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September baseball. It'll make you pull your hair out.
At the most crucial point in the Fantasy Baseball season, you're going to see curveball after curveball after curveball. Not literally, of course ... well, unless Mike Bolsinger is on the mound.
You mean like Friday? Yes, that's exactly what I mean. The Dodgers decided to give him a spot start just because he's on the roster now, thereby moving everyone else back a day. And when "everyone else" includes Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, it has a ripple effect on the rest of the league. When their opponents change, the best and worst matchups change, and the hitters who benefit or suffer as a result change.
Managers are going to pull stunts like that from here on out, often with little advance notice, so if you set your lineup once a week in your league, you're kind of at their mercy.
The good news is it's a straightforward week otherwise. There are no games at Coors Field. There are no AL teams traveling to the NL, where they'll have to bench one of their hitters. There are no five-game weeks or eight-game weeks.
But you'll still have to contend with the weirdness inherent to this time of year, and the only way to do that is to take these recommendations with a grain of salt. They go against the status quo, after all, and to do that, you need to be able to trust in the reasoning.
Best Hitting Matchups for Week 23:
1. Indians: @CHW3, DET4
2. Royals: MIN3, @BAL3
3. Rays: @DET3, BOS3
4. Padres: COL4, @SF3
5. Mariners: TEX4, COL3
• The Royals' matchups should be all the excuse you need to get Alex Gordon back in your lineup. He's actually still available in nearly 20 percent of CBSSports.com leagues after missing two months with a strained groin. The Royals may ease him back into everyday duty, but he had averaged about as many Head-to-Head points per game as Kole Calhoun prior to the injury -- and that was with a slow start to the season.
• Longoria isn't the player he once was, but he has mashed left-handers to the tune of a .345 batting average and .973 OPS this year, making him as advisable as ever with five lefties on tap for the Rays this week. Logan Forsythe isn't as widely started as Longoria but has had a better year overall and has done plenty of damage against left-handers himself, batting .311 with a 1.022 OPS. Even Asdrubal Cabrera woudn't be a bad play against disaster-prone pitchers like Randy Wolf, Matt Boyd and Kyle Lobstein.
• Need middle infield help? The Padres are suddenly an overlooked source. The game-changer was moving Jedd Gyorko to shortstop, opening the door for Yangervis Solarte to play second base every day, and after a 4-for-5 performance Thursday, he's now on a 15-homer, 33-double pace. He's like a poor man's Matt Duffy and has the preferred matchups of the two this week. Gyorko himself is an interesting play just for the power he brings to a weak position, and sure enough, he has five home runs in his last 74 at-bats. He's not especially attractive in points leagues as a home run-or-bust-type, but he probably won't bust this week.
• Though they have only the fifth-best matchups, the Mariners probably have the most attractive sleepers for Fantasy this week in Mark Trumbo and Franklin Gutierrez. Trumbo has been much better than his 63 percent ownership rate would have you believe, batting .299 (49 for 164) with 10 home runs in his last 47 games, and Gutierrez has been even hotter, batting .353 (24 for 68) with eight home runs in his last 19 games. Of course, the latter owes much of that success to the surplus of left-handers the Mariners have faced recently, but they face four more this week. And with Austin Jackson out of the picture, Gutierrez has begun playing some against righties as well.
Worst Hitting Matchups for Week 23:
1. Angels: LAD3, HOU3
2. Orioles: @NYY3, KC3
3. Twins: @KC3, @CHW3
4. Reds: PIT3, STL4
5. Athletics: HOU3, @TEX3
• If you're still wasting your time with Matt Wieters, these matchups are your excuse to look elsewhere. Welington Catillo isn't especially hot right now but has been generally productive since joining the Diamondbacks. Yan Gomes has favorable matchups this week, and Blake Swihart is the hot hand at the position. All three are owned in fewer leagues than Wieters. Though the matchups are difficult, the Orioles do face a couple pitchers who are prone to the long ball, giving Jonathan Schoop a chance to do some damage still, but if you really want a home run-or-bust type, Jedd Gyorko is the preferred option this week.
• Who's sitting Miguel Sano against the best the Royals and White Sox have to offer? Yeah, even with him nursing a sore hamstring, that's a tough sell. Unless he's out of the lineup all weekend, you have to ride out his hot streak. Trevor Plouffe and Torii Hunter should be out of mixed-league lineups, though. Both have been ice cold in the second half, with Plouffe batting .208 with a .660 OPS and Hunter batting .164 (20 for 122) with a .510 OPS.
• The Reds are facing four lefties this week, which isn't so bad for Jay Bruce based on his numbers this season, but historically, the left-handed hitter has fared better against righties. The main reason you're sitting him, though, is because he's floundering again after a midseason surge, batting .127 (14 for 110) with a .409 OPS in his last 28 games. He's batting less than .230 for the second straight season, so no guarantees he snaps out of it soon. This week also probably isn't the best time to put your trust in Eugenio Suarez. If you need a power-hitting middle infielder, again, Jedd Gyorko is the way to go.
• Oakland is home to some of the more unheralded hitters of the last month, including Mark Canha and Danny Valencia. But Canha has already come back down to earth, and Valencia could join him this week against pitchers like Mike Fiers, Scott Kazmir, Collin McHugh and Cole Hamels. Josh Reddick is back to playing every day, but he has to prove himself all over again after falling out favor in August. Brett Lawrie's recent power surge is interesting, but this looks like one of those weeks when the only Athletic worth starting in mixed leagues is Stephen Vogt.