Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire
Welcome! 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. Here are the batters you should start and avoid for Week 15 (7/9 – 7/15) 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.
Tampa Bay Rays hitters – It’s not all that often that I’m recommending you start your Rays hitters, but this week they have a nice set of matchups. They start off the week against the Detroit Tigers where they get to dodge Michael Fulmer‘s turn in the rotation. Then, they’ll head to Minnesota to face off against the Twins, and while they will see Jose Berrios, that’s about the toughest matchup they’ll see. Matt Duffy, who’s slashing .314/.369/.451 over the past month and is available 74% of leagues, and Mallex Smith, who’s slashing .314/.360/.457 over the past month and is available in 86% of leagues, both warrant a look this week.
Colorado Rockies hitters – Good news! The Rockies get to play at home in Coors Field all week, which is nothing but good news for their hitters. They start off the week against the Arizona Diamondbacks and fortunately get to dodge Zack Grienke and Robbie Ray (though they will face Patrick Corbin). Then, they’ll see the Seattle Mariners, and while they will face James Paxton, it’s Coors—you’ve gotta start your Rockies hitters regardless.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – As I always say, whenever the Rockies are in Coors Field, their opponents warrant a start as well. The Mariners start off the week against the Los Angeles Angels and will face Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs, so I’m not recommending them as much as I’m recommending the Diamondbacks, who have a very nice schedule this week. Obviously, like I said, they start off with a three-game series in Coors, but after that, they head to Atlanta to see the Braves, where they’ll see Anibal Sanchez, Sean Newcomb, and Julio Teheran—all matchups I feel comfortable starting my hitters against.
Jesse Winker – I think it was Eno Sarris I heard describe Winker has “Joey Votto in the outfield,” and given his amazing plate discipline this year (15.1% walk rate, 14% strikeout rate), I can see the comparison. Obviously, Winker doesn’t have the power Votto does, but that plate discipline makes him valuable, especially in OBP leagues. This week, the Cincinnati Reds will see nothing but right-handed pitchers this week, and so far this year, he’s slashing .298/.398/.420 against righties. He’s available in 85% of leagues, so pick him up.
Brad Miller – Over the past month, Brad Miller has quietly been slashing .316/.381/.553, and this week, the Milwaukee Brewers will see seven right-handed pitchers. That’s good news for Miller, as he’s slashing .273/.349/.468 against righties this year.
Atlanta Braves hitters – The Braves play just five games this week, and only in two of them do I feel confident starting my Braves hitters. They start off the week with a two-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays where they’ll face Marco Estrada and Marucs Stroman. I’m fine starting my Braves there. But after that, they’ll host the Airzona Diamondbacks and get to see Robbie Ray, Zack Greinke, and Patrick Corbin, all three of which are passes for me.
San Diego Padres hitters – The Padres spend all week at home in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, starting off with a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that series, they’ll get to see Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, and Ross Stripling, all of which should prove to be tough matchups. Then, they’ll host the the Chicago Cubs, and while I’m fine starting my Padres against Tyler Chatwood and Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester has a 1.80 ERA over the past month and could prove a challenge to Padres hitters.
Oakland Athletics hitters – The A’s have a tough schedule this week, starting off against the Houston Astros where they’ll get to see their always-difficult rotation, including Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers, and Charlie Morton. Then, they’ll head to pitcher-friendly AT&T Park to face off against the San Francisco Giants. While there, they’ll see Madison Bumgarner as well as Andrew Suarez, who has a 2.88 ERA over the past month.
Cincinnati Reds hitters (not named Jesse Winker) – Earlier I recommended Jesse Winker because of how well he hits against righties, so be sure to start him this week. However, you might want to consider other options for your other Reds hitters, as they’ll have some difficult matchups this week. They start off against the Cleveland Indians where they’ll see Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco. Then, they’ll head to pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium for a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals where they’ll see Carlos Martinez and Jack Flaherty.
Anthony Rizzo – Rizzo has been better lately, but I think it’s safe to say that on the year so far, he’s been a bit of a disappointment. This week could be rough for him, as the Cubs will see three left-handed pitchers and Rizzo is slashing .232/.321/.319 against lefties this year.
Ballz call Ben for acknowledging Rizzo’s lack of offensive production. Most of the “play your studs” crowd will probably rip you a new one. I’ve had Rizzo on the bench for the past two weeks, ( Rizzo has the lowest OPS in the entire Cubs lineup) replaced by Gurriel. Haven’t looked back one bit. Just wondering what took the rest of you so long.