If you’re unfamiliar with this article series, each week Ben Palmer takes 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. Ben has been away the past couple of weekends, and while you were graced by the intelligent analysis of Scott Chu last week, this week you’re stuck with me. Feel free to let me know where you think I got these right or wrong in the comments section below, or on Twitter @NotNickBucher23.
So here’s who you should start and avoid in Week 19 (8/16-8/22) 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, 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.
Arizona Diamondbacks hitters – You’d prefer if this week for the Diamondbacks didn’t have to begin with a day off on Monday, but once you get past that, it’s a very tasty slate. The rest of the week for Arizona is a set of three games at home with the Philadelphia Phillies, and one where the Diamondbacks avoid facing Aaron Nola. Sure, they do still draw Zack Wheeler in the third matchup, but even in that game, the Diamondbacks will presumably get to face some of the Phillies’ middling bullpen if and when he exits. Arizona’s weekend matchups are what really sell it though, as they get to play three games in Coors Field. As if the benefit of hitting at altitude in August wasn’t already appealing enough, the schedule falls in such a way that the Diamondbacks also get to avoid facing Germán Márquez and Austin Gomber as well. You’re likely already starting Ketel Marte, but this is a week where it’s going to be well worth starting your fringe Diamondbacks as well. Pavin Smith and David Peralta are absolutely in play as well, as both have been playing regularly and hitting in the heart of the Diamondbacks’ lineup, and consider Carson Kelly if you’re streaming catchers.
Josh Rojas – You didn’t think I forgot to mention Rojas when discussing the rest of his teammates, did you? Rojas entered the weekend rostered in less than one third of ESPN leagues, and while it makes sense for him to have been dropped while he was on the Injured List over the past couple of weeks, that mistake needs to be corrected now that he’s returned. The versatile Rojas qualifies at second base, shortstop, and outfield on ESPN, and while the Diamondbacks’ lineup is in flux right now, Rojas had been leading off prior to suffering a finger injury in July. After consecutive hitless games against the San Francisco Giants in his return last week, the 27-year-old shook off the rust and reached base in eight of his next ten plate appearances, including two doubles and two walks, across the first two games of the Diamondbacks’ last series against the San Diego Padres. Those walks are a great sign that he is feeling healthy again especially, as Rojas is sporting a career-best 12% walk rate in 2021. With matchups against the underbelly of the Rockies’ rotation at the end of the week, and some home cooking against the Phillies to start the week, consider it a gift to be able to pick up and stream somebody with a sneaky power/speed combo (10 HR/7 SB), who also qualifies at as many positions as Rojas does.
Colorado Rockies hitters – The Rockies are a chalky pick to click for Week 19, and for good reason. After wrapping up a road trip this past weekend, the Rockies return to the welcoming arms of Denver for six games against the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. While it is easy to see that the Rockies are facing pitchers like Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Zac Gallen, and get concerned, all three of those studs have struggled to varying degrees lately to varying degrees, and the other three probable starters are Ryan Weathers, Tyler Gilbert, and Merrill Kelly. That said, even if you are more concerned about the opposition than I am, August home games in Colorado are simply too good to pass up. Look on your waiver wire to see if the red-hot Connor Joe is available, as he has been leading off lately, is less than 10% owned in ESPN leagues, and already has four homers in the month of August. Brendan Rodgers has been a fixture of late in the top third of the lineup while rocking an August OPS over 1.000, yet is still somehow less than 20% owned in ESPN leagues, if Elias Díaz is available to stream at catcher, he’s plenty viable with 13 homers already this year.
Houston Astros hitters – Death, taxes, and the Astros offense dominating. The Astros are one of the few teams with games all seven days in Week 19, and also draw some very fantasy-friendly pitching matchups during their four games visiting the Kansas City Royals and three games at home against the Seattle Mariners. Take a look at your waiver wire to see if you can add Aledmys Díaz. The 31-year-old qualifies at multiple positions, is unowned in over 75% of ESPN leagues, and has been hitting regularly out of the five-spot in the lineup while hitting over .300 in August. Díaz figures to continue to be an everyday player until Alex Bregman returns. Additionally, Chas McCormick has been playing regularly at the bottom of the lineup since the Astros traded away Myles Straw, and with four of the Astros’ projected probable starters being southpaws, Martín Maldonado is a potential catcher who could be streamed in two-catcher leagues. Maldonado has been abysmal offensively in 2021, but has been slightly better since the All-Star break and is much stronger against left-handed pitchers where he is hitting .238 with four of his six homers in just over 80 plate appearances.
BONUS: New York Yankees hitters – The Yankees are worth an honorable mention as they play eight games in seven days in Week 19, with no days off and a scheduled doubleheader on Tuesday. If you are in a pinch, Brett Gardner has been playing a lot of late and hitting in the top half of the lineup as well. Additionally for those of you chasing steals, Tyler Wade has been playing most days and batting ninth, and while he is a bad hitter, he has been fairly hot of late and is running.
New York Mets hitters – It’s nice that they play seven games in Week 19, but that’s where the good news ends, as the Mets have to travel to the West Coast for matchups against the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Mets have been inconsistent on offense lately already, and their projected opposing starters this week are Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani, Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer, and David Price before they finally draw a plus matchup with Mitch White next Sunday. You’re rolling with Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, J.D. Davis, and probably Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto, but after being a recommendation last week, I’d look to pivot off of Jonathan Villar as well as Brandon Nimmo. I’d also look at either of previously discussed Elias Díaz or Carson Kelly over James McCann at catcher if it was available.
Pittsburgh Pirates hitters – The Pirates have a bright future, but this offense is simply not very good. For the season, the Pirates have scored the fewest runs in the entire league, and not only that, they have more than 20 fewer runs scored on the year than the next-closest team. Unfortunately for Pirates fans, it’s unlikely to get much better this week as they’ll hit the road to face the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals both on the road for three games each.
Washington Nationals hitters – It’s an unusual scheduling week for the Nats. They are off both Monday and Thursday and play only five total games, with a lot of good right-handed starters on the other side. When you consider the fact that they have to face Alek Manoah and José Berríos when they host the Toronto Blue Jays in that two-game set and then face the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend for three games, it’s easy to fade the Nats offense. Even with Aaron Ashby listed as one of the Brewers’ projected starters, the fact that the other two are Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes makes the decision to avoid the Nationals—and specifically fringe right-handed bats like Carter Kieboom or Alcides Escobar in deeper formats—an easy one.
Oakland A’s hitters – Sure, it’s great that the A’s are playing seven games in Week 19, but unfortunately, they’ll see the Chicago White Sox for four games on the road, before hosting the San Francisco Giants for three. Only two of the projected opposing starters are left-handed, so Tony Kemp and Elvis Andrus seem unlikely to be worth stating if you have other options in deeper formats.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)