The Fantasy Baseball Forecaster is updated as of Monday, July 17, at 9:00 a.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 quickly as possible. Good luck this season!
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On tap: The first full week of baseball's second half gets off to an early start, as the Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds game on Monday -- that being the finale of a four-game, weekend wrap-around series -- has a 12:35 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch. Be sure to get your lineups set early for Week 15, a tricky week in that teams often wait until the final moments to announce fourth and fifth starters coming out of the All-Star break, pitchers who would work the Monday and Tuesday of this week.
ESPN will broadcast five games during Week 15: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox on Monday at 7 p.m. ET, New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, Nationals at Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, and Cardinals at Chicago Cubs on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
The Cleveland Indians are one of the teams most adversely impacted by the loss of the designated hitter, which will be the case for three games at San Francisco's AT&T Park. Though Carlos Santana, their usual first baseman, has played five previous interleague games in National League ballparks in right field, freeing up first base for usual DH Edwin Encarnacion, Encarnacion sat both of the team's most recent two games at Colorado's Coors Field with Santana remaining at first base. While it's possible that was a defense-minded decision, due to Coors' spacious outfield, AT&T Park isn't much smaller in right field and could lead to a similar arrangement forcing the two to duke it out for first-base duties for all three games. As Encarnacion had the slightly better month leading into the All-Star break -- .306/.420/.583 rates in 29 games compared to .277/.384/.447 in 26 for Santana -- he probably has the slight edge, but both warrant keeping in there even with the threat of lost playing time. Santana, however, is the one closer to being bench-worthy in shallow mixed.
Both of the Oakland Athletics' most common DHs, Ryon Healy (37 starts in 87 games) and Khris Davis (21 starts), found field positions at third base and left field respectively during the team's last trip to a National League venue from June 13-14 at Miami, so the team's trip to New York's Citi Field mostly presents a playing-time obstacle for rookie third baseman Matt Chapman.
The Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels play just five games apiece, which puts owners who use key players from those teams at a significant disadvantage in a week where 16 other teams play all seven days. The White Sox also will face Clayton Kershaw as well as Ian Kennedy and Jason Vargas, making only Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia and Todd Frazier worthwhile shallow-mixed plays. Mike Trout draws the short end of the stick in his first full week since returning from the DL, and only he and Andrelton Simmons are definitively strong starts in shallow-mixed formats.
Though the Colorado Rockies will play all six games at Colorado's Coors Field, it's the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates who have the slightly better weekly hitting matchups, thanks to their playing an additional game (seven, versus six for the Rockies). The Pirates will face six right-handed starters, so Josh Bell (15.4 percent owned in ESPN leagues) is a definite start in all formats, especially after he batted .276/.355/.541 in his final month of action preceding the All-Star break. Adam Frazier also should rebound with a week facing mostly catchers who grade below-average in terms of throwing out baserunners, and Gregory Polanco could recapture his power stroke facing this favorable a schedule.
Don't sleep on the San Diego Padres, who could provide value for a cheap price with three games at Coors followed by another three against the struggling San Francisco Giants pitching staff. The Padres will face three left-handed starters, so Hunter Renfroe, a .325/.400/.625 hitter against lefties owned in just 12.6 percent of ESPN leagues, is well worth the pickup.
Though the New York Yankees' hitting rating is a generous one, don't get overzealous with your expectations from them this week, as fatigue isn't something accounted for in the Forecaster formula. This team is set to play 11 games in 10 days to begin the second half, beginning with a four-game, July 14-16 weekend series at Boston before quickly heading west for trips in Minnesota (three games) and Seattle (four). Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier are all worthy starts, and Starlin Castro is a worthy play if he's activated from the DL before Monday. Didi Gregorius is also worth keeping in there, but the remainder of the offense is a bit sketchier in shallow mixed, and the pitching staff could suffer from fatigue by week's end.
Your (seemingly) weekly reminder: Always get Arizona Diamondbacks lefties Jake Lamb and David Peralta into your lineup in weeks where they're scheduled only in hitting-friendly venues and against a high volume of right-handed starters. This week, they'll play three at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park followed by three back at Arizona's Chase Field, and they'll face six righty starters.
Eduardo Rodriguez marks his return to the Boston Red Sox's rotation with a probable two-start week, and he and his teammates face strong pitching matchups against Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels offenses that had run rather cool entering the All-Star break -- the Blue Jays averaged 3.85 runs per game in the final 30 days and Angels 3.89 runs per game, 28th and 27th. Rodriguez, owned in 42.7 percent of ESPN leagues, is well worth getting back into your lineup immediately.
Brent Suter, owned in just 4.1 percent of ESPN leagues, is your two-start value pickup for the week. He'll make a pair of road starts, first at Pittsburgh's PNC Park, then at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, after he posted back-to-back quality starts to conclude the first half. The Milwaukee Brewers already have committed to him beginning the second half in their rotation, and these are favorable matchups for him, considering PNC's difficult confines for right-handed hitters and the Phillies' 29th-ranked 3.82 runs-per-game average this season.