(Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire)
Baseball’s back WOOOOOOOO! Welcome to the first hitter matchups article of the year, here I’ll be taking a look at five hitting matchups you should take advantage of this week, and five hitting matchups you should avoid. Here are the batters you should start and avoid for Week 1 (4/2 – 4/8) of the fantasy baseball season.
Notes: All pitching matchups mentioned here are based on 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.
Atlanta Braves hitters – There’s going to be one game where you definitely want to sit your Braves hitters, and that’s Wednesday’s game against the Nationals, as they’ll likely be facing off against Max Scherzer. Otherwise, the Braves project to have a pretty hitter-friendly schedule. Before they see Scherzer, they’ll get to see the tail-end of the Nationals rotation in Tanner Roark and A.J. Cole, neither of whom are particularly scary, and then they get to head to Coors Field to face the Rockies, which is always good for hitters. And, even better, they get to avoid facing Jon Gray and will see German Marquez (who, admittedly, is a decent pitcher), Chad Bettis, and Kyle Freeland.
Chicago Cubs hitters – The Cubs get to play all week at hitter-friendly parks, including Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark and Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Not only that, but there isn’t a single pitcher they’re facing that scares you aside from potentially Chase Anderson on Sunday. Otherwise, it’s a long list of mediocre-to-bad pitchers all in hitter-friendly ballparks. This week is especially good for your Cubs lefties, as the team will only face two lefties all week, so go ahead and toss Kyle Schwarber out there this week (and in deep leagues, take a look at Jason Heyward who’s a career .275/.360/.441 hitter against righties).
Oakland Athletics lefties – The A’s get to stay in fairly hitter-friendly environments all week, with four games at home against the Texas Rangers and three games against the Los Angeles Angels. They also get to see mostly right-handed pitchers all week, which is great news for their left-handed hitters. While they will be seeing somewhat intimidating matchups against Cole Hamels and Shohei Ohtani, I’m not overly scared of either of them. The A’s don’t have a ton of lefties in their lineup, but guys like Matt Joyce, who hit .253/.346/.509 against lefties last year, and Matt Olson, who’s slashed .265/.368/.663 against righties in his short career so far, are worth a look. Even maybe Boog Powell (in deep leagues) might be worth a look, considering he’s slashed .289/.346/.430 against righties in his brief career so far.
Houston Astros hitters – The Astros get to see two pretty mediocre rotations this week in the Baltimore Orioles and the San Diego Padres. The scariest pitcher they’re going to see all week is likely Dylan Bundy, so that should tell you all you need to know about your Astros hitters. They’ll also likely only be facing one lefty this whole week, which is good news for Josh Reddick, who had a .190 ISO against righties last year.
Kansas City Royals hitters against the Tigers – I’m gonna be pretty specific with this one (and it applies more to daily players than weekly), only start your Royals during their three-game series in Detroit against the Tigers (more on why in a minute). Comerica Park is a nice hitter-friendly park across the board, and the Royals will get to see the unintimidating part of the Tigers rotation (i.e. the guys who aren’t Michael Fulmer), including Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris, and Jordan Zimmerman. In that three-game series, they’ll see two lefties, which is good news for righties like Jorge Soler and Whit Merrifield.
Kansas City Royals hitters against the Indians – I promised you I’d explain why I was so specific about Royals hitters earlier. The Royals go from a very hitter-friendly series against the Tigers to a no-thank-you series against the Indians where they’ll get to see Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Mike Clevinger. Bauer and Clevinger aren’t total aces, but I’m not very confident in a so-so Royals lineup against them. I’d still start Whit Merrifield and Mike Moustakas most likely though, as you probably don’t have better options (though if you do, go for it).
San Francisco Giants hitters – The Giants get to spend this week in pitcher-friendly parks, with a two-game series in Seattle and then a three-game series at home in AT&T Park, one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball, against the Dodgers. It’s an especially rough week to be a lefty on the Giants, as the team will get to face three left-handed pitchers out of the five games they’re playing, including Rich Hill. That makes guys like Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford a lot less appealing this week.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – The Diamondbacks get to start off the week at home in Chase Field with the (drink) humidor. We have no real idea exactly what the humidor is going to do to hitters in Arizona, but the general consensus is, it’s not good. On top of that, the Diamondbacks get to face Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood during that series. Then, they head to Busch Stadium (a pitcher-friendly park) to see the Cardinals. The pitching matchups against the Cardinals aren’t overwhelming, as they’ll see Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, and Miles Mikolas, but those aren’t great matchups either (especially Weaver and Mikolas). I’d especially avoid lefties on the Diamondbacks (like David Peralta and Jake Lamb) during the Dodgers series, as they’ll see three-straight lefties that series.
New York Mets hitters – The Mets don’t have a lot of great hitting matchups this week. They start off with a three-game series at home against the Philadelphia Phillies where they’ll probably get to see Aaron Nola and Nick Pivetta (who looked pretty good in his last start) and then they head to Washington to face the Nationals and Stephen Strasburg. You’re still starting your studs, but I might think twice about starting guys like Todd Frazier, Amed Rosario, and Adrian Gonzalez this week.
Tampa Bay Rays hitters – It’s a somewhat tough week for Rays hitters this week. While they’ll be in hitter-friendly environments, they’ll be facing off against the Yankees and the Red Sox. They’re gonna get some tough matchups too, as they’ll be seeing Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino, and David Price. They’ll also be seeing three lefties in their five games this week (Montgomery, Price, and Brian Johnson), which is going to be rough for guys like Kevin Kiermaier and Denard Span (and Mallex Smith if he gets playing time).