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 3 (4/17 – 4/23) of the fantasy baseball season.
Note: 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.
St. Louis Cardinals lefties – Fortunately for the Cardinals, they get to play seven games this week. And, on top of that, all seven will be against right-handed pitchers. And, even better, four of those games will be at Miller Park, which is a pretty homer-friendly park. They also get to face some pretty unthreatening pitchers, like Ivan Nova, Chad Kuhl, Wily Peralta, and Jimmy Nelson. So be sure to start guys like Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter, despite their slow starts. They should have a good week. And maybe, in a deeper league, take a look at Kolton Wong and even Matt Adams, if they get starts.
Trevor Story and Mark Reynolds – I’ve been preaching against trusting Mark Reynolds for quite awhile now. But I think you can ride the streak a bit this week, as the Rockies face three lefties (though one of them is Clayton Kershaw) and have three games in Coors Field. Reynolds and Story are good against lefties, so they’re worth a play (though you may still consider benching them against Kershaw, cause you know, it’s Kershaw) and even facing righties, they’ll be seeing them in Coors, so that should help.
Cleveland Indians hitters – The Indians have a seven-game schedule this week, and it’s a pretty nice schedule, as they have four games against the Minnesota Twins and three games against the Chicago White Sox. And even better, they don’t face a single pitcher that scares you except for Jose Quintana. So be sure to start your Indians hitters with confidence, and especially start your Indians righties, as the Indians get three matchups against left-handed pitchers. You were likely already starting your studs, but players like Austin Jackson, and Brandon Guyer could be interesting in deeper leagues against those lefties.
Eric Thames – Thames has been off to a great start, but it’s pretty clear that he’s in a platoon with Jesus Aguilar and that can be frustrating. Well guess what? The Brewers face six right-handed pitchers this week, which should be six starts for Thames. And even better, most of those right-handed pitchers are not particularly frightening, with the strongest pitcher being John Lackey, so feel free to start Thames, as he should have a good week this week. He’ll likely sit Tuesday against lefty Brett Anderson, so just be aware of that.
Boston Red Sox hitters – The Red Sox get a seven game slate this week, and their matchups are pretty favorable all around. They get games in all hitter-favoring parks, including one home game, three games in Toronto, and three games in Baltimore. And even better, virtually none of the pitching matchups scare you. Marcus Stroman is likely the best pitcher they’ll face all week, maybe Aaron Sanchez or Dylan Bundy could be a little scary, but generally, you should feel pretty safe starting your Red Sox.
Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra – What is a positive for Mark Reynolds and Trevor Story is unfortunately a negative for CarGo and Parra. Like I said, the Rockies face three lefties this week, one of whom is Kershaw, and CarGo and Parra both have pretty rough splits against lefties. Granted, they’ll be playing three games in Coors, so that will help, but I’d avoid them in those three lefty games, or if you’re in a weekly league, I’d probably bench them for the week.
Seth Smith and Trey Mancini Tuesday-Thursday – Smith has been off to a pretty nice start for the Orioles, as has Mancini, but this is going to be a week to bench him, mostly because they’re likely not going to play much. The Orioles will be traveling to Cincinnati for three games, and Smith and Mancini will be members of a very crowded outfield. Likely they’ll be the odd men out. When the Orioles travel to Boston for their series against the Red Sox, then you might be able to utilize Smith and Mancini, if they get the starts, but if you’re in a weekly league, I’d bench these guys for the week.
Matt Holliday Friday-Sunday – I’d bench Holliday for the same reason I mentioned benching Smith and Mancini: I just don’t think they’re going to play. The Yankees will be traveling to Pittsburgh that weekend and will be without a DH, which will likely mean three days off for Holliday.
New York Mets hitters – This is one of those things where if you have to start Mets hitters this week, it’s fine, but if you can avoid it, I’d try. The Mets have some difficult matchups this week, including games against Max Scherzer, Aaron Nola, and Vince Velasquez. Only the Scherzer matchup is a definite avoid, but the Nola and Velasquez matchups aren’t great. I’d attempt to avoid them if possible.
If you’re looking for steals, don’t expect them from Minnesota Twins – The Twins play seven games at home this week: four against the Indians and three against the Tigers. Unfortunately for players like Brian Dozier and Byron Buxton, none of the matchups are favorable for steals. You’re still starting Dozier at least because of the power, but don’t expect steals. Both Yan Gomes and James McCann are tough to run against, and none of the pitcher matchups alleviate that. You may be avoiding Buxton for other reasons (like his slow start), which is understandable, but if you’re in need of steals, don’t look to your Twins for them.