Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire
Welcome! Each week, we’ll be 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 21 (8/27–9/2) 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.
New York Yankees hitters – The Yankees draw the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers this week, whose respective 4.90 and 4.46 team ERAs would make even James Shields blush. Speaking of Shields… he’ll be the starter in Tuesday’s game at Yankee Stadium. His 6.12 ERA in away games makes him a prime pitcher to exploit this week for owners of guys like Neil Walker and Brett Gardner. Detroit then comes to town for a four-game set, beginning with Michael Fulmer, who has also struggled mightily in away games to the tune of a 5.21 ERA. Ryan Carpenter, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano then close out what should be a very fruitful week for this potent New York offense.
Milwaukee Brewers hitters – It’s usually a disappointing week when the Brewers don’t get to play any games at hitter-friendly Miller Park. Fortunately, their games this week are in Cincinnati and Washington, two ballparks with even better park factors than Milwaukee. They start the week on Tuesday against Sal Romano of the Reds, whose 8.00 ERA in August should have Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar drooling. Then they face Robert Stephenson, who hasn’t gone more than five innings in his three appearances this year and has a 7.29 ERA to show for it. In Washington they come up against Tanner Roark, Jefry Rodriguez, and Stephen Strasburg. While Strasburg is usually a tough draw, his diminished velocity and ineffectiveness since returning from the disabled list might actually make him a surprisingly decent matchup this week.
Cleveland Indians hitters – Not that you needed any more of a reason to start your Cleveland hitters, considering they’re third in baseball in runs scored, but the Indians are set for a very favorable homestand this week. On Tuesday they begin a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins. While that matchup begins with them facing a solid pitcher in Kyle Gibson, they avoid Jose Berrios in this series, and look to be matched up against a spot starter on Wednesday. They then welcome the Tampa Bay Rays for a three-game set, drawing one of their patented “openers” during the first two games. Blake Snell does cap off the week, but by this point Melky Cabrera, Greg Allen, Yonder Alonso, and company should have tacked on enough offense that you can stomach it.
Toronto Blue Jays hitters – Toronto has a doozy of a schedule coming up, as they start the week with a three-games series in Baltimore against an Orioles team whose 5.13 ERA ranks second-worst in baseball. Camden Yards is also a top-10 ballpark for runs scored by park factor, so expect the runs to pile up in this series. After an off-day on Thursday, the Jays then head to Miami where they’re lined up to face Dan Straily, Wei-Yen Chen, and Pablo Sanchez. Chen’s 2.05 home ERA might make him the toughest matchup that Toronto will face all week, which is really saying something.
Kendrys Morales – Morales is one of the hottest hitters in baseball at the moment, posting a .500 average with seven home runs over the past week. Don’t expect him to cool off anytime soon, as he’ll be feasting on the likes of David Hess in Camden Yards to start the week. Morales is still available in 74% of leagues (for now).
Los Angeles Angels hitters – The Angels face arguably the toughest string of matchups this week. They start with a two-game set against Colorado co-aces Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland, without the luxury of playing in Coors Field. They then head to Houston where they’ll have the unenviable task of facing two Cy Young candidates in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, followed by Charlie Morton. Their one respite may be on Saturday, when the Astros will throw a spot starter (possibly Brad Peacock), but overall this is about as difficult a week as it can get if you’re an Angels hitter.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – Even with the humidor, the Diamondbacks would likely rather player their games at home this week than travel to notoriously pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Especially considering they’ll come up against Madison Bumgarner, who has strung together a 2.53 ERA in August. Dereck Rodriguez and his 2.10 ERA also make an appearance in this series, and he looked as sharp as ever in his first start back from the disabled list this past week. Arizona then heads to Los Angeles for a four-game set, where they’re projected to face Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Walker Buehler. Dodger Stadium has been extremely pitcher-friendly this season, and considering the matchups, I’d strongly consider keeping guys like Ketel Marte, Steven Souza Jr., and Nick Ahmed on your bench.
San Francisco Giants hitters – That’s right–hitters on both ends of the Diamondbacks/Giants series this week should be avoided. While Zack Godley on Wednesday might not be a bad matchup to take advantage of, the week starts with Patrick Corbin and the (I can’t believe I’m actually writing this) incredible Clay Buchholz, whose 1.55 ERA in August is nothing short of amazing. The Giants then draw the equally hot Zack Wheeler and his 1.38 August ERA to open their series against the Mets, which is bookended with a showdown against Noah Syndergaard.
Philadelphia Phillies hitters – The Phillies have hit a bit of a skid over the past few weeks, thanks in no small part to their inconsistent bats. Things won’t get much easier this week when Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Gio Gonzalez come to town. As previously mentioned, Strasburg may not be completely healthy, but his 2.36 ERA against the Phillies over the past three years is enough to make this matchup scary. The Chicago Cubs are next, with Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and the newly revitalized Cole Hamels scheduled to pitch. Hamels has posted a 0.79 ERA in 34 innings with the Cubs. While you might be able to mix and match some Phillies hitters this week, overall this is not an easy slate.