Championships are won by making the right little decisions through the season and micromanaging your lineup well can be the difference maker. Each week, I’ll be taking a look at five hitting matchups you should take advantage of this week, and five hitting matchups you should avoid this week. Here are the batters you should start and avoid for Week 25 (9/18 – 9/24) of the fantasy baseball season.
Notes: All pitching matchups mentioned here are based off of 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.
Minnesota Twins hitters – I feel like I’ve been recommending Twins hitters just about every week, but they’ve had an excellent schedule and their hitters have been ridiculously hot. Luckily for the Twins, they get to see the Detroit Tigers this week, who have the worst ERA and WHIP in the majors over the past month (6.69 and 1.74 respectively). They also see the New York Yankees and Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka, so that’s not exactly great, but aside from those two matchups, start your Twins. If you’re in a daily league, maybe try and avoid the Gray and Tanaka matchups, but in a weekly league, go ahead and start them, because that’s just two games out of seven that aren’t hitter friendly, there’s plenty of value to go around.
Boston Red Sox hitters – The Red Sox have quite a nice week this week. They start off with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards, a very hitter-friendly park. Now, they’ll see Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, which could be difficult, but they also get to see human run producer Wade Miley. Then they head to another hitter-friendly park in Great American Ballpark with no pitching matchups that scare you even a little bit. I might avoid Hanley Ramirez who’s been slashing .189/.240/.378 over the past month, but otherwise, start your Red Sox.
Oakland Athletics hitters – If your strategy for figuring out who to start this week is just “Who’s playing the Tigers?” then you’ve got the right idea. The A’s get the joy of facing the Tigers pitiful rotation this week as well, and then they get to face off against the Texas Rangers and three pitchers who aren’t particularly good (that’d be Nick Martinez, Miguel Gonzalez, and Martin Perez). Matt Olson has been destroying the ball lately, slashing .319/.429/.851 over the past two weeks, and he’s still out there in around 43% of ESPN leagues.
Kansas City Royals hitters – It’s not been often lately that I’ve recommended Royals hitters, but they’ve got a nice set of matchups this week, starting off against the Toronto Blue Jays where, aside from Marcus Stroman, you’re happy with their matchups. Then they play the Yankees where, again, aside from one pitcher (Luis Severino), you’re pretty happy with their matchups. It’s an especially good week to start Lorenzo Cain and Whit Merrifield, as this week projects to be very good for stolen bases.
St. Louis Cardinals hitters – Luckily for the Cardinals, they don’t play any games at home in extreme pitcher’s park Busch Stadium. In fact, they start of the week in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark, and a hitter-friendly series of pitching matchups. They then head to PNC Park to face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates and while they do face Gerrit Cole, their matchups against Chad Kuhl and Ivan Nova look nice. For reference, Jose Martinez, who has been getting consistent starts, is slashing .406/.457/.672 over the past month and is available in aroud 64% of ESPN leagues.
San Francisco Giants hitters – The Giants only get five games this week with two in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park against the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies’ rotation isn’t all that scary, but being in AT&T Park certainly doesn’t help. Then the Giants travel to Dodger Stadium where they’ll get to see Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda (who’s, admittedly, off and on). Overall, I’d say because the matchups aren’t great and the Giants have so few games this week, I’m avoiding them in weekly leagues.
Philadelphia Phillies hitters – The Phillies have the misfortune of starting off their week with a four-game series against the Dodgers where they’ll see Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, and Alex Wood. They then have a three-game series against the Braves that isn’t all that scary, so if you’re in a daily league, go ahead and start them for those games, but if you’re in a weekly league, I’d probably avoid my Phillies hitters this week, because there’s going to be more bad matchups than good. That being said, I think Rhys Hoskins has entered “start no matter what” status, so throw him out there.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hitters – The Angels start off their week against the Cleveland Indians where they’ll get to see Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer. Then they head to Houston to see the Astros, getting to face off against Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel, and Justin Verlander. All in all, a tough series of matchups for Angels hitters, so I’d avoid guys like Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron.
Seattle Mariners hitters against the Indians – This is more focused on daily league players. The Mariners start off their week against the Texas Rangers, which is three games that aren’t particualrly bad for hitters at all, so feel free to start your Mariners there. But then they get to see the Cleveland Indians come to town, and they’ll face off against Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, and Mike Clevinger. If you’re in a weekly league, I might go for better options if possible, because you’ve got three good matchups against the Rangers (though who knows, Cole Hamels might be tough) and then three really tough matchups against the Indians, all in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, so while it wouldn’t be terrible if you started your Mariners hitters this week, I might stay away. And if you’re in a daily league, make sure your Mariners are on the bench while they play against the Indians.
Los Angeles Dodgers hitters – The Dodgers’ offense has been cold lately, and I don’t think they’re going to get much better this week. They start off the week against the Phillies where they’ll get to see Aaron Nola, and then they see the San Francisco Giants and Jeff Samardzija and Madison Bumgarner. The matchups against Nick Pivetta, Jake Thompson, and Chris Stratton might not be too bad if you’re in a daily league, and the matchup against Mark Leiter could go either way, as he’s been pretty off and on this year.