Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, April 6, at 9:59 a.m. ET.
On tap: Interleague play ramps up in fantasy's Week 2, as there are six interleague series scheduled, including an entire week's set of interleague contests for the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres. This is largely the reason for the shorter week for three teams: The Tigers, Seattle Mariners (who oddly play five despite their schedule entirely intraleague) and Los Angeles Dodgers. It'll be Matt Kemp's first full week back from the disabled list, but as a result of the five-game schedule, three of which will be played against right-handed starters, he might not be as attractive a fantasy option initially.
It is a lighter week of two-start candidates, understandable because most teams' aces worked Opening Day (and therefore also during the Week 1, April 5-6 weekend), meaning that this crop of double-dips are most staffs' Nos. 4-5 starters. You'll see this reflected in my rankings below; the blanket advice is to lean on your best starters more than the ones pitching most often (at least in weekly formats). That said, some hot Week 1 starters align for two: Tony Cingrani (@STL, TB) gets a rematch against a St. Louis Cardinals team he struck out nine times in seven shutout innings on April 3, while Aaron Harang (NYM, WSH) gets two home games as he continues to fill in the gaps for the injury-riddled Atlanta Braves rotation.
Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
ESPN lineup deadlines | Interleague impact | Projected starting pitchers
Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 2 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
Hitting ratings | Hitting advantages
Fantasy's Week 2 gets an early start time due to the New York Yankees' home opener; they host the Baltimore Orioles at 1:05 p.m. ET. Make sure to set your lineups in advance of that time on Monday, as they will lock early this week.
There are day games on six of the seven days of Week 2, with Friday the lone exception (all games begin at 7:05 p.m. ET or later on that evening). The Orioles and Yankees play another 1:05 p.m. ET game on Tuesday, the San Diego Padres visit the Cleveland Indians at 12:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday and the Oakland Athletics visit the Minnesota Twins at 1:10 p.m. ET on Thursday. Prepare accordingly in daily formats.
This week's interleague series:
• Chicago White Sox at Colorado Rockies (three games; Monday-Wednesday)
• San Diego Padres at Cleveland Indians (three games; Monday-Wednesday)
• Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Dodgers (two games; Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Detroit Tigers at San Diego Padres (three games; Friday-Sunday)
• New York Mets at Los Angeles Angels (three games; Friday-Sunday)
• Tampa Bay Rays at Cincinnati Reds (three games; Friday-Sunday)
This is the week we will get our answer to one of the preseason's burning questions: Will Tigers manager Brad Ausmus really slot usual designated hitter Victor Martinez at catcher, as he hinted during spring training that he might during the regular season? The Tigers become the first AL team in 2014 to spend an entire week visiting National League parks, and they play a short-week five contests. Without hints that Martinez might catch, he'd be a glorified pinch hitter and therefore a player to reserve in all fantasy leagues (including AL-only). He still might be a player to bench in shallow mixed leagues, however, being that it's unlikely he'd catch all five games. Still, this week will give us a sense of his likelihood of earning field-position eligibility in-season, at least as far as the catcher position is concerned.
The White Sox are the other team of concern, as far as lost DH at-bats are concerned, as those three games at hitter-friendly Colorado's Coors Field will come with only eight available lineup spots (plus the pitcher). Adam Dunn earned all of the team's starts at DH in its first three games, but he doesn't have an obvious place to play, what with both Jose Abreu and Paul Konerko (who didn't make a single start in those three games) available to handle first base and a packed outfield with four viable starting candidates. Dunn started six of the White Sox's nine games in NL venues in 2013 -- four at first base and two in left field -- but he might serve as a pinch hitter for the three at Coors, if he can't earn a start against one of the two right-handers (Jordan Lyles on Monday or Juan Nicasio on Wednesday) in the series.
Conversely, the Mets' gain of the DH in Los Angeles' Angel Stadium is a particular plus, as the team has both a right- and left-handed first-base candidate who could serve in platoon at the position: Josh Satin and Lucas Duda. With two left-handers scheduled to start in the series -- Tyler Skaggs (Friday) and C.J. Wilson (Sunday) -- Satin probably has the advantage, despite Duda's natural look of a DH.
The Padres also gain the benefit of additional DH at-bats, which is a plus for a team that has Alexi Amarista, Chris Denorfia, Seth Smith and Will Venable fighting for outfield starts. With the Indians' rotation entirely right-handed, it's the left-handed Padres who benefit: Amarista and Smith should enjoy the uptick in playing time, though both Denorfia and Tommy Medica could pick up an extra start apiece.
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. Pitchers scheduled to start at least twice this week are in gold/beige boxes.
• With the Detroit Tigers' April 3 game postponed, the team skipped Drew Smyly's first scheduled start of 2014 -- that originally slated for April 5 -- and was prepared to utilize him out of the bullpen until the next time the team needed a fifth starter, on April 15 (Tuesday of fantasy's Week 3).
• Due to multiple opening-week postponements, the Oakland Athletics skipped Tommy Milone's turn in the rotation. They presumably will need him on Sunday, the earliest date on which they'll need a fifth starter.
• With only five games and two off days on their schedule for Week 2, the Seattle Mariners appeared likely to skip new fifth starter Chris Young's turn in the rotation, as they did to conclude fantasy's Week 1.
• The Texas Rangers claim that they will use a six-man rotation for now, though it is possible that they'll revert to five sometime during Week 2. They have already announced Tanner Scheppers their Monday starter and Ross as Wednesday's, and they have Colby Lewis on the comeback trail, so their rotation this week is currently unclear beyond Wednesday.
• Ervin Santana is tentatively scheduled to make his Atlanta Braves debut on Wednesday, though the team could push him back as late as Saturday if they wish, thanks to Monday's off day.
• Carlos Villanueva is currently serving as the Chicago Cubs' fifth starter, but the team is taking a start-by-start approach with his individual assignments.
• The Philadelphia Phillies will need to decide on their fifth starter in time for Sunday's game, with Jeff Manship a leading candidate.
• The San Diego Padres flip-flopped Tyson Ross and Robbie Erlin in their rotation in order to split up their left-handers, giving Erlin, not Ross, two starts in fantasy's Week 2.
1. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Sat-HOU (Cosart)
2. Jose Fernandez (MIA) -- Fri-@PHI (Burnett)
3. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Tue-@LAD (Haren), Sun-@SD (Erlin)
4. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Thu-MIL (Estrada)
5. Michael Wacha (STL) -- Mon-CIN (Cingrani), Sun-CHC (Jackson)
6. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Fri-OAK (Gray)
7. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Tue-@STL (Lynn), Sun-TB (Moore)
8. Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Mon-@MIN (Correia), Sat-@SEA (Ramirez)
9. David Price (TB) -- Fri-@CIN (Cueto)
10. Tony Cingrani (CIN) -- Mon-@STL (Wacha), Sat-TB (Cobb)
11. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Tue-MIA (Alvarez), Sun-@ATL (Harang)
12. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Fri-COL (De La Rosa)
13. Adam Wainwright (StL) -- Sat-CHC (Villanueva)
14. A.J. Burnett (PHI) -- Fri-MIA (Fernandez)
15. Matt Moore (TB) -- Mon-@KC (Vargas), Sun-@CIN (Bailey)
16. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Fri-@SEA (Hernandez)
17. John Lackey (BOS) -- Mon-TEX (Scheppers), Sat-@NYY (Kuroda)
18. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Fri-CLE (Masterson)
19. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Mon-@HOU (Cosart), Sun-NYM (Colon)
20. James Paxton (SEA) -- Tue-LAA (Santiago), Sun-OAK (Milone)
21. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Fri-@BAL (Norris)
22. Jeff Samardzija (CHC) -- Fri-@STL (Kelly)
23. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Sat-@SD (Kennedy)
24. Mark Buehrle (TOR) -- Tue-HOU (Oberholtzer), Sun-@BAL (Jimenez)
25. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Fri-@ATL (Teheran)
26. Felix Doubront (BOS) -- Tue-TEX (Perez), Sun-@NYY (Nova)
27. Tim Hudson (SF) -- Tue-ARI (Cahill), Sun-COL (Chatwood)
28. Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) -- Mon-@NYY (Kuroda), Sun-TOR (Buehrle)
29. James Shields (KC) -- Sat-@MIN (Nolasco)
30. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Mon-SD (Erlin), Sat-@CWS (Paulino)
31. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Mon-BAL (Jimenez), Sat-BOS (Lackey)
32. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Sat-@ARI (Miley)
33. Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Fri-@MIL (Peralta)
34. Matt Cain (SF) -- Sat-COL (Anderson)
35. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Wed-CIN (Leake)
36. Ivan Nova (NYY) -- Tue-BAL (Chen), Sun-BOS (Doubront)
37. Jason Vargas (KC) -- Mon-TB (Moore), Sun-@MIN (Correia)
38. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Tue-@COL (Morales), Sun-CLE (McAllister)
39. Felipe Paulino (CWS) -- Mon-@COL (Lyles), Sat-CLE (Kluber)
40. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) -- Wed-BAL (Gonzalez)
41. Dan Haren (LAD) -- Tue-DET (Scherzer), Sun-@ARI (Cahill)
42. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Tue-CIN (Bailey)
43. Matt Garza (MIL) -- Wed-@PHI (Hernandez)
44. Zach McAllister (CLE) -- Tue-SD (Ross), Sun-@CWS (Quintana)
45. Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Wed-SD (Stults)
46. Justin Masterson (CLE) -- Fri-@CWS (Sale)
47. Hector Santiago (LAA) -- Tue-@SEA (Paxton)
48. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Fri-WSH (Strasburg)
49. Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Thu-@CHC (Wood)
50. Jarred Cosart (HOU) -- Mon-LAA (Wilson), Sat-@TEX (Darvish)
51. Marco Estrada (MIL) -- Thu-@PHI (Lee)
52. Edwin Jackson (CHC) -- Tue-PIT (Morton), Sun-@STL (Wacha)
53. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Wed-DET (Sanchez)
54. Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Tue-@ATL (Harang), Sun-@LAA (Wilson)
55. Aaron Harang (ATL) -- Tue-NYM (Colon), Sun-WSH (Gonzalez)
56. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Wed-@LAD (Ryu)
57. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Wed-ARI (Arroyo)
58. CC Sabathia (NYY) -- Fri-BOS (Lester)
59. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Thu-MIA (Koehler)
60. Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Mon-@PHI (Kendrick), Sun-PIT (Morton)
61. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Fri-TB (Price)
62. Jake Peavy (BOS) -- Wed-TEX (Ross)
63. Chris Archer (TB) -- Tue-@KC (Ventura)
64. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Sat-@CIN (Cingrani)
65. Andrew Cashner (SD) -- Fri-DET (Porcello)
66. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Sat-PIT (Volquez)
67. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Sat-NYM (Niese)
68. Brett Anderson (COL) -- Sat-@SF (Cain)
69. Ervin Santana (ATL) -- Wed-NYM (Wheeler)
70. Rick Porcello (DET) -- Fri-@SD (Cashner)
71. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Wed-@ATL (Santana)
72. Alex Wood (ATL) -- Sat-WSH (Jordan)
73. Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Wed-@MIN (Hughes)
74. Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Sat-TOR (Hutchison)
75. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Fri-@NYY (Sabathia)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Trevor Cahill (ARI) -- Tue-@SF (Hudson), Sun-LAD (Haren)
Robbie Erlin (SD) -- Mon-@CLE (Kluber), Sun-DET (Scherzer)
Kyle Kendrick (PHI) -- Mon-MIL (Lohse), Sat-MIA (Eovaldi)
Charlie Morton (PIT) -- Tue-@CHC (Jackson), Sun-@MIL (Lohse)
Brett Oberholtzer (HOU) -- Tue-@TOR (Buehrle), Sun-@TEX (Scheppers)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Henderson Alvarez (MIA) -- Tue-@WSH (Gonzalez), Sun-@PHI (TBD)
Kevin Correia (MIN) -- Mon-OAK (Kazmir), Sun-KC (Vargas)
Tanner Scheppers (TEX) -- Mon-@BOS (Lackey), Sun-HOU (Oberholtzer)
• Home games are a particular plus for the Cardinals; they have a 3.09 ERA and 1.15 WHIP as a team at Busch Stadium since the beginning of 2013, those the fourth-best numbers in those categories. Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha are coming off outstanding opening-week starts, while Lance Lynn should far better in a rematch with the Reds at home. Those going with a team-wide approach to pitching -- as is the case in our Baseball Challenge game -- might want to consider the Cardinals as one of the better Week 2 squads.
• Though Yankee Stadium is a hitter-friendly venue, the buzz of a season-opening week might be enough to grant the Yankees a pitching advantage, even against two of the better hitting teams in baseball, the Orioles (three games to begin the week) and Boston Red Sox (four to end it). After all, consider the individuals' track records there:
Hiroki Kuroda: 18-9 record, 2.57 ERA, 1.01 WHIP in 33 career starts
Ivan Nova: 19-10 record, 4.09 ERA, 1.37 WHIP in 45 career games (43 starts)
CC Sabathia: 43-16 record, 3.21 ERA, 1.13 WHIP in 76 career starts
It's Masahiro Tanaka's Yankee Stadium debut, however, that is the standout for me. He's coming off a solid spring, has the easier of the two possible Week 2 matchups (Orioles) and is sure to draw a healthy amount of energy from the home crowd. He's a must-start even in shallow mixed leagues.
• Here are this week's Streamer's Delight picks (pitchers must be available in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues as of our publishing time on Friday):
1. Tyson Ross (@CLE, Tuesday): He finished 2013 on a high note (2.93 ERA, 9.56 K/9 in second half) and had seven K's in five innings in his 2014 debut.
2. James Paxton (OAK, Sunday): It's streak-riding at its finest. Coming off a solid finish to 2013, Paxton enjoyed a dominating 2014 season debut.
3. Jason Hammel (PIT, Wednesday): He tossed a quality start against the Pirates in his 2014 debut and now he has a rematch with them, this time at home.
4. Hector Santiago (@SEA, Tuesday): Let's not forget that the Mariners, despite their hot start, are an awfully left-handed, awfully K-prone offense.
5. Brett Anderson (@SF, Saturday): Coors Field games are the ones to avoid with Anderson; the San Francisco Giants have a .300 wOBA versus left-handed pitchers since the beginning of 2013. 6. Tyler Skaggs (NYM, Friday): He enjoys quite the favorable schedule to begin 2014; after facing the K-prone Houston Astros (April 5), Skaggs faces a Mets team that whiffed a whopping 39 times in their season-opening three-game series.
7. David Hale (NYM, Thursday): It's beating up on the Mets, yes, but this is a home game for a right-hander against a team with lefties off to a rough start.
8. Jarred Cosart (LAA, Monday): With Ross being moved to Tuesday, Monday's crop of streaming candidates is a weaker one. This is a challenging matchup, but Cosart followed up a strong spring with a solid Week 1 outing.
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.
• 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:
Home games: New York Yankees 7, Minnesota Twins 6, Atlanta Braves 6, Philadelphia Phillies 6, St. Louis Cardinals 6, San Francisco Giants 6
Versus RH: Chicago White Sox 6, Philadelphia Phillies 6, San Diego Padres 6
Versus LH: Cleveland Indians 5, Boston Red Sox 3, Houston Astros 3, Los Angeles Angels 3, Minnesota Twins 3, New York Yankees 3, Seattle Mariners 3
• Despite the three-day loss of the designated hitter, the White Sox's Week 2 schedule is extremely favorable nevertheless. Three games at Colorado's Coors Field is a boon to any hitter, and the team then returns home for a four-game set at homer-friendly U.S. Cellular Field against the Cleveland Indians, who will be pitching their fifth starter (Carlos Carrasco) as well as two pitchers who struggled during their 2014 debuts (Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister). With six right-handed starters on the schedule, it's the left-handed White Sox -- besides Adam Dunn, who as mentioned earlier could wind up pinch hitting for three days -- who benefit most: Hot-hitting Alejandro De Aza stands out, and spring sensation Adam Eaton should be a mainstay in any fantasy lineup.
• Conversely, the Detroit Tigers suffer as a result of their shortened schedule, but also the matchups themselves at two pitching-friendly venues, Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium and San Diego's Petco Park. The aforementioned Victor Martinez should occupy a spot on your bench in mixed leagues -- barring a weekend proclamation that he'll catch at least 3-4 times -- and you might consider whittling down your Tigers choices to only Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and perhaps Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson for Week 2. After all, this team will have to tangle with hot starters Hyun-Jin Ryu (Wednesday) and Andrew Cashner (Friday).
• Expect continued success from the Giants, whose most challenging Week 2 matchup might be aforementioned "Streamer's Delight" choice Brett Anderson, a pitcher who has made a mere 25 starts since the beginning of the 2011 season. Four games against right-handed starters is a plus for Brandon Belt, off to a torrid start, but it's also a favorable schedule for more under-the-radar Giants such as Brandon Crawford and Angel Pagan.