The Fantasy Baseball Forecaster has been updated as of Monday, May 8, at 3:55 p.m. ET.
Welcome to the new and improved version of the Fantasy Baseball Forecaster! This year, we've reorganized the story into four parts; it's the same great intel, but you get right where you need to go as fast as possible. Good luck this season!
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On tap: Week 6 has another late start, with ESPN's Monday Night Baseball kicking off the week at 7 p.m. ET as the San Francisco Giants visit the New York Mets. From there, we'll see a greater volume of interleague play, with 22 such matchups on the weekly schedule. ESPN will broadcast two other games this week: St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins on Wednesday Night Baseball at 7 p.m. ET; and Houston Astros at New York Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball at 8 p.m. ET.
Weather remains an issue as we enter the second week of May, but with such a hefty volume of interleague play -- remember that they are among the most difficult games to reschedule -- teams should be more apt to try to tough it out on days when they're set to battle the elements. Interestingly, only two interleague series seem likely to be threatened by rain: The San Diego Padres-Texas Rangers home-and-home series (two games apiece at each city), during which the Tuesday game at San Diego's Petco Park and Thursday contest at Texas' Globe Life Park are somewhat in question; and the Yankees at Cincinnati Reds game on Tuesday, which could easily be pushed back to Wednesday if need be. Weather instead appears to be the biggest issues in the Northeast -- potentially affecting the Boston Red Sox, Yankees and Washington Nationals -- during the May 12-14 weekend, and at Colorado's Coors Field midweek. From a volume perspective, owners of Philadelphia Phillies players -- three of their five games during Week 6 are played at Washington's Nationals Park, during that potentially rainy May 12-14 weekend -- face the greatest risk of a significant loss of playing time. To a lesser degree, the Red Sox, Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Astros and Chicago Cubs could also be at risk of losing one or more of their six scheduled games.
Six American League teams play at least two games at National League ballparks this week, and four of them have designated hitters who have yet to play a single inning in the field: The Red Sox's Hanley Ramirez, Yankees' Matt Holliday, Detroit Tigers' Victor Martinez and Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz. Ramirez is the name to watch: Shoulder issues have prevented him from playing first base, as was the initial plan (he was originally slated to play there to free up DH for Chris Young against left-handed pitching this season). Even if Ramirez is capable of playing in the field by the Red Sox's May 9-11 series at Milwaukee, the high likelihood that he and usual first baseman Mitch Moreland will share those chores -- with Moreland actually more likely to get the majority of the playing time as the opposing Milwaukee Brewers' rotation is entirely right-handed -- significantly deflates both players' Week 6 fantasy value. It is one week where Moreland is arguably the stronger start. Holliday and Martinez are also unlikely to play either of their teams' two games in NL parks, at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park and Arizona's Chase Field, respectively, so temper your expectations for both. Cruz, meanwhile, should slot in as the Mariners' right fielder at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, considering his importance to the team's offense.
Don't sleep on the Padres, who at the beginning of play on May 5 ranked 27th in the majors in runs per game (3.77). Besides simply their favorable hitting ratings this week -- their nine (counting the decimal points behind it) ranks second-best of any team, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers, thanks in large part to two games at Texas' Globe Life Park and three at Chicago's Guaranteed Rate Field -- the Padres benefit from a pure volume/playing time perspective thanks to their gaining an additional lineup spot, the DH, in five of their seven games. Wil Myers, Yangervis Solarte and Manuel Margot are automatics facing this schedule, but lesser names like Austin Hedges and Ryan Schimpf get a bump in value, making the former a high-end No. 2 fantasy catcher and the latter a clear-cut mixed middle infield starter. In deeper leagues, also consider adding Jabari Blash, an all-or-nothing power source who might capitalize upon those five games at homer-friendly venues, and Cory Spangenberg, who has just enough patience and speed to be a worthwhile middle-infield plug-in with increased playing time.
Avoid Phillies hitters wherever possible. Despite the aforementioned five-game schedule that could be threatened by weather, the team's matchups are awful -- the worst of any team's this week, in fact. Particularly problematic is that the team provides a good amount of its fantasy value on the base paths, and it's set to play three games against the Nationals and Matt Wieters, who is very good-to-excellent at reining in the running game. Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera might be difficult players to bench, but there's a good chance you might find greater volume and/or clearly superior matchups in an alternative on your roster. It's also a poor week to chase Aaron Altherr's hot streak.
The Oakland Athletics could provide value off the waiver wire, especially from the left-handed side of the dish, as they're set to face six right-handed starters overall while avoiding Yu Darvish during a weekend series at hitting-friendly Texas' Globe Life Park. Yonder Alonso, available in nearly 90 percent of ESPN leagues, has been on a tear and should earn corner-infield consideration in shallow mixed. In addition, with Matt Joyce and Jed Lowrie hitting decently and garnering more attention for the upper third of the team's lineup, both warrant a look in AL-only and deeper mixed leagues.
The computer might not love the Nationals' Week 6 schedule, but I sure do. The team picks up a DH for two of its seven scheduled games, which only deepens what has been by far the majors' best offense to date, and while some of the projected starters they'll face are young and possess live arms, not a single one stands out as a clear elite arm (well, not yet, at least). Yes, this is a week to keep Michael Taylor active, and in fact, NL-only owners might be able to squeeze a handful of DH at-bats from Adam Lind thanks to those two games at Baltimore's Camden Yards.
It's a key week for the slow-out-of-the-gate Kyle Schwarber to kick-start his season, as he and the Cubs play three games at Colorado's Coors Field May 8-10, then make a three-game trip to St. Louis where they'll face nothing but right-handed starters. The Cubs have already begun resting Schwarber on occasion, and could soon consider lowering him in the lineup if he doesn't improve his play. Coors is an excellent place for him to pick up the pace, making him worth keeping active even if he has been frustrating to own. In addition, in a week when the Cubs will battle five righty starters, Jason Heyward is an automatic in all formats.
Thanks to six of their seven games being scheduled against right-handed opposing starters, the Rangers stand out as another strong Week 6 offense. The Rangers have one of the widest righty/lefty splits in baseball thus far: They have a .330 team wOBA against righties, but only a second-worst-in-the-majors .257 mark against lefties. Remarkably, Joey Gallo remains available in more than half of ESPN leagues, but he's an absolute must this week. Shin-Soo Choo is another player to activate even in shallow mixed, as the Rangers haven't been afraid to toss him into an outfield corner, which helps alleviate any concern of the loss of the DH for two games at San Diego's Petco Park from May 8-9.
Besides the Phillies, the Atlanta Braves are the other team to play just five games in Week 6, a week during which 12 other squads are scheduled for a full seven. Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte and Matt Kemp are performing too well to bench despite the short week -- and the addition of the DH for the two games at Houston's Minute Maid Park from May 9-10 only helps bolster their playing time -- but no other Brave stands out enough to be a worthwhile mixed-league matchups play. The team's base-stealing matchups, incidentally, rank among the majors' worst for the week.