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Things haven't gone especially well for Michael Conforto since his call-up less than three weeks ago. He has gone 8 for 37 (.216) with four extra base hits -- all doubles. The Mets have faced their fair share of lefties over this stretch, and Conforto hasn't been trusted with a single start against a southpaw since his promotion.
Fantasy owners have stayed away from Conforto in droves, with his ownership rate actually falling slightly since his return, but at least for one week, there is reason to take an interest in the second-year outfielder. In Fantasy Week 19 (Aug. 8-14), the Mets' hitters have great matchups, and given that they are set to oppose only one left-handed starter (Robbie Ray), Conforto may benefit more than most.
One of the five righties that Conforto will have to contend with could be Zack Greinke, who could be in line to return from the disabled list and start Tuesday's series opener. There is little reason to expect that Conforto will start the second game of the Diamondbacks series, given that Ray is their scheduled starter, but then he will get to face Zack Godley, who has a 6.18 ERA and .313 batting average allowed in his last five starts.
Then the Mets' home stand continues with a three-game set against the Padres and a not-so-fearsome trio of righties: Paul Clemens, Jarred Cosart and Luis Perdomo. Conforto is hitting only .246 against right-handed pitching, as he has been striking out a higher rate than he did a year ago. It should help that Clemens, Cosart and Perdomo have been no better than average strikeout pitchers against lefties over their careers.
Even with a 25.0 percent strikeout rate against righties, Conforto has delivered extra-base power, producing a .232 Isolated Power (Iso). That's the same mark that Kris Bryant has against righties, and Conforto's strikeout rate is actually a tick lower than that of the Cubs' sophomore.
Between his muted batting average and limited playing time, it isn't every week you can start Conforto with confidence, but the matchups suggest that it is a good time to pick him up and start him. Conforto is still available in more than half of the leagues on CBSSports.com, so there is a good chance you will be able to add him.
Here are four other players who should be available to standard mixed league owners with favorable matchups in Week 19.
Homer Bailey, SP, Reds (30 percent owned)
In his first start back from Tommy John surgery, Bailey's control wasn't at its best, as he threw only 54 of 89 pitches for strikes. Overall, the results were useful for Fantasy owners. and it bodes well for his upcoming matchup against the Brewers at Miller Park. Milwaukee ranks just 20th in wOBA against right-handed pitchers, and has the highest strikeout rate versus righties by a wide margin. Against all pitchers, the Brewers have increased their major-league leading K-rate over the past 30 days, striking out in 26.6 percent of their collective plate appearances.
One good start against the Padres doesn't guarantee that Bailey will be worth starting going forward, but if you can't find a two-start pitcher to your liking, he could still be an upgrade over one of your existing pitchers for the coming week.
Andrew Cashner, SP, Marlins (50 percent owned)
Now that he has reeled off four straight good starts, Cashner's popularity is gaining steam, yet he is still un-owned in roughly half of CBSSports.com's leagues. During his hot streak, Cashner has run the gauntlet through two starts against the Cardinals as well as outings versus the Blue Jays and Giants. After he makes this weekend's start at the Rockies, Cashner's degree of difficulty will go down considerably. His Week 19 opponent, the White Sox, rank 24th in wOBA and 23rd in Iso against righties.
The biggest concern owners should have over Cashner is his recent surge in his fly-ball rate. However, owners can take comfort in knowing that Cashner will be facing the power-challenged White Sox at Marlins Park, so extra-base hits should be few and far between.
Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Red Sox (48 percent owned)
Rodriguez's second stint in the Red Sox's rotation this season has gone much better than the first. While he hasn't eschewed his flyball-leaning ways, Rodriguez has stopped the deluge of home runs that plagued him earlier this season, and he's getting more swings and misses as well.
Earlier this year, a matchup against the Diamondbacks would have been deadly for the southpaw because they were one of the better-hitting teams against lefties. Not only has Rodriguez improved in his recent starts, but the Diamondbacks have come upon hard times, as Welington Castillo, Brandon Drury, Michael Bourn and Chris Owings are slumping badly. Especially if Paul Goldschmidt remains locked in his home run slump, Rodriguez could stay on a roll with this matchup.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Brewers (2 percent owned)
If adding a virtually un-owned player to your mixed league squad is your kind of thrill ride, then you could have a blast this week watching Nieuwenhuis. Given his .218 batting average, it's no mystery why Nieuwenhuis is only owned in a handful of leagues. However, with seven home games on the schedule against the hittable staffs of the Braves and Reds, a perfect storm is shaping up for the former Mets and Angels outfielder.
Nieuwenhuis is currently projected to face the four members of the Braves' rotation not named Mike Foltynewicz, which means he will face four starters worse than Foltynewicz. He will also oppose the Reds' Bailey, along with Dan Straily and Cody Reed, and while these will be more challenging matchups, Reed could be the only lefty starter Nieuwenhuis will see this week. He boasts a .198 Iso against righties this season, but at home, that mark soars to .311.
These are great splits, but we shouldn't get carried away. I won't be starting Nieuwenhuis in any mixed leagues with 12 teams or fewer. In any format deeper than that, I'll be giving him a try.