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I'm going to be honest: I don't really like this week's five up.
I don't know if it's because the pitching is better this week (which would explain the aggressive choices for five down) or because the schedule is lighter with only six teams playing seven games, but whatever the reason, I couldn't find even one lesser-owned hitter I'm totally committed to starting, much less five.
Which makes now a good time to revisit the purpose of this column. I mean, we're one-third of the way into the season. It's not like everyone who read the first one is still with us now.
Setting your lineup each week, at least the hitter portion of it, should be easy. Most owners already have a clear standout at each position -- the kind you start every week, regardless of matchups. Yes, favorable matchups improve a player's chances and unfavorable matchups limit it, but more than anything over the course of a season, a player's performance is shaped by hot and cold streaks, which happen independently of matchups. It's why the sport needs 162 games to determine a winner and not 16 like football. If you try guessing which way your best players are going to streak in a given week, you're going to end up squandering much of the production you paid for.
You turn to five up not because you think this is the week your standout stumbles but because you have no other choice. Maybe your standout is injured or you're that unfortunate owner who doesn't have a standout at a particular position and has to resort to the waiver wire every week. But that should never be the goal, and if it goes on for more than a week or two, you should really consider patching that hole through a trade. The weekly guessing game isn't reliable enough to sustain you.
So for most Fantasy owners, this column can go in one ear and out the other -- in because I want you to read on it (or at least click on it) since that's the way the business of the Internet works, but out because, ultimately, I want you to win. And this column isn't as much about winning as surviving.
Managing a Fantasy Baseball team isn't that hard. People make it harder by demanding perfection from themselves. Guess what? You'll have weeks when one of your bench players outscores one of your starters -- it's going to happen -- but as long as you're winning three out of five, what does it matter?
The best way to keep winning is to play your winners and trust it'll pay off more weeks than not.
Best Hitting Matchups for Week 10:
1. Marlins: @TOR3, COL4
2. Red Sox: @BAL3, TOR3
3. Cardinals: @COL3, KC3
4. Blue Jays: MIA3, @BOS3
5. Pirates: MIL3, PHI3
I'd like the Marlins' matchups more if they weren't back in Miami for their final four games, but at least they're facing bad pitchers. You'll notice they're the only one of these five playing seven games, which is another testament to the improved pitching around the league this week. More games, more problems.
Worst Hitting Matchups for Week 10:
1. Tigers: CHC2, CLE3
2. Astros: @CHW3, SEA3
3. Padres: @ATL4, LAD3
4. Rays: LAA3, CHW3
5. Mariners: @CLE3, @HOU3
Saying the Tigers have the worst matchups this week is one thing, but I can't remember a team having worse matchups all season. Not only are they one of just two playing five games, with the Yankees being the other, but they're also facing ace-caliber pitching in all five of those games. Show me the weak link in Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber. You're obviously not sitting Miguel Cabrera in Fantasy, but everyone else in their lineup is up for debate.
And with that, I give you my player recommendations for this week. Remember: For five up, I'm limiting my choices to those owned in less than 90 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, with the assumption being that those owned in more are automatic starts.
All stats are updated through Thursday, June 4.
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins: Ozuna is well behind last
year's home run pace, which is reason enough to believe he's due for a
power surge, and he has shown faint signs of life lately, going 2 for 4
with a double and 2 for 3 with a double in back-to-back games. More than
anything, though, he's the best bet of the fringier Marlins to take
advantage of their favorable matchups this week, which include three
games in hitter-friendly Toronto and six against crummy pitchers like Marco Estrada, Mark Buehrle, Aaron Sanchez, Kyle Kendrick, Jorge De La Rosa and ... whoever the Rockies find to start Sunday's
Start instead of: Jay Bruce, Brandon Moss
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Red Sox: Sandoval has become an
afterthought in Fantasy because of a prolonged slump that began with him
facing an inordinate number of left-handed pitchers (he just can't hit
from the right side of the plate anymore) and has continued with him
hitting a bunch of ground balls. The five righties on tap for the Red
Sox should help him elevate the ball this week, though. Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Drew Hutchison, R.A. Dickey and Marco Estrada are among the most homer-prone pitchers in the league.
Good news for David Ortiz, too.
Start instead of: Jimmy Paredes, Yasmany Tomas
Joe Panik, 2B, Giants: The Giants face nothing but
right-handers this week, which doesn't help Panik as much as it would
most left-handed hitters since he happens to hit lefties better than
righties. But he's still batting .296 against righties, which is kind of
the point. He has been much better than his 66 percent ownership rate
would have you believe and looks unstoppable right now, batting .365 (23
for 65) over his last 16 games. Now that he has shown he has a little
pop, ranking eighth among second base-eligible players in slugging
percentage, he's a viable start every week.
Start instead of: Addison Russell, Logan Forsythe
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philllies: Franco is off to a hot start
in June, homering in his first two games for the month and doubling in
his third, and frankly, he was due. The 22-year-old has been making
contact at a much higher rate that you'd expect for a player his age and
with his power potential, striking out just 11 times in 75 at-bats, but
has gotten burned by a .217 BABIP. Now that his luck appears to be
changing, you'll want to take advantage of his matchups against
homer-prone pitchers like Mike Leake, Anthony DeSclafani, Jon Moscot and Jeff Locke.
Start instead of: Trevor Plouffe, Logan Forsythe
Ben Paulsen, 1B/OF, Rockies: Granted, it's a teeny tiny
sample size, but Paulsen has raked since coming up from the minors and
should get another week to fill in for Justin Morneau, at least against right-handed pitchers. As luck would
have it, the Rockies face six righties in their seven games this week,
with the toughest of those matchups at Coors Field. They visit the
Marlins the rest of the week, which means bottom-feeders like David Phelps, Jose Urena and Dan Haren. I'm not saying you have to force him onto your roster
this week, but if you don't know where else to turn, he's still
available in 85 percent of leagues.
Start instead of: Billy Butler, Adam Lind
J.D. Martinez, OF, Tigers: I'll admit this one is a bit of
a stretch and may not be viable outside of shallower three-outfielder
leagues, but the Tigers' matchups are so bad this week -- to remind you,
they're facing Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber --
that benching him isn't out of the question. Same goes for Yoenis Cespedes, but Martinez is the more defensible of the two since
he's the more vulnerable to strikeouts. Plus, he's already slumping,
batting .189 (7 for 37) in his last 10 games.
Sit instead of: Nori Aoki, Shin-Soo Choo
Kendrys Morales, 1B, Royals: Morales, like Martinez, is
normally must-start, but that's when he's expected to play every day.
The Royals travel to St. Louis for the final three of their six games
this week, which could force their usual DH to the bench. They did play
two games in an NL park earlier this season, and Morales made his lone
start at first base in that series, but even so, you should expect him
to sit at least two of the three games against the Cardinals.
Sit instead of: Brandon Belt, Pedro Alvarez
Derek Norris, C, Padres: And the list of players you've
probably never considered sitting continues. In Norris' case, I think
it's bound to change regardless of what happens this week. The plate
discipline that was such a big part of his game last year has vanished,
and I'm not totally trusting in his .340 BABIP. The big issue this week,
though, is that the Padres don't have a single gimme matchup, facing
high-end pitchers like Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke and surprises like Mike Foltynewicz, Williams Perez
and Mike Bolsinger. Notice only one of
them throws left-handed. Norris is a career .219 hitter against righties.
Sit instead of: Yan Gomes, Nick Hundley
Dexter Fowler, OF, Cubs: Like Norris, Fowler has
historically struggled against right-handed pitchers, batting .218
compared to .343 against lefties this year and .255 compared to .301 for
his career, and like Norris, they're pretty much all he's facing this
week. The matchups aren't as imposing, but given the way he has swung
the bat lately, batting .161 (10 for 62) over his last 16 games, this
week doesn't seem like the one to bet on Fowler.
Sit instead of: Nori Aoki, Billy Burns
Logan Forsythe, 1B/2B/3B, Rays: The Rays have some of the
toughest matchups this week, facing pitchers like Hector Santiago, Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards, Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale, but I'm guessing no one is sitting Evan Longoria because of it. One player you might want to consider
sitting, though, is Forsythe, who you probably just added off the waiver
wire. He has been productive enough to start more weeks than not but he
hasn't been as consistent against left-handed pitchers, batting .238. Of
course, most of his power has come against lefties, but if the choice is
between him and Joe Panik, the matchups
definitely favor Panik this week.
Sit instead of: Martin Prado, Steve Pearce