Each week, we’ve been taking a look at five hitting matchups you should take advantage of and five hitting matchups you should avoid. Here are the batters you should start and avoid for Week 20 (8/19-8/25) 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 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.
Texas Rangers hitters – The Rangers get an eight-game week thanks to a doubleheader against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, and fortunately for the Rangers, the pitching staffs they’re going against aren’t overly impressive. Like I said, they start with a four-game series against the Angels, and while they will face Andrew Heaney, who can be a tough start, they’ll also get to see Dillon Peters and Patrick Sandoval, plus whoever the Angels toss in for a spot start in game two of the doubleheader. And it doesn’t really matter who they put in, the Angels have the fifth-worst team ERA in baseball, so aside from Heaney, there isn’t much to fear in their rotation. Then, the Rangers will get to face the Chicago White Sox, who own the ninth-worst team ERA in baseball. They will face Lucas Giolito, so I’d avoid that game in daily leagues, but otherwise, you’re good to go. Over the last month, Hunter Pence is slashing .300/.354/.500 and is available in 61% of leagues. Also over the past month, Willie Calhoun has been slashing .288/.356/.652, and he’s available in 87% of leagues. There is one Ranger I’d avoid, but more on him later.
Tampa Bay Rays hitters – The Rays get to face two pretty bad pitching staffs this week, starting with a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners, who have the fourth-worst team ERA in baseball. Then, they get to face my Baltimore Orioles who, as I’m sure you already know, have the worst pitching staff in baseball. And even better, that Orioles series will be in hitter-friendly Camden Yards. Over the past month, Eric Sogard has been slashing .329/.395/.548 and is leading off for the Rays, so grab him (he’s available in 70% of leagues) and make sure you’ve got him out there. And I know things have been really rough for Tommy Pham lately, but if there’s ever a week he could bounce back, it’d be this one.
Houston Astros hitters – I doubt you needed much encouragement to start your Astros hitters, but this is definitely a good week to start them. They start off with a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, who own the third-worst team ERA in baseball, and they close with a series against the Angels and their aforementioned bad pitching staff (and they’ll get to miss Heaney’s start). Basically the entire Astros lineup is almost 100% owned, so there aren’t really any sneaky guys to start, just make sure your Astros are out there.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – The Diamondbacks start their week off hosting the Colorado Rockies, who own the second-worst team ERA in baseball. Chase Field is still a pretty hitter-friendly park, so the D’Backs should be able to take advantage of the Rockies’ pitching there. Then, they close the week with a three-game series in hitter-friendly Miller Park against the Brewers, whose pitching staff isn’t overly scary, especially in a hitter-friendly environment like Miller Park. Adam Jones has been hitting fairly well lately, slashing .290/.290/.452 over the past two weeks and is available in 54% of leagues.
Detroit Tigers hitters – The Tigers have a pretty rough go of it this week, starting with a four-game series against the Houston Astros where they’ll get to see Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Aaron Sanchez, and Justin Verlander. Then, they close the week with a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins, where they’ll see Jose Berrios.
Colorado Rockies hitters – The Rockies spend their whole week on the road, which typically means you should avoid your Rockies hitters. However, this week, the Rockies have a tough slate of matchups in addition to being on the road. They start off with the three-game series against the Diamondbacks that I mentioned earlier, where they’ll see Zac Gallen, and then they’ll head to pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium to face the St. Louis Cardinals, who have the fifth-best team ERA in baseball, and that series includes a matchup against Jack Flaherty.
Pittsburgh Pirates hitters – Not that you need a ton of convincing to not start your Pirates, but this week, you’ll definitely want to avoid them. They start the week with a four-game series against the Washington Nationals where they’ll see Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Anibal Sanchez, the latter of whom has a 3.27 ERA over the past couple weeks. Then, they close the week with a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, who have the ninth-best team ERA in baseball. In that series, they’ll get to face Trevor Bauer.
Seattle Mariners hitters – The Mariners start their week with a three-game series against the Rays, who own the second-best team ERA in baseball, including a matchup against Charlie Morton. Then, they’ll finish the week with a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, which normally wouldn’t be all that threatening, but some of their pitchers have been pretty decent lately, including Sean Reid-Foley, who’s given up two or fewer earned runs in every start since the end of June, save for his most recent start against the Rangers where he gave up three.
Shin-Soo Choo – Earlier I mentioned that you should start your Rangers hitters, but there’s one Rangers hitter I think you should probably avoid this week, and that’s Shin-Soo Choo. This week, the Rangers will face four left-handed pitchers, which is bad for Choo, who’s slashing .212/.302/.381 against lefties this year.
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