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Salary Cap Chronicles: Riding McCutchen's Hot Hand

Scott Jenstad

Scott Jenstad is a veteran of both NFBC and CDM fantasy games. He has won three NFBC Main Event league titles and finished twice in the Top 10 Overall. Scott is a hardcore fan of the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland A's and Golden State Warriors. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJenstad.

Finally, we are on a nice roll again. Week 12 has me very near the top of my league and easily ahead in my matchup. The Nationals have been extremely strong as my pitching staff and almost all of my guys on offense have chipped in pretty well. The only two bums this week for me are Jason Kipnis and Miguel Cabrera. Not exactly what I was hoping for from Miggy for his extremely high salary and seven-game schedule, but luckily the rest of the offense stepped up him. I'm not sure anyone is better than Andrew McCutchen right now; dude is just a beast and keeping the Pirates in the NL Central discussion somehow.

Looking ahead to Week 13, it looks like this will be a very big scoring week. 18 of the teams have seven games, which is about as heavy a week as we will see. In addition, no team has five games this week which means almost every in the league is in play. A quick look at some of the usual suspects on offense shows the Rockies, Blue Jays and Yankees with five of their seven at home. The Rangers do get five home games also, but they only have six games total this week with Monday off. I am looking forward to a week with a lot of games played as our next two weeks both are impacted by the All-Star Game and feature a slew of five-game weeks. As a reminder, the Head2Head week runs Wednesday-Tuesday.

Catcher: Yadier Molina had a bit of a slow week so far, but did chip in with a Sunday home run. The Cardinals only play six games this week so it probably makes sense to try and lock down a seven game catcher. Miguel Montero has finally started to hit like we all though he would entering 2012. He leads all catchers in home runs in June with 5 and is crushing all catchers in June in RBI with 21 in 18 games. The D-Backs are on the road for a majority of the week, but Montero is hot enough at a tough position that I am ok with the road games. The other very intriguing play this week is Willin Rosario of the Rockies. He is very cheap and gets a nice chunk of games at Coors Field. He has produced very well since Ramon Hernandez went down and he took over the starting catcher job. If you want to save some cap, Rosario is an excellent guy to do that with this week. Of the other seven gamers, Matt Wieters looks pretty solid this week with five games at home and he has broken out of his slump and is hitting over .300 in June.

First Base: David Ortiz has not done a ton for me this week and with trips to Seattle and Oakland this week, I will swap him out for a better option. Joey Votto has been the best first baseman in baseball recently, but he has a tough schedule this week also going to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is hard to not like Votto with seven games, but at that price, I think I will look for better matchups. As usual at 1B, I come back to the Angels with both Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols. Trumbo continues to be an insane bargain and while Pujols still isn't MVP Pujols, he has been a lot better. They have seven this week, including a four game set in Toronto. Pujols or Trumbo will likely be my 1B with the other gaining strong consideration at Flex.

Second Base: Kipnis has had a very meager week, but with seven games at his price, I will likely stick with him this week. Aaron Hill has been red hot this hitting over .350 in June with some pop and makes a nice play even though Arizona hits the road. I also like Robinson Cano this week with the Yankees schedule. He is an excellent play if you have the cap available. Brandon Phillips has also been hot this month, but I'd rather use Phillips on a week the Reds are at home for a majority of their games. I am not seeing a lot I like after those three, but if you think Ian Kinsler finally gets hot again, the Rangers do have a nice schedule even with six games.

Third Base: With seven games and a majority of them at home, both Blue Jays who are eligible at 3B, Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion, look like great plays this week. Lawrie was fully hyped this spring and flew up draft boards, but he has not really gotten it completely going until recently. He is over .300 for June, but is still now showing a ton of pop. He is racking up points overall pretty well out of the leadoff spot. Encarnacion went through a bit of a lull for a while, but has picked it back up with four homers in his last seven games. At his price, it is hard to go wrong with Ency at home. If you want to go higher rent, Miguel Cabrera has seven games again this week if you wan to pay the price tag. I'm feeling a bit burnt this week by using a ton of cap on him. He does still have two games in Arlington to make it up to me. I wouldn't ever argue with tossing out Miggy for seven games. We also have to consider Alex Rodriguez with the schedule, but he has been horrible in June at .219. I think I will go with one of the Jays and call it a day.

Shortstop: The Jimmy Rollins play has worked really well as J Roll has stayed hot and put up a good number of points this week. J Roll is a Bay Area guy so he has always been a favorite of mine and ends up on a lot of my draft teams, so it is great to see him finally get going. I am hoping he can stay healthy and have a productive second half to make up for the first two months of 2012. Asdrubal Cabrera has finally located some of his 2011 magic and has put together a very nice June. He is a solid play this week with seven games. Derek Jeter has fallen way off from his hot start, but with the Yankees schedule this week, he has to be under consideration. An outside the box play this week could be Marco Scutaro with five games at Coors. Scutaro is never great, but usually pretty solid and comes at a discount from Asdrubal and Jeter.

Outfield: In the least surprising move of the year, I am going to slide Mike Trout back in the lineup this week with seven games. Trout continues to be a blast to watch and always seems to produce somehow. I anticipate using him very often the rest of the way. At his price, he is a slam-dunk to me this week. Jose Bautista is an excellent expensive play this week. Bautista has finally found his power stroke and has done so in a big way. He has 11 home runs already this month and gets a majority of his seven games at home. After talking up McCutchen earlier, I would be remiss to not keep him in for his seven games. If the cap works, he will definitely be playing for me this week. With the Rockies schedule, the other guy I have to try and find a spot for is Carlos Gonzalez. The Rockies are truly awful, but CarGo has managed to just keep raking, especially in Coors where his OPS is a truly ridiculous 1.174.

How about Colby Rasmus?  Is he finally having his break out season?  Rasmus has been outstanding in June and he presents a nice option to save a little cap in the outfield over a few of the other names mentioned already. Finally, I would also like to find a slot for Jason Heyward and his seven home games this week. Heyward is hitting nearly .400 in June and is another guy to save a little cap with and not lose much productivity vs. the top end guys. If you need to save some cap in the OF, a few other names to consider with seven games who have been playing well are Jason Kubel, Josh Reddick (finally hitting again and gets a four-game set in Texas) and Michael Saunders. Among the pricier options, I also like Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.

Pitching Staff: The Nationals are so fun to watch and root for. Every guy they run out there gives you a chance at a win and a bunch of K's. The next two games at Coors should be a lot of fun to watch with Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez climbing the scariest mound in the Bigs. With only six games this week, I will have to find another staff that can hopefully come close to the fun of watching the Nats deal. The Reds have a nice schedule for pitchers going to Los Angeles and San Francisco, but I just do not trust their staff enough to play them in Head2Head. The Dodgers are a definite consideration, but with two starts from Chad Billingsley this period, I don't think I have enough antacid handy to deal with that. Is there anyone more frustrating the last five years than that dude? Boston is an intriguing choice this week going to Seattle and Oakland with possible two starts each from Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. Pretty amazing how much better that combo sounded in the past few years than this year, but the Red Sox could very well be a play this week facing those weak offenses.

The Yankees are also interesting with two starts from Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova among their seven games. I just always worry about the number of runs they can give up in the Bandbox that Ruth Built. The Rays are always an interesting option and they do give us two starts each from Matt Moore and James Shields this period. I just can't decide if the Tigers are going to break out soon and hit for a month straight and the Rays do get them for four games this weekend. The Angels are really expensive, but do feature two starts each from Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, but four games in Toronto freaks me out. This is a really tough week for pitching with not many good NL options with seven games. After staring at this spot for a long time, I decided to go with the best NL option and played the Braves with seven home games. I don't like two starts from Jair Jurrjens, but you do get two from Tommy Hanson and the last two games are against the brutal Chicago Cubs. I am going to ride with my favorite pitcher ever, Tim Hudson, and play the Braves.

In summary, I ended up with this for Week 13:

Catcher: Miguel Montero ($8.3)
First Base: Mark Trumbo ($6.1)
Second Base: Jason Kipnis ($6.3)
Third Base: Brett Lawrie ($9.0)
Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera ($8.7)
Outfield: Andrew McCutchen ($10.3)
Outfield: Carlos Gonzalez ($11.5)
Outfield: Mike Trout ($7.0)
Flex: Jose Bautista ($10.6)
Pitching: Atlanta Braves ($21.5)