Enjoyed the All-Star break? Great. Now, let's put your lineup-making skills to the test.
Three games are all you have to work with. Three games are all any team is playing this week.
Of course, both teams are facing tougher pitchers than most ...
Matt Holliday (illness) and Starlin Castro (hamstring) should both come off the DL over the weekend, so if you're feeling gutsy, you can roll the dice on them. Players fresh off the DL wouldn't be the best bets to start both games of a doubleheader, though, which would kind of defeat the purpose. The 22-year-old Clint Frazier might have a shot at playing all four games, though, and thus qualifies as a "sleeper" on some level. But he's also unproven and strikeout-prone -- and again, there's the problem of the matchups.
So which hitters do I recommend starting in the shortened week? I give you 10 names, all owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
Ian Happ Chi. Cubs CF
|Kyle Schwarber and Ben Zobrist both recently returned to the lineup for the Cubs, but it doesn't seem to have impacted Ian Happ's playing time in the least. With 11 home runs in his past 32 games, he's ready to tee off against the Orioles' collection of bottom-feeders.|
Steven Souza Tampa Bay RF
|Steven Souza keeps skating just below the 80-percent threshold, making him more or less a fixture in this space, but especially against the Angels' patchwork rotation. His .306 batting average, seven homers and .949 OPS in his last 28 games have helped make him the 21st-best outfielder in Head-to-Head points leagues and the 20th-best in Rotisserie this year.|
Tommy Pham St. Louis LF
|In a week when mistakes figure to be amplified, Tommy Pham is kind of a risky pick given that he left the Cardinals' last game Sunday with hip tightness, but it was thought to be a non-issue at the time and hasn't gotten much notice since ... kind of like Pham himself, who's on a 20-20 pace for the year and is the ninth-best outfielder in points leagues since becoming a regular May 5.|
Joc Pederson L.A. Dodgers CF
|Joc Pederson has killed it since coming back from a concussion in mid-June, batting .304 with seven homers and an 1.131 OPS, but there's always the threat of him sitting against left-handers. Not this week, though, with only Dan Straily, Jose Urena and Edinson Volquez -- all righties, and none particularly imposing -- on the schedule.|
Max Kepler Minnesota RF
|Max Kepler ended the first half on a high note, batting .467 (14 for 30) with five doubles, a triple and a homer in his last nine games, and he's always at his best against righties, batting .305 with a .907 OPS for the year. He should keep it going against hittable ones like Charlie Morton, Joe Musgrove and Mike Fiers this week.|
Aaron Altherr Philadelphia RF
|I could say almost the same thing for Aaron Altherr that I did for Max Kepler, except that Jimmy Nelson is one of the three righties he'll be facing. He also wasn't quite as hot before the break, batting .333 (8 for 24) with a homer and 1.054 OPS in his last nine games, and then there's the fact that his .299 batting average and .901 OPS against righties is a little harder to believe since he, you know, bats righty. But I'm nitpicking.|
Mallex Smith Tampa Bay CF
|Mallex Smith will benefit from those same matchups Steven Souza has, and since all three of the pitchers he's facing throw right-handed (it's all the Angels have), he's a good bet to start every game. He has stolen bases at about the same rate as Dee Gordon and hit .440 (11 for 25) with two steals in his final seven games before the break.|
Paul DeJong St. Louis 2B
|The Cardinals are scheduled to face Gerrit Cole, Chad Kuhl and Trevor Williams, which may be even better than it sounds given Cole's hit-or-miss tendency. Paul DeJong's miserable strikeout-to-walk rate is cause for concern over the long haul, but he's a shortstop-eligible player who homered in each of his final three games before the break.|
Tommy Joseph Philadelphia 1B
|Tommy Joseph has been fairly reliable from week to week, but of course at first base, there's a higher threshold to meet. Zach Davies and Matt Garza are two good matchups in a three-game week, though, and Joseph is hitting .294 with a .998 OPS so far in July. If you for some reason have a need at that position, he presents a high floor and a reasonable ceiling.|
Orlando Arcia Milwaukee SS
|Orlando Arcia cooled off right before the break, but he's still batting .337 (58 for 172) with an .833 OPS over his past 48 games. It may have been more than just a hot streak, in other words, and his matchups against the Phillies pitching staff this week could be enough to get him back on track. It may turn out to be a long-term pickup at a position like shortstop.|
Best hitter matchups for Week 15
1. Cubs @BAL3
2. Rays @LAA3
3. Nationals @CIN3
4. Mariners @CHW3
5. Tigers TOR3
Worst hitter matchups for Week 15
1. Padres SF3
2. Reds WAS3
3. Athletics CLE3
4. Angels TB3
5. Marlins LAD3