Nick Nelson

The Week Ahead

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Week Ahead: Difference Makers

Friday, May 23, 2014

With 20 of the 30 MLB teams scheduled to play seven games, The Week Ahead will feature a sizable slate of two-start pitchers. And as you'll see below, there are plenty of standout names in the mix.

Among the star hurlers in line for two starts next week: Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and more. There are also some highly appealing options that might actually be available in your league. Let's run through a few of them before diving into this week's lists and breakdowns.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night's MLB games. It's just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.

* Toronto's Drew Hutchison missed all of 2013 after undergoing elbow surgery, but is having himself a great season here in his return to the fold. In 10 starts, the 23-year-old righty has a 3.45 ERA and 59/18 K/BB ratio over 60 innings. He is scheduled for home starts against the Rays (14th in the AL in R/G) and Royals (13th). Best of all: he's currently owned in only 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

* Brandon McCarthy is 1-6 with a 4.67 ERA for the Diamondbacks. That sounds bad, but he has actually pitched a lot better than those numbers suggest, as evidenced by a 2.89 xFIP. His core numbers have begun to improve substantially over his last couple starts (2 ER in 14 IP) and I expect that to continue. He's unowned in more than 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so give him a look with home starts against the Padres and Reds.

* Another widely available pitcher who's in a groove and looking ahead to two home starts is Jose Quintana of the White Sox. The lefty hasn't allowed more than three runs in a start since April 19th, and has been terrific at U.S. Cellular Field, where he has a 3.38 ERA with only one home run allowed in four starts. With match-ups against the Indians and Padres, he's a quality play.

Going Twice…

American League

Strong Plays

Mark Buehrle: TB (Cobb), KC (Guthrie)
Drew Hutchison: TB (Bedard), KC (Ventura)
Yu Darvish: @MIN (Hughes), @WAS (Roark)
Sonny Gray: DET (Scherzer), LAA (Weaver)
Phil Hughes: TEX (Darvish), @NYY (Whitley)
Jered Weaver: @SEA (Elias), @OAK (Gray)
Yordano Ventura: HOU (McHugh), @TOR (Hutchison)
Max Scherzer: @OAK (Gray), @SEA (Elias)
Jose Quintana: CLE (Tomlin), SD (Ross)
Jon Lester: @ATL (Harang), TB (Bedard)

Decent Plays

Nick Tepesch: @MIN (Correia), @WAS (Fister)
Erik Bedard: @TOR (Hutchison), @BOS (Lester)
Roenis Elias: LAA (Weaver), DET (Scherzer)
Tommy Milone: DET (Smyly), LAA (Skaggs)
Tyler Skaggs: @SEA (Young), @OAK (Milone)
Jarred Cosart: @KC (Guthrie), BAL (Chen)
Collin McHugh: @KC (Ventura), BAL (Tillman)
Wei-Yin Chen: @MIL (Garza), @HOU (Cosart)
Chris Tillman: @MIL (Lohse), @HOU (McHugh)

At Your Own Risk

Chris Young: LAA (Skaggs), DET (TBD)
Chase Whitley: @STL (Wacha), MIN (Hughes)
Kevin Correia: TEX (Tepesch), @NYY (Tanaka)
Jeremy Guthrie: HOU (Cosart), @TOR (Buehrle)
Clay Buchholz: @ATL (Santana), TB (Odorizzi)
Josh Tomlin: @CWS (Quintana), COL (Chacin)

National League

Strong Plays

Tanner Roark: MIA (Eovaldi), TEX (Darvish)
Lance Lynn: NYY (Phelps), SF (Hudson)
Michael Wacha: NYY (Whitley), SF (Cain)
Tim Hudson: CHC (Arrieta), @STL (Lynn)
Tyson Ross: @ARI (McCarthy), @CWS (Quintana)
Cole Hamels: COL (De La Rosa), NYM (Niese)
Jon Niese: PIT (Volquez), @PHI (Hamels)
Kyle Lohse: BAL (Tillman), CHC (Samardzija)
Nathan Eovaldi: @WAS (Roark), ATL (Harang)
Hyun-Jin Ryu: CIN (Cueto), PIT (Cumpton)
Zack Greinke: CIN (Simon), PIT (Volquez)
Alfredo Simon: @LAD (Greinke), @ARI (Miley)
Johnny Cueto: @LAD (Ryu), @ARI (McCarthy)
Jeff Samardzija: @SF, @MIL (Lohse)
Aaron Harang: BOS (Lester), @MIA (Eovaldi)
Brandon McCarthy: SD (Ross), CIN (Cueto)

Decent Plays

Jacob deGrom: PIT (Cumpton), @PHI (Kendrick)
Ervin Santana: BOS (Buchholz), @MIA (Wolf)
Wade Miley: SD (Stults), CIN (Simon)

At Your Own Risk

Edinson Volquez: @NYM (Niese), @LAD (Greinke)
Brandon Cumpton: @NYM (deGrom), @LAD (Ryu)
Kyle Kendrick: COL (Chacin), NYM (deGrom)
Jhoulys Chacin: @PHI (Kendrick), @CLE (Tomlin)

Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

American League

Wednesday, 5/28: Danny Duffy vs. HOU
The lefty has been exceptional since hopping into the Kansas City rotation, allowing only two runs over 17 innings in three starts. Plug him in confidently against the Astros.

Wednesday, 5/28: Scott Baker @ MIN
Baker is a major wild-card in this start against his former team, but he has been very solid at Triple-A and his fly ball tendencies should play well at Target Field.

Thursday, 5/29: Matt Shoemaker @ SEA
We're a little wary of the right-hander's initial success, but he's worth a look in this match-up against the Mariners, who have struggled to score runs at home.

National League

Tuesday, 5/27: Blake Treinen vs. MIA
The 25-year-old rookie, filling in for injured Gio Gonzalez, has performed well in Triple-A and in the Nats bullpen, so we like his chances at home against the Fish.

Friday, 5/30: Bronson Arroyo vs. CIN
The veteran has rebounded in a major way from his terrible start. He has pitched into the seventh inning or beyond in each of his last five turns, with a 1.96 ERA during that stretch.

Total Games

American League

6: CLE, CWS, NYY, TB  

National League

Lefty/Righty Breakdowns

American League

BAL: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
BOS: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
CLE: 2 vs. RHP, 4 vs. LHP
CWS: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
DET: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
HOU: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
KC: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
LAA: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
MIN: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
NYY: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
OAK: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
SEA: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
TB: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TEX: 7 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
TOR: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP

National League

ARI: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
ATL: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
CHC: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
CIN: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
COL: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
LAD: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
MIA: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
MIL: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
NYM: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
PHI: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
PIT: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
SD: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
SF: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
STL: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
WAS: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP

The Infirmary

You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who have been out of action:

Tommy Hunter: Out until early May (groin)
Felix Doubront: Out indefinitely (shoulder)
Jose Abreu: Out until early June (ankle)
Joey Votto: Out until early June (quad)
Zach McAllister: Out until early June (back)
Juan Uribe: Out until early June (hamstring)
Cliff Lee: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Robbie Erlin: Out until mid-June (elbow)
Corey Hart: Out until July (hamstring)
Gio Gonzalez: Out until early June (shoulder)

Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.
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