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 7 (5/15 – 5/21) 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.
Justin Smoak – The Blue Jays play seven games this week, with four against the Atlanta Braves (two in Atlanta, so they’ll lose their DH. Just a warning to Kendrys Morales owners) and three against the Baltimore Orioles. Smoak has been (wait for it…..) on fire lately, slashing .326/.370/.558 with nine runs, three home runs, and 11 RBI through his past 12 games. He’s kind of changing things up, his plate discipline has gotten better. He’s brought his strikeout rate down from 32.8% last year to 21.6%. His hard hit rate is up, his BABIP is right at where it should be, he looks somewhat legit, and he gets some good matchups this week. None of the Braves pitchers scare you, especially with the way Julio Teheran has been pitching lately, and the Orioles pitchers he’s projected to face aren’t particularly scary either. He’s a good corner infield plug-in this week.
Chicago Cubs hitters – If there’s ever a week for the Cubs to get it going on offense, it’s this week. They face nothing but mediocre (at best) righties in Cincinnati and Milwaukee (both hitters parks) this week. Kyle Schwarber has been rough, I know, but if there’s ever a week he’s going to start to turn it around, it’ll be this week. Plus, with Jason Heyward out, Jon Jay is worth a look in deeper leagues as he’s batting .286 with a .397 OBP against righties this year, so especially if you’re in an OBP league, take a look.
Philadelphia Phillies hitters – The Phillies have a nice looking schedule this week, as they start off with a three-game series in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park and they get a DH. I’ve been preaching the good gospel of Maikel Franco for awhile now, I truly do believe he’ll turn it around, and this week is a good week for him to do that. Other than Franco, the red-hot Aaron Altherr and hitters like Michael Saunders and Daniel Nava are worth a look too. Plus, keep an eye on whether the Phillies promote Rhys Hoskins for that series in Texas. If they do, add him and start him immediately.
Minnesota Twins hitters – The Twins have a nice long home stretch this week, which is good, because Target Field is a pretty good park for right-handed power. Plus, the Twins don’t face a single scary pitcher this week. Yes, German Marquez almost no-hit the Cubs, but I don’t trust him, and the Cubs’ offense has been anemic lately. The only decent pitcher the Twins face this week is Nate Karns, but even he has a pretty high ERA, he just misses a lot of bats. So given the matchups and venue, start Brian Dozier with confidence, and maybe even give Max Kepler, Kennys Vargas, and Eddie Rosario a look.
Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal – Now, I know if you own Grandal, you’re probably starting him anyways because catcher is a wasteland and it’s unlikely you have any other better options. But this entry is to make you feel better about it, because he’s been kind of rough this year. As has Pederson, in all honesty, but with the news that Andrew Toles is out for the year with a torn ACL, Pederson will likely be leading off. Both Pederson and Grandal have been pretty solid against righties this year, and the Dodgers get to see five of them this week. The only matchup I’d bench Pederson and Grandal in (though like I said, you probably can’t bench Grandal) is their matchup on Wednesday against Johnny Cueto. Other than that, start away.
St. Louis Cardinals hitters – The Cardinals have a rough week this week, with just five games on the slate. They start off facing Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello in Boston, and then home to face the San Francisco Giants. Those first two games against Boston are going to be tough, especially for the Cardinals offense which has been less than impressive lately. Aledmys Diaz, Dexter Fowler, and Randal Grichuk have all been rough, and against Rodriguez (who’s been great lately) and Porcello, I’d bench them. The Giants matchups are slightly better, but being at pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium certainly doesn’t help. I’d avoid them if I could.
Tampa Bay Rays hitters – The Rays schedule grades out pretty hard this week, with three games in Cleveland and three games in Tampa. Their three games in Cleveland include matchups against Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, which is no fun, and then they face the Yankees in very-pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field, including matchups against Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. If you’re on the Brad Miller will get better bandwagon like I am, this isn’t the week that’s gonna happen. And I’d look elsewhere if I was thinking of starting Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, or Steven Souza Jr.
Atlanta Braves hitters – The Braves have a few matchups that don’t scare you too much, and a few that really do. They get two games in hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, though one of those is against Marco Estrada, and then four games in pitcher-friendly SunTrust Park, with matchups against Marcus Stroman, Tanner Roark, and Max Scherzer. Not a great week if you’re an Ender Inciarte or Brandon Phillips owner.
Miami Marlins hitters – The Marlins get to enjoy a stretch against some really good pitchers this week. While they play seven games this week, which is typically a good thing for hitters, they get four lefties (which is bad news for Justin Bour and Dee Gordon) and three righties. Plus, they get to face Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Alex Wood, and Julio Urias. You’re still starting Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, but I’d stray away from just about every other Marlins hitter this week.
San Francisco Giants hitters – The Giants offense has already been horrible this year, and this week isn’t going to help much at all. They’ll be home in super-pitcher-friendly AT&T Park against the Dodgers, where they’ll get to see Rich Hill (maybe) and Clayton Kershaw, then they head to also-pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium to play the Cardinals, where they’ll get to see Carlos Martinez. If you were thinking about Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, or Brandon Crawford this week, I’d consider someone else.