What’s up, everyone!
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.
Anyways, here’s who you should start and avoid in Week 17 (8/15-8/21) 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. Remember 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.
San Francisco Giants hitters – The NL West is a very streamable division as it’s very much a group of “haves” versus “have-nots” when it comes to starting pitching. The Giants will get to mostly face off against the NL West’s have-nots this week, with a four-game series against the Diamondbacks followed by a lovely little weekend series against the Rockies in Colorado (where they’ll get the back-end of that rotation). The Giants feature a lot of moving parts in their lineup, so be wary of who is on the mound (they’ll get lefties the first and last games of the week, and righties the rest of the time). That said, I do like Joc Pederson, who should play against each right-handed pitcher. He’d been cold before hitting the IL, but Pederson is a very cyclical hitter and has been heating up a bit since his return (.921 OPS over his last 7 games). Versatile Wilmer Flores, who is riding a 14-game hitting streak, has seven walks to eight strikeouts with a 187 wRC+ during this stretch and should do plenty of damage as well. Other hot hitters worth considering are LaMonte Wade Jr. and Mike Yasztremski, and if you need a catcher, look no further than Joey Bart, who has hit .293 with a .826 OPS since returning from the minors in July.
Baltimore Orioles hitters – The O’s will start their week in Toronto before getting four home games against the Cubs and Red Sox. While I don’t love their matchup Tuesday against young phenom Alek Manoah, the other games in Canada will feature Yusei Kikuchi and José Berríos—two guys who are prone to blow-up games. The home games line up nicely as well, as they’ll see several soft right-handed opponents in Adrian Sampson, Michael Wacha, and Nick Pivetta (and to a lesser extent, Kutter Crawford). 25-year-old DH Tevrin Vavra has performed quite well since being called up at the end of last month, displaying a .395 OBP with excellent plate discipline. He’s not much of a power guy, but his 60-grade hit tool combined with soft matchups against a ton of right-handed starters makes him interesting. Rougned Odor, someone who I didn’t expect to mention much this season, hit fifth for the O’s on Sunday and could be a useful middle infielder in deeper formats. Slumping Austin Hays has also come to life a bit over the last few days, hitting .261 and slugging .435 last week, and I think he could build upon that success this week.
Philadelphia Phillies hitters – The Phillies play seven games this week despite having an off day on Thursday and should be able to both hit and run with effectiveness. In the first series, they’ll draw Mike Minor, T.J. Zeuch, and Nick Lodolo, none of whom are particularly frightening opponents (especially in Great American Ballpark), and while they have to face the Mets four times, it appears they’ll get to avoid both Max Scherzer and Jacob DeGrom, making that matchup far less daunting. Bryson Stott, who will bat first against most righties, is hitting .429/.467/.571 during his current seven-game hitting streak and also has three extra-base hits. Nick Castellanos has also found some new life in August, as he has two home runs and two stolen bases in his last 12 games while batting .275 and slugging .450. While Casty probably isn’t on the wire, he may have been on your bench due to his frustrating season but should definitely be back in your lineups. Left-handed slugger Darick Hall is also worthy of your attention thanks to his 177 wRC+ in August and .903 OPS against right-handed pitching this season. Recently activated Jean Segura can also fill a gap in your middle infield this week if you’ve got such a gap.
Pittsburgh Pirates runners – As far as hitting is concerned, the Pirates get six home games against the Red Sox and Reds, and while neither team is pitching particularly well (both are in the bottom-10 in team ERA so far in August coming into Sunday’s games), I’m more interested in the fact that the Pirates’ opponents are second and fourth (respectively) in stolen bases allowed. Greg Allen stands out as a guy who will likely get some green lights. Allen has three steals in his last five games and should start most of the games this week, and while he’s been slightly better of late, there’s an extremely low floor due to his lack of power and unwillingness to walk. He’s not going to add much with his bat, but because his hits are almost always singles, he gets his share of chances to swipe second. Kevin Newman, who has played the part of a leadoff man lately, has five steals in his 43 games in 2022 and three already in the second half. Newman is particularly effective against lefties (hitting .328 with a 123 wRC+ against them in 2022) and has a MUCH safer batting average floor than the speedier Allen. Meanwhile, the more recognizable Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, and Bryan Reynolds each have two steals in August so far and at least one or two of them should add to that total over the next week.
Lars Nootbaar and Paul DeJong – The Cardinals have some nice matchups over their next three series (COL,@ARI, @CHC), which is perfect timing considering how hot this offense has been of late. The Redbirds have been the second-best offense in the month of August, thanks in large part to superstars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. While neither of them is on your waiver wires, I’m specifically targeting two bats who hit before and after that core with regularity in Nootbaar and DeJong. Nootbar is a lefty who bats either first or last depending on the matchup, but he has more walks than strikeouts in the second half and has two stolen bases in his last five starts. I think Nootbaar can do a lot of good things against the right-handed pitching the Cardinals will face, particularly early in the week.
Paul DeJong has been the talk of the town since he came back from triple-A, slashing .292/.375/.646 in 56 trips to the plate as he slowly crawls up the batting order. His plate discipline (30.4% strikeout rate) doesn’t really suggest he’s made a massive change, and it’s par for the Paul DeJong course for him to have an extremely hot month to go with a bunch of very cold ones (it was March/April in 2018 and 2019, August in 2020, and July in 2021). That said, just because he’s merely hot doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of it! He has the ability to be locked in for several weeks at a time, meaning there’s still more juice left in this orange if you keep squeezing it.
New York Mets hitters – The Mets draw all the fiercest parts of the Atlanta and Philidelphia rotations, making guys like Dan Vogelbach, Tyler Naquin, and Luis Guillorme really difficult to start this week as they are largely match-up dependent. While I wouldn’t dream of benching Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, or Francisco Lindor, the rest of the lineup could be avoided at times if you have better options with less daunting schedules.
Chicago White Sox hitters – Outside of the top bats in the lineup (Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez, José Abreu, Andrew Vaughn), it’s hard to feel confident about starting White Sox batters this week. Yes, even the white-hot AJ Pollock (1.220 OPS over his last six games with just a single strikeout) should be started with caution due to the quality of pitching the White Sox will see this week. They’ll open with a four-game set at home, but there’s nothing comforting about facing José Urquidy, Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, and Luis Garcia. While Garcia is less formidable than the rest, it’s still quite the murder’s row of starters. Even Framber Valdez, who has less name recognition than Urquidy and Verlander, has thrown a quality start in each of his appearances since the start of May. After slogging through those games, the White Sox will have to travel to Ohio to face down a rested Guardians team who will feature Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber. The closest thing they’ll get to break is Sunday’s game against Aaron Civale, though despite a recent injury he’s shown promise with his command plus the cutter and curve combination. I’m not saying you HAVE to bench guys like AJ Pollock, Yoán Moncada, or Yasmani Grandal, I’m just saying you shouldn’t prioritize them (especially the latter two, who shouldn’t be too tough to replace in 12-teamers).
JJ Bleday– The young southpaw is in a rather nice 12-game hot streak where he is showing strong plate discipline (eight walks to nine strikeouts) to go along with his four extra-base hits and a stolen base. He’s consistently hit in the middle of the order, too, which makes this coming week a tough pill to swallow. The Marlins draw the Padres at home before catching a flight across the country to face the Dodgers. Bleday has seen left-handed pitching just a few times this season, but he’s done absolutely no damage to them (.500 OPS, 39 wRC+), and the specific pitchers he’ll draw this week are far from ideal. In the first series, he’ll face down Joe Musgrove, Sean Manaea, and Mike Clevinger, just to get on a plane so he can take swings against seeing lefty Tyler Anderson, the debut of Dustin May (who has dominated in his rehab assignments), and the rejuvenated Julio Urías. I hate to sit a guy during a hot streak, but I’ll be looking for other options in my outfield.
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)
I would add the lesser Dodgers hitters to the Avoid list. They get 4 against MIL with Peralta, Woodruff, Lauer and Burnes and then 3 against Miami and Luzardo, Garrett and Alcantara. Gallo is sitting out there on my league’s waiver wire but that’s 3 starts against lefties and 4 tough righties with 2 against arguably the 2 best pitchers in the NL. Not really a good matchup in there at all for LH hitters. You’re obviously still starting Betts, T Turner, Smith and Freeman but everyone below that is debatable.