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If you started Andrew McCutchen, Shane Victorino, and/or Brandon Phillips last week (and tossed Trevor Hoffman to the side of the road) all I can say is ... you're welcome. If you kept Will Venable on the sidelines or gave Rickie Weeks a go, then you have my apologies ... information on how to collect your refund can be found at the end of the column.
Let's take a look at the upcoming week in the National League, with a little help from hip-hop innovators, the Beastie Boys.
The skills to pay the bills
Dave Bush vs. HOU: Bush hasn't been great this year (1-4, 4.27 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 24 Ks/22 BBs) but if you need a spot starter, you could do worse. In 13 games (11 starts) against Houston, Bush is 6-1 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.115 walks plus hits per innings pitched, and has an outstanding 6.75 strikeout to walk ratio (54 Ks/eight BBs).
Johnny Cueto vs. PIT: Cueto is emerging as a respectable starter, and he's a must-start against the Pirates. In two outings against the Buccos this year, Cueto is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA (three ERs in 14 IP). In those starts he's allowed six hits (.130 batting average against) and four BBs (0.714 WHIP), while striking out 12 batters. In his career he's 7-2 against Pittsburgh with a 3.30 ERA and 1.183 WHIP.
Jaime Garcia @ SD, @CHC: A visit to pitcher-friendly Petco Park should help Garcia continue on the roll that he's enjoying, and although you can't read much into his one perfect inning at Wrigley Field, he's too hot to sit right now. Garcia is 4-2 with a 1.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and a.197 BAA. If your league uses quality starts, Garcia is 7-for-7 in that category.
Ryan Dempster vs. LAD: 21 games (11 starts) vs. Los Angeles: 6-3, 2.52 ERA, .231 BAA. Two 2009 starts vs. LA: 2-0, no ERs, six hits, 10Ks/two BBs in 14 IP.
Yovani Gallardo vs. NYM: 13 IP vs. the Mets: one ER (0.69 ERA), 19 Ks/four BBs.
Tim Hudson @ FLA: Nine career starts in Florida: 6-1, 2.67 ERA, 7.2 K/9, .255 BAA.
Ubaldo Jimenez vs. ARZ: He has been solid against Arizona: 3-2 in nine games, 2.47 ERA, .183 BAA, 1.097 WHIP, 10.0 K/9. The D'backs have struck out more than any other NL team, so expect that K/9 number to get even larger.
Nick Masset vs. PIT, vs. HOU: Battled back after a rough start, allowing only one ER in his last eight games (8.2 IP); four holds, 13.73 K/9 on the season.
Brett Myers @ MIL: Eight games (four starts) against Milwaukee: 4-1, 1.77 ERA, 0.841 WHIP, .183 BAA.
You catch a bad one
Jon Garland vs. STL, vs. WAS: Garland has been pretty good this season, but doesn't have much success against St. Louis. In three career starts against the Redbirds, Garland has allowed 12 ERs in 14.2 IP (7.36 ERA), 22 hits/seven BBs (1.977 WHIP), .338 BAA, and a .411 OBP. Garland has been decent against the Nats the four times he's faced them, so if you have the option of giving him just one start this week, he's an alright play at home against Washington.
Livan Hernandez @ SF, @ SD: Hernandez has been giving fantasy owners a solid return on what was most likely a very small investment, but the gravy train is about to pull into the station. In his last 29 IP against the Giants, Hernandez has allowed 22 ERs (6.83 ERA) and allowed 41 hits while striking out only 10 batters. At Petco Park, Hernandez is 0-5 in seven starts with a 5.82 ERA, 1.523 WHIP, and six HRs allowed. Hernandez isn't doing owners any favors with his poor strikeout numbers (3.1 K/9), and he's allowed seven HRs in eight games.
Rodrigo Lopez @ COL: Despite success at Coors Field when he played for the Rockies, Lopez doesn't make a good play this week. His only appearance as a visitor to Coors Field wasn't good: two IP, five hits, two ERs. Lopez has been average at best this season, so I wouldn't trust him in the Mile High City.
Tom Gorzelanny vs. LAD, vs. STL: 18.2 IP vs. Los Angeles: 11 ER (5.30 ERA), 19 hits/six BBs (1.339 WHIP). 1-3 vs. St. Louis with 18 BBs/17 Ks.
Trevor Hoffman vs. HOU, @ FLA: Kind of an easy target right now, but he's going back to the drawing board on his mechanics and won't pitch again until he figures it out. Carlos Villanueva looks to take the closer reins until (if) Hoffman is read to return.
Kyle Kendrick @ FLA: Nine games (five starts) vs. Florida: 6.46 ERA (22 ERs in 30.2 IP), 15 Ks/14 BBs, 1.663 WHIP.
Kyle Loshe @ CHC: Nine starts vs. the Cubs: 1-3, 5.59 ERA, 1.586 WHIP, .304 BAA, seven HRs.
Felipe Paulino @ MIL, @ CIN: Nine IP in Milwaukee: nine ERs, six HRs, .350 BAA, .409 OBP. 1-4 with a 5.51 ERA against the Reds.
This week is a little short on two-start pitchers, and even shorter on aces getting two turns on the hill. However, based on matchups, there are a few guys who make sense to double up.
I want some
Jaime Garcia 05/25 @ SD; 05/30 @ CHCAaron Harang 05/24 vs. PIT; 05/29 vs. HOUMike Leake 05/25 vs. PIT; 05/30 vs. HOURandy Wolf 05/25 vs. HOU; 05/30 vs. NYM
Something's got to give
Aaron Cook 05/25 vs. ARZ; 05/30 vs. LADJon Garland 05/25 vs. STL; 05/30 vs. WASIan Kennedy 05/25 @ COL; 05/30 @ SFPaul Maholm 05/25 @ CIN; 05/30 @ ATLJamie Moyer 05/25 @ NYM; 05/30 @ FLAAnibal Sanchez 05/25 vs. ATL; 05/30 vs. PHI
Brian Burres 05/24 @ CIN; 05/29 @ ATLR.A. Dickey 05/25 vs. PHI; 05/30 @ MLWTom Gorzelanny 05/25 vs. LAD; 05/30 vs. STLLivan Hernandez 05/25 @ SF; 05/30 @ SDKenshin Kawakami 05/25 @ FLA; 05/30 vs. PITRamon Ortiz 05/25 @ CHC; 05/30 @ COLFelipe Paulino 05/25 @ MLW; 05/30 @ CINTodd Wellemeyer 05/25 vs. WAS; 05/30 vs. ARZ
Jonny Gomes, OF: Gomes is absolutely destroying opposing pitching right now. He has 10 hits in his last 20 at-bats, with two HRs and six RBIs. This week he faces Houston and Pittsburgh, against whom he's had some success. Against the Astros he's 8-for-22 (.364 AVG) with seven RBIs in eight games. In 19 games against the Pirates, he's a .286 hitter. While that's not great, it's well above his career average, and given his recent hot streak I expect that number to jump by the end of the week.
Andres Torres, OF: Torres has been out of his mind lately, hitting .348 (8-for-23) with four doubles, a triple, two HRs, and six RBIs over his last six games. He has two series at home this week, which is a good sign for continued success considering his .307 career batting average in 55 games at AT&T Park. Torres only has four at-bats against his first foe (Washington), but against Arizona he's a .315 career hitter (10-for-28) and has more walks (five) than strikeouts (four). Torres appears to have a stranglehold on the number two spot in the batting order, and his five steals are just icing on the cake for fantasy owners. He's playing way above his career averages right now, so get it while the getting's good.
Justin Upton, SS: Upton has been feeling it lately (.423 AVG, one double, two triples, two HRs, five RBIs, and two SBs in his last six games). He starts the week at Coors Field, where he's 4-for-12 (.333 AVG) with two doubles and four RBIs in three games this season. Upton then visits Dodger Stadium, where he's a .293 hitter in 21 career games. Although Upton is only hitting .256 this season, he's getting it done with runners in scoring position (.324 AVG).
Corey Hart, OF: Four HRs, seven RBIs in his last seven games. .337 AVG, 1.019 OPS in 55 games vs. Houston; .338 AVG in 19 games vs. the Mets.
Eric Hinske, 1B/3B/OF: Gotta love triple eligibility, not to mention his .362 AVG, 1.044 OPS, and 18 RBIs (not bad for a guy who's available in 95% of Yahoo leagues).
Garrett Jones, 1B/OF: Last seven games, Jones is 13-for-26 (.500 AVG) with one HR and seven RBIs. Ride him while he's hot, because things will even out soon enough.
Scott Rolen, 3B: 5-for-11 (.455 AVG) with three doubles in three games vs. Pittsburgh this year; only 1-for-12 against Houston in 2010, but I like his current hot streak (8-for-16, three doubles, two HRs, eight RBIs in his last five games) to continue.
Cody Ross, OF: Twelve hits in his last 26 at-bats (four doubles, five RBIs); May is his best month, and he's spending the week at home where he's a better hitter.
Putting shame in your game
Chase Headley, 3B/OF: A week of home cooking isn't what the doctor ordered for Headley. His career average is almost .80 points higher when he's away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park, and his OBP is over .50 points better on the road. May is also Headley's worst hitting month, which is even more reason to expect that he won't snap out of his recent funk. He faces St. Louis, against whom he's a career .245 hitter (9-for-20) and Washington, who's held him for four hits in his last 19 at-bats (.211 AVG). Headley will regain his early-season form, just not this week.
Raul Ibanez, OF: Fantasy owners have not been enjoying the "soothing sounds of Raul" much this year, and his demotion to seventh in the order is a sign that things may not be turning around anytime soon. Ibanez is only hitting .238 on the year, and hasn't found his power stroke yet (.397 SLG). If you do feel compelled to give him a start, make sure it's not during a day game; Ibanez is 9-for-47 (.191 AVG) under the sunshine.
Jose Reyes, SS: Reyes has yet to find his stride after missing the start of the season, and he's been awful lately (four hits in his last 30 at-bats with only one RBI). He's struggled against Philadelphia this year (1-for-13), so I don't like him to break out of his slump against the Fightin' Phils. However, he destroyed Milwaukee pitching last year (8-for-14), so if he starts to show signs of life later in the week, it might be the time to turn him loose.
Jeff Francoeur, OF: Two hits in his last 18 at-bats; 1-for-8 (.125 AVG) against the Phillies this year, 6-for-41 (.146 AVG) the last two season against Milwaukee.
Chipper Jones, 3B: Four hits in his last 19 at-bats (.211 AVG). Three for his last 14 (.214 AVG) in Florida, five for his last 20 (.250 AVG) against Pittsburgh.
Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B: Everyone knows about his prolific strikeout today, but 11 Ks in his last 17 at-bats is ridiculous.
Ivan Rodriguez, C: Pudge has cooled off considerably since his hot start, with only one hit in his last 21 at-bats (.048 AVG).
David Wright, 3B: It's pile-on the Mets time. Wright has three hits in his last 32 at-bats (.130 AVG) and was given a day off after striking out three times and making a throwing error against the Nats.
Several of the players I've mentioned have low ownership percentages, but here are a four more for those of you who need some offensive help in deep leagues.
Roger Bernadina, OF: Nine hits in his last 22 at-bats; .291 AVG, two HRs, seven RBIs in 19 games this season.
David Eckstein, 2B: He's riding a 10-for-24 streak and is at .295 on the season; he can bring some value if you need an injury replacement at a thin position.
Jeff Keppinger, 2B/3B/SS: His solid play allowed the Astros to release Kaz Matsui; more walks (10) than strikeouts (seven). Currently on a 9-for-24 run.
Gaby Sanchez, 1B: Ten for his last 26; 14 of his 37 hits have gone for extra bases.
* All stats through 5/19/10.
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