Championships are won by making the right little decisions through the season and micromanaging your lineup well can be the difference maker. Each week, I’ll be taking a look at five hitting matchups you should take advantage of this week, and five hitting matchups you should avoid this week. Here are the batters you should start and avoid for Week 23 (9/4 – 9/10) of the fantasy baseball season.
Notes: All pitching matchups mentioned here are based off of projections as of this writing. It is entirely possible that the actual matchups could change either because of injury, weather, or anything else. Keep in mind, this article is geared toward middle-of-the-road players, meaning you should be starting top of the line bats regardless of the matchup. Always start your studs.
San Francisco Giants hitters – I don’t generally recommend starting virtually any Giants hitters not named Buster Posey, mostly because the team has been awful offensively so far this year, but this week is a good week to start your Giants. They start the week against the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field, and they don’t really see any pitchers that scare you at all. Then they get to go to Guaranteed Rate Field to face off against the Chicago White Sox, getting to see James Shields and Derek Holland. There are some Giants hitters who have been doing well that are widely available, including Brandon Crawford, who’s hitting .316/.369/.547 over the past month and is available in around 75% of ESPN leagues, and Hunter Pence, who’s been slashing .307/.384/.466 over the past month and is available in around 86% of ESPN leagues.
Cleveland Indians hitters – The Indians have a nice schedule this week too, starting off with a four-game series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field where they’ll get to see (just like the Giants) James Shields and Derek Holland, and then a three-game series at home against the Baltimore Orioles, where they’ll get to see the consistently terrible Wade Miley and Chris Tillman (however if you’re in a daily league, I’d consider sitting my Indians hitters against Kevin Gausman, as he’s been very good lately). I’ve said it a few times in these articles, but Austin Jackson is available in around 97% of ESPN leagues and he’s been slashing .295/.333/.500 over the past month. He’s worth grabbing this week if you need an outfielder.
Trevor Story – As you’ll see later in this article, this is not a good week for Rockies hitters in general, but it should be a good week for Trevor Story. Why? Because he’ll get to see five left-handed pitchers this week (two of them at home in Coors Field) and he’s slashing .310/.400/.690 against lefties so far this year.
Detroit Tigers hitters – The Tigers have a fairly favorable schedule this week, as they’ll get to see the Kansas City Royals and their unimpressive rotation, followed by the Toronto Blue Jays and Brett Anderson and J.A. Happ. They’re scheduled to also see Marcus Stroman, but with his injury from Saturday night, we’ll see. It’s especially a good week for Nick Castellanos and James McCann, as the Tigers will see three lefties this week. Castellanos is slashing .275/.320/.617 against lefties this year, and McCann is slashing .333/.394/.633 against them.
Cincinnati Reds lefties – The Reds get to see seven right-handed pitchers this week, which is good news for your Reds lefties. Realistically, you’re starting Joey Votto no matter what, which means the two people I want to focus on are Scott Schebler and Scooter Gennett. Schebler is hitting just .221 against lefties this year, which might make you say “Ben you’re crazy, I’m not starting a guy who is hitting .221 against righties when he’s seeing seven righties this week,” and I would totally understand that. But he’s also slugging .489 and has an ISO of .270 against righties this year, so he may not give you average, but he’ll give you power. As for Gennett, he’s slashing .312/.366/.589 against righties this season.
Chicago White Sox hitters – I’ve mentioned the White Sox a couple times in this article as positive matchups for other teams, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean they’ve got good hitting matchups themselves. They get a four-game series against the Indians to start, where they’ll get to see Danny Salazara, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber, and then a three-game series against the Giants where they’ll get to see Madison Bumgarner. Avoid avoid avoid.
Tampa Bay Rays hitters – The Rays start off their week with a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins that’s not terrible for hitters but not great, thanks to a matchup against Jose Berrios. However they then head to Boston to face off against the Red Sox and they’ll get to see Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale, and Rick Porcello, which is less than ideal.
Colorado Rockies hitters not named Trevor Story – I mentioned that it’s a good week for Trevor Story, and it is, but it’s a bad week for Rockies hitters in general, and that’s saying something considering they start the week with a three-game series in Coors Field. This week, they’ll get to see Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Alex Wood, and Rich Hill. Just a who’s who of bad matchups for hitters. I’d avoid them in weekly leagues and in daily leagues, I’d only start Rockies hitters in their matchups against Matt Moore and Johnny Cueto.
Seattle Mariners hitters – The Mariners have a rough week for their hitters this week, starting with a three-game series at home in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field against the Houston Astros, where they’ll get to see Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers. Then they have another three-game home series, this time against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim where they’ll get to see Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards. Sure, Heaney and Richards are far from sure things, but Heaney’s been good lately and Richards is a good pitcher (though he’s just coming off the DL).
Oakland Athletics hitters – The Athletics have basically the reverse schedule of the Mariners, in that they start their week off with a three-game home series against the Angels where they’ll see Garrett Richards’ first start off the DL, and then a four-game homestand (including a doubleheader) against the Astros where they’ll see Brad Peacock, Charlie Morton, and Dallas Keuchel. If you’re in a daily league, I’m fine starting your A’s hitters in their last two games against the Angels where they’ll likely see Parker Bridwell and Tyler Skaggs, and the matchup against Colin McHugh shouldn’t be too bad, but otherwise, there’s not much here I like, so I’d avoid your A’s hitters in weekly leagues.