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With their trip to San Diego to begin Fantasy Week 4 (April 27-May 3), the Astros have a chance to put their money where their mouth is.
They said after acquiring Evan Gattis this offseason that the catcher-turned-DH would play some left field, but so far, he hasn't. Somebody has to sit out those three games, and you'd think left fielder Colby Rasmus' slow start would make him a pretty easy choice. But then again, Gattis has been even worse.
Fortunately, the Astros return home for four games to close out the week, so you can at least count on Gattis to play then. Because you start him at catcher and most catchers are liable to sit a game or two a week anyway, you should probably stick with him in Fantasy.
Jose Bautista is another questionable case, having not played since Tuesday because of a shoulder injury. The Blue Jays hope he'll be able to DH Monday, but since he won't return to the lineup before then, you're take a leap of faith by playing him in Fantasy. Given his upside, though, unless his status changes leading up to the lineup deadline, you should probably stick with him as well.
Best Hitting Matchups for Week 4:
1. White Sox: @BAL3, @MIN4
2. Mariners: @TEX3, @HOU4
3. Indians: KC3, TOR4
4. Tigers: @MIN3, @KC4
5. Cardinals: PHI4, PIT3
Adam LaRoche is owned in too many leagues for me to feature him in Five Up, but he should be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the White Sox's matchups with only one left-hander on tap. He did almost all of his damage against righties last season, hitting just .204 against lefties.
Worst Hitting Matchups for Week 4:
1. Twins: DET3, CHW4
2. Orioles: CHW3, TB3
3. Astros: @SD3, SEA4
4. Braves: WAS3, CIN4
5. Royals: @CLE3, DET4
You'll notice all five of these teams play seven games this week, which should tell you just how bad the matchups are. I could have gone with any of the 16 teams playing only six games instead. Truth is the two near misses for this list, the Mets and the Nationals, also play seven games, so opportunity isn't necessarily the biggest factor for me.
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, April 23.
Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals: Wong is just barely under the
90 percent threshold -- and only because he got off to such a slow start
that some of his owners bailed on him. Look what he's done more
recently, though: Back-to-back three-hit games earlier in the week have
him suddenly up near .300 for the season and make him seem all the more
capable of taking advantage of this week's matchups against Aaron Harang, David Buchanan, Vance Worley and whoever the Phillies dig up to start Monday's game.
Start instead of: Jason Kipnis, Neil Walker
Billy Butler, 1B, Athletics: Butler has gone hitless
exactly once in 17 games his season. He's showing power again after
going two years without it, having homered three times already, and is
currently the fifth-best first baseman in Head-to-Head points leagues,
outperforming even Jose Abreu. So why
is he started in only 61 percent of Fantasy leagues? Nobody is
suggesting he's actually better than Abreu, but he's clearly the
hot-hand play and, at 29, isn't too old to recapture his form from a
couple years ago. Plus, he faces four homer-prone pitchers this week in Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker, Colby Lewis and Yovani Gallardo.
Start instead of: Kendrys Morales, Justin Morneau
Adam Eaton, OF, White Sox: Even though Eaton bats
left-handed, he has actually fared slightly better against lefties than
righties in his career, so he won't benefit from the White Sox's
righty-heavy schedule as much as Adam LaRoche
will. But he's still facing a bunch of bottom-feeders in Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Trevor May, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone and Mike Pelfrey. He's also showing signs of life with a .294 (5 for 17)
batting average over his last four games.
Start instead of: Ender Inciarte, Leonys Martin
Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics: Reddick might be the most
overlooked hitter in Fantasy right now. Poor contact skills have held
him back since his 32-homer season in 2012, but he cut his strikeout
rate in half after returning from a knee surgery last season. And so far
since coming off the DL this season, he has just four strikeouts in 39
at-bats. He's facing the same homer-prone pitchers as Billy Butler this week and may benefit even more from the matchups
given that they all throw right-handed.
Start instead of: Nick Markakis, Travis Snider
Brad Miller, SS, Mariners: Bad Miller is back to being Brad Miller, batting .500 (9 for 18) with a double, a triple and a
stolen base in his last six games. Facing a bunch of right-handers
during that stretch has only helped the cause. He hit .170 against
lefties last season. He faces five righties this week, including many of
those same pitchers -- Yovani Gallardo, Scott Feldman, Asher Wojciechowski
and Roberto Hernandez, to name a few --
only this time, he'll be on the road. That can only help the cause, too:
He hit .189 at home last season.
Start instead of: Danny Santana, Andrelton Simmons
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals: Second straight week here for
Moustakas, which is unfortunate because I mostly buy into the changes he
has made at the plate. His track record against left-handers is too
scary for me to ignore, though. He has hit .220 against them in his
career, including .172 last year. He may be turning over a new leaf this
year, actually hitting lefties better than righties so far, but with
three lefties on tap this week, including David Price, and right-handers like Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Alfredo Simon and Anibal Sanchez in
between, I'll take the better-safe-than-sorry approach.
Sit instead of: Alex Rodriguez, Pablo Sandoval
Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Orioles: Pearce homered in
back-to-back games to open the season and has all of four hits since.
But this pick isn't as much about his struggles as the Orioles' response
to his struggles. They've benched him for Jimmy Paredes in four of their last five games, starting him against
just the one lefty they faced during that stretch. Pearce is still worth
stashing in Fantasy given the potential he showed last year, but he's
clearly a sit right now, especially with Jeff Samardzija, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi on tap for the Orioles.
Sit instead of: Matt Adams, Steven Souza
Danny Santana, SS/OF, Twins: Beginning the year 12 for 55
(.218) isn't a deal-breaker for Santana. After all, every hitter goes
through rough stretches over the course of a season. It's the two
extra-base hits and one stolen base that are cause for concern. If
singles are all Santana brings to the table, he isn't going to amount to
much in Fantasy. Just ask Joe Panik.
That doesn't mean he's a lost cause, but you wouldn't want to count on
him in a week he's facing David Price, Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene, Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale.
Sit instead of: Addison Russell, Jose Iglesias
Khris Davis, OF, Brewers: After being a little more
controlled at the plate the first week of the season -- something he set
out to do this spring -- Davis has returned to his free-swinging ways,
piling up 17 strikeouts to just four walks over his last 12 games. He's
batting .214 (9 for 42) during that stretch. He's not a player with
extreme splits but tends to be at his best against lefties, and the
Brewers face only one of those this week. They also has some tricky
matchups against Johnny Cueto, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel in a
Sit instead of: Kevin Kiermaier, Josh Reddick
Denard Span, OF, Nationals: Span hasn't set the world on
fire since returning from core muscle surgery less than a week ago,
which isn't too surprising considering he took only five weeks to
recover from the procedure. He says he's at full strength, but I'm
skeptical. With pitchers like Julio Teheran,
Alex Wood, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey on deck
for the Nationals (and three lefties overall), I don't see the benefit
to rushing Span back into your lineup.
Sit instead of: Avisail Garcia, Dalton Pompey