smoak's fantasy owners in mixed formats should bench him for Week 11, however.

Giants' probable DH(s): Buster Posey (3 starts) led the Giants in DH starts in 2015, and he'll probably do the same in 2016, though three starts in 10 games shows how the Giants regard the DH as a rotational, "half day off" arrangement. Kelby Tomlinson, Denard Span and Jarrett Parker could also be candidates for starts, meaning that the three games simply means a minor bump in playing time -- think 3-4 PAs -- for the likes of Trevor Brown (catcher when Posey DHs), Tomlinson and Mac Williamson.

Reds' probable DH(s): Jay Bruce would be the most sensible choice because of his declining defense, but his reputation, especially for his strong arm, will probably keep him in right field. As the Reds have three catchers on their roster and granted Jordan Pacheco a DH start on May 16, he might be the best bet for 1-2 starts there, though the team could use the position to grant a start or two to Tyler Holt, Ivan De Jesus, Steve Selsky or Kyle Waldrop. There isn't enough here to exploit in fantasy, except for desperate NL-only, two-catcher league owners (Pacheco).

Rangers' traditional DH: Prince Fielder, which means this team's already cluttered roster is in an even rougher spot, as there's one fewer infield spot in which to squeeze Fielder and Mitch Moreland (typically first basemen), Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar (typically second basemen), Elvis Andrus (shortstop) and Adrian Beltre (third base). The Cardinals' rotation is entirely right-handed, incidentally, meaning the Rangers might shuffle this up as much as possible, so brace for slightly fewer PAs -- think 3-4 lost apiece -- and creative lineups. A positive: This could increase the chances of Fielder (first base) and Profar (third base or shortstop) to more quickly sneak in games they'll need to enhance 2016/2017 eligibility.

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, June 13-19
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.

Pitching scuttlebutt

  • Baltimore Orioles: Yovani Gallardo (DL: shoulder) will make a third rehabilitation start for Triple-A Norfolk on June 13, after which point he'll rejoin the Orioles' rotation on June 18. Kevin Gausman, meanwhile, was moved up by a day to June 15. Either Tyler Wilson or Mike Wright will start the June 16 game, and either Wright or Ubaldo Jimenez the June 17 game.

  • Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox will need a fifth starter for their June 18 game, and Clay Buchholz and Roenis Elias are the leading candidates.

  • Rays: Drew Smyly, who had his Week 10 start skipped for extra rest, will rejoin the Rays' rotation on June 15. Meanwhile, Blake Snell will join the rotation on June 16, bumping Matt Andriese to the bullpen.

  • White Sox: Following the White Sox's decision to designate Mat Latos for assignment, they slotted Carlos Rodon, whose start they skipped on June 9, back into their rotation on June 12. That'll line up Miguel Gonzalez for a June 14 and Rodon a June 18 start during Week 11.

  • Royals: Following their June 9 off day, the Royals pushed Chris Young back in their rotation to June 14.

  • Los Angeles Angels: Tim Lincecum made another start for Triple-A Salt Lake on June 12, and is likely to join the Angels for a June 18 start.

  • Oakland Athletics: Eric Surkamp will make a spot start for the Athletics on June 14, filling in for Rich Hill (DL: groin). Daniel Mengden is also expected to remain in the rotation, his next start on June 15. It is unclear whether Hill will be ready the next time that spot returns in the rotation on June 19, or whether Surkamp or another pitcher will need to fill in.

  • Seattle Mariners: The Mariners appear to have flip-flopped James Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma in their rotation, as their order was swapped in their press notes, so Paxton will pitch June 16 at Tampa Bay and Iwakuma June 17 at Boston. Felix Hernandez (DL: calf) did not travel with the Mariners during this portion of the road trip, so he's unlikely to return during Week 11.

  • Rangers: Yu Darvish (shoulder) will miss his scheduled June 13 start, with Cesar Ramos filling in. It is unclear whether Darvish will be ready the next time that turn arrives on June 18.

  • Braves: John Gant replaced Williams Perez (DL: rotator cuff) in the Braves' rotation beginning on June 12.

  • Phillies: Zach Eflin will replace Vince Velasquez (biceps) in the Phillies' rotation beginning on June 14.

  • Reds: Daniel Wright will replace Alfredo Simon in the Reds' rotation, beginning on June 13. Simon will move to the bullpen.

  • Milwaukee Brewers: Matt Garza (DL: lat) made a third and final rehabilitation start for Class A Wisconsin on June 9, and will rejoin the Brewers' rotation on June 14. Wily Peralta was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs, so Jimmy Nelson and Junior Guerra will each move back one day.

  • Pirates: It is unclear how long Gerrit Cole (triceps) will be sidelined after he left his June 10 start, but the Pirates have listed their June 16 starter as "TBD," hinting that he probably won't be ready by then. The Pirates could recall Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow or Chad Kuhl from Triple-A Indianapolis to fill in; Taillon is scheduled to pitch June 14, Kuhl June 16 and Glasnow pitched June 11 for Indianapolis, so all would have the requisite rest to make the start. If Taillon is scratched June 14, that'd be a tip-off that he's getting the assignment.

  • Rockies: Tyler Anderson joined the Rockies rotation on June 12, replacing Eddie Butler, while Jorge De La Rosa will rejoin their rotation on June 14, replacing Chris Rusin. It is unclear, however, whether each decision was a one-time start, as the Rockies have only formally announced their rotation through June 15.

  • Padres: The Padres will need a fill-in for Andrew Cashner (DL: neck) no later than June 15, with Luis Perdomo the most likely candidate.

  • Giants: Matt Cain (DL: hamstring) threw a 72 pitch simulated game on June 8 and will rejoin the Giants' rotation on June 13. Albert Suarez will move back to the bullpen.

Tristan's Week 11 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, June 13-19
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.

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:

  • Total games: Blue Jays 7, Tigers 7, Royals 7, Twins 7, Athletics 7, Rangers 7, Braves 7, Phillies 7, Nationals 7, Reds 7, Brewers 7, Los Angeles Dodgers 7, Padres 7.

  • Home games: Royals 7, Athletics 7, Padres 7, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, New York Mets 6, Phillies 5, Cardinals 5, Twins 4, Braves 4, Dodgers 4.

  • Versus LH: Astros 3, Athletics 3, Mariners 3, Cubs 3, Brewers 3, Padres 3. Thirteen teams face two left-handed starters.

  • Versus RH: Blue Jays 7, Royals 6, Reds 6, Dodgers 6. Eleven teams face five right-handed starters.

A past-week (June 3-9) uptick in production -- they rank fourth in the majors in runs per game (6.14), first in team wOBA (.399) and have the second-lowest strikeout rate (14.2 percent) during that span -- has elevated the Yankees out of the conversation for weakest offense in the AL, and with a schedule like theirs in Week 11, their offensive production should continue for the next week. What has slipped beneath the radar with the Yankees this season has been their contact rate (79.2 percent, fifth best in baseball), and this week they'll match up with a pair of pitching staffs, the Rockies and Twins, that have noticeably beneath league average strikeout rates, both of whom play in ballparks that deflate strikeouts (Coors Field, Target Field).

This is an outstanding week to load up on Yankees hitters, many of whom are widely available. Carlos Beltran is on an absolute tear of late, batting .327/.376/.748 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs in his past 30 games, and needs to be in every active fantasy lineup facing this schedule. Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley, both of whom are out there in more than 90 percent of ESPN leagues, are well worth plugging in if you're in a pinch at their eligible positions as a result of their regular roles. The aforementioned Alex Rodriguez has a favorable enough four-game schedule at Minnesota that he's worth keeping in there, barring your being rich in alternatives in shallow mixed. And Rob Refsnyder, likely to get the vast majority of the first base at-bats for the foreseeable future, is well worth the roll of the dice in deep-mixed/AL-only.

The Yankees' division rivals, the Blue Jays, have a hitting schedule that isn't that far off, and they play a full seven-game schedule to the Yankees' six. The Blue Jays will face only two pitchers with a league-average Game Score projection (the major league average is currently 51) or better, Jerad Eickhoff (June 13) and Aaron Nola (June 16), and they'll play in three of the eight most homer-friendly venues in baseball, Toronto's Rogers Centre (June 13-14), Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park (June 15-16) and Baltimore's Camden Yards (June 17-19). Though a more lefty-leaning schedule would favor this righty-leaning lineup, matchups-wise, a week in which the Blue Jays will face seven right-handed starters is great news for both Michael Saunders (.296/.375/.489 triple-slash rates against righties this season) and Justin Smoak (.267/.369/.457). In addition, Darwin Barney (.328/.369/.475 against righties) is off to a hot start and playing often enough to be a handy AL-only fill-in facing this schedule.

The Dodgers stand out among NL offenses, thanks to three games at hitter-friendly Arizona's Chase Field and four back home against a Brewers team with the majors' sixth-worst ERA (4.51). Thanks to their facing six right-handed starters, the Dodgers should flip their lineup over frequently, with Adrian Gonzalez and Corey Seager among the week's top matchup standouts, but that's also good news for some of their lesser-owned players: Chase Utley (.292/.388/.447 against righties this season), Trayce Thompson (.273/.373/.568) and Joc Pederson (.235/.333/.450).