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.
Given that we’re in the last couple of weeks of the season (depending on your league settings), there’s something important you should keep in mind with your lineups—don’t be thinking about a player’s ability for the “rest of the season,” because the season is almost over.
Instead, you should be playing the matchups. If you need a win this week to get in the playoffs or your season is over, don’t hang onto that borderline guy who you kind of like but has a week against the Dodgers and Yankees or something. Obviously, always hang onto your studs, but your borderline bench guys, it’s time to play the matchups.
Anyways, here’s who you should start and avoid in Week 21 (9/12-9/18) 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. 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.
Cleveland Guardians hitters – This is a volume play more than anything. Thanks to a doubleheader on Saturday, the Guardians have an eight-game week this week, which is awesome. They start with three games against the Angels, a pitching staff that’s been relatively middle-of-the-road so far this year (though they will see Patrick Sandoval, which could be tricky). Then, they’ll have one game against the White Sox on Thursday where they’ll face Lucas Giolito, and then they’ll close the week with four games against the Twins, a team with the 11th-worst team FIP in baseball. So not an incredible week, but a very doable week for your Guardians hitters and a week where you’ll get a lot of volume, which is always good in weekly leagues. Over the past two weeks, Oscar Gonzalez has been slashing .318/.362/.545 and is worth a look this week. Also, the entire Angels series will be against left-handed pitchers, which could be good for Amed Rosario, who’s slashing .302/.343/.476 against lefties so far this year.
Cincinnati Reds hitters – Speaking of volume plays, the Reds get a rare week in fantasy – they’ll have a whopping nine games this week, thanks to a doubleheader on Tuesday and another on Saturday. They’ll start the week off with four games against the Pirates, a team with the seventh-worst team FIP in baseball, and they’ll close with five games against the Cardinals, a team that’s been relatively middle-of-the-road in pitching. Again, this is massive volume as far as weekly fantasy leagues go. You see a good handful of eight-game weeks every year, you see very few nine-game weeks, so I’d get my Reds hitters out there. Jonathan India has been hitting really well lately, slashing .386/.460/.568 over the past two weeks, and is definitely worth a start. Kyle Farmer has also been hitting well, slashing .289/.319/.489 over the past two weeks. And quietly, TJ Friedl has been slashing .333/.368/.722 over the past two weeks and is worth a look in deeper leagues, as he’s often been leading off for the Reds.
Tampa Bay Rays hitters – Another volume play! That’s right, the Rays have eight games this week thanks to a doubleheader on Tuesday (seems like it’s the week for makeup games in MLB). The Rays start off the week with five games against the Blue Jays, including that doubleheader, and they’ll close with three games against the Rangers. Now, the Blue Jays’ pitching staff has been pretty solid this year, but the combination of an eight-game week and three games against a team with the 10th-worst team FIP in baseball (the Rangers) makes up for it a bit, I think. Yandy Díaz has been raking lately, slashing .429/.535/.543 over the past two weeks, and warrants a start this week. Similarly, David Peralta has been slashing .348/.423/.565 over the past couple of weeks, and while he generally sits against lefties, the Rays will only see one lefty this week.
Houston Astros hitters – The Astros have a regular full week with seven games this week, starting with three against the Tigers, who own the ninth-worst team FIP in baseball, and closing with four against the A’s, who own the sixth-worst team FIP in baseball. Just about every Astros hitter worth starting is already widely owned, so I’d just make sure any Astros on my team are in my starting lineup this week.
Nathaniel Lowe – The Rangers are slated to face five left-handed pitchers this week, which is good news for Lowe, as he’s been slashing .347/.394/.590 against lefties so far this year.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – The Diamondbacks have seven games this week, but it looks like it’s going to be seven rough games. They start off with three games against the Dodgers, who own the third-best team FIP in baseball, and they close with four games against the Padres, who own the ninth-best team FIP in baseball. If you’ve been riding the Jake McCarthy train lately (and you should have been), I might reconsider starting him this week unless you absolutely have to.
Atlanta hitters – Atlanta has six games this week, starting with three against the Giants in Oracle Park, a strongly pitcher-friendly park, and a team that owns the fifth-best team FIP in baseball. Then, they’ll close out the week with three games against the Phillies, who own the eighth-best team FIP in baseball, so I might dodge my Atlanta hitters this week.
San Francisco Giants hitters – The Giants have six games this week, all looking to be pretty tough matchups. They start the week with three games against Atlanta, a team with the second-best team FIP in baseball, and they close with three games against the Dodgers and their aforementioned strong pitching staff. And remember how I said Oracle Park is a pretty pitcher-friendly park? Well, all six of those games will be in Oracle, so that’s just bad icing on the already very bad cake.
Seattle Mariners hitters – The Mariners have just five games this week, which is already a major knock against them in weekly leagues. On top of that, this week they’ll be seeing Yu Darvish, Mike Clevinger, and Shohei Ohtani, leaving just two games that I feel generally comfortable starting my Mariners hitters in. In daily leagues, I think that’s fine, but in weekly leagues, it’s not worth it.
Detroit Tigers hitters – The Tigers have six games this week, starting with three against the Astros who own the best team FIP in all of baseball, and they’ll close with three games against the White Sox, who own the 11th-best team FIP in baseball. Not that you were starting a ton of Tigers hitters anyways, but if you were considering it, I probably wouldn’t.
Adolis García – As I mentioned earlier, the Rangers are facing five lefties this week, which isn’t great for Garcia, as he’s been slashing .212/.272/.377 against lefties so far this year.