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 24 (9/11 – 9/17) 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.
Cleveland Indians hitters – Boy I’m really going out on a limb here aren’t I? Yea, hey, maybe you should start the hitters on the hottest team in baseball? But I’m not just recommending Indians hitters because I’m lazy (that’s only part of it), but because they have an excellent set of matchups this week. First, they start off with a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers followed by a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals, and in all seven of those games, there’s nary a pitching matchup that frightens you even a little bit. Obviously you’re already starting your studs, but I’d recommend starting guys like Austin Jackson (in their two starts against lefties) and Jay Bruce, who’s slashing .252/.308/.486 against righties since the All-Star Break (and the Indians get to see five righties this week).
Chicago White Sox hitters – The White Sox, oddly enough, get the exact reverse schedule of the Indians, starting off the week with a three-game series against the Royals and then a four-game series against the Tigers. Again, neither of these pitching staffs are any good. Since the beginning of August, the Royals staff has a 6.13 ERA and the Tigers staff has a 5.99 ERA. Take advantage of these matchups this week. Now that Nicky Delmonico is back, I’d recommend grabbing him for this week (and possibly beyond, he’s been pretty good since being called up) and if you need power, Matt Davidson isn’t a bad guy to look for. Both are available in over 90% of ESPN leagues.
Colorado Rockies hitters – Four games in Chase Field (Coors Lite) against the Diamondbacks and three games in Coors Field against the Padres make the Rockies schedule quite hitter-friendly this week. Sure, they’ll see Zack Greinke and Zack Godley while they’re in Arizona, and if you’re in a daily league, I might avoid those matchups, but other than that, thing look good, and even in those matchups, being in Chase Field can help dampen the effects that Greinke and Godley will have on the lineup. Fun fact: Carlos Gonzalez has been slashing .338/.435/.571 over the past month an is available in just under 42% of ESPN leagues. Also, in his career, Trevor Story has enjoyed hitting at Chase Field, slashing .271/.352/.833 there.
San Diego Padres hitters – Sure they only have five games this week, but they should be five good games for their hitters. They start off with two games in Minnesota against the Twins (where they’ll gain a DH spot) and then three games at Coors Field against the Rockies. None of the pitching matchups are particularly scary, so take advantage of these matchups this week. Wil Myers hasn’t been what fantasy owners hoped he’d be this year, but over the past two weeks, he’s slashing .321/.339/.472, making him a worthwhile play.
Oakland Athletics hitters – Since August, the A’s have been hitting the ball quite well, with a .347 team wOBA in that timespan. This week, they play three games in hitter-friendly Fenway Park against the Red Sox and luckily get to miss Chris Sale. They will see Eduardo Rodriguez, which could potentially be scary, as could Drew Pomeranz, but overall, it’s not a terrible series. Then they head to Philly to play the Phillies, and while they’ll lose a DH spot (which could be bad news for someone like Matt Olson or Ryon Healy), they’ll get some sweet hitting matchups. Khris Davis, Matt Chapman, Matt Joyce, Olson, and Healy I think are all worth playing this week.
San Francisco Giants hitters – Last week, I told you to grab Giants hitters for the week. Well now you need to drop/bench them, because this week is going to be rough. They play all six of their games this week at home in arguably the most pitcher-friendly park in baseball in AT&T Park, and while there they’ll get to see Kenta Maeda, Clayton Kershaw, Robbie Ray, and Zack Greinke. If he’s not named Buster Posey, don’t play your Giants hitters this week.
Washington Nationals hitters against the Dodgers – The Nats’ offense has been pretty rough without Bryce Harper, and while they start the week with a decent matchup against the Atlanta Braves, they’ll have an extremely difficult series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’ll be facing Yu Darvish, Alex Wood, and Rich Hill. Given the struggles of the offense already on top of the fact that they’ll be facing three very good pitchers, I’d avoid them during that series in daily leagues.
Tampa Bay Rays hitters – It’s a rough week for the Rays. They start off with a three-game series at home against the New York Yankees where they’ll get to see Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka, and then they have another three-game home series, this time against the Boston Red Sox, where they’ll get to see Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez. If it’s Evan Longoria, I’d still be starting him, but otherwise, avoid your Rays.
Atlanta Braves hitters – The Braves have had some fantasy-useful players, but I’d be sitting just about everyone on that team this week. The Braves start off the week with a three-game series against the Nationals where they’ll see Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer, and then they head home to face off against the New York Mets, getting to see Jacob DeGrom while they’re there. If you’re in a daily league, there are some matchups (i.e. the one with Tanner Roark) that aren’t too bad, but in a weekly league, I’d generally avoid my Braves.
Cincinnati Reds hitters – The Reds begin their week in pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium where they’ll see the St. Louid Cardinals and Lance Lynn (who’s had a 2.31 ERA over the past month), Luke Weaver (who’s had a 1.32 ERA over the past month), and the always-impressive Carlos Martinez. Then they head home, and being in Great American Ballpark is nice for their hitters, but while there they face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates and get to see Gerrit Cole. In a daily league, I might take advantage of the other two Pirates matchups against Chad Kuhl and Ivan Nova, but in a weekly league, this week scares me for Pirates hitters and I’d avoid them, including Andrew McCutchen who’s been miserable over the past month, slashing .211/.279/.253 in that time.