Fantasy Forecaster updated Friday, July 18, at 11:07 a.m. ET.
On tap: Major League Baseball's traditional second half begins with a full slate of games on Friday, July 18, the first day of a 10-day scoring period in ESPN leagues. It is a busy first "week" back; 18 of the 30 teams don't have a day off. Two teams, the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers, play 11 games in 10 days; that is the result of a July 19 doubleheader between the two at Detroit's Comerica Park. Remarkably, two teams play mere eight-game weeks: the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Louis Cardinals, who play an abbreviated interleague series July 22-23.
As Week 16 is a 10-day scoring period, understand that its concluding date is Sunday, July 27, four days before MLB's non-waiver trading deadline. Midscoring period trades could impact your lineup planning, especially with regard to rotations. David Price, Ian Kennedy and Jake Peavy were just three of the starting pitchers rumored on the trade market whose Week 16 schedules could be impacted by possible trades.
Another pitcher who could be on the trade market, Cliff Lee, returns to the Philadelphia Phillies' rotation on Monday, July 21. Lee hasn't pitched a major league game since May 18 due to an elbow injury, and he allowed eight runs (three earned) in 4⅔ innings of a July 14 rehabilitation start for Class A Clearwater, casting some doubt upon him in his first start back. Home games against the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, however, make him a good fantasy play right away: They rank 16th and 24th in runs per game on the road this season.
Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
ESPN lineup deadlines | Interleague impact | Projected starting pitchers
Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 16 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
Hitting ratings | Hitting advantages
Week 16 is an extended "week" in ESPN leagues, as it commences with the games on Friday, July 18, and concludes on Sunday, July 27, resulting in a 10-day scoring period. This affects both head-to-head and Rotisserie scoring systems; all ESPN leagues use this setting. Head-to-head matchups will last for 10 days, and leagues that utilize weekly lineups will lock beginning with the first pitch of the three 7:05 p.m. ET games on Friday, July 18: Cincinnati Reds at New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies at Pittsburgh Pirates.
There is nothing but night games on three of the 10 days in Week 16: Friday, July 18, Monday, July 21, and Tuesday, July 22. Fantasy owners in daily leagues will have extra time to set their lineups those days, and they'll also have until 4:05 p.m. ET to set their lineups on Friday, July 25. Every one of the six other days has a game that begins at 1:10 p.m. ET or earlier; there is a 12:37 p.m. ET game on Thursday, July 24.
This week's interleague series:
• Cincinnati Reds at New York Yankees (3 games; Friday, July 18-Sunday, July 20)
• Detroit Tigers at Arizona Diamondbacks (3 games; Monday, July 21-Wednesday, July 23)
• New York Mets at Seattle Mariners (3 games; Monday, July 21-Wednesday, July 23)
• Tampa Bay Rays at St. Louis Cardinals (2 games; Tuesday, July 22-Wednesday, July 23)
• Miami Marlins at Houston Astros (3 games; Friday, July 25-Sunday, July 27)
Victor Martinez's health is the most significant interleague-related question of Week 16, as the back/side injury that cost him the final eight Tigers games entering the All-Star break might have him a bit less than 100 percent. Without the designated hitter for three games at Arizona's Chase Field -- those games Nos. 4, 5 and 6 of the second half -- the Tigers might not be as apt to test Martinez in the field, at first base or catcher, if he's not fully healthy. Fantasy owners should assume Martinez will start eight of the Tigers' 11 games at most; and it might be seven since he probably won't be up to starting both games of their Saturday, July 19, doubleheader.
With no DH at St. Louis' Busch Stadium, the Rays will have to move their straight platoon of Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez to left field and second base, respectively, meaning the two will cut into the at-bats of Brandon Guyer (left field) and Logan Forsythe (second base) and limit all four players' fantasy appeal. That the Rays play only eight games in Week 16 makes Rodriguez, Guyer and Forsythe fringe AL-only options at best, and keeps Joyce off the mixed-league radar.
Neither the Reds, Mets nor Marlins has a clear-cut DH candidate to start their entire series in American League venues, but all three teams have a favorite. Ryan Ludwick, the Reds' weakest defensive outfielder, would be a natural DH, allowing Chris Heisey to handle left field and leaving Jay Bruce in right field with Brayan Pena at first base. Lucas Duda, the Mets' worst defender, should DH, but Bobby Abreu would be a natural choice for the role and Eric Campbell might get a start there against left-hander Roenis Elias on Monday, July 21. And Justin Bour, who started three of the Marlins' past four games in AL parks, could get two to three of their DH starts at Houston's Minute Maid Park, though the Marlins could also expand their Garrett Jones/Jeff Baker role into the DH spot if they choose. NL-only owners might squeeze enough at-bats out of Heisey, Ludwick, Campbell and Bour to warrant a place in their lineups for Week 16.
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.
• Ubaldo Jimenez (ankle) is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment on July 23, at a location yet to be determined, which rules him out of the Baltimore Orioles' rotation for Week 16. Kevin Gausman will continue to fill in for Jimenez.
• The Chicago White Sox announced only their July 18-21 starters in advance of publishing time, but Scott Carroll is expected to serve as their fifth starter on July 22 and 27.
• The Cleveland Indians need a sixth starter due to their July 19 doubleheader, and are expected use the "26th man" rule to recall Zach McAllister for that assignment. He would then probably be returned to the minors, as Danny Salazar is the favorite to start on July 22. It is unclear how the remainder of the team's Week 16 rotation will play out, but what's projected above is the most likely scenario. Justin Masterson (knee) is ineligible to be activated before July 23, and he'll make a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Columbus on July 20. He could be a candidate to rejoin the rotation by July 25.
• The Detroit Tigers also need a sixth starter due to their July 19 doubleheader, with Drew VerHagen getting the call in Game 1. He'll presumably be returned to the minors afterward.
• C.J. Wilson (ankle) is ineligible to rejoin the Los Angeles Angels' rotation before July 25, though he could be a candidate to replace either Matt Shoemaker (scheduled for July 26) or Hector Santiago (July 27) during that final weekend of Week 16.
• The Minnesota Twins hadn't yet announced their fourth and fifth starters as of publishing time, but Kris Johnson and Yohan Pino were the leading candidates for those July 21-22 assignments, Pino having made a July 17 start for Triple-A Rochester to keep him on schedule. Ricky Nolasco is eligible to return from the DL before July 22, so it's entirely possible that the team could grant him, Alex Meyer or Trevor May a start sometime during Week 16.
• The New York Yankees hadn't yet announced their fourth or fifth starters as of publishing time, though Shane Greene is likely to start on July 21. Chase Whitley is the favorite to start on July 22, though the team could also turn to Jeff Francis or David Huff for that game.
• Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was unwilling to declare Taijuan Walker his fifth starter when announcing the team's initial second-half rotation, though Walker is considered the favorite for that spot, which arrives next on July 22. Walker would be on turn to pitch; he was scheduled to start for Triple-A Tacoma on July 17.
• Due to two off days (July 21 and 24), the Tampa Bay Rays don't require a fifth starter during Week 16. Jeremy Hellickson, who was demoted to Double-A Montgomery on July 13, is expected to rejoin the team sometime during their July 28-Aug. 3 homestand, so while he's probably not going to start for the team before July 29 (Tuesday of Week 17), it's possible he could get a start late in Week 16.
• The Atlanta Braves announced only their July 18-20 starters, though they previously had indicated that they wanted to split up their left-handers, Mike Minor and Alex Wood, which makes it highly likely that Julio Teheran will pitch on July 21 and Minor on July 22.
• The Chicago Cubs had announced neither their fourth or fifth starters as of publishing time, nor whether they planned to push back said fifth starter to July 26, the latest time it would be needed. Dallas Beeler, Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada are the leading candidates for either spot.
• Mat Latos (back) and Homer Bailey (knee) will start the Cincinnati Reds' July 21-22 games in a yet-to-be-determined order, with the one who reports he's healthiest first the most likely one to get the July 21 assignment. That matters because the one who works July 22 will start only once in Week 16.
• Eddie Butler (shoulder) is expected to rejoin the Colorado Rockies' rotation on July 22, the next date the team will need a fifth starter.
• Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before the All-Star break that he hopes Josh Beckett (hip) will be able to return from the DL on July 22, the next time the team will need a fifth starter.
• As of publishing time, the Miami Marlins had only announced their July 18-20 starters. Tom Koehler is expected to be a member of their second-half rotation, so he's probably on track for July 21. The team will need to select a fifth starter no later than July 22, but regardless of the team's July 21-22 pitching order, those pitchers will each pitch twice in Week 16 facing the same matchups.
• The Milwaukee Brewers hadn't yet announced their fourth and fifth starters as of publishing time, though Wily Peralta was likely to assume one of those spots. It was unclear, however, whether Jimmy Nelson would remain in the team's rotation in place of Marco Estrada.
• Jonathon Niese (shoulder) is expected to rejoin the New York Mets' rotation on July 21, with Jacob deGrom likely to serve as their fifth starter on July 22. Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to return to the bullpen to begin the second half.
• As of publishing time, the St. Louis Cardinals had not announced their starters beyond the July 18-20 weekend. Adam Wainwright, curiously, was not scheduled to pitch in that series, making it highly likely that he'd start their July 22 game. It is unclear, though, whether the team would use five starters -- Shelby Miller would be their most obvious fifth-starter choice -- as the Cardinals have two off days (July 21 and 24) and could go with only four in Week 16.
• Jordan Zimmermann (biceps) was scheduled to throw during the Washington Nationals' July 17 workout, after which point the team will determine his status. He's expected to avoid the DL, in which case he'd pitch either July 22 or 23, with Tanner Roark likely to assume the other start.
Note: Though he is not listed in the rankings below, Jordan Zimmermann would almost assuredly make the top 100, once his specific matchups are known. Zimmermann would rank around 40th if he starts twice and 75th if he starts once.
1. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Sun 7/20-@STL (Martinez), Sat 7/26-@SF (Vogelsong)
2. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Fri 7/18-@TOR (Dickey), Wed 7/23-@NYY (Phelps)
3. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Sat 7/19-CLE, Gm. 2 (McAllister), Thu 7/24-@LAA (Richards)
4. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Sat 7/19-@LAA (Richards), Thu 7/24-BAL (Chen)
5. David Price (TB) -- Sat 7/19-@MIN (Hughes), Fri 7/25-BOS (Lester)
6. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Mon 7/21-KC (Guthrie), Sat 7/26-@MIN (Johnson)
7. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Mon 7/21-SF (Vogelsong), Sat 7/26-ARI (Collmenter)
8. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Fri 7/18-MIL (Lohse), Wed 7/23-@COL (De La Rosa)
9. Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Sun 7/20-@ARI (Collmenter), Fri 7/25-STL (Lynn)
10. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Fri 7/18-@MIA (Eovaldi), Wed 7/23-@PHI (Burnett)
11. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Mon 7/21-MIA (Koehler), Sat 7/26-SD (Hahn)
12. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Sun 7/20-@NYY (Kuroda), Sat 7/26-WSH (Fister)
13. Tyson Ross (SD) -- Sat 7/19-NYM (Gee), Thu 7/24-@CHC (Wood)
14. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Sat 7/19-@ATL (Harang), Thu 7/24-SF (Hudson)
15. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Sun 7/20-BAL (Gausman), Sat 7/26-@TEX (Mikolas)
16. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Tue 7/22-TB (Odorizzi)
17. Jeff Samardzija (OAK) -- Fri 7/18-BAL (Tillman), Thu 7/24-HOU (Feldman)
18. Alex Wood (ATL) -- Sun 7/20-PHI (Kendrick), Fri 7/25-SD (Despaigne)
19. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Fri 7/18-CLE (Bauer), Wed 7/23-@ARI (Cahill)
20. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Sun 7/20-KC (Ventura), Fri 7/25-@TB (Price)
21. A.J. Burnett (PHI) -- Fri 7/18-@ATL (Santana), Wed 7/23-SF (Bumgarner)
22. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Sat 7/19-@STL (Kelly), Fri 7/25-@SF (Lincecum)
23. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Sat 7/19-MIL (Garza), Fri 7/25-@CIN (Simon)
24. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Fri 7/18-@LAA (Weaver), Wed 7/23-NYM (Colon)
25. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Mon 7/21-@MIL (Peralta), Sun 7/27-WSH (Roark)
26. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Tue 7/22-MIA (TBD), Sun 7/27-SD (Stults)
27. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Sat 7/19-@DET, Gm. 1 (VerHagen), Thu 7/24-@KC (Duffy)
28. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Fri 7/18-@MIN (Gibson), Wed 7/23-@STL (TBD)
29. Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Tue 7/22-HOU (McHugh), Sun 7/27-@TEX (Baker)
30. James Shields (KC) -- Fri 7/18-@BOS (Buchholz), Wed 7/23-@CWS (Quintana)
31. Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Fri 7/18-NYM (Colon), Wed 7/23-@CHC (Jackson)
32. Tanner Roark (WSH) -- Mon 7/21-@COL (Morales), Sun 7/27-@CIN (Latos)
33. Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Sat 7/19-SEA (Hernandez), Thu 7/24-DET (Scherzer)
34. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Mon 7/21-@PIT (Volquez), Sun 7/27-@SF (Cain)
35. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Fri 7/18-SEA (Iwakuma), Wed 7/23-BAL (Tillman)
36. John Lackey (BOS) -- Mon 7/21-@TOR (Hutchison), Sat 7/26-@TB (Archer)
37. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Fri 7/18-LAD (Haren), Fri 7/25-@CHC (Arrieta)
38. Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Fri 7/18-@SD (Kennedy), Wed 7/23-@SEA (Iwakuma)
39. Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Wed 7/23-HOU (Peacock)
40. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Sun 7/20-@SD (Despaigne), Fri 7/25-@MIL (Gallardo)
41. Josh Collmenter (ARI) -- Sun 7/20-CHC (Arrieta), Sat 7/26-@PHI (Lee)
42. Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Tue 7/22-@STL (Wainwright), Sun 7/27-BOS (Peavy)
43. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Tue 7/22-@MIL (TBD)
44. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Sun 7/20-@MIA (Hand), Fri 7/25-LAD (Greinke)
45. Chris Archer (TB) -- Sun 7/20-@MIN (Correia), Sat 7/26-BOS (Lackey)
46. Wade Miley (ARI) -- Sat 7/19-CHC (Wood), Fri 7/25-@PHI (Kendrick)
47. Matt Garza (MIL) -- Sat 7/19-@WSH (Gonzalez), Thu 7/24-NYM (Gee)
48. Roenis Elias (SEA) -- Mon 7/21-NYM (Niese), Sat 7/26-BAL (Norris)
49. Odrisamer Despaigne (SD) -- Sun 7/20-NYM (Wheeler), Fri 7/25-@ATL (Wood)
50. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Fri 7/18-TEX (Darvish), Wed 7/23-BOS (Buchholz)
51. Drew Smyly (DET) -- Sun 7/20-CLE (Tomlin), Fri 7/25-@LAA (Skaggs)
52. Jason Hammel (OAK) -- Sat 7/19-BAL (Chen), Fri 7/25-@TEX (Tepesch)
53. Ervin Santana (ATL) -- Fri 7/18-PHI (Burnett), Wed 7/23-MIA (Eovaldi)
54. Alfredo Simon (CIN) -- Sat 7/19-@NYY (McCarthy), Fri 7/25-WSH (Gonzalez)
55. Danny Duffy (KC) -- Sat 7/19-@BOS (De La Rosa), Thu 7/24-CLE (Kluber)
56. Doug Fister (WSH) -- Sun 7/20-MIL (Gallardo), Sat 7/26-@CIN (Cueto)
57. Marcus Stroman (TOR) -- Sat 7/19-TEX (Lewis), Thu 7/24-BOS (De La Rosa)
58. David Phelps (NYY) -- Fri 7/18-CIN (Leake), Wed 7/23-TEX (Darvish)
59. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Fri 7/18-HOU (Feldman), Wed 7/23-KC (Shields)
60. Matt Cain (SF) -- Tue 7/22-@PHI (Hernandez), Sun 7/27-LAD (Ryu)
61. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Mon 7/21-@ARI (Nuno), Sat 7/26-@LAA (Shoemaker)
62. Rick Porcello (DET) -- Tue 7/22-@ARI (Anderson), Sun 7/27-@LAA (Santiago)
63. Kevin Gausman (BAL) -- Sun 7/20-@OAK (Gray), Fri 7/25-@SEA (Young)
64. Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Mon 7/21-BOS (Lackey), Sat 7/26-@NYY (Greene)
65. Danny Salazar (CLE) -- Tue 7/22-@MIN (Pino), Sun 7/27-@KC (Chen)
66. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Fri 7/18-KC (Shields), Wed 7/23-@TOR (Dickey)
67. Yordano Ventura (KC) -- Sun 7/20-@BOS (Lester), Fri 7/25-CLE (Tomlin)
68. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Sun 7/20-@WSH (Fister), Fri 7/25-NYM (Wheeler)
69. Dillon Gee (NYM) -- Sat 7/19-@SD (Ross), Thu 7/24-@MIL (Garza)
70. Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Fri 7/18-@WSH (Strasburg), Wed 7/23-CIN (Leake)
71. Dallas Keuchel (HOU) -- Sat 7/19-@CWS (Noesi), Fri 7/25-MIA (Hand)
72. Taijuan Walker (SEA) -- Tue 7/22-NYM (DeGrom), Sun 7/27-BAL (Gonzalez)
73. Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) -- Sun 7/20-CIN (Cueto), Fri 7/25-TOR (Buehrle)
74. Charlie Morton (PIT) -- Sat 7/19-COL (Anderson), Fri 7/25-@COL (Anderson)
75. Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Tue 7/22-@SEA (Walker), Sun 7/27-@MIL (TBD)
76. Tyler Skaggs (LAA) -- Sun 7/20-SEA (Young), Fri 7/25-DET (Smyly)
77. Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Fri 7/18-COL (De La Rosa), Wed 7/23-LAD (Haren)
78. Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Tue 7/22-@OAK (Kazmir), Sun 7/27-MIA (TBD)
79. Tim Hudson (SF) -- Sat 7/19-@MIA (Alvarez), Thu 7/24-@PHI (Hamels)
80. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Mon 7/21-@SEA (Elias), Sat 7/26-@MIL (Peralta)
81. Jake Peavy (BOS) -- Tue 7/22-@TOR (Happ), Sun 7/27-@TB (Odorizzi)
82. Carlos Martinez (STL) -- Sun 7/20-LAD (Kershaw), Sun 7/27-@CHC (TBD)
83. Rubby De La Rosa (BOS) -- Sat 7/19-KC (Duffy), Thu 7/24-@TOR (Stroman)
84. Jesse Hahn (SD) -- Sat 7/26-@ATL (Teheran)
85. Josh Tomlin (CLE) -- Sun 7/20-@DET (Smyly), Fri 7/25-@KC (Ventura)
86. Mark Buehrle (TOR) -- Sun 7/20-TEX (Tepesch), Fri 7/25-@NYY (Kuroda)
87. Brett Anderson (COL) -- Sat 7/19-@PIT (Morton), Fri 7/25-PIT (Morton)
88. Josh Beckett (LAD) -- Tue 7/22-@PIT (Worley)
89. Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Sat 7/19-@OAK (Hammel), Thu 7/24-@SEA (Hernandez)
90. Bud Norris (BAL) -- Mon 7/21-@LAA (Shoemaker), Sat 7/26-@SEA (Elias)
91. Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Fri 7/18-@OAK (Samardzija), Wed 7/23-@LAA (Weaver)
92. Dan Haren (LAD) -- Fri 7/18-@STL (Lynn), Wed 7/23-@PIT (Liriano)
93. Nathan Eovaldi (MIA) -- Fri 7/18-SF (Bumgarner), Wed 7/23-@ATL (Santana)
94. Henderson Alvarez (MIA) -- Sat 7/19-SF (Hudson), Thu 7/24-@ATL (Harang)
95. Tom Koehler (MIA) -- Mon 7/21-@ATL (Teheran), Sat 7/26-@HOU (Cosart)
96. Phil Hughes (MIN) -- Sat 7/19-TB (Price), Thu 7/24-CWS (Noesi)
97. J.A. Happ (TOR) -- Tue 7/22-BOS (Peavy), Sun 7/27-@NYY (TBD)
98. Kyle Gibson (MIN) -- Fri 7/18-TB (Cobb), Wed 7/23-CLE (Bauer)
99. Wily Peralta (MIL) -- Mon 7/21-CIN (Latos), Sat 7/26-NYM (Niese)
100. Aaron Harang (ATL) -- Sat 7/19-PHI (Hamels), Thu 7/24-MIA (Alvarez)
• Due to the 10-day week including only 14 total team off days, most starting pitchers will work twice in Week 16. A handful, however, will make only one start: Zach McAllister*, Drew VerHagen*, Brad Peacock, Jesse Chavez, Chase Anderson, Chicago Cubs fifth starter, Mat Latos/Homer Bailey+, Eddie Butler, Josh Beckett, Vance Worley, Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals' fifth starter#, Jesse Hahn and Jordan Zimmermann/Tanner Roark+. (* McAllister and Ray are projected doubleheader spot starters; + Either Latos or Bailey but not both would pitch only once, depending which one assumes the fifth starter slot, and the same applies to Zimmermann and Roark; # The Cardinals don't have to use a fifth starter this week.) In many fantasy leagues, a one-start week is a significant disadvantage to these pitchers comparative to the numerous two-start pitchers; that is why so many of them are ranked poorly above.
• The Atlanta Braves couldn't ask for a much more favorable schedule than they'll receive in Week 16: 10 home games, six of which are against the two worst teams in baseball in terms of weighted on-base average (Philadelphia Phillies 3, San Diego Padres 3), and the other four against a Miami Marlins team that has .244/.304/.363 road rates and a 3.67 runs-per-game average. Specifically breaking down the matchup opportunities, the Padres have a wOBA against left-handed pitchers that's 33 points lower than any other team's; the Phillies have the majors' worst wOBA against fastballs (.306; the major league average is .338); and the Marlins are especially poor against offspeed stuff, with a .255 wOBA (the major league average is .266) and a major league-high 444 strikeouts against them.
Among Braves starters, Alex Wood both possesses the most effective fastball (5.3 runs above average, per FanGraphs' PitchF/X data) and has been the team's most effective pitcher against left-handed hitters (.250/.303/.378 rates allowed), while Julio Teheran has had the most effective offspeed stuff (.209 wOBA, 15th out of 105 pitchers to have thrown at least 500 offspeed pitches) this season. But a Padres matchup would also present a bounce-back opportunity for Mike Minor, who has allowed .293/.341/.512 numbers in his past five starts combined despite a mere 17.7 percent rate of hard contact. Ultimately, fantasy owners should load up on Braves pitchers this week, especially in team-based contests like our Baseball Challenge.
• The Braves' rivals, the New York Mets, also match up nicely this week, despite their 10 games being played entirely on the road. The Mets will make three-game stops at first San Diego's Petco Park, then Seattle's Safeco Field, and while their four-game final Week 16 stop at Milwaukee's Miller Park might not seem so favorable, remember that the Milwaukee Brewers managed mere .235/.289/.356 triple-slash rates for a fourth-worst-in-the-majors .283 wOBA and a 3.33 runs-per-game average in their first 12 games in the month of July. That the Mets also squeezed 10 quality starts and a 3.33 ERA out of their starters in their final 16 games of the first half also stacks in their favor.
Jonathon Niese returns to the Mets' rotation at an opportune time; the Seattle Mariners have baseball's second-worst wOBA against left-handers (.283; the major league average is .310). Wednesday starter Bartolo Colon, too, has gone 11 consecutive starts without a loss at Seattle's Safeco Field, his career ERA there 2.10. Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler, meanwhile, made big impressions in their final first-half starts, and begin their second halves with Petco assignments during the July 18-20 weekend. Let those matchups drive your decision-making, especially accounting the Brewers' struggles.
• 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, usually Friday, but Thursday this week):
1. Wade Miley (@PHI; Friday, July 25): The Philadelphia Phillies have batted just .201/.253/.310 as a team against left-handers since June 1, and Miley concluded the season's first half with three consecutive quality starts resulting in a 1.25 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 27.5 percent strikeout rate.
2. Charlie Morton (COL; Saturday, July 19): The Colorado Rockies are an ordinary offense in road games, with .244/.295/.388 triple-slash rates that result in the majors' ninth-worst weighted on-base average (.294). Morton, meanwhile, is 6-for-8 in quality starts with a 2.13 ERA at PNC Park.
3. Danny Duffy (CLE; Thursday, July 24): The Cleveland Indians have the majors' sixth-worst wOBA against left-handers (.297), and remember, they've faced a lot of them (1,114 plate appearances, fourth-most). Duffy also has a 3.38 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in eight games (six starts) at Kauffman Stadium.
4. Nathan Eovaldi (SF; Friday, July 18): He's 7-for-10 in quality starts at Marlins Park this season, and he's facing a San Francisco Giants team that has missed the third-most often on swings at pitches clocked 94 mph or faster (24.2 percent). The significance? Eovaldi has thrown 59 percent of his total pitches 94 mph or faster.
5. Tyler Skaggs (SEA; Sunday, July 20): Only the San Diego Padres have a worse team wOBA against lefties than the Seattle Mariners (.283, backed by .247/.294/.348 triple-slash rates). Skaggs pitched a quality start in his only career game against them, whiffing eight Mariners at Safeco Field on May 26.
6. Jonathon Niese (@SEA; Monday, July 21): Once again, the Mariners struggle mightily against left-handers, which is precisely why the New York Mets held Niese back until Monday the 21st. Niese warrants your start in his first game back; he had six straight quality starts before his early exit from his July 4 appearance.
7. Jake Odorizzi (@STL; Tuesday, July 22): He had a 2.28 ERA and 25.3 percent strikeout rate in his final seven starts leading into the All-Star break, and now he works in a pitching-friendly Busch Stadium against a St. Louis Cardinals team that, while good at making contact, struggles against fastballs (.319 wOBA, third-worst).
8. Trevor Bauer (@MIN; Wednesday, July 23): Forty-eight of his 70 K's this season have come on breaking balls (curveballs and sliders), and the Minnesota Twins have managed .201/.244/.287 rates against breaking balls this year, their resulting .237 wOBA fourth-worst in the majors.
9. Jake Odorizzi (BOS; Sunday, July 27): Six of his seven quality starts this season came at Tropicana Field, where he has a 2.73 ERA in 11 games. One of those quality starts came against these Boston Red Sox, on May 25 (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER).
10. Jarred Cosart (MIA; Saturday, July 26): The Miami Marlins have .252/.308/.346 team rates on the road since June 1, their 3.75 runs-per-game average during that time span eighth-worst in the majors. Consider this a good opportunity for Cosart, who had sub-3.00 ERAs in both May and June, to bounce back.
Best days to stream (accounting both quality and quantity of candidates): Thursday, July 24; Saturday, July 19; Sunday, July 20; Friday, July 25; Sunday, July 27; Wednesday, July 23; Saturday, July 26; Monday, July 21; Tuesday, July 22; Friday, July 18.
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: Los Angeles Angels 10, Minnesota Twins 10, New York Yankees 10, Atlanta Braves 10, Seattle Mariners 7, Toronto Blue Jays 7, Milwaukee Brewers 7, Philadelphia Phillies 7. No other team plays more than six home games.
Versus RH: Los Angeles Angels 9, Toronto Blue Jays 9, Baltimore Orioles 8, Detroit Tigers 8, New York Yankees 8, Oakland Athletics 8, Los Angeles Dodgers 8, Milwaukee Brewers 8, New York Mets 8. No other team faces more than seven right-handed starters.
Versus LH: Pittsburgh Pirates 7, San Francisco Giants 5, Cleveland Indians 4, Houston Astros 4, Kansas City Royals 4, Minnesota Twins 4, Philadelphia Phillies 4. No other team faces more than three left-handed starters.
• Though the Pittsburgh Pirates have a somewhat extreme team righty-lefty split with greater success against right-handers -- .318 wOBA against righties, .301 against lefties -- a week with seven games against left-handers does provide some of their individuals advantages. Gaby Sanchez, who has started all 12 Pirates games against a lefty starter, is a .270/.333/.492 hitter against that side this season, .297/.392/.495 in his career. Expect him to start all seven of the team's games at first base in Week 16. Josh Harrison, meanwhile, is a .320/.340/.420 hitter against lefties this season, and he has started each of the team's past 10 games against a left-handed starter.
The schedule, however, presents some disadvantages for other Pirates hitters. Rookie Gregory Polanco is a .133/.212/.233 hitter against left-handers, and Pedro Alvarez is a .197/.279/.295 hitter. In all but NL-only formats, both players are worth benching for Week 16 if you have a strong alternative.
• The Chicago White Sox should enjoy a hot hitting start to the second half, considering that they conveniently line up against portions of the opposing Houston Astros', Kansas City Royals' and Minnesota Twins' rotations that either entered the All-Star break on a down note or aren't especially talented in the first place. Consider that the only opposing starter the White Sox face who is projected for a Game Score of 50 or greater -- and, yes, includes the most probable picks for the Twins' fourth and fifth starters -- is James Shields, who has afforded currently active White Sox combined .279/.344/.402 lifetime rates. Alexei Ramirez (.420/.463/.600 in 54 plate appearances), Gordon Beckham (.303/.343/.576 in 36), Dayan Viciedo (.320/.370/.320 in 27) and Adam Eaton (4-for-7 with a triple), in fact, have hit Shields well historically.
Alejandro De Aza, incidentally, is 9-for-25 (.360 AVG) with three home runs in seven games against the Twins this season, and against the four most likely Twins starters he'll face -- Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia, Kris Johnson and Kevin Correia -- he's a combined 12-for-41 (.293 AVG) with four home runs in his career.