Yo! I (Scott Chu) am filling in for Ben this week, but please continue to direct all criticism his way.
If you’re unfamiliar with this article series, each week, Ben (or his substitute) will 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.
If you’d like to learn more about when it becomes less risky to stream hitters (and pitchers) and when specific team stats stabilize during the year, check out this article.
So here’s who you should start and avoid in Week 6 (5/16-5/22) 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 that 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.
Colorado Rockies hitters – Let it ride! Ben absolutely nailed Brendan Rodgers, and he’s been even better since landing back in Denver, going 5-of-9 with three doubles, a home run, and nine combined runs and RBI in his last two games. In deeper leagues, I also really like Yonathan Daza and Sam Hilliard in the outfield. The 28-year-old Daza has seemingly won the centerfield job in Colorado and is on a seven-game hitting streak, slashing .417/.444/.542 over this stretch. The 6’5 Hilliard was once an intriguing prospect but his all-or-nothing approach makes him too inconsistent to be an everyday player. That said, he should play most days for the rebuilding Rockies, and while he won’t hit for a high average, he does have enough power and speed to be worth a stream in 12-team and deeper five outfielder formats, and the fact he’s a lefty should give him some shots at a better shot in the order against righties.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hitters – The Angels will be staying out west this week with a series against the Rangers in Texas and then Athletics back home in Anaheim, and I’m a fan of the matchups they’ll get over that stretch — particularly for the southpaws like Brandon Marsh, Jared Walsh, and of course, Shohei Ohtani. Right-handed hitters should do well also, especially against the two lefties they’ll see this week (Taylor Hearn and Zach Logue). This remains one of the hottest offenses in baseball, and with a slate of relatively soft pitching on the horizon, I would fire up every Angel I can squeeze on my roster, including Tyler Wade, who is eligible in both the infield and outfield in most leagues and who may see additional playing time with Luis Rengifo bruising his elbow over the weekend.
Chicago Cubs hitters – Seven games at home against the Pirates and Diamondbacks? Sign us up right now. Switch-hitting Ian Happ has been on base in 21 of his last 22 appearances, and while he hasn’t quite found his power stroke this season, he’s batting third every day and has a gaudy .398 OBP. Seiya Suzuki has an on-base streak of his own, reaching in six straight games heading into Sunday’s action, so if you’ve been reluctant to put him back in your lineup, now’s as good a time as any. Rafael Ortega, who leads off for the Cubs more often than not, also has a good opportunity to pile up some hits this week. Since returning to the lineup on May 7, he’s hitting .278 with two steals and should attempt at least a few more this week. If you’re the type who likes to take a gamble, Patrick Wisdom just had a really rough week, striking out 14 times in his last six games, but should keep swinging hard at the offerings from the Pirates and Diamondbacks and hey, at least his career strikeout rate at home is less than 40% compared to his 44.7% strikeout rate on the road — likely due to the plus batter’s eye in Wrigley, thanks to the ivy wall and dark green background in center field.
San Francisco Giants and New York Mets hitters – I’ve put these together because these are the two teams visiting Coors this week. Each team only gets three games, but that’s plenty of time to do plenty of damage. For the first series, the Giants will draw a left-handed starter (Kyle Freeland) as well as the struggling Antonio Senzatela, so look for Austin Slater, Wilmer Flores, and Darin Ruf to get some choice at-bats to start the week. Joey Bart makes for a decent streamer at catcher in deep leagues, and Thairo Estrada just went 5-14 with five runs scored, two RBI, and two steals in a three-game series against these Rockies by the Bay, so he could be a sneaky middle infield play in deep leagues as well. For the second half of the week, I’m looking at Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo to take advantage of the two weaker righties they’ll face, and if I haven’t cut Eduardo Escobar in a league yet, I’ll probably hold him to see if Colorado can wake up his bat.
Jean Segura – Segura is playing some of his best baseball right now, with four home runs, two steals, 20 combined runs and RBI, and a .436/.500/.769 line over 44 plate appearances in May going into Sunday’s game. While Segura will face come potentially problematic pitching matchups against the Padres and Dodgers, it’s worth noting that both teams really struggle at stopping the run game and since the start of 2021 both are in the top-10 in stolen bases allowed. Segura not only has an 11-game hitting streak brewing, but he has four home runs in his last six games and two steals in his last three. With all of that in mind, he’s a really good bet to continue swinging a hot bat for another week.
Also considered: Yankees (especially their first four games against the Orioles in Baltimore), Royals lefties, Mariners righties, Astros hitters.
Detroit Tigers hitters – You probably don’t roster many Tigers right now anyway, as this offense is easily in the bottom three in baseball, ranking dead last in runs, home runs, and steals, and in the bottom five in average, OBP, and OPS. Combine that with the fact that they’ll see Corey Kluber, Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, Shane Bieber, and Triston McKenzie, and it should be a breeze to let struggling hitters like Austin Meadows, Robbie Grossman, Javier Báez, Jonathan Schoop, and just about any other Tiger you might have squeezed into your roster.
St. Louis Cardinals hitters – Not only do the Cardinals have to head to New York to face Max Scherzer, Taijuan Walker, and Chris Bassitt in a pitcher-friendly environment, but then they have to head to Pittsburgh to play in the very pitcher-friendly PNC Park against a weirdly rejuvenated José Quintana and a Pirates pitching staff that has somehow put together the 12th-best FIP in baseball so far in May. Since we flipped the page on the calendar, they have a 3.73 FIP and have done an excellent job suppressing home runs, allowing just nine in 105 innings. I’m probably not benching Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, or Nolan Arenado, but it’s a much tougher decision for the relatively unknown Juan Yepez (who has looked at least somewhat vulnerable over the weekend), the day-to-day Harrison Bader, and the hot-hitting Brendan Donovan. I’d probably lean towards starting them in a deeper league (especially if it’s weekly rosters), but in daily leagues, I’ll be making sure I have a backup or two on my bench to swap in during the toughest matchups.
Texas Rangers hitters – What do Noah Syndergaard, Reid Detmers, Shohei Ohtani, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Justin Verlander, and Jake Odorizzi all have in common? They all face the Rangers this week. The only Rangers I would even consider starting this week in shallow leagues is Corey Seager, but those in deep leagues will have to grapple with whether they should keep rolling the dice with the rest of the roster. Adolis García has been ice cold in May and Marcus Semien is 0-20 in his last five games, so I’d be tempted to bench them if possible. Deeper league managers can probably be OK with Jonah Heim if there isn’t anything intriguing on the wire or maybe the hot-hitting Kole Calhoun if they have a hole in the outfield they can’t fill, but otherwise this is shaping up to be a long week for the Rangers.
Marcell Ozuna – Since May 1, Ozuna has a -5 wRC+, which roughly translates to being so bad that you broke the stat. He’s just 5-46 this month leading into Sunday, and while he did just hit his first home run since April 18, Atlanta draws three ace-caliber pitchers in Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes, and Trevor Rodgers, plus both teams have top-10 bullpens they can leverage to keep Atlanta’s lineup struggling. I don’t think Ozuna is washed up yet, but I just don’t see any reason to feel at all comfortable with him in your lineup in any 10- or 12-teamer unless your bench and wire are totally bare (which I would find hard to believe in most standard leagues).
Also considered: Orioles hitters, Red Sox lefties, Reds lefties, Marlins righties, Padres righties, Nationals lefties.
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)