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 18 (8/22-8/28) 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.
Texas Rangers hitters – This one ain’t rocket science, folks. They get two games in Colorado and then three games against Tigers pitching. They also play one more game against the Twins Monday, which is more of a neutral matchup against Sonny Gray. Nathaniel Lowe has been incredibly hot lately, hitting .394 so far in August and while the counting stats are a little bit light, I think that changes this week. Jonah Heim, as usual, makes for a strong catching option on the week, and we also just saw a nice week from Leody Tavares, who is taking walks and striking out less over his last six starts.
White Sox hitters – A seven-game week featuring the Royals, Orioles, and Diamondbacks rotations is a good week for hitting, generally speaking. I won’t bore you with the names but I will say that the most intimidating pitcher they’ll see this week is Merrill Kelly, and it’s not even that close. There’s no real platoon advantage to jump on here, as they’ll face a pretty even split of righties and lefties, but it’s interesting to see that AJ Pollock has been leading off even against southpaws since Tim Anderson hit the IL. Pollock slowed down considerably over the last week, but that’s in large part due to the tough pitching matchups the White Sox faced recently (as I mentioned in last week’s article). Elvis Andrus is an interesting play in deep formats this week as he fills in for the plethora of injured middle infielders. He wasn’t released by Oakland because he was hitting too well, obviously, but the White Sox have been quick to insert Andrus into their lineup and he does have some power and speed left to go along with his ability to put a lot of balls in play.
Philadelphia Phillies hitters – I love a good homestand, and I love it even more when it’s against the Reds and Pirates, two teams who have very little in terms of starting pitching depth. The Reds will feature Luis Cessa, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, and Justin Dunn in the series, and each of more than prone to getting shelled on any given night. Lodolo has been the most consistent of this bunch, and that’s a pretty good indication about the state of this staff. The Pirates will then put Bryse Wilson, Tyler Beede, and Zach Thompson on the mount, and they are even rougher around the edges than the Reds starters. It’s mostly right-handers this week (which is why I’m featuring the guy in the next section), so this is as good of a time as any for Bryson Stott to have another hot streak. That said, the quality of pitching the Phillies will see is so low that anyone in the lineup is worth a look depending on the format, even the recently acquired Bradley Zimmer, who is objectively not a worthwhile fantasy option in the majority of leagues but could be a sneaky little one-week speed play in NL-only and other deep formats. That said, Nick Maton is a better play than Zimmer if you’re in such a deep league where you need to consider these two.
Darick Hall – EDIT: Of course the week I choose to feature him, he gets optioned! Stott is my preferred play with Hall out.
He strikes out more than I’d like, but this feels like a week for Darick Hall to shine. He’s been the Phillies’ best hitter in August by wRC+ (170) and is sporting a triple slash of .310/.343/.643 in 13 starts. The return of Kyle Schwarber has relegated him to the bench more often than not, but that’s because the team is being cautious before slotting Schwarber back into left field (which would then open the door for Hall to move back into the DH spot). I think that can happen this week, and if/when it does, Hall will be able to take advantage of an appetizing slate of right-handed starters. In 60 plate appearances at home against right-handed pitching, Hall is slugging a heroic .810 with a 1.160 OPS thanks to four doubles and eight home runs. That’s a great line to chase in leagues with 12 or more teams, though in 12-teamers you may want to make sure Schwarber is back in left field before activating Hall.
New York Yankees hitters – As a team, the Yankees are slugging just .330 over the last 2 weeks while striking out 27.2% of the time. It might stay ugly for a little longer as they face some tough challenges this week. First, they take on the Mets at home to get a spicy serving of Max Scherzer followed by the likely return of Taijuan Walker, who despite a one-inning meltdown earlier this month against Atlanta still has a 3.36 ERA on the season. After that, they travel to Oakland, and while that isn’t a bad matchup on paper, it’s worth remembering that Oakland is one of the most challenging places to hit thanks to its vast dimensions and massive foul territory, and east coast teams are prone to struggling at the start of west coast road trips. It also doesn’t help that James Kaprielian, JP Sears, and Adam Oller have been surprisingly effective for their last few starts. When you combine all of that with the putrid performance of the team as a whole of late, it’s wise to just avoid the non-elite players on this roster for now.
Miami Marlins hitters – The Marlins finish their west coast trip with three games against the Athletics in Oakland, which is a tough place to hit even when you haven’t been one of the worst offenses in baseball for the past week. They’ve struck out 30% of the time in the last seven days and are slashing a brutal .188/.266/.306, and I’m not sure it will get a lot better this week. While the Oakland matchup isn’t terribly daunting (though I never love it when teams have to go from east coast to west coast), they go back home just to get a rematch against a Dodgers team that has held them to just a single run over the last two games and struck them out 22 times. There’s nothing about facing Tyler Anderson, Dustin May, and Julio Urías that makes me at all excited about the prospects for any Marlins hitter. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that the Marlins are still running a lot and will likely continue to do so when they see the Dodgers again.
Colorado Rockies hitters – Sure, they get two home games against the Rangers and that’s all well and good, but they then travel to take on the Mets and will face Jacob DeGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Max Scherzer while they’re there. Between the intimidating pitching matchups and the fact that they’ll be adjusting to a non-Colorado atmosphere where the ball actually moves, I have a feeling it will be a very quiet week. These Rockies don’t feature a lot of star power on offense, and with C.J. Cron in a funk, I’m not sure there’s any Rockies hitter who is a MUST start in 10- and 12-team leagues. The closest thing to it, probably, would be Brendan Rodgers.
Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)