(Photo by Daniel Bartel/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 2 (4/9 – 4/15) 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.
Los Angeles Angels hitters – The Angels won’t be seeing a single pitcher that scares you this entire week. They’ll start off the week in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park against the Rangers, and then they’ll head to Kansas City to face the Royals where they’ll likely get to miss Danny Duffy’s turn in the rotation (the only pitcher on the Royals’ staff that would give me any pause). You’re already starting your Angels studs (Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Andrelton Simmons), but I’d recommend starting just about any Angel you’ve got. Toss Shohei Ohtani out there, especially with the way he’s been hitting. I’d also recommend starting Zack Cozart and Albert Pujols. There’s also a chance Ian Kinsler comes off the DL this week. If that happens, I’d recommend tossing him in your lineups (assuming the news on him is that he’s ready to play fully) and I’d pay attention to what happens to Cozart. I expect him to still play somewhere, probably at third in place of Luis Valbuena, but just keep an eye on him.
San Diego Padres hitters – The Padres get to start off their week in Coors Field, which is typically a default recommendation to start their hitters. They will see Jon Gray’s turn in the Rockies’ rotation, but I’m not all that concerned. Not only to they get to play in Coors Field, but they get to play against the San Francisco Giants’ poor rotation. They will be playing at home in Petco Park, which is a pitcher-friendly park in a big way, but against the Giants, I’m happy to start them. They will get to see Johnny Cueto (assuming his ankle is alright), which could be difficult given the park and how good Cueto’s been lately, but overall, I’d highly recommend starting your Padres. In deeper leagues (or daily leagues where you’ve got the roster flexibility to stream some hitters), I think guys like Christian Villanueva and Jose Pirela warrant a look, as does Hunter Renfroe.
Jesse Winker – In Jesse Winker’s short career so far, he’s had some major righty/lefty splits. Against lefties, Winker is slashing .111/.200/.185 on his career, but against righties, he’s slashing .345/.433/.582 on his career. This is exactly why the Reds have generally been leading Winker off against righties, and lucky for fantasy owners, the Reds will get to see seven right-handed pitchers this week. Winker is available in around 94% of ESPN leagues, and if you’ve got the roster flexibility to pop him into your lineup this week, I’d recommend it.
St. Louis Cardinals hitters – The Cardinals have seven games this week, three against the Brewers at home and four against the Reds in Cincinnati, and lucky for them they’ll get to miss the two best pitchers on each squad – Chase Anderson and Luis Castillo (though I can understand if you’re wary of how Castillo’s been pitching lately, I’m not worried yet). As such, they’ll be seeing a bunch of mediocre pitchers (unless Tyler Mahle has another great outing) and they’ll get to spend four games in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. You’re obviously already starting your Cardinals studs, but I’d recommend taking a look at guys like Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong as well (the latter of whom is available in around 94% of ESPN leagues).
Austin Jackson – “Austin Jackson’s still kicking around?” You bet, and I think he makes for an interesting play this week. Last year, Jackson slashed .352/.440/.574 against lefties, which is why the Giants typically lead him off against left-handed pitchers. The Giants are slated to face off against four lefties this week, and even though two of those are Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray, I’d still recommend starting Jackson considering how well he hits lefties. And did I mention that Jackson is available in over 99% of ESPN leagues? Because he is.
Oakland Athletics lefties – This week is already tough for fantasy owners who own A’s hitters as they have just five games this week, two of which are in Los Angeles against the Dodgers where the A’s will lose their designated hitter position, but on top of all of that, they could be seeing three lefties in their five games this week. That’s going to mean a tough go for Matt Olson and especially Matt Joyce, who might not even play in L.A. without a DH position.
Colorado Rockies hitters in Washington – The Rockies start off their week against a poor Padres rotation in Coors Field, so you should start your Rockies there, but after that series, they’ll head to Washington D.C. to face off against the Nationals. While there, they’ll get the joy of seeing both Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg as well as Gio Gonzalez. I don’t mind starting your Rockies against A.J Cole, but that’s about it. Otherwise, while they’re in Washington, avoid your Rockies hitters (aside from your studs, obviously).
Detroit Tigers hitters – The Tigers have a rough go of it this week for two reasons. First, they’re facing off against some strong pitchers, including Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Jordan Montgomery, and Luis Severino. Second, they’ll be spending the last three games of the week at home in Detroit, where it’s likely going to be cold and gross. That may not be a huge deciding factor, but it certainly doesn’t help.
Miami Marlins hitters – The Marlins have six games this week, three against the Mets and three against the Pirates, all at home in pitcher-friendly Marlins Park. They’ll get the joy of seeing Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, and Jamison Taillon this week, which are all tough matchups. If you’ve been rolling Starlin Castro or Justin Bour or even Lewis Brinson out there lately, I might look elsewhere this week.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – The Diamondbacks have six road games this week, starting off the week in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball, AT&T Park in San Francisco. Now, I know I mentioned earlier that the Giants’ pitching staff is good to go against, but they’ll be in AT&T Park and the Diamondbacks will get to see Johnny Cueto (again, assuming his ankle is healthy), which could be tricky. The week gets worse though, as the Diamondbacks head to L.A. to face off against the Dodgers where they’ll get to see Kenta Maeda, Clayton Kershaw, and Rich Hill. They’re also likely to see a total of three lefties this week, which is going to be bad news for David Peralta specifically, who has a career slash line of .244/.310/.362 against lefties.