Photo by Chris Williams/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 16 (7/23 – 7/29) 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.
And a special note for this week—as we near the trade deadline, many of these projected matchups could change as any number of pitchers could be traded, so keep that in mind.
Oakland Athletics hitters – The A’s have quite the week this week, playing seven games all in hitter-friendly environments all against poor rotations. They start off the week with a four-game series in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park against the Texas Rangers, and while they will face Cole Hamels, I’m not overly worried as the rest of their matchups are too good to pass up. Fun fact—no park in baseball has been more home run friendly than Globe Life Park. Overall, it’s probably the second-best hitters park in baseball this year behind Coors Field. Then, even better, they’ll have a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies in Coors, and that’s always something to take advantage of. Both Matt Olson and Matt Chapman have had a rough go of things lately, but I think this could be the week they start to heat up (there’s no better opportunity).
Houston Astros hitters – Oddly enough, the Astros have almost the same schedule as the A’s, but in reverse and in fewer games. They start off the week with a two-game series in Coors against the Rockies which is something you obviously should take advantage of. Then, they host the Rangers for three games and while they’ll see Hamels like the A’s do, again, I’m not worried. The other matchups are too good to pass up. And while Minute Maid Park isn’t as hitter-friendly as Globe Life, it’s still a hitter’s park. You’re already starting your Astros studs, but someone like Yuli Gurriel, who’s slashing .338/.384/.584 over the past month and is available in 31% of leagues, is worth a look. This might also be the week that top prospect Kyle Tucker starts to pick things up.
Colorado Rockies hitters – Fortunately for Rockies owners, the team gets to spend all week at home in Coors Field, which means you should be starting all the Rockies you’ve got. There is one note of caution, however—they will start the week with the aforementioned two-game series against the Astros, and they’ll see Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. Now, it’s Coors so you’re starting your Rockies hitters anyways, but be prepared for those games to not necessarily be offensive explosions. Carlos Gonzalez (available in 45% of leagues) has been slashing .311/.363/.554 over the past month, so be sure to snag him for this week.
Jesse Winker – I’ve been preaching the good gospel of Jesse Winker for some time now. He’s someone who needs to be owned—he’s an extremely talented hitter who walks extremely well with one of the best OBP’s in the league, right up there with Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Joey Votto. Seriously. And over the past month, he’s been slashing .435/.536/.696. In an OBP league, he’s a must-own, and in standard leagues, you should take a serious look at him, especially this week, as the Cincinnati Reds will see seven righties this week, and Winker is slashing .322/.421/.463 against righties this year. Oh, and I forgot to mention, he’s available in 66% of leagues.
Joc Pederson – Lucky for Pederson, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be seeing six right-handed pitchers this week, and on the year so far, he’s slashing .270/.366/.577 against righties. He’s available in 81% of leagues and has a .231 ISO over the past month, so scoop him up for this week.
Baltimore Orioles hitters – This just seems like a given at this point, right? I mean, real reach there saying avoid your Orioles. But seriously, don’t start them this week, because it’s a really tough week for Orioles hitters (unlike normal I guess?). They start off the week with a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox where they’ll get to see Rick Porcello and David Price. Then, they’ll host the Tampa Bay Rays and get to face off against Chris Archer and Blake Snell. Likely the only Orioles you own are Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop, and maybe Mark Trumbo. I’d probably avoid all three this week in a weekly league.
Atlanta Braves hitters – This is a bit more geared towards weekly league players than daily. The Braves start the week off with a two-game series against the Miami Marlins, and if you’re in a daily league, go ahead and start your Braves hitters. But after that, they’ll have a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers where they’ll see Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, and Ross Stripling. That’s just two total games this week I’m comfortable starting my Braves hitters, and to me, that’s not worth it in a weekly league.
Pittsburgh Pirates hitters – The Pirates have a handful of tough matchups ahead of them this week, with a couple that daily league players can take advantage of. They start the week with a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians where they’ll see Corey Kluber, Shane Bieber, and Trevor Bauer. Then they’ll host the New York Mets for a four-game series where they’ll get to see Jacob DeGrom (assuming he isn’t traded). You can take advantage of the Zack Wheeler and Jason Vargas matchups for sure if you’re in a daily league, but in a weekly league, I’d probably stay away from my Pirates hitters (aside from your studs, obviously).
San Diego Padres hitters – Similar to the Pirates, the Padres will have a three-game series against the Mets and will see Wheeler and Vargas. In a daily league, go ahead and start your Padres there. But after that, it gets dicy—they’ll get to see Noah Syndergaard to close out the Mets series, and then Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks. You should still be starting Wil Myers and probably Eric Hosmer, but otherwise, I might stay away in a weekly league.
Milwaukee Brewers hitters – The Brewers get a full seven-game slate this week, but they’ve got some difficult matchups. They start the week with a three-game series against the Washington Nationals where they’ll get to see Stephen Strasburg (though if you’re in a daily league, take advantage of the Tanner Roark and Jeremy Hellickson matchups). Then, they’ll have a four-game series in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park where they’ll get to see Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Dereck Rodriguez (who has a 1.23 ERA over the past month) and Andrew Suarez (who has a 2.43 ERA over the past month). In a daily league, there are some matchups to take advantage of, but in a weekly league, I’m going to avoid my Brewers hitters.