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 18 (7/31 – 8/6) 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.
Special MLB Trade Deadline note: Some of these projected pitching matchups may change as players get trade closer to the deadline. This is being written on Saturday, so all projections are as of then.
Philadelphia Phillies hitters – I know right? The Phillies? They’re terrible. But this week should be a good week for them offensively. They get a seven-game week starting with one game against the Atlanta Braves, and then three games in Angel Stadium where they’ll gain a DH, and then to top it all off, three games in Coors Field against the Rockies. And aside from Jon Gray and Jeff Hoffman, they’re not projected to face anyone overly challenging. So I’d be starting Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, and Odubel Herrera among others (probably would be a good week to start Cameron Rupp too). I’d also start Cesar Hernandez as he’s been slashing .308/.357/.462 over the past 15 games.
Colorado Rockies hitters – Like I always say, the Coors Field advantage works both ways. This week, the Rockies get six games all at home, which is always good news. And even better, they’ll be missing the scary arms in the Mets rotation, and the Phillies rotation is nothing particularly special. While you’re already starting your Rockies studs, I’d start just about every member of the Rockies you’ve got, including Trevor Story, Mark Reynolds, Carlos Gonzalez, and even Gerardo Parra who’s been slashing .480/.464/.720 over his last 13 games.
Matt Davidson – While it’s a relatively mediocre matchups week for the White Sox this week, they’ll be facing five lefties, and that’s good news for Davidson as he’s slashed .264/.312/.471 against lefties. In a daily league, I’d plug and play him as the lefty matchups pop up (though one of those will be against Chris Sale, so be wary), but in a weekly league, I’d go ahead and start him because I think you can extract some good value from Davidson this week. (Editor’s Note: Melky Cabrera has been removed as he’s been traded since publication.)
Cleveland Indians righties – The Indians are another team that get to see five lefties this week (though again, one of them will be Chris Sale), which is good news for their righty hitters. You’re already starting Edwin Encarnacion, but Yan Gomes, who’s slashing .261/.354/.536 against lefties, and Brandon Guyer, who’s a career .276/.375/.450 hitter against lefties, warrant a look in deeper leagues.
Didi Gregorius – Didi has been excellent this year and has been especially hot lately, slashing .379/.403/.724 over his past 15 games. But even better, the Yankees will be seeing seven right-handed pitchers this week, and that’s excellent news for Gregorius, who’s been slashing .323/.350/.566 against righties this year. He’s still available in around 25% of ESPN leagues, so go grab him if he’s somehow there and plug him in this week.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – The past two weeks I’ve been telling you to start Jake Lamb and David Peralta, but don’t do it this week. In fact, don’t start any of your Diamondbacks short of Paul Goldschmidt, J.D. Martinez, and A.J. Pollock this week, because their schedule is rough. They start off the week in Wrigley Field against the Cubs where they’ll see Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana. Then they’ll head to extreme-pitcher’s-park AT&T Park to see the Giants and Madison Bumgarner. They’ll be seeing four lefties this week which is especially bad news for Lamb as he’s slashing .131/.232/.310 against lefties this year.
Milwaukee Brewers righties – The Brewers have a six-game week, and for all six of those games, they’ll be facing right-handed pitchers, which is bad news for their righties. And on top of that, they’ll be seeing Carlos Martinez, Jacob Faria (who’s shown impressive flashes), and Chris Archer. You’re still starting Ryan Braun, but I might look elsewhere than Domingo Santana, Lewis Brinson, and Orlando Arcia. I’d also think twice before starting Jonathan Villar, as his value is almost entirely tied to stolen bases, and he’ll have nothing but tough matchups for that all week.
San Diego Padres hitters – The Padres have just five games this week and some relatively difficult matchups coming up. They”ll start the week on Tuesday with a two-game homestand in pitcher-friendly Petco Park against the Twins where they’ll see Jose Berrios and Ervin Santana. Then they head to pitcher-friendly PNC Park to see the Pirates and face Ivan Nova, Gerrit Cole, and Jameson Taillon. Every single one of those pitching matchups is either bad or not great for the hitters, and given that on top of the fact that they’ll be in nothing but pitcher-friendly parks all week, I’d likely look elsewhere.
Miami Marlins hitters against the Nationals – For their three-game stand at home in Marlins Park against the Nationals, the Marlins will get to see Gio Gonzalez, Max Scherzer, and likely Tanner Roark. Now, the Roark matchup isn’t necessarily all that scary, but Scherzer certainly is and Gonzalez has been pretty solid this year. Add in the fact that they’ll be in a pitcher-friendly park like Marlins Park, and you’ve got a recipe for a rough series.
Oakland Athletics hitters against the Giants – The A’s have a four-game series against the Giants, two at home in the Oakland Coliseum, and two in San Francisco at AT&T Park. Both of those venues are pitcher-friendly environments (AT&T Park being one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in baseball), and against the Giants they’ll get to see both Johnny Cueto and more importantly, Madison Bumgarner. I’m not saying you absolutely have to avoid all A’s this week (though if you’re in a daily league, I’d avoid the Bumgarner matchup), but if you have better options, I’d go for them.