Welcome back to baseball everyone! Happy opening week, our long national nightmare of not having baseball is finally over, and I’m psyched to be doing this column for the fifth year.
If you’re unfamiliar with this article series, each week I take a look at some hitting matchups you should take advantage of and some hitting matchups you should avoid, based on who the hitters will likely be facing on the mound.
If you’d like to learn more about when it becomes less risky to stream hitters (and pitchers) and when certain team stats start to stabilize during the year, check out this article.
So let’s take a look at the hitters to start and avoid in Week 1 (4/3-4/9) of the fantasy baseball season.
Notes: All pitching matchups mentioned here are based on projections as of this post’s publication. It is entirely possible that the actual matchups could change for any number of reasons. 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.
Washington Nationals hitters – The Nats start their week off with three games against the Rays and two of those matchups concern me—one against Drew Rasmussen and one against Shane McClanahan. So why am I mentioning the Nats here? Because aside from that, I think you’re good to go with your Nats hitters this week. The other Rays pitcher they’ll face is Josh Fleming, who doesn’t concern me all that much. Then, they’ll get four games in Coors Field, which if you’ve been reading this column at all in the past, you’ll know is almost an automatic inclusion in the start section. So basically, out of seven games this week, I’m only concerned about two, which I think is plenty of value to justify starting your Nats. I think you could especially get some value out of Lane Thomas this week, as four of the Nats’ six games will be against left-handed pitchers, and Thomas is a career .284/.351/.483 hitter against lefties.
Colorado Rockies hitters – The Rockies are in a similar position to the Nats, though they’ve only got six games this week instead of seven. Their first two will be against the Dodgers, including a matchup against Julio Urías, which isn’t great. But after that, they’ve got their four games in Coors Field against the aforementioned Nats, which is even better news for the Rockies hitters because the Nats’ pitching staff had the worst team FIP in the entire league last year. Trevor Williams, MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, and Chad Kuhl? In Coors Field? Sign me up.
Tampa Bay Rays hitters – The Rays have six games this week, starting with the three-game series against the Nats I mentioned earlier. And as I mentioned in the Rockies entry, the Nats had the worst team FIP in baseball last year, so that works out great for your Rays hitters. Even better, they’ll have three games against the A’s after that, a team that had the fourth-worst team FIP in baseball last year. In that series, they’ll see Ken Waldichuk, Shintaro Fujinami, and James Kaprelian, and while I think all three of those pitchers have interesting potential in the future, they’re not guys you need to worry about just yet.
Texas Rangers hitters – The Rangers have six games this week, starting with three against the Orioles where they’ll face Tyler Wells, Kyle Bradish, and Kyle Gibson, none of whom scare me from a hitting matchup perspective. Then, they’ll have three games against the Cubs where they’ll see Justin Steele, Jameson Taillon, and Drew Smyly. Again, a whole bunch of matchups that are not scary at all for your Rangers hitters, so get them out there this week.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – The D’Backs start the week off with two games against the Padres where they’ll see Ryan Weathers and Yu Darvish. I’m not worried about the Weathers matchup, so feel free to start your guys there in daily leagues, but after seeing Darvish, they’ll get four games against the Dodgers where they’ll see Dustin May, Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard, and Michael Grove. In all, there’s just not enough value here to make starting my D’Backs hitters worth it this week.
Philadelphia Phillies hitters – Similar to the D’Backs, the Phillies have more bad matchups than good this week, making it difficult to start their middle-of-the-road guys in weekly leagues. They start the week off with three games against the Yankees where they’ll see both Nestor Cortes and Gerrit Cole, as well as Domingo Germán, who can be a difficult matchup at times. Then, they’ll close the week with three games against the Reds where they’ll see Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, and Connor Overton. I’m not worried about those last two matchups, but two (with German’s matchup being a maybe) out of six games isn’t a ton of value.
St. Louis Cardinals hitters – The Cards’ week this week isn’t awful, but it’s not great either. They’ve got six games, starting with three games against Atlanta where they’ll see Charlie Morton, Dylan Dodd, and Ian Anderson. Then, they’ll close with three games against the Brewers where they’ll see Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer, and Freddy Peralta. At least three, probably four of those matchups are definite avoids, meaning there isn’t a whole ton of value to be had from the Cardinals’ lineup in weekly leagues.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Brandon Sloter/ Icon Sportswire