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Who's playing in Colorado this week?
That's the first question you should ask whenever you go to set your lineup. And the answer this week begins with the Rockies, of course, who'll play all six of their games there. The problem is they're hosting the Nationals and Mets, which means they'll face Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Matt Harvey in four of them.
So what about the Nationals and Mets, who'll spend half the week there? The Nationals are fine, but the Mets play only five games total, which immediately eliminates them from "best matchups" consideration. And of course, the Colorado series eliminates from "worst matchups" consideration. Thing is none of the three teams with only five games on tap has particularly imposing matchups, but the lack of bad matchups in general earns the Dodgers and Blue Jays a spot on the list.
Interleague alert: The Tigers and Royals each have two games in an NL park, making Victor Martinez and Kendrys Morales less than automatic plays in Fantasy. I'll refrain from calling them automatic sits after what David Ortiz just did in Miami, but Martinez at least will take a hit. He has yet to play at first base all season.
Platoon advantage alert: The Mariners will face five lefties in their six games this week, which is of course great news for Nelson Cruz, not that you'd ever sit him. It makes Franklin Gutierrez a deep sleeper for this week, though, given his .327 batting average and .938 OPS against lefties this year. Judging by the way the Mariners have used him recently, he's a decent bet to play all five of those games.
Best Hitting Matchups for Week 20:
1. Marlins: @MIL3, PHI4
2. Nationals: @COL3, MIL3
3. Phillies: TOR2, @MIA4
4. Indians: @BOS3, @NYY4
5. Twins: @NYY3, @BAL4
• Not only do the Marlins have the best matchups, but as things stand now, all seven of their games are against right-handed pitchers, which makes Derek Dietrich an ideal sleeper at any of the three positions where he's eligible, including second base. With a four percent ownership rate, he might be the most available player I've recommended this season, and it's not like he's even losing at-bats against lefties anymore. But of course, he's at his best against righties, compiling an .876 OPS. Meanwhile, J.T. Realmuto is a hot-hand play at catcher, but he's so bad against righties that you may want to look elsewhere.
• What's that? Ryan Zimmerman is still started in only 75 percent of leagues? Better get with the program, people, because this is a different player than the one who went on the DL with plantar fasciitis in early June. I'm also looking forward to Ian Desmond continuing to make up for lost time at Coors Field, and if there was ever a time to gamble on a Jayson Werth rebound, this is it.
• Cesar Hernandez's playing time hasn't been the most consistent since Chase Utley returned from the DL, but you can trust he'll get the nod against left-handed pitchers, especially given his .349 batting average and .847 OPS against them. The Phillies face four of them in what figures to be a high-scoring week. Their best hitter, Maikel Franco, has struggled against lefties for whatever reason, but when those lefties are Mark Buehrle, Brad Hand, Justin Nicolino and Adam Conley, I don't think it's justification to sit him (provided he's back from his wrist injury, of course).
• In case you weren't already determined to start Miguel Sano after his two-homer game Wednesday, the matchups make it a slam dunk. Aaron Hicks has been hot enough for long enough that you wouldn't want to pass him over either. True, the Twins are facing five righties, and the switch-hitter hasn't been nearly as good from the left side of the plate this year. But like everything else for him, those numbers are trending the right direction. All four of his hits Wednesday came against righties.
Worst Hitting Matchups for Week 20:
1. White Sox: @LAA4, @SEA3
2. Red Sox: CLE3, KC4
3. Dodgers: @OAK2, @HOU3
4. Athletics: @BAL1, LAD2, TB3
5. Blue Jays: @PHI2, @LAA3
• The White Sox offense is already scuffling after ending July on a high note, so these matchups against pitchers like Andrew Heaney, Garrett Richards, Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker (and at two pitcher's parks, no less) should be enough to scare you away from their hitters -- all but Jose Abreu in standard mixed leagues, anyway. That includes Adam Eaton and potentially even Melky Cabrera in shallower formats. Both are 7 for 34 (.206) in their last nine games.
• The biggest issue with the Dodgers is that they're playing only five games. If Sonny Gray's back is still bothering him, the toughest pitchers they'll face in those five games are Scott Kazmir and Mike Fiers, so you wouldn't want to sit the kind of hitters who could do significant damage in a short period of time, like Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig or, at least in five-outfielder leagues, Joc Pederson. On the other hand, this probably isn't the week to try your luck with a part-timer like Andre Ethier or Justin Turner or a trendy sleeper like Enrique Hernandez.
• Just when you're starting to have your first thoughts about trusting in Josh Reddick and Billy Burns again, they get stuck with these matchups. It's not like they're facing all righties either, so I think between that and the possibility his back could flare up again, you have to avoid Reddick if at all possible. Burns may still be too valuable to sit in Rotisserie leagues, provided you need stolen bases. Otherwise, about the only Athletic I'd be looking to start this week is Stephen Vogt -- and even he's only because I couldn't find anything better at the position.
• The Blue Jays are in the same boat as the Dodgers -- short week but not especially scary matchups -- so who from their star-studded lineup would you honestly consider sitting? At the very least, Ben Revere is a no-go for Fantasy owners, not that he has been so productive with the Blue Jays anyway, batting mostly ninth. Chris Colabello might look like a sneaky play given his hot hitting of late and the three lefties on tap, but he could very well end up sitting the other two games.