Yo! This is Scott Chu filling in for the capable Ben Palmer. Ben took a week off, so you’re stuck with me for the time being to cover the short week, which is likely either the end of a long matchup or the start of a long matchup at most host sites. Don’t worry — Ben will be back on Sunday with the full week ahead.
If you’re unfamiliar with this article series, each week we 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 here’s who you should start and avoid in Week 14 aka 13.5 (7/21-7/24) 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 that 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.
New York Yankees left-handed hitters – This is a volume play, as they’ll play five games (two in Houston, three in Baltimore) while most teams play three or four. If Matt Carpenter is somehow available in your league because no one checked over the last month and instead stuck their head in the sand, he’s a good play because he’s the hottest hitter in baseball and the Yankees will see righties in each start. Aaron Hicks, who I almost featured instead, should be healed up from his shin issue and can hopefully go back to how he had been previously performing in July, though perhaps it’s greedy to ask Hicks to return to a .333/.478/.722 line that comes with a 21.7% walk rate and just a 17.4% strikeout rate. The only Yankees I’m avoiding are the catchers and maybe Josh Donaldson, who has struggled lately and now seems like an inferior version of Carpenter, or at best, a short-side platoonmate of Carpenter.
Milwaukee Brewers hitters – A four-game set (oddly, it carries over into Monday) in a hitter-friendly environment against Rockies pitching? Sign us up. This team plays with several platoons, but Andrew McCutchen stands out as a guy who is both available in many leagues and playing regularly in the middle of this lineup. They’ll face more righties than lefties, so I’d also expect increased production from Rowdy Tellez, Kolten Wong, and Jace Peterson. Omar Narváez is a decent streaming option as well if you need a short-term catcher.
Oakland Athletics hitters – The A’s will play five home games this weekend thanks to a doubleheader against the Tigers on Thursday and a three-game stand against the Rangers. While this team ranks at or near the bottom in every hitting category, volume is a powerful thing and they will get plenty of it. Left-handed leadoff man Vimael Machín has shown awesome contact skills and strong plate discipline in the minors (albeit with limited power and speed) but hasn’t yet translated that into success in the big leagues. He’ll draw three rather soft right-handed pitchers and could have a surprising weekend. I’m also watching Skye Bolt closely, as he’d been picking up the pace over the last week of action before being removed last Sunday with some kind of hand issue. If he’s healthy, I’d expect the switch-hitting centerfielder to hit in the middle of the order and take some good cuts. Seth Brown is also worthy of consideration, especially in the middle-three games against Garrett Hill, Glenn Otto, and Spencer Howard.
Aledmys Díaz – Diaz has been hot all month, slashing .286/.375/.595 while filling in for the various Astros who have hit the IL. In fact, in his last five games, he’s notched a 95.7mph exit velocity and while he will have to stare down Gerrit Cole and the rejuvenated Robbie Ray, I think he plays at least four of their five games (he could get benched for one of the two games of the double-header, and hopefully it’s the second one against Gerrit Cole) and bats right in the heart of the order. The depth of this lineup has diminished with the injuries, but the four guys hitting ahead of him (Jose Altuve, Jeremy Peña, Tyle Tucker, Alex Bregman) should provide a lot of RBI opportunities for a player that you can start nearly anywhere on your fantasy roster. If you only want him one time, get him in there against Marco Gonzalez on Friday.
Colorado Rockies hitters – From the top of the START list to the top of the AVOID list is just classic Rockies, isn’t it? Not only are they on the road coming out of the All-Star Break, but they draw the top of a rested and dangerous Brewers rotation. Honestly, how many Rockies do you really feel comfortable starting on the road against Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Eric Lauer? In shallow leagues with locked lineups, C.J. Cron might be the only one I start, and if I’ve been blessed at first base and have good matchups for my utility spot, I might not even do that.
Minnesota Twins hitters – Purely a volume thing as they don’t actually play until Saturday as the Tigers need a travel day to get back from Oakland. Two games against Tigers pitching might be juicy enough to leave Byron Buxton or maybe Luis Arraez in a locked lineup, but that’s about it.
San Diego Padres hitters – Would you want to fly across the country to face off against Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco, and either Chris Bassitt or Taijuan Walker (assuming DeGrom’s start is pushed to next week instead). The Mets starting pitchers have a combined 2.37 ERA in July with a 2.90 FIP, 2.76 SIERA, and a whopping 32.3% strikeout rate. Between the brutal matchup and the fact constant shuffling of about half of the lineup card from game to game, I’m passing on almost everyone except Manny Machado in 10- and 12-team leagues. They get better matchups next week.
Christopher Morel – I still think Morel is a scrappy hitting worth rostering in many formats. That said, he’ll face three right-handed pitchers, two of which are Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Morel has moved to the bottom of the order against most righties and I expect him to hit down there most of the weekend. Facing two ace-level pitchers on a team that controls the running game while losing precious plate appearances is more than enough to have me looking for other options.
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram).