Fantasy Forecaster: Strategies for the Week 16 scoring period

Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, July 24, at 7:33 a.m. ET.

On tap: It's the final full week before Major League Baseball's annual trade deadline -- well, it's the deadline for trades that don't first require players to clear waivers -- which arrives at 4 p.m. ET on Aug. 1, the Monday following Week 16. Though we might see a flurry of deals after the conclusion of the upcoming week, every day we get closer to that deadline increases the likelihood of trades happening, which could radically alter teams' rotations and lineups. Keep the closest tabs on the starting pitchers on the trading block who could have their matchups altered: Sonny Gray and Rich Hill of the Oakland Athletics, Julio Teheran of the Atlanta Braves, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays, Michael Pineda of the New York Yankees, Jeff Locke of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Andrew Cashner of the San Diego Padres.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will get a first-hand look at Archer, a pitcher in whom they're rumored to be interested, as he starts against them at Dodger Stadium on July 26. The same is true of the Texas Rangers and Gray, who will start against them at Globe Life Park, also on July 26.

The Washington Nationals face quite a test, first making a two-game stop in Progressive Field to face the Cleveland Indians, owners of the American League's best record, before heading west for four games against the owners of baseball's best record, the San Francisco Giants. In the process, the Nationals will face the Nos. 12 (Danny Salazar), 38 (Carlos Carrasco), 45 (Jeff Samardzija) and 6 (Johnny Cueto) starting pitchers on our Player Rater.

Dee Gordon is eligible to return to the Miami Marlins' active roster on July 28, in time for all four games of the team's series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Part of the week's scheduling oddities: The Baltimore Orioles and Minnesota Twins will play a make-up of their May 9 postponement on July 28, resulting in a seven-game week for the Orioles and a six-game week for the Twins. For the Orioles, they'll play night games on three consecutive nights, July 27-29, traveling 900-plus miles from Baltimore to Minneapolis, then just shy of 700 miles from Minneapolis to Toronto.

The Padres and Toronto Blue Jays will play a three-game series on July 25-27 in Toronto in the only remaining location-specific matchup -- teams and host city -- that had never previously happened in the 20 years of interleague play. Every other possible interleague matchup has occurred at least once.

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ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines

We're back to having only Monday night games in Week 16, as ESPN's Monday Night Baseball game kicks things off: Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox at 7 p.m. ET. 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, July 25: 7 p.m. ET (Tigers at Red Sox on ESPN's Monday Night Baseball)
Tuesday, July 26: 7 p.m. ET (Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox on ESPN's Tuesday Night Baseball)
Wednesday, July 27: 12:10 p.m. ET (two of six day games begin at that time)
Thursday, July 28: 1:10 p.m. ET (Colorado Rockies at New York Mets, one of two day games)
Friday, July 29: 2:20 p.m. ET (Seattle Mariners at Cubs, the day's only day game)
Saturday, July 30: 1:07 p.m. ET (Orioles at Blue Jays, one of three day games)
Sunday, July 31: 1:07 p.m. ET (Orioles at Blue Jays, one of 14 day games)

Interleague impact

This week's interleague series:

  • Cubs at White Sox (2 games, July 25-26)

  • Rockies at Orioles (3 games, July 25-27)

  • Padres at Blue Jays (3 games, July 25-27)

  • Rays at Dodgers (2 games, July 26-27)

  • White Sox at Cubs (2 games, July 26-27)

  • Nationals at Indians (2 games, July 26-27)

  • Braves at Twins (2 games, July 26-27)

  • Mariners at Pirates (2 games, July 26-27)

  • Mariners at Cubs (3 games, July 29-31)

Mariners' traditional DH, 5 games in NL ballparks: It's generally Nelson Cruz (52 starts at DH), though Cruz has been playing a bit more often in right field of late, with Adam Lind making 10 starts at DH in the Mariners' past 24 games as a way to get Dae-Ho Lee into the lineup against right-handers at first base. As the Mariners will face three left-handers in their five games in Week 16, Cruz and Lee are at the least risk of losing playing time in NL parks, and in fact, Cruz will probably start all five games in right field. Seth Smith, and to a lesser extent Lind, are the players to avoid, as Franklin Gutierrez seems likely to get the starts in left field against lefties.

Rockies' probable DH(s), 3 games in AL ballparks: Barring a swift recovery by Gerardo Parra (DL: ankle), the Rockies will probably go with the Daniel Descalso-Ryan Raburn tandem they used in New York on June 21-22. As the opposing Orioles will throw three right-handed starters, Descalso, a left-handed hitter, could start as many as all three games. If Raburn sneaks in a start or two at DH, Brandon Barnes would presumably start in his place in left field.

Padres' probable DH(s), 3 games in AL ballparks: The Padres have rotated DHs this season, though backup catcher Christian Bethancourt has a team-high two starts in four games at AL parks, so he could make multiple starts there in Toronto. Brett Wallace would be an obvious choice against right-handed pitching, while Matt Kemp could also get a look at DH to clear up an outfield spot for Alex Dickerson.

Cubs' probable DH(s), 2 games in AL ballparks: As Miguel Montero is usually Jake Arrieta's catcher, Willson Contreras almost assuredly will DH in the Cubs' July 25 game at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field. The team's plan for the other game is what's unclear, as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Tommy La Stella or Javier Baez could DH so that all four infielders can find a way into the same lineup. Contreras has been getting everyday at-bats anyway, so he's an automatic play, DH or no DH, but Baez should get a slight bump as a result of the Cubs gaining a DH.

Rays' traditional DH, 2 games in NL ballparks: Corey Dickerson shifts into a straight platoon with Brandon Guyer in left field in games at NL ballparks. The Dodgers are likely to start two right-handers and Dickerson would still warrant 12-team mixed and AL-only appeal if the team faces five righty starters during Week 16.

White Sox's traditional DH, 2 games in NL ballparks: Avisail Garcia and Justin Morneau have been serving in a straight platoon at DH recently, and as the opposing Cubs are likely to start two right-handers during their series at Wrigley Field, both players will probably serve as pinch-hitters for both games. Morneau appears unlikely to earn a start at first base ahead of Jose Abreu.

Nationals' probable DH(s), 2 games in AL ballparks: It might be wisest for the Nationals to DH Daniel Murphy, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury of late, in order to free up second base for Trea Turner. That's the most likely arrangement, making Turner a worthy 14-plus-team mixed and NL-only play, but it's also possible that the team could DH Jayson Werth in order to squeeze both Ben Revere and Michael Taylor into the same outfield.

Braves' probable DH(s), 2 games in AL ballparks: When the Braves most recently visited an AL park, July 8-10 at the White Sox, they used the DH to get both of their right fielders, Nick Markakis and Jeff Francoeur, into the same lineup. Francoeur could be worth the NL-only plug-in, but as he'll face two right-handed starters during the series in Minnesota, so his value is limited.

Projected starting pitchers

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

Projected starting pitchers, July 25-31
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

  • Orioles: Vance Worley, the team's most recent fifth starter, was scheduled to start on July 24. That would line him up for a July 29 start during Week 16, though the team could always go in another direction, such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Odrisamer Despaigne, Mike Wright or Tyler Wilson.

  • White Sox: Though Jacob Turner has been filling in for Carlos Rodon (DL: wrist), including on July 22, Rodon could be a candidate to return when that spot arrives on July 27 during Week 16. It is also unclear whether Chris Sale, whose July 23 start was skipped, will pitch sooner than the next time his turn in the rotation arrives on July 28.

  • Tigers: Daniel Norris (DL: oblique) made a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Toledo on July 18 and could return to the Tigers' rotation as early as July 24, replacing Anibal Sanchez. Norris could also make another rehab start and replace Sanchez on July 30 during Week 16. Jordan Zimmermann (DL: neck), meanwhile, might make a rehab start on July 24, lining him up for a possible return on July 29 during Week 16, replacing Matt Boyd.

  • Kansas City Royals: Brian Flynn is tentatively expected to get another start for the Royals on July 25.

  • Los Angeles Angels: The Angels will need a fill-in for Nick Tropeano (DL: elbow) no later than July 26, with Tyler Skaggs and Jhoulys Chacin the leading candidates. Skaggs made a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Salt Lake on July 20, so he'd be on five days' rest. Either pitcher could also be a potential replacement for the struggling Tim Lincecum, who is scheduled for July 29 during Week 16.

  • Athletics: Rich Hill (blister) will miss his July 24 start, casting doubt upon his availability for Week 16 as well. Jesse Hahn will fill in on July 24, and could go again the next time that spot in the rotation arrives on July 30.

  • Marlins: Wei-Yin Chen (undisclosed injury) was scratched from his July 25 start and will be replaced by Jarred Cosart. It is unclear whether Chen will be ready to pitch by the next time his turn in the rotation arrives on July 30.

  • Nationals: Lucas Giolito made a July 24 spot start for the Nationals, but Joe Ross (DL: shoulder) might be ready to replace Giolito by the next turn in the rotation on July 30. Ross will make a rehabilitation start for Class A Hagerston on July 24 first.

  • Cincinnati Reds: Keyvius Sampson was set to fill in as the Reds' fifth starter on July 23, but due to their July 28 off day, the team appears likely to skip that spot in the rotation during Week 16. Homer Bailey (DL: elbow), who made a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Louisville on July 20, could be a candidate to rejoin the rotation during Week 16.

  • Pirates: Tyler Glasnow filled in as the Pirates' fifth starter on July 23, but shoulder discomfort cut his start short and it is unclear whether he'll be able to pitch during Week 16. The team can skip that turn in the rotation due to July 25 and 28 off days.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: Braden Shipley will fill in for Zack Greinke (DL: oblique) on July 25, lining him up for a potential July 30 start as well. It is unclear whether Greinke will be ready to return during Week 16.

  • Dodgers: After the Dodgers demoted Julio Urias to Triple-A Oklahoma City on July 22, it appears that they will use their July 25 and 28 off days to skip a starter during Week 16.

  • Giants: The Giants flip-flopped Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in their rotation, so Cueto will pitch July 28 and Samardzija July 29.

Tristan's Week 16 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, July 25-31
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 only for 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: Orioles 7, Red Sox 7, White Sox 7, Royals 7, Angels 7, Rangers 7, Marlins 7, Mets 7, Philadelphia Phillies 7, Cubs 7, Milwaukee Brewers 7, Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 7, Rockies 7, Giants 7.

  • Home games: Rangers 7, Marlins 7, Mets 7, Brewers 7, Giants 7, Blue Jays 6, Twins 6, Indians 5, Cubs 5, Dodgers 5.

  • Versus LH: Angels 4, Yankees 3, Tigers 3, Royals 3, Mariners 3, Mets 3, Cubs 3, Brewers 3.

  • Versus RH: Blue Jays 6, White Sox 6, Braves 6, Marlins 6, Phillies 6, Nationals 6, Cardinals 6, Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 6. Six teams face five right-handed starters.

Home games, left-handed starters: Those are considerable advantages for the Brewers as they call Miller Park home -- the No. 13 venue in terms of runs scored and No. 3 in terms of home runs per our Park Factor page -- and they have a wOBA 11 points greater (.324-.313) and strikeout rate two percent lower (24.2-26.2) against left- than right-handed pitchers. Chances are the Brewers could face as many as three lefty starters in Week 16 -- dedpending whether the Pirates use four or five starters -- making this an especially favorable week for Ryan Braun (.346/.422/.564 triple-slash rates against lefties), Chris Carter (.205/.333/.534) and Jonathan Villar (.340/.436/.510). It's also a good week to add and start -- in deeper leagues, at least -- Will Middlebrooks, who has five of the team's past seven starts at third base and hits .252/.305/.433 for his career against lefties.

Speaking of favorable hitters' environments, the Blue Jays also play the entirety of their week at Rogers Centre, generally a homer-friendly venue despite its middling ranking (15th) in the category this season. Interestingly, the Blue Jays have every bit as good a team wOBA against lefties (.341) as righties (.341), despite their being traditionally thought of as a righty-power-leaning lineup. One of the reasons is the breakthrough year by Michael Saunders, a .284/.360/.504 hitter against righties, a standout choice for Week 16 facing this much righty pitching. Justin Smoak is a lesser player to consider in a week like this, back in an American League park, as he should get all the starts at first base and he's a .241/.344/.456 hitter against right-handers.

It's a good time to line up against the injury-plagued Angels' pitching staff, and both the Red Sox and Royals benefit from being scheduled to play them in Week 16. The Royals stand out more from a matchups perspective, as in addition to possessing the greater number of widely available hitters, they're the ones concluding their week with a four-game series against the Rangers at hitter-friendly Globe Life Park. Cheslor Cuthbert, the team's regular third baseman, is a .386/.393/.544 hitter in 16 games in July, and for those seeking cheap steals, Jarrod Dyson, a .256/.310/.462 hitter in 13 games in July, should benefit from a week of favorable base-stealing matchups.