I'm back after a week-long hiatus, but at least I didn't miss much, just a perfect game (or two). At least I was around for Stephen Strasburg's debut, which, while not perfect, was pretty amazing. Everything that can be said about Strasburg has already been said, but allow me to throw in my two cents. He's an every week starter from now until he hits his Nationals-imposed innings limit, provided the team lets him pitch deep enough to tally wins and quality starts. Not every start will be like his debut, but every time he toes the rubber there's the potential for an outing like that, therefore he's got to be in your lineup. Since I make it a point to try and not call out the obvious in this column, don't expect to hear too much more about him; just make sure he's in there every fifth day or so and tally up the points. Your strikeout metrics will thank you.
Let's take a look at the upcoming (interleague-heavy) week in the National League, with a little help from musical guest the late, great Warren Zevon.
Let nothing come between you
Johan Santana @ CLE; @ NYY:Adam Wainwright is the low-hanging fruit of this week's two-start pitchers, but you don't need me to state his case. While Santana's 7-7 career record against Cleveland may give fantasy owners pause, his 3.42 ERA, .233 batting average against, and 3.77 strikeout to walk ratio against the Tribe fill me with confidence. Santana has pitched well throughout his career against the Yankees, with a 5-2 record, 4.02 ERA, and .254 BAA. His .309 batting average on balls in play indicate that he's been able to post solid numbers despite a little bad luck. As a visitor in New York, Santana is 3-1, and although he got crushed in his only visit to the new Yankee Stadium, I think he'll bring the goods this week.
Roy Oswalt @ KC: Although he might be packing his bags soon, Oswalt is still in Houston for now, and makes a nice play against the Royals. In two career starts against Kansas City, Oswalt is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA, 12 Ks, and only three BBs. Despite a solid season, poor run support has made wins hard to come by for Oswalt, so fantasy owners should take advantage of this opportunity.
Carlos Silva vs. LAA: I've been predicting the end of Silva's run of glory for a while now, but I'm ready to admit the error of my ways. In his last three starts Silva is 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA and a 17/2 K to BB ratio. Silva's success in 12 games against the Angels (7-2, 3.77 ERA) indicates that, at least for another week, he will be making my earlier predictions look bad.
Kevin Correia vs. TOR: I expect Petco Park to neutralize the Blue Jay's power bats, especially when you consider Correia's home ERA improves by about three runs this season, and that he's only allowed two dingers in 34.2 home IP.
R.A. Dickey @ CLE: A pleasant surprise, Dickey has been very good since his call up from Triple-A (3-0, 3.20 ERA). Dickey probably won't be able to keep up this pace, but considering Cleveland is near the bottom of the American League in batting average, runs, and home runs, there's a good chance Dickey will deliver solid numbers this week.
Zach Duke vs. CWS: Not a guy who misses too many bats, the White Sox and their low team batting average are a nice matchup for the Buccos' lefty. Duke hasn't pitched well lately, but he has been better at home, so if you've got him on your roster, now's the time to use him.
Tim Hudson vs. TB: Although most of Hudson's success (6-1, 2.85 ERA) against the Rays came in the franchise's dark ages, his stellar 2010 (6-1, 2.44 ERA, .223 BAA, 1.177 WHIP) is enough to convince me he can continue the trend.
Barry Zito @ TOR: In 10 games against the Jays, Zito is 5-2 with a 3.52 ERA. Although he hasn't fared as well in Toronto, he hasn't pitched there since 2003, and based on his .235 BAA this season (and Toronto's low team batting average), I like his resurgence to continue.
Trouble waiting to happen
John Lannan @ DET; vs. CWS: Lannan has faced neither Detroit nor the Sox, and that usually gives the advantage to the pitcher; unless that pitcher can't find the plate. Lannan's 31 BBs against 22 Ks prevent him from being an option in even the deepest of NL-only leagues, and his .305 BAA indicates when he does find the plate, hitters have no problem sending back the other way. Lannan has a .341 BAA with RISP and two outs and a .321 BAA with men on base, so he actually gets worse when the stakes get higher. No matter how you look at it, starting Lannan would be nothing short of an act of desperation.
Bronson Arroyo vs. LAD: One of the few pitchers not making an interleague start, Arroyo faces a Dodgers team that has pretty much owned him. In nine starts against the Dodgers, Arroyo is 1-4 with a 4.78 ERA and a 1.455 walks plus hits per innings pitched. Last season, Arroyo allowed seven ERs in 12.2 IP (4.97 ERA) against LA, and was 0-1.
Dan Haren @ DET: Comerica Park has been a house of horrors for Haren. In three games in Detroit, Haren is 0-3 with a 6.41 ERA (14 ERs in 19.2 IP), and has allowed 28 hits (.329 BAA, 1.576 WHIP). In Haren's last five games, hitters are batting .316 against him, which does not bode well for his success against a Detroit team that is amongst the league leaders in batting average.
Joe Blanton @ NYY: The first of three Phillies' hurlers to appear on this list, Blanton has been a disaster against the Yankees. In four games against New York, Blanton is 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA and 12 BBs versus 10 Ks.
Cole Hamels vs. MIN: In his last three starts, Hamels is 0-3 with a 4.20 ERA and three HRs allowed. Even though he took a no-hitter into the seventh against San Diego, he still blew it by giving up back-to-back bombs. June is a historically down month for Hamels, so now might be time to give him a break from your lineup.
Jamie Moyer @ NYY: With his 4.78 career ERA against the Bronx Bombers, I'm loath to trust Moyer against the most explosive lineup in baseball, especially in the new Yankee Stadium.
Ricky Nolasco vs. TB: Despite his 2-1 record against the Rays, Nolasco's 6.88 ERA (13 ERs in 17 IP) indicates he's had a little luck along the way. Toss in the fact he's going up against Matt Garza, (2-0, 1.13 ERA vs. Florida), and things aren't looking good for Nolasco this week.
This week is a little short on two-start pitchers, and with several teams playing fast and loose with their rotations, things may change a little bit. However, there are still some guys who you'll want to double up on, and some you'll want to give a wide berth.
Play it all night long
Jonathan Sanchez 06/14 vs. BAL; 06/20 @ TORJohan Santana 06/15 @ CLE; 06/20 @ NYYAdam Wainwright 06/14 vs. SEA; 06/20 vs. OAK
Even a dog can shake hands
Randy Wolf 06/15 @ LAA; 06/20 @ COLKyle Kendrick 06/15 @ NYY; 06/20 vs. MINCarlos Zambrano 06/15 vs. OAK; 06/20 vs. LAAHiroki Kuroda 06/15 @ CIN; 06/20 @ BOSAaron Cook 06/15 @ MIN; 06/20 vs. MLW
Ain't that pretty at all
Aaron Harang 06/15 vs. LAD; 06/20 @ SEAIan Kennedy 06/15 @ BOS; 06/20 @ DETJohn Lannan 06/15 @ DET; 06/20 vs. CWSFelipe Paulino 06/15 @ KC; 06/20 vs. TEXKenshin Kawakami 06/15 vs. TB; 06/20 vs. KC
Looking for the next big thing
Carlos Lee, OF: A former American-Leaguer, Lee has had ample success against both of this week's opponents. In 46 games in Kansas City, Lee has hit .297 with 11 HRs and 36 RBIs, and although he hasn't played there since 2006, I expect him to not miss a beat. In 69 games against Texas, Lee has hit .331 with 13 HRs, 48 RBIs, and a .923 on base plus slugging. In six games against the Rangers last season, Lee went 7-for-23 (.304), with a .385 on-base percentage and three BBs against only two Ks.
Freddy Sanchez, 2B: Since coming off the DL, Sanchez has been ripping it up (.338 AVG, .420 OBP). I like his chances to keep rolling against the Orioles, who boast one of the worst staffs in the AL in both ERA and BAA. Toronto's staff is better than Baltmore's, but Sanchez is just too hot to ignore right now, especially at a thin position like second base.
David Wright, 3B: The Mets' golden boy has put up impressive numbers in 33 games against his cross-town rivals. He boasts a .328 AVG, .388 OBP, .936 OPS, seven HRs, 26 RBIs, and six SBs against the Yankees. Wright has never faced Cleveland, but his .299 AVG in 77 interleague games leads me to believe his current success (.417 AVG, .500 OBP in his last ten games) will continue.
Jeff Keppinger, 2B/3B/SS: I love his triple-eligibility and recent play (.327 AVG over his last 13 games) so much I'm willing to overlook his sub-.200 career average in six combined games against Kansas City and Toronto. Keppinger's 16 BBs vs. 11 Ks further boosts his fantasy value.
Derrek Lee, 1B: Another interleague beast (.317 AVG, .393 OBP in 155 games), Lee has performed well against the Angels (.304 AVG in six games) and especially the A's (.632 AVG in six games).
Ryan Ludwick, OF: Recent performance (.313 AVG, four HRs, 12 RBIs in his last 12 games), a .339 home batting average, and a .467 AVG with runners in scoring position make Ludwick a nice play during this week's home stand.
Buster Posey, C/1B: Lost in all the Strasburg hype is Posey's play since being called up: .450 AVG, .488 OBP, 1.113 OPS and only three strikeouts in 43 plate appearances.
Juan Uribe, 2B/3B/SS: With Edgar Renteria on the shelf for another two weeks, the do-it-all veteran will remain in the lineup and should continue to improve upon his impressive recent play (two HRs, nine RBIs in his last six games).
Poor, poor pitiful me
Raul Ibanez, OF: It may seem like the Phillies' outfielder has become this column's punching bag, but his season-long slump hasn't endeared him to fantasy owners. Ibanez has hit the ball well in his last three games, but since he faces two of the best pitching staffs in the American League this week (the Yankees and Twins), I don't think he's out of the woods yet.
Bengie Molina, C: The flip-side of the Posey coin, Molina has been struggling lately (nine hits in his last 69 at-bats) and is battling a sore elbow. Molina and Posey can and will play together (with Posey at first base), but between his recent struggles and injury, you should look elsewhere this week.
Manny Ramirez, OF: It's tough to make predictions about a guy like Ramirez, and even tougher to suggest pulling a hitter of his caliber out of the lineup, but Ramirez's play since coming off the DL leaves a lot to be desired, as does his power on the road (one HR in 19 road games this year). Although he lit up Cincinnati pitching last time he faced them, and will be returning to his old stomping grounds of Fenway Park, I'm not predicting big things from Manny this week.
Brad Hawpe, OF: Even though he's been on a bit of a run lately, suspect performance against Minnesota (0-for-9, grounded into two double plays) and Milwaukee (.234 AVG with 33 Ks in 34 games) lead me to believe the streaky Hawpe will come back to earth this week.
Chase Headley, 3B/OF: One of this column's former fair-haired boys is a question mark during this week's home stand, based on his propensity for poor play at Petco Park (.231 career home average vs. .302 on the road).
Adam LaRoche, 1B: Having cooled off considerably from a hot stretch a few weeks back, LaRoche's career numbers at Fenway Park (.167 AVG with five Ks in nine games) make him a risky start. He did pound Detroit pitching last year (7-for-8), so if he starts to show signs of life late in the week, a case could be made for getting him back in the lineup.
Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B: Off his game so much that he recently spent some time in the eight-hole, Kung Fu Panda is a risky play this week. Giants' manager Bruce Bochy said that Sandoval isn't being selective and is swinging at pitchers' pitches, which isn't a good sign. His season-long power outage is also cause for concern.
Jayson Werth, OF: Facing the same pitching as Ibanez won't help Werth this week. He's 2-for-13 (.154 AVG) in three games at Yankee Stadium, with five Ks. In three games against the Twins he's sporting a 1-for-10 (.100 AVG) with three Ks.
As injuries pile up, it's getting harder and harder to find value on the waiver wire. However, there are still some options out there, if you look hard enough. Here are four players, owned in less than 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues, who can help your team.
Never too late for love
Ike Davis, 1B (16 percent): Another rookie who's been overshadowed, Davis has been pretty consistent since coming up from the minors. The knock on Davis was his ability to hit lefties, but he's been handling southpaws to the tune of a .348 AVG in 46 at-bats. When his average against righties catches up, look out.
Blake DeWitt, 2B/3B (2 percent): You won't get much in the way of power, but he's hitting .444 over his last eight games, and he's hitting .342 with RISP. Just make sure you only start him at home, where he hits over .100 points higher than on the road.
Pedro Feliz, 1B/3B (3 percent): I'm always on the lookout for multi-position guys, and Feliz is someone who can help you out in a pinch. He's not doing great with RISP, but he is hitting .326 over his last 12 games. In a deep NL-only league, you could do worse (provided you only use him when he's playing at home).
Nick Hundley, C (5 percent): There's never enough to go around at the catching position, but Hundley's a guy who can help those in need. He's not an "everyday" catcher, but in his last nine games he's hitting .429 with eight RBIs.
* All stats through 6/9/10.
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