Hitters to Start and Avoid in Week 22 (9/3–9/9)

Photo by Frank Jansky/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 22 (9/3–9/9) 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.

START

San Francisco Giants hitters – There aren’t many Giants hitters left that are worth your time after McCutchen was shipped off to New York, but for those in the unfortunate position of having to roster Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford, or Hunter Pence, this is the week to make sure they’re firmly entrenched in your lineups, as the Giants will be playing in two of the best offensive ballparks in baseball. On Monday they’ll head to Colorado for a three-game set, and while they do face the white-hot German Marquez on Tuesday, his 5.77 home ERA should temper your fears. The Giants then take on the Brewers at Miller Park, drawing Chase Anderson, Junior Guerra, and Zach Davies. The Chase Anderson matchup is particularly enticing, as he has a 5.01 home ERA this season.

Tampa Bay Rays hitters – Let’s play a game. Which of the pitchers that the Rays will face this week have an ERA below 5.00: Ryan Borucki, Sam Gaviglio, Aaron Sanchez, Dylan Bundy, Yefry Ramirez, or David Hess? Why yes, that’s right, it’s Ryan Borucki, whose sterling 4.52 ERA leads the pack. Man, you’re smart. Probably smart enough to make sure guys like Tommy Pham, C.J. Cron, and Willy Adames are in your lineups too, right?

Cleveland Indians hitters – The Cleveland lineup continues to deepen with the addition of Josh Donaldson, and should he return this week, he’ll have a veritable buffet of pitching matchups to feast on. First up is a three-game set against the Royals, where the Indians will face Jake Junis, Danny Duffy, and Brad Keller. Junis and Duffy have both been demolished by Cleveland this year, to the tune of respective 9.82 and 10.80 ERAs. They then head on to Toronto for a four-game set against the Blue Jays’ aforementioned aces, beginning with a matchup against the injured Marco Estrada. I’m setting the over/under at 1,000 runs scored for the Indians this week.

Pittsburgh Pirates hitters – The Pirates will play all their games at home this week, so they won’t have park factors on their side, as PNC Park is one of the top-5 worst run-scoring environments this season. That said, they’ll likely be able to overcome it thanks to some very favorable pitching matchups. First they’ll host Matt Harvey, Cody Reed, and Homer Bailey of the Reds. Harvey has given up 12 runs over 14.2 innings against Pittsburgh this year, Cody Reed is still in the process of getting stretched out as a starter, and Homer Bailey has a 6.13 ERA, so this is quite a slate for Pirates hitters to exploit. They then host the Miami Marlins, where they’ll get to tee off on Wei-Yin Chen and his 9.35 road ERA (over 43.1 innings). I can hear Corey Dickerson drooling from here.

Chicago Cubs hitters – The Cubs are set to face Wade Miley, Jhoulys Chacin, and Chase Anderson at Miller Park to begin the week. Wrigley’s been one of the best offensive environments in the game, but Milwaukee isn’t far behind, so they shouldn’t miss a beat. Then they’ll head to hitter-friendly Cincinnati where they’ll get to gobble up whatever scraps of Matt Harvey, Cody Reed, and Homer Bailey are left after the Pirates finish with them.

AVOID

New York Mets hitters – Not that you need any incentive to avoid anything associated with the New York Mets, but they’ve got a tough slate this week. First they head to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers, and while they’ll miss Clayton Kershaw, they’re set to face off against three lefties in Alex Wood, Rich Hill, and Hyun-jin Ryu. The Mets are one of the worst teams in baseball against lefties, batting just .224 against them this year, ranking them 29th in MLB. They then head home to face Aaron Nola and the Phillies. As if squaring off against a Cy Young candidate wasn’t bad enough, the Mets will be fighting an uphill battle, as they are the worst offensive team in baseball at home, both by batting average and runs scored. This week is looking very bleak.

Boston Red Sox hitters – Boston will head to Atlanta to begin the week, which isn’t too scary considering the Red Sox are one of the better road teams in baseball when it comes to scoring runs. However, they will face off against the Braves’ best in Sean Newcomb, Mike Foltynewicz, and (I can’t believe I’m writing this in 2018) Anibal Sanchez. Things won’t get easier afterward either, as the Sox will then host the Astros. They’ll miss Verlander, but are set to draw Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, and possibly Charlie Morton in his first game back from the DL. It’s a week of tough matchups for the Red Sox, so you may want to consider keeping your Mitch Morelands and Ian Kinslers on the bench.

Atlanta Braves hitters – The Braves are lined up to play a full slate this week as they host Boston for a three-game set before heading to Arizona for four games. David Price is tentatively scheduled to take the ball in Monday’s game, followed by Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi. I’d be okay exploiting Eovaldi and his 6.04 road ERA here, but would shy away from the Porcello and Price matchups. The Braves are then set to come up against Arizona’s best, with Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke, Clay Buchholz, and Zack Godley all penciled in this week. By and large, it’s not shaping up to be a great week for the Braves offense.

Washington Nationals hitters – It’s all home games this week for the Nationals, which bodes well for them considering their offense tends to click at Nationals Park. Unfortunately the pitching matchups aren’t ideal, as they’ll face Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty to begin the week against the Cardinals, and then draw Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, and Mike Montgomery of the Cubs. The three lefties in the Chicago series are a bit concerning, as the Nationals struggle against southpaws, and Hamels, Lester, and Montgomery all perform significantly better when pitching on the road.

Minnesota Twins hitters – The Twins’ are set for a really tough start to the week as they travel to Houston to face Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, but things do start to ease up from there. They’ll face Framber Valdez in their final game against Houston, and then host Jorge Lopez, Jake Junis, Danny Duffy, and Brad Keller of the Royals. Junis has had success against the Twins this year, and Duffy pitches significantly better on the road, but for the most part you can navigate the latter half of this week if you’re a Max Kepler, Tyler Austin, or Miguel Sano owner.

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer and content manager with Pitcher List, and co-host of the On the Barrel podcast. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

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