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We've already covered the perils of September baseball, right? The expanded rosters, the spot starts and skipped starts? Yeah ...
The danger in playing the matchups is that you don't know what those matchups will be. So maybe they shouldn't be your sole basis for starting a player.
With that important caveat out of the way, this week should be fairly routine. The one oddity is that the Yankees play three games in the NL, so Alex Rodriguez owners will want to seek out replacements at third base. Those aren't exactly in short supply, though. The Blue Jays will also go without a DH for three games, but in their case, Edwin Encarnacion will simply move over to first base. I don't think anyone will miss Justin Smoak.
There are no teams playing eight games, and there are no teams playing five. There is a doubleheader between the Cubs and the Pirates on Tuesday, but it's not enough to keep the Cubs out of the five worst matchups. Let's not beat the drum for Javier Baez just yet.
Best Hitting Matchups for Week 24:
1. Royals: @CLE4, @DET3
2. Nationals: @PHI3, MIA4
3. Padres: @ARI3, @COL3
4. Rays: NYY3, BAL4
5. Reds: @SF3, @MIL3
• The Royals are on this list for a second straight week, and while I advised starting Alex Gordon then, it hasn't gone too well. He still has this weekend to right the ship, but so far, he has started just six of nine games since returning from the DL. He has started four of the last five, though, so depending how much he plays over the weekend, I could see myself banking on the matchups again. Not to continue to pour water on what should be a scintillating week for the Royals, but Mike Moustakas isn't a slam dunk either. The three biggest reasons why it's such a favorable week -- Randy Wolf, Matt Boyd and Kyle Lobstein -- all throw left-handed, and his splits against lefties are so-so.
• Jayson Werth (.933 OPS in his last 22 games) and Anthony Rendon (.903 OPS in his last 18) are probably the Nationals' two hottest hitters, non-Bryce Harper division, so for as much as they may have let you down earlier this year, shying away from them with matchups as favorable as this week's would be self-destructive. Yunel Escobar isn't as exciting, but a shortstop-eligible player batting nearly .500 (16 for 34) over an eight-game stretch certainly deserves a mention.
• The Padres play only six games this week, but they're the one team visiting Colorado, and Arizona isn't a bad place to hit either. Not to be repetitive since they also appeared here last week, but I don't know why you'd shy away from Yangervis Solarte and Jedd Gyorko with even better matchups this time around. Both are widely available given their recent production at shallow positions. You might want to roll the dice on Wil Myers as well. He hasn't been back from wrist surgery for long, but that series at Colorado could jumpstart him if his home run Tuesday didn't. He followed it up with three hits Wednesday.
• Just when you were tempted to sit Todd Frazer because of his second-half slump, he up and goes 4 for 7 with two home runs in his last two games. You'd be taking a big risk sitting him with these matchups. As much as it pains me after leaving him for dead, I think you have to keep rolling with Brandon Phillips, who has actually gotten better with a .325 batting average in the second half. If you're looking for a power-hitting shortstop and Gyorko is already owned in your league, Eugenio Suarez presents a nice alternative.
Worst Hitting Matchups for Week 24:
1. Marlins: @NYM3, @WAS4
2. Rangers: HOU4, SEA3
3. Yankees: @TB3, @NYM3
4. Cubs: @PIT3, STL3
5. Diamondbacks: SD3, @SF3
• Not only are the Marlins facing a collection of aces -- Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, to be specific -- but all seven of the pitchers on tap throw right-handed. Two of their hottest hitters right now, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto, do much of their damage against lefties, so they clearly wouldn't be your best choices this week.
• The Rangers' situation is like a mirror image of the Marlins'. Shin-Soo Choo is batting .370 (10 for 27) in September. Mitch Moreland is batting .333 (5 for 15). Good for them, right? Too bad they bat left-handed and four of the pitchers on tap throw left-handed. Choo is batting .194 with a .598 OPS against lefties this season. Moreland is batting .254 with a .678 OPS and doesn't even play against them most of the time. The three righties the Rangers are facing are Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers and Hisashi Iwakuma, so no relief there.
• Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner have both been duds of late -- Ellsbury basically since he returned from his sprained knee just before the All-Star break. The danger in benching a slumping stud is that you could miss the equally dramatic course correction, but Gardner wasn't considered a stud prior to the first half this year and Ellsbury, at 32, may genuinely be regressing. In a three-outfielder Head-to-Head league, I think the matchups justify the benching.
• The Dodgers aren't one of the five teams listed here and don't have particularly unfavorable matchups, judging by the quality of the opposing pitchers. But they do have bad matchups for them, going against four left-handed pitchers in six games. Obviously, Andre Ethier is out for Fantasy purposes, but he isn't so widely owned or started. If you haven't gotten around to benching Joc Pederson yet, now would be the time. He has had a dreadful second half, hasn't hit lefties all year and now occasionally sits against them. Justin Turner has also been surprisingly bad against lefties, batting .207 with a .668 OPS.