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Shin-Soo Choo, who has been out since more or less the first game of the season (returning for just one game in late May) because of calf and hamstring injuries, is set to return to the lineup Monday, but he makes for a risky start after such a long layoff and isn't so high-end that you should be forcing him into your lineup in a mixed league.
It doesn't help that the Rangers will play three of their games this week in an NL park. Of course, Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder are the more likely ones to suffer from that arrangement since they're both limited to playing first base.The Blue Jays, Astros and Yankees will also spend some of this week in the NL, but with Edwin Encarnacion capable of shifting to first base and Evan Gattis to catcher, it's a minor development for Fantasy owners.
Three teams are scheduled to play only five games this week: the Rockies, Astros and Cardinals. Of the three, only the Cardinals have especially bad matchups, but since the Rockies will spend three of their games on the road, you'll want to exercise caution with their hitters as well, possibly sitting fringier players like Gerardo Parra and DJ LeMahieu.
And with that, on to the matchups ...
Best hitter matchups for Week 11
- Brett Gardner is one of the hottest hitters on the planet right now, batting .556 (15 for 27) over his last seven games, so a two-day trip to Coors Field would be a good time to get him active. But those four games against the Twins pitching staff are perhaps even more promising. It probably goes without saying that Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran are attractive starts as well, and Robert Refsnyder, who suddenly has first base all to himself, has deep sleeper appeal. One Yankee who you probably wouldn't want to start, though, is Alex Rodriguez, what with two games in an NL park.
- Joe Mauer is one of the more underutilized players in Fantasy Baseball this year. The limited power for a first baseman holds him back in categories leagues, but in standard points leagues, he has actually out performed Hanley Ramirez and Adam Jones and obviously has the deck stacked in his favor this week. You could also roll the dice on Byron Buxton or Byung Ho Park or, better yet, put your trust in the surging Eduardo Nunez, but one of the sneakier pickups you'll find this week is Robbie Grossman, who has actually picked up steam this week rather than regressing to the mean.
- Mixed-league owners have been slow to come around to Trayce Thompson, and a week with six righties on the schedule isn't going to help the cause. But with his recent production, his numbers are actually better against righties (.273 batting average, .941 OPS) than lefties (.267, .846), and obviously, they're good against both. The righties certainly work to the advantage of platoon hitters Chase Utley and Joc Pederson, though only Utley is worth his salt right now.
- The Athletics have no shortage of borderline hitters, so a week with favorable matchups is a blessing for Fantasy owners. Danny Valencia, now back from a two-game absence for flu-like symptoms, is a must, and Khris Davis and Marcus Semien should provide power at two of the weaker positions. What's great about them is that pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum, where the Athletics will play all seven of their games, doesn't seem to hinder their production. Jed Lowrie is a little more affected by it, but he's swinging a hot enough bat right now to pass as a sleeper as well.
Worst hitter matchups for Week 11
- The Pirates are scheduled to face pitchers like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks this week, which makes for a good excuse to sit Jung Ho Kang, whose playing time remains unsettled. Josh Harrison is the only other usual start for this team who you might consider sitting with the unfavorable matchups since his ceiling for any given week is so limited to begin with, what with the lack of power and all.
- Cardinals hitters are hurt mostly by having only five games on the schedule, and when two of those games are against left-handed pitchers, it effectively eliminates Matt Adams and Brandon Moss (who's not playing every day anyway) from mixed-league consideration. Aledmys Diaz continues to flounder after his early surge, and Matt Holliday is also cold enough to sit, especially since he's just a .198 hitter at home, where the Cardinals are playing all five of their games.
- The Royals and Orioles lineups are both so polarized that neither team's matchups figure to influence your decision-making. You're going to start Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo, and you're going to sit everyone else. Is that fair to say? I suppose in more dire situations you may look to a Jonathan Schoop, Hyun Soo Kim or Alcides Escobar from time to time, so be advised you can probably do better this week.
- The Cubs lineup features hitters on both ends of the Fantasy spectrum as well, and since only half of their matchups are particularly unfavorable -- those three games at Washington -- you're probably safe treating their hitters as you normally would. Jason Heyward, who's only showing the faintest signs of life, is easy enough to sit in shallower leagues, and you may not want to gamble on Javier Baez until we see how the return of Chris Coghlan will impact his playing time.