Position Players to Start
There is no player hotter in baseball right now than Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez slugged six home runs last week and drove in 11 runs. Gonzalez is a must start every week, but this week he is poised to have another phenomenal performance. With a career .352 batting average and five home runs off the scheduled starters next week, a repeat is not entirely out of the question.
J.J. Hardy has been a pleasant surprise this season, ranking as a Top 10 fantasy shortstop after two months. This week Hardy should find his way in to your lineup. He has had a great deal of success against the hurlers he expects to face this week. Even with a limited amount of success (or at-bats for that matter) against the Philadelphia Phillies, Hardy still has racked up a .381 average in his career against the pitchers that are expected to take the mound against the Orioles this week. Keep plugging Hardy in your starting lineup.
With Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list, the Colorado Rockies have turned to Michael Cuddyer to fill in and bat clean up, and Cuddyer has responded by hitting the ball well since the transition. Cuddyer has a career batting average of .300 or better against all but one of the pitchers that he expects to face in the upcoming week, so he should certainly find his way in to your starting lineup this week.
Position Players to Avoid
Fantasy owners looking to plug in for an injured outfielder may have latched on to Tampa Bay’s Luke Scott. Scott has been solid producing the type of numbers we have come to expect from him … good, streaky power, and run production with an abysmal average. Don’t expect much from Scott this week. Take away the success that he has enjoyed against Carlos Zambrano, and Scott only has a .167 combined career average against the other five starters scheduled to start this week. If you have been playing a fantasy platoon with Scott, this is a week you will want to reserve him.
Kelly Johnson has been playing a little banged up, and the results are reflective. Don’t expect Johnson to get back on track this week as he faces the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves. Johnson has only managed to get two hits in his career against the foes that will take the mound against him this week. Keep Johnson on your bench until he gets healthy and starts producing again.
Rickie Weeks has been incredibly disappointing thus far. Weeks will need to start hitting to even remain on fantasy rosters. Hopefully you have already sought out better options. If not, get to work now and depending on the depth of your bench either reserve or drop Weeks. In addition to a batting average hovering around .150, Weeks has a poor track record against the scheduled starters he and the Milwaukee Brewers face off with this week.
Two Start Pitchers
James Shields has been respectable against the Miami Marlins, but the New York Yankees have consistently roughed him up pretty good over his career. If you have to make a weekly lineup, sit Shields as you can only hope for one good outing this week.
Ryan Vogelsong is not going to be mistaken for a top-of-the-rotation sure thing every time out guy, but he has pitched well after starting the season injured. He gets two starts this week. He has not pitched well against the Chicaho Cubs and does not have a record against the Texas Rangers. Based on history and the Rangers’ strong offense, I would let Vogelsong ride the bench this week.
Based on his career stats, Yovani Gallardo looks like a coin flip start this week, but given his success against this weeks’ foes earlier in the season, I suggest getting Gallardo in your starting lineup for his two starts this week. He may not throw two gems, but he has the makings of contributing to your team with some solid outings.
Derek Holland was absolutely ripped the last time out as the Seattle Mariners hung 21 runs on the Texas Rangers. On the positive side, Holland had plenty of time to rest after the short outing and should be prepared to bounce back in his two starts this week. He will face off with the Oakland Athletics and San Francsico Giants this week, and his history suggests he should be an effective start for you.
With Roy Halladay sidelined with an injury, the Philadelphia Phillies will depend on Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee to anchor their staff. Lee gets two starts this week and belongs in your lineup. Lee has yet to earn a win this season, but he has pitched well with an earned run average of three and a walks plus hits-per inning pitched of only a little more than one. His luck will turn and he may reward you for sticking with him with two wins this week.
Jordan Zimmerman only has a 3-5 record but he has pitched much better than that record indicates. With matchups this week against the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox, Zimmerman is positioned to do well. With poor run support he may not notch two wins, but he should help you in other categories.
There is no better must start two start pitcher than a guy who is a combined 16-0 against the teams he is slated to face. With that in mind, Jon Lester is easily a must start this week. Lester is 14-0 against the Baltimore Orioles and 2-0 versus the Philadelphia Phillies and he has an impressive earned run average against each club. Make sure to have him active and take advantage of the great matchups.
So much of Jeff Samardzija’s success is tied to his ability to throw strikes and not yield free passes. He has been effective of late in throwing strikes and is the beneficiary of two starts this week. He does not have much of a track record to draw from, but based on his recent outings I suggest starting him. You may not get two exceptional outings but the pros outweigh the cons here. Take a chance.
While Tim Hudson can’t boast the unbeaten record against this week’s opponents like Jon Lester does, he too has a great opportunity to register two wins. In his career, Hudson is 22-7 against the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays. Hudson hasn’t been exceptional lately, but these favorable matchups should get him back on track.
Ricky Romero has this week’s good matchup/bad matchup. Because of his skill, I suggest taking a chance with him and hoping for his upside to shine through.
Anibal Sanchez hasn’t historically fared too well against the Atlanta Braves or Tampa Bay Rays. Expecting him to turn the corner against both in one week is too much. Keep him reserved this week and play stronger matchups when he gets them.
One Start Wonders
Even though these guys get only one start this week, all signs point to them having the opportunity to register good numbers. Make sure to have them active.
Kevin Millwood, Seattle
Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati
Bud Norris, Houston
Yu Darvish, Texas
Brandon Beachy, Atlanta
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Wait Until Next Week
Wandy Rodriguez, Houston
Jamie Garcia, St. Louis
Ricky Nolasco, Miami
Edwin Jackson, Washington