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 20 (8/14 – 8/20) 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.
Jake Lamb and David Peralta – If you frequently read this column (and if you do, you’re awesome), then you know that if the Diamondbacks are facing a bunch of right-handers (and they’ll see seven this week), it’s time to start Jake Lamb and David Peralta. On the season, Lamb is slashing .296/.403/.581 against righties and Peralta is slashing .315/.368/.481 against them. The Diamondbacks are facing a few tough pitchers in Brad Peacock, Charlie Morton, and Jose Berrios this week, which prevents me from saying “start all your Diamondbacks,” but if you have Lamb and Peralta, start them this week. Chris Iannetta is a somewhat interesting play if you’re desperate at catcher, as he’s been slashing .276/.371/.586 against righties since the All-Star Break.
Atlanta Braves lefties – The Braves are another team facing seven righties this week, and their lefties have been hitting well against righties this year. Against righties, Freddie Freeman is slashing .337/.445/.685, Nick Markakis is slashing .286/.374/.409, Ender Inciarte is slashing .295/.342/.391, and Matt Adams is slashing .298/.344/.544. Any or all four of them should be in your lineups this week (though I don’t know that I necessarily had to convince you to start Freeman).
Joey Gallo – I’m not going to pretend like you’re going to get any kind of batting average out of Joey Gallo, but the Rangers are facing six righties this week, and since the All-Star Break, Gallo has a slugging percentage of .768 and an OPS of 1.090 against righties. If you need some power, Gallo’s the man to go to this week.
Milwaukee Brewers hitters – The Brewers only play five games this week, but they should be five games where you can extract some good hitting value. They start off with two games at home in hitter-friendly Miller Park against the Pirates. They’ll be seeing Gerrit Cole, which could be tricky, but they’ll also see Ivan Nova, a contact-oriented pitcher they could take advantage of. Then they have a three-game series against the Rockies at Coors Field, which is obviously great news for their hitters. You’re already starting Ryan Braun, but I would start Domingo Santana, Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, and even Keon Broxton and newly-acquired second baseman Neil Walker.
Colorado Rockies hitters – It’s one of those beautiful weeks when the Rockies have a seven-game homestand at Coors Field. Sure, they’ll have to face Jimmy Nelson, so perhaps avoid that if you can in a daily league, but in general, there’s nothing to intimidating about the pitching matchups and, again, it’s seven games at Coors Field, you can’t ask for much better for hitters. If you’ve got a Rockies team member on your team, start him this week.
Toronto Blue Jays hitters – The Blue Jays have a seven-game week this week, starting with a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays where they’ll get to see Jacob Faria and Chris Archer, which isn’t necessarily too favorable. Then they’ll travel to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs and Jake Arrieta, Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks. Needless to say, it’s a tough week for the Blue Jays who are already struggling at the plate. I would especially recommend benching Kendrys Morales, as I would imagine he will sit during their three-game road trip to Wrigley, since the team will lose their DH spot and that will likely be filled by the better-hitting Justin Smoak.
Cincinnati Reds hitters against the Cubs – The Reds start off their week with a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field, and while there, they’ll get to see Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey, and Jon Lester. Now the matchup against Lackey doesn’t sound all that scary, but Quintana and Lester certainly do, and Hendricks could easily be. I’m not saying sit Joey Votto or Adam Duvall or anything, but I might look elsewhere than Eugenio Suarez or Scooter Gennett.
Michael Conforto – The Mets will be seeing three lefties this week, which is bad news for left-handed Michael Conforto, who’s slashing .230/.309/.483 against lefties. Not only that, but Conforto will also get to see Sonny Gray and Luis Severino, which are not positive matchups for him (or anyone for that matter), meaning that there are five out of the seven matchups this week that are bad for him. If you’re in a weekly league, I’d bench him, and if you’re in a daily league, I’d only start him against Vance Worley when they play the Marlins (though the Yankees starter for Monday is still TBD, so if it’s a righty that’s not too scary, start Conforto that day too).
Josh Reddick – The Astros’ overall week is fairly favorable for hitting, as they’ll get to have two games in Chase Field against the Diamondbacks and they face some fairly mediocre pitchers (save for a matchup against Zack Greinke). However, they will be facing three lefties this week, and Reddick is slugging just .338 against lefties (compared to .518 against righties). So with three lefty matchups compounded on top of seeing Greinke, I’d avoid Reddick in general if you’re in a weekly league.
Minnesota Twins hitters – The Twins have a six-game homestand this week, but they have quite a few difficult pitching matchups to face. They start off with a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians where they’ll get to see Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and Mike Clevinger. Salazar has been on fire lately, Carrasco is always good, and Clevinger certainly has had good moments. Then they get to see the Diamondbacks and Zack Godley, Zack Greinke, and Anthony Banda. You’re not worried about the Banda matchup, but Godley and especially Greinke are tough matchups. I’m probably still starting Miguel Sano as well as Brian Dozier given the streak he’s been on, but I’m avoiding every other Twins hitter.