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 13 (6/26 – 7/2) 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.
Boston Red Sox hitters – It’s a great week for the Red Sox hitters, as they get a seven-game week, starting off with a four-game series at home against the Minnesota Twins, and then a three-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays. If you look at the pitching matchups, there’s just not much that’s particularly scary. They see Jose Berrios to start the week, and that’s about it. They’ll also see Marco Estrada and Joe Biagini, two pitchers for the Blue Jays who have had flashes but have been inconsistent. Assuming health, Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia need to be started, and considering the Red Sox get to see three lefties this week, I think Sam Travis should be in consideration for deeper leagues (he’s typically platooned in for Mitch Moreland when they see lefties).
Cleveland Indians hitters – I recommended the Indians hitters last week and I’m doing it once again this week. The Indians have a double-header this week, so they luck out and get an eight-game week. Outside of a start against Yu Darvish I’m not all that worried about the Indians matchups this week. Yes, they get to face Justin Verlander, but he’s been inconsistent at best this year, and all the other matchups are definite positives for the Indians. Considering they face two lefties (maybe three once the TBA starter is named for game two of their double-header against the Tigers), Austin Jackson warrants a look in deeper leagues, as does Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall.
Eduardo Escobar and Robbie Grossman – I wouldn’t generally recommend the Twins this week, as they’ll be seeing Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, and David Price, but I’m specifically recommending Escobar and Grossman because the Twins will be seeing five lefties this week. Escobar is batting .362/.422/.603 on the year against lefties and Grossman is a career .282/.367/.406 hitter against lefties. If you’re in a daily league, I don’t have a problem starting Twins hitters during their three-game stretch against the Royals, but I’d avoid them for the Red Sox series, aside from Escobar and Grossman.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – The D’Backs have a good series of games this week, spending all seven at home in Chase Field, which is always good news. They’ll get to see all righties this week too, which is especially good news for Jake Lamb, David Peralta, and Gregor Blanco. Lamb and Peralta I’d recommend starting in all leagues, Blanco I think is worth a look in deeper leagues.
Tampa Bay Rays against the Baltimore Orioles – At this point, it’s not a bad idea to say “Who’s playing the Orioles?” and then start all the hitters on that team, as the Orioles pitching staff has been godawful lately, allowing five or more earned runs in 20 straight games (tying a 93-year-old record). Luckily for the Rays, they get to have a three-game series in Camden Yards and get to see all righties, which is good news for Corey Dickerson and Logan Morrison, and they should be in every lineup you’ve got. Plus, Mallex Smith gets a nice advantage there too, make sure you start him.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hitters – Unfortunately for the Angels they get two games in a National League park against the Dodgers, which means they lose their DH position, and they get to face five lefties this week. The Angels have a .299 wOBA against lefties since Mike Trout ended up on the DL, and losing Trout has just generally hurt their offense in a very noticeable way. Oh and did I forget to mention they get to see Alex Wood, Clayton Kershaw, and Felix Hernandez this week? Because they do. You should still start Albert Pujols and Andrelton Simmons in most leagues, and if you’re in need of speed, it’s ok to start Cameron Maybin, but I’d avoid everyone else.
Washington Nationals hitters – If you’re in a daily league, I think you can finagle your way around matchups with the Nats, but in general, it’s a tough week. They’ll get a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs in which they’ll get to see Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, and then they’ll get a three-game series in pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals where they’ll get the joy of seeing Carlos Martinez. They’ll also see Michael Wacha, who could be good but also could be bad, that’s more of a soft avoid for me. If you’re in a daily league, I’d just try and avoid those specific matchups (and generally avoiding Busch Stadium if you have better options) but if you’re in a weekly league, I’d say avoid your non-stud Nationals if you can.
Seattle Mariners hitters – This is really specifically geared towards weekly players. The Mariners only play five games this week, one where they’ll get to see Aaron Nola and three games in pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium. Now, matchup-wise, Nola is probably the only pitcher that’s somewhat threatening (the Phillies have yet to announce who’s pitching the second game against the Angels, so we’ll see), but playing only five games with one against a good pitcher and three in a pitchers park make Mariners hitters players to avoid in weekly leagues. You’re just not going to get a whole lot of value compared to other leagues.
Colorado Rockies hitters – The Rockies spend all week on the road, which is kind of a bummer for anyone hoping to take that Coors Field advantage this week. They’ll see the Giants at very pitcher-friendly AT&T Park to start off the week, where they’ll face off against Jeff Samardzija, and then they head to Chase Field to face the Diamondbacks. Now, on its face, the games at Chase Field sound enticing, as the field is very hitter-friendly, but while they’re there, they get to see Zach Grienke and Zach Godley, not to mention Taijuan Walker who is very capable of pitching well. With Carlos Gonzalez’s injury, I’d probably avoid him this week as you don’t know if he’ll even play, and I might look elsewhere than Mark Reynolds and Trevor Story this week.
Pittsburgh Pirates hitters – The Pirates will spend all week at home at pitcher-friendly PNC Park, which already puts their hitters at a disadvantage. Add onto that the fact that they’ll get to face Chris Archer during their three-game series against the Rays, and Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto during their three-game series against the Giants. Put it all together, and I’m generally avoiding my borderline Pirates like Josh Harrison, Josh Bell, and Adam Frazier.
I know you said benching SEA is geared towards weekly but would you sit Cano and Cruz today in favor of starting Jose Ramirez and Carlos Santana/Mallex Smith?