Fantasy Baseball: Top 10 sleeper hitters for Week 21 feature Steven Souza, Franmil Reyes
A high number of off days in Week 21 (Aug. 13-19) allows the two teams with eight games to stand out. Scott White identifies which of their hitters are worth using.
The teams they're playing in those doubleheaders -- the Marlins and the Phillies -- are each playing just seven games, but even that's an advantage over the majority of the league, which is scheduled for six games are fewer. The Orioles, Red Sox, Astros and Brewers are each scheduled for five.
This should obviously impact lineup decisions beyond just which pitchers your hitters are facing, and it's true the Braves and Mets each have more or less an automatic bid into my "best hitter matchups" for the week. They're well represented here among my favorite hitters owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
Kole Calhoun's production slowed a bit in Week 19 (July 30-Aug. 5), when he faced a bunch of Rays and Indians pitchers, but he has picked it up again in Week 20 and is still batting .284 (46 for 162) with 15 homers and a .979 OPS in 45 games since returning from an oblique injury. And now he has seven games against Padres and Rangers pitchers.
Ketel Marte has hit safely in seven of nine games so far in August, giving him a .288 batting average and .909 OPS in 61 games since the start of June. He's the fifth-best shortstop in points leagues during that time, so it's amazing to me he's still only 58 percent owned. That should change with him facing Rangers and Padres pitchers this week.
Brandon Nimmo fell off a cliff in mid-June and, judging by his strikeout rate, probably won't return to must-start status. But he's showing signs of coming around, including a three-double game Wednesday, and faces nothing but righties in the Mets' eight games this week. His OPS is 150 points higher vs. righties than lefties.
Second verse, same as the first. Michael Conforto hasn't been as productive as Nimmo this year, but his batted ball profile is the more encouraging of the two. He has historically fared better against righties than lefties, too, but mostly I just like his chances of doing something worthwhile with so many games at his disposal.
A lengthy bout with a strained pectoral at the start of the season put Steven Souza in a pretty big hole, but he has begun to climb out of it recently, batting .321 (26 for 81) with two homers and a .939 OPS over his past 22 games. He'll benefit from the same favorable matchups as Ketel Marte, going against pitchers like Bartolo Colon, Yovani Gallardo, Walker Lockett and Clayton Richard.
Franmil Reyes has returned from the minors with a reduced leg kick and a hot bat, going 9 for 22 (.409) with three homers in six games. Strikeouts were a big issue in his first stint in the majors but haven't impacted him so much during his terrific Triple-A campaign. He'll have seven games to test if the leg kick has made all the difference.
The Braves are the other team playing eight games this week — and with matchups more favorable than the Mets' — but they don't have as many hitters who meet the 80 percent threshold. At 43 percent ownership, Johan Camargo does, and he has a knack for putting the bat on the ball with above-average power. It's the sort of high-floor profile that can thrive with enough volume.
I mentioned the pitching staffs Kole Calhoun is facing this week. Here are some of the pitchers: Clayton Richard, Brett Kennedy, Robbie Erlin, Ariel Jurado, Drew Hutchison and Martin Perez. That's good news for Albert Pujols, too, who's still a pretty good power hitter at age 38, homering six times in his past 21 games. He has played mostly first base of late, so the three games in an NL park shouldn't impact his playing time.
Jedd Gyorko has been playing close to every day anyway, shifting Matt Carpenter over to first base, but he's clearly a fixture vs. left-handed pitchers, batting .329 with a 1.007 OPS against them. The Cardinals have three on the schedule in their seven games, and none of Tommy Milone, Gio Gonzalez and Wade MIley are the kind to hold Gyorko back.
A fixture for the Mets at first base over the past month, Wilmer Flores is another sort of low-impact, high-floor hitter who could see a big boost with an eight-game schedule. He may bat right-handed, but like Nimmo, he has been at his best against right-handed pitchers this year, batting .297 with an .862 OPS.
Best hitter matchups for Week 21
1. Braves MIA4, COL4
2. Angels @SD3, @TEX4
3. Royals TOR4, @CHW3
4. Mets @NYY1, @BAL2, @PHI5
5. Indians @CIN3, BAL3
Worst hitter matchups for Week 21
1. Orioles NYM2, @CLE3
2. Athletics SEA3, HOU3
3. Rays @NYY3, @BOS3
4. Rangers ARI2, LAA4
5. Reds CLE3, SF3
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