Photo by Gerry Angus/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 23 (9/10–9/16) 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.
Tampa Bay Rays hitters – The Rays have a great schedule this week and have been on fire as an offense lately. They start with a series in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park against the Texas Rangers and their rotation that holds the third-worst ERA in baseball. Then, they’ll head to Rogers Centre to face off against the Toronto Blue Jays and their rotation who hold the fourth-worst ERA in baseball. There’s all kinds of value to be had in the Rays’ offense, including Mallex Smith who’s slashing .333/.375/.387 with eight steals over the past month (available in 43% of leagues), Joey Wendle, who’s slashing .305/.343/.474 over the past month (available in 63% of leagues), Kevin Kiermaier, who’s slashing .338/.372/.613 over the past month (available in 74% of leagues), and Ji-Man Choi, who’s slashing .324/.427/.632 over the past month (available in 92% of leagues). Grab yourself some Rays for the fantasy championship.
Detroit Tigers hitters – Weird right? Well lucky for the Tigers, they get to face two poor pitching rotations this week in the Minnesota Twins (eighth-worst ERA in baseball) and the Kansas City Royals (second-worst ERA in baseball). Over the last two weeks, Niko Goodrum is slashing .270/.372/.486 and is available in 89% of leagues and might be worth a grab this week.
Toronto Blue Jays hitters – Similar to the Tigers, the Blue Jays get some favorable hitting matchups this week. They start off against the Baltimore Orioles and their worst-in-baseball starting rotation, and then they’ll see the Rays. While they will see Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell (both of whom should be tough), they’ll also get two bullpen days. Given those two matchups plus the Baltimore series, your Jays hitters should be pretty solid. Teoscar Hernandez, for example, has a .281 ISO over the past two weeks, and since being called up, Rowdy Tellez is slashing .385/.407/.769. Hernandez is available in 86% of leagues while Tellez is available in about 97%.
Franmil Reyes – Reyes has been on a tear lately, slashing .338/.397/.620 over the past month. This week, the Padres will see three left-handed pitchers, and Reyes hits lefties especially well, slashing .339/.422/.643 against them this year. He’s available in 75% of leagues.
Ryan O’Hearn – You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know who Ryan O’Hearn was, mostly because he’s on the Kansas City Royals, but he’s been excellent, slashing .288/.400/.663 over the past month. This week, the Royals will see five right-handed pitchers this week, which is good news for O’Hearn, who’s slashing .360/.473/.840 against righties so far this year. He’s available in 90% of leagues.
Boston Red Sox hitters – I mean, how many Red Sox are you actually going to bench? Well, if you’re waffling on one or two, you might want to lean the other, because the Red Sox have a tough schedule this week. They start with the New York Yankees where they’ll see Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka, the latter of whom has a 1.80 ERA over the past month. They’ll also see J.A. Happ, who’s sporting a 3.25 ERA over the past month. Then, they’ll face off against the Cleveland Indians where they’ll see Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber. Obviously it’s not like you’re benching Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez, but some of the more middle-of-the-road Red Sox hitters you may want to reconsider this week.
Colorado Rockies hitters – The Rockies will be out of Coors Field all week, which is never good for their offense. Even worse, they’ve got some tough pitching matchups, starting with the Los Angeles Dodgers where they’ll see Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. Then, they’ll see the Arizona Diamondbacks where they’ll face Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin. Outside of your studs like Nolan Arenado, you should think twice about your Rockies this week.
New York Mets hitters – The Mets start off their week against the Philadelphia Phillies where they’ll get the joy of seeing Aaron Nola. Then, they’ll see the Washington Nationals and Max Scherzer, along with Stephen Strasburg. In daily leagues, there are some matchups worth taking advantage of (including Jeremy Hellickson and Tanner Roark), but in weekly leagues, I’m probably avoiding my Mets (though I may still start Jeff McNeil just because of the insanely hot streak he’s been on).
San Diego Padres hitters – The Padres miss Madison Bumgarner in their series against the San Francisco Giants, but that doesn’t really matter, because they will be seeing Derek Holland (1.84 ERA over the past month) and Chris Stratton (2.10 ERA over the past month). Then, they’ll see the Los Angeles Dodgers, and while they miss Kershaw’s turn in the rotation, they’ll still see Rich Hill, Ross Stripling, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the latter of whom has a 3.25 ERA over the past month. Plus, they’ll spend the whole week at home in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. I mentioned Franmil Reyes earlier as a guy you should start, go ahead and put him in your lineup because of the matchups he’ll see, but I’d pass on a fair number of other Padres.
St. Louis Cardinals hitters – The Cardinals, unlike the Padres, do get the pleasure of facing Bumgarner this week, as well as Derek Rodriguez who has a 2.70 ERA over the past month. That’s at the end of the week, but the start of the week won’t be easy either, as they’ll face off against the Atlanta Braves and see Mike Foltynewicz, who has a 1.85 ERA over the past month, and Kevin Gausman, who has a 2.45 ERA over the past month. Oh, and they’ll see Anibal Sanchez who, believe it or not, has a 2.83 ERA over the past month (though to be honest, I’m less convinced by him than I am Foltynewicz and Gausman).