Fantasy Forecaster updated Sunday, Aug. 10, at 11:39 p.m. ET.
On tap: It's make-or-break time for the Atlanta Braves, who, through Aug. 7, had lost eight consecutive games to fall 4 1/2 games behind the National League East-leading Washington Nationals and 3 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants for the league's two wild-card spots. The Braves play a full, seven-game week entirely at home, but draw two of the game's toughest opponents: The Los Angeles Dodgers, the National League's winningest team with a .569 win percentage, for four games; and the Oakland Athletics, the majors' winningest team with a .614 win percentage and the one with by far the widest run differential (plus-167), for three.
Speaking of the Dodgers, after visiting Atlanta's Turner Field, they'll face their own stiff test: They return home to host the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers, though they'll have Clayton Kershaw lined up to pitch during that series.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds, a team strong on the pitching side (2.96 team ERA since the All-Star break, sixth in baseball) but weak on the hitting side (.260 team weighted on-base average since the All-Star break, second worst in baseball), make a four-game weekend stop at Colorado's Coors Field, a venue that plays exactly to the opposite of the team's strengths. Will the Reds, just 8-12 since the All-Star break (through Aug. 7), be up to the task?
Remarkably, Mark Buehrle has never made a start at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field as a visiting player, but he'll make his first on Saturday. He's just 1-for-4 in quality starts with a 7.32 ERA since the All-Star break, but his track record at that venue -- granted, for the Chicago White Sox, and through 2011 -- is a good one: He had 10 quality starts in his final 13 games there, he threw a perfect game there on July 23, 2009, and a no-hitter there on April 18, 2007.
Expect Trevor Bauer to be motivated by revenge when he faces his drafting team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, on Wednesday. Bauer had a 6.06 ERA in his four career starts for the Diamondbacks before his Dec. 11, 2012, trade to the Cleveland Indians, but he has a 3.03 ERA in his three interleague starts this season.
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For the second consecutive week, there is an early Monday game, again the result of the finale of a four-game, weekend wrap-around series. New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies kicks off the Week 19 action at 1:05 p.m. ET, and it is the only day game out of 11 scheduled on that day. Get your lineups in early in weekly formats.
For those in leagues with daily transactions, all games scheduled on Tuesday and Friday are night games with start times of 7:05 p.m. ET or later. There are day games on the four remaining days, with these the first scheduled by day: Boston Red Sox at Cincinnati Reds at 12:35 p.m. ET on Wednesday; Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves at 12:10 p.m. ET on Thursday; Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants at 4:05 p.m. ET on Saturday; and Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Indians at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday. There are at least two day games on each of those four days, so plan accordingly.
This week's interleague series:
• Detroit Tigers at Pittsburgh Pirates (2 games, Monday-Tuesday)
• Boston Red Sox at Cincinnati Reds (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Chicago White Sox at San Francisco Giants (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Arizona Diamondbacks at Cleveland Indians (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Angels (2 games, Tuesday-Wednesday)
• Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers (2 games, Wednesday-Thursday)
• Oakland Athletics at Atlanta Braves (3 games, Friday-Sunday)
Don't be so quick to assume Victor Martinez will be relegated to pinch-hitting duty during the Tigers' two games at Pittsburgh's PNC Park. During the team's previous three-game trip to a National League venue -- July 21-23 at Arizona's Chase Field -- and in five of their eight games in NL parks this season, Martinez played first base with Miguel Cabrera at third base, relegating Nick Castellanos to a pinch-hitting role. Castellanos' owners in shallow-mixed leagues need to be prepared for a possible five starts from him, but the larger fantasy impact upon a Tigers player in that arrangement would be ground-balling pitcher Rick Porcello, because of the weaker infield defense.
David Ortiz has made three of the Red Sox's five starts in NL parks at first base ahead of Mike Napoli; Napoli started their most recent two, though, on Aug. 6-7 at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. That the Reds' rotation is entirely right-handed assures that Ortiz should start at least one of those games, meaning Napoli will be the one of the two more adversely impacted by the schedule.
Adam Dunn, a .186/.319/.363 hitter while starting only 32 of the White Sox's past 44 contests, has started only three of the team's eight games at NL parks in the field (all in left field), and all of them on June 4 or earlier, at a time when he was performing better with the bat. He has a somewhat slim hope of a start in the field with the opposing Giants scheduled to throw two right-handed starters, but don't count on it.
The Phillies would be smart to shuffle Ryan Howard to DH during their two games at Los Angeles' Angel Stadium, freeing up first base for Darin Ruf. In a deep NL-only league, Ruf warrants a one-week look.
If he's healthy enough to play by then, Andrew McCutchen could ease back into the Pirates' lineup as the DH during their two games at Detroit. Otherwise, Travis Snider, a .270/.341/.541 hitter in 16 games (and 41 plate appearances) could pick up some additional at-bats there and warrant a look in deep NL-only leagues.
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.
• The Baltimore Orioles, who activated Ubaldo Jimenez back into their rotation on Aug. 9, demoted Miguel Gonzalez to Triple-A Norfolk in a corresponding move. Gonzalez will make a start for Norfolk on Tuesday or Wednesday before probably rejoining the big-league rotation on Aug. 19 (Tuesday of Week 20). This leaves the Orioles with a five-man Week 19 rotation.
• Scott Carroll has a blister on his throwing hand, so he will have his scheduled Wednesday start skipped. Most likely, the Chicago White Sox will use four starters this week.
• The Cleveland Indians have already removed Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin from their rotation in the past week, will give Carlos Carrasco an Aug. 10 spot start and have Monday and Thursday off days that afford them a four-man Week 19 rotation if they wish. Expect them to go that route, though it's hardly a guarantee T.J. House will pitch Sunday, and Carrasco's Saturday start isn't entirely assured, either.
• The Detroit Tigers placed Anibal Sanchez (pectoral) on the DL on Aug. 10, and will promote Robbie Ray to assume his rotation spot. It is unclear, however, whether Ray will simply slide in on Wednesday, as the team was forced to use scheduled Tuesday starter Rick Porcello in relief on Aug. 10. Ray will probably move up a day with Porcello pitching Wednesday, in which case it'd be Ray who gets two starts in Week 19.
• Matt Shoemaker will likely have his next start for the Los Angeles Angels pushed back to Saturday after he pitched three innings in relief on Aug. 9.
• The Minnesota Twins promoted Trevor May for an Aug. 9 start, likely lining him up for a Friday start during Week 19, and they will promote Tommy Milone to assume the rotation spot of Kevin Correia, traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 9, on Monday. The team could demote or skip May due to Thursdays off day if they wish; more likely they'll follow the rotation projected above.
• The New York Yankees are expected to activate Michael Pineda (shoulder) on Wednesday, after the right-hander makes a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Aug. 8. Esmil Rogers made a spot start for the major league team Aug. 8, and he'd be the fallback should Pineda suffer a setback.
• The Seattle Mariners have done much rotation shuffling recently, demoting Roenis Elias to Triple-A Tacoma for the entirety of Week 19, and adding Erasmo Ramirez for an Aug. 10 spot start to line Felix Hernandez, Chris Young and Hisashi Iwakuma up for the week-opening Toronto Blue Jays series. With a week-ending series at the Detroit Tigers, the team will almost assuredly go with four starters this week.
• Mike Minor, who was skipped during fantasy's Week 18, is expected to rejoin the Atlanta Braves' rotation on Tuesday, resulting in a two-start week for him.
• The Los Angeles Dodgers plan to give Kevin Correia a start on Monday to give their other starters some rest, but it's unclear whether they'll use a six-man rotation or merely skip him the next time his turn arrives.
• The Miami Marlins, who designated Jacob Turner for assignment on Aug. 5, are expected to get Henderson Alvarez (shoulder) back on Thursday, filling that rotation spot. Brad Penny, recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to start on Aug. 9, would get another start should Alvarez suffer any setbacks.
• Mike Fiers joined the Milwaukee Brewers' rotation on Aug. 9, replacing the injured Matt Garza (oblique). It is presumed Fiers will next pitch Thursday of Week 19.
• The New York Mets scratched Jacob deGrom from his scheduled Tuesday start after he reported shoulder discomfort. It is unclear who will fill in and whether that fill-in would assume both of deGrom's scheduled Week 19 starts, but Carlos Torres is the most obvious candidate.
• The Philadelphia Phillies claimed Jerome Williams off waivers and will slot him into their rotation beginning on Tuesday.
1. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Sat-MIL (Gallardo)
2. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Thu-TB (Odorizzi)
3. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Mon-TOR (Hutchison), Sat-@DET (Verlander)
4. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Tue-@SF (Vogelsong), Sun-TOR (Hutchison)
5. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Thu-PIT (Liriano)
6. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Thu-@NYM (Gee)
7. David Price (DET) -- Fri-SEA (Paxton)
8. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Mon-@KC (Ventura), Sat-@ATL (Teheran)
9. Tyson Ross (SD) -- Fri-@STL (Lynn)
10. Adam Wainwright (STL) -- Tue-@MIA (Cosart), Sun-SD (Despaigne)
11. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Sat-@COL (Lyles)
12. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Fri-@SF (Bumgarner)
13. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Fri-PHI (Hamels)
14. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Mon-LAD (Correia), Sat-OAK (Gray)
15. Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Mon-MIL (Gallardo), Sat-@NYM (Niese)
16. Jon Lester (OAK) -- Tue-@KC (Guthrie), Sun-@ATL (Minor)
17. Drew Smyly (TB) -- Mon-@TEX (Lewis), Sat-NYY (Kuroda)
18. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Fri-BAL (Jimenez)
19. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Fri-MIL (Nelson)
20. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Tue-BOS (Kelly), Sun-@COL (Flande)
21. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Wed-TOR (Dickey)
22. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Fri-NYY (McCarthy)
23. Francisco Liriano (PIT) -- Thu-@DET (Scherzer)
24. Alex Wood (ATL) -- Fri-OAK (Hammel)
25. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Mon-@PIT (Locke), Sat-SEA (Hernandez)
26. Jeff Samardzija (OAK) -- Thu-@KC (Shields)
27. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Wed-BOS (Webster)
28. Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Fri-@TEX (Martinez)
29. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Sat-PIT (Locke)
30. Jesse Hahn (SD) -- Mon-COL (Lyles), Sat-@STL (Miller)
31. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Wed-PHI (Burnett)
32. Doug Fister (WSH) -- Tue-@NYM (Torres), Sun-PIT (Volquez)
33. Collin McHugh (HOU) -- Tue-MIN (Pino), Sun-@BOS (Kelly)
34. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Wed-@ATL (Santana)
35. Marcus Stroman (TOR) -- Fri-@CWS (Noesi)
36. Ervin Santana (ATL) -- Wed-LAD (Ryu)
37. A.J. Burnett (PHI) -- Wed-@LAA (Weaver)
38. John Lackey (STL) -- Thu-SD (Stults)
39. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Mon-@MIA (Koehler), Sat-SD (Hahn)
40. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Fri-SD (Ross)
41. Tom Koehler (MIA) -- Mon-STL (Miller), Sat-ARI (Miley)
42. Kyle Hendricks (CHC) -- Tue-MIL (Peralta), Sun-@NYM (TBD)
43. James Shields (KC) -- Thu-OAK (Samardzija)
44. Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Wed-@KC (Vargas)
45. Josh Collmenter (ARI) -- Tue-@CLE (House), Sun-@MIA (Cosart)
46. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) -- Mon-@CHC (Arrieta), Sat-@LAD (Kershaw)
47. Dallas Keuchel (HOU) -- Fri-@BOS (Buchholz)
48. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Wed-@NYM (Colon)
49. Drew Hutchison (TOR) -- Mon-@SEA (Hernandez), Sun-@CWS (Sale)
50. T.J. House (CLE) -- Tue-ARI (Collmenter), Sun-BAL (Norris)
51. Yordano Ventura (KC) -- Mon-OAK (Gray), Sat-@MIN (Hughes)
52. Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Mon-@PHI (Buchanan), Sat-CHC (Arrieta)
53. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Wed-@SEA (Iwakuma)
54. Tanner Roark (WSH) -- Fri-PIT (Morton)
55. Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Wed-COL (Matzek)
56. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Sun-PHI (Buchanan)
57. Jimmy Nelson (MIL) -- Fri-@LAD (Greinke)
58. Danny Duffy (KC) -- Fri-@MIN (May)
59. J.A. Happ (TOR) -- Tue-@SEA (Young)
60. Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Wed-ARI (Nuno)
61. Kyle Gibson (MIN) -- Wed-@HOU (Oberholtzer)
62. Dan Haren (LAD) -- Tue-@ATL (Minor), Sun-MIL (Peralta)
63. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Fri-CHC (Wood)
64. Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Thu-@TEX (Darvish)
65. Chris Archer (TB) -- Wed-@TEX (Mikolas)
66. Justin Masterson (STL) -- Wed-@MIA (Eovaldi)
67. Phil Hughes (MIN) -- Sat-KC (Ventura)
68. David Buchanan (PHI) -- Mon-NYM (Niese), Sun-@SF (Lincecum)
69. Odrisamer Despaigne (SD) -- Tue-COL (Flande), Sun-@STL (Wainwright)
70. Hector Santiago (LAA) -- Sun-@TEX (Tepesch)
71. Shane Greene (NYY) -- Tue-@BAL (Chen)
72. Jeff Locke (PIT) -- Mon-DET (Verlander), Sat-@WSH (Gonzalez)
73. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Wed-@SF (Peavy)
74. Wily Peralta (MIL) -- Tue-@CHC (Hendricks), Sun-@LAD (Haren)
75. Rick Porcello (DET) -- Wed-PIT (Worley)
Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) -- Tue-OAK (Lester), Sun-@MIN (Milone)
Joe Kelly (BOS) -- Tue-@CIN (Latos), Sun-HOU (McHugh)
Colby Lewis (TEX) -- Mon-TB (Smyly), Sat-LAA (Shoemaker)
Jordan Lyles (COL) -- Mon-@SD (Hahn), Sat-CIN (Cueto)
Tommy Milone (MIN) -- Mon-@HOU (Peacock), Sun-KC (Guthrie)
Robbie Ray (DET) -- Tue-@PIT (Volquez), Sun-SEA (Young)
Edinson Volquez (PIT) -- Tue-DET (Ray), Sun-@WSH (Fister)
Chris Young (SEA) -- Tue-TOR (Happ), Sun-@DET (Ray)
No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
Chris Capuano (NYY) -- Mon-@BAL (Norris), Sun-@TB (Hellickson)
Jarred Cosart (MIA) -- Tue-STL (Wainwright), Sun-ARI (Collmenter)
Yohan Flande (COL) -- Tue-@SD (Despaigne), Sun-CIN (Latos)
Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Tue-@TEX (Tepesch), Sun-NYY (Capuano)
Mike Minor (ATL) -- Tue-LAD (Haren), Sun-OAK (Lester)
Bud Norris (BAL) -- Mon-NYY (Capuano), Sun-@CLE (House)
Brad Peacock (HOU) -- Mon-MIN (Milone), Sat-@BOS (De La Rosa)
Nick Tepesch (TEX) -- Tue-TB (Hellickson), Sun-LAA (Santiago)
• Despite the five-game week, the Cleveland Indians' rotation gets a significant advantage as a result of their matchups. Their games are all at home, at Progressive Field, where they have a 3.60 team ERA compared to 4.11 on the road. They'll also face the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team with mere .241/.296/.360 slash rates during the past two weeks (July 25-Aug. 7) and one that has only three active players with wOBAs greater than the league average (David Peralta, .347; Miguel Montero, .323; and Didi Gregorius, .320), and the Baltimore Orioles, who have the majors' fourth-worst team wOBA (.278) and highest strikeout rate (24.9 percent) since the All-Star break.
Two-start pitcher T.J. House might be the wisest right-off-free-agency fantasy plug-in, as he hasn't afforded more than three earned runs in seven consecutive starts and he has a 20.0 percent strikeout rate during his past four turns. Bauer should also capitalize, again, thanks to revenge against his former Diamondbacks mates, who don't perform especially well against off-speed stuff (.221/.252/.335 team rates).
• In addition to House, it's a good week to exploit more widely available two-start candidates: Drew Hutchison, who has a 3.27 ERA in 14 road starts this season, visits Seattle's Safeco Field and Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field. Though the Seattle Mariners hit right-handers (.300 team wOBA) better than left-handers (.281), keep in mind that their stats against righties for the season still rate beneath league average; meanwhile the White Sox have been one of the more strikeout-prone teams against righties (22.1 percent rate, fourth highest).
Rookie Jesse Hahn has a pair of starts against teams that rank among the majors' top 10 in terms of ground-ball rate, the Colorado Rockies (48.8 percent, eighth) and St. Louis Cardinals (49.6 percent, fifth). It's that Rockies matchup that's particularly attractive, as they have the majors' third-worst team wOBA in road games (.286), and that's a start at pitching-friendly Petco Park.
Meanwhile, Tom Koehler, who is 8-for-10 in quality starts with a 2.45 ERA at Marlins Park this season, gets a pair of starts at home against lighter-hitting opponents in the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks. Expect a significant rebound from Koehler comparative to his poor July 7 outing at Arizona (3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER).
• 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. Kyle Gibson (@HOU, Wednesday): Again, Bauer is a compelling candidate on this day, but how about Gibson? He's coming off back-to-back quality starts and tossed seven shutout, three-hit frames against these Houston Astros on June 7. It also helps that his go-to strikeout pitch is the slider, because no team in baseball has a higher rate of misses on swings against sliders this season than the Astros (39 percent).
2. Tom Koehler (ARI, Saturday): As mentioned, Koehler has outstanding numbers at Marlins Park, and he's sure to perform considerably better against the Arizona Diamondbacks in their rematch, being that their offense has been depleted since.
3. Jonathon Niese (@PHI, Monday): Hutchison and Koehler also start Monday and warrant your attention first, but Niese's Citizens Bank Park history warrants your consideration. Since the beginning of 2012, he's 4-for-5 in quality starts with a 2.20 ERA in the Philadelphia ballpark.
4. Kyle Hendricks (@NYM, Sunday): The New York Mets have been baseball's weakest-hitting team since the All-Star break, with .208/.271/.303 slash rates (.254 wOBA), and Hendricks rode a streak of four consecutive quality starts into Week 19.
5. J.A. Happ (@SEA, Tuesday): He has back-to-back outstanding outings, totaling 18 K's in 15 innings while allowing only three earned runs (1.80 ERA), and he's going up against a lefty-heavy Seattle Mariners lineup. Only the Padres (.273) have a lower team wOBA against southpaws than the Mariners (.281).
6. Trevor May (KC, Friday): He's inexperienced, yes, but perhaps the Kansas City Royals will be ill-prepared for him. They have the majors' third-worst team wOBA versus right-handers since July 1 (.283), and overall for the season they have the third-worst home run/fly ball rate (7.6 percent), which is a good sign for a fly ball-oriented right-hander working in a ballpark with a spacious right field.
7. Jorge De La Rosa (CIN, Thursday): He has three consecutive quality starts at Coors Field -- and five in his past six starts overall -- and will be facing a Cincinnati Reds team that has mere .223/.269/.326 slash rates since the All-Star break.
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: Texas Rangers 7, Atlanta Braves 7, Miami Marlins 7, New York Mets 6, Cleveland Indians 5, Detroit Tigers 5, San Francisco Giants 5. Five other teams play four home games; no other team plays more than three.
Versus RH: Colorado Rockies 7, Houston Astros 6, Tampa Bay Rays 6, Los Angeles Dodgers 6, Miami Marlins 6, New York Mets 6, St. Louis Cardinals 6. Nine teams face five right-handed starters.
Versus LH: Detroit Tigers 3, Kansas City Royals 3, Oakland Athletics 3, Seattle Mariners 3, Cincinnati Reds 3, Philadelphia Phillies 3, San Francisco Giants 3. Ten teams face two left-handed starters.
• The Tampa Bay Rays, who have the majors' fifth-best runs per game average (4.2) and third-best team wOBA (.328) since the All-Star break, get the advantage of four games at hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark, followed by a three-game series versus the New York Yankees and overperforming starters Brandon McCarthy (Friday) and Chris Capuano (Sunday). And with six of their games scheduled against right-handed starters, the Rays have several lefty bats fantasy owners can exploit: Kevin Kiermaier is a .311/.371/.571 hitter against right-handers, James Loney a .308/.371/.401 hitter and Matt Joyce a .285/.377/.423 hitter, this season.
There is an outside chance that Wil Myers (wrist) could be ready to rejoin the team before week's end. He was scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Durham on Aug. 8. More likely, however, he'll spend the entirety of the week with Durham, getting the 40-50 at-bats the Rays want before activating him.
• Besides the aforementioned Kyle Gibson matchup, the Houston Astros don't face another challenging matchup the entire week; their other six scheduled opponents have projected Game Scores of 48 or lower. That's the reason for their perfect-10 team rating, as they'll get to fatten up against the likes of Tommy Milone, Yohan Pino, Allen Webster, Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly.
Though right-handers typically give the Astros more trouble than left-handers, this is the kind of week where the team should fatten its numbers against that side. Plus, since the All-Star break, here is how some of their more notable fantasy assets have fared against righties: Chris Carter (.296/.356/.648), Jason Castro (.295/.340/.455), Jose Altuve (.297 AVG, .338 OBP), Jon Singleton (3 HR, second most on the team, in 53 plate appearances).