Once again, interleague play is going to burst some Fantasy owners' bubbles this week.
Nice to see Victor Martinez showing some signs of life, right? Too bad the Tigers play three games at St. Louis to end Fantasy Week 6 (May 11-17). Manager Brad Ausmus made it abundantly clear in the Tigers' first trip to the NL this year that Martinez wouldn't play the field because of concerns about his surgically repaired knee -- which, by the way, is still limiting him from the left side of the plate. You'll notice his recent production has come against lefties, so this interleague series may actually save Martinez owners from themselves.
Likewise, Adam LaRoche owners -- and they do still exist -- may want to pass on the struggling first baseman this week. The White Sox face a bunch of righties, which is always a good thing for him, but you have to figure Jose Abreu will be the one starting at first base when they visit Milwaukee to open the week.
Best Hitting Matchups for Week 6:
1. Rays: NYY4, @MIN3
2. Dodgers: MIA3, COL4
3. Royals: @TEX4, NYY3
4. Blue Jays: @BAL3, @HOU4
5. Astros: SF2, TOR4
The only problem with having the Rays at the top is that, apart from Evan Longoria, they don't have too many hitters to get excited about. Steven Souza's excessive strikeout rate is reason enough to table him in standard mixed leagues. Andre Ethier and Alex Guerrero would both be interesting sleepers if their playing time was assured, but Yasiel Puig's possible return from a hamstring injury complicates the matter.
Worst Hitting Matchups for Week 6:
1. Cardinals: @CLE3, DET3
2. Padres: @SEA2, WAS4
3. Brewers: CHW3, @NYM3
4. Twins: @DET3, TB3
5. Red Sox: @OAK3, @SEA4
The Cardinals may have bad matchups, but they face nothing but right-handed pitchers, which puts Kolten Wong and Matt Adams owners in a bind. I say yay to the former and nay to the latter. Danny Santana is another tough call with three lefties coming up, especially since he's back on the right side of streaky, but given the difficulty of the matchups, I'm thinking most Fantasy owners can do better at shortstop.
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, May 7.
Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves: If you haven't checked the
sortable stats page recently, you may have missed that Simmons is now
the No. 2 shortstop in Head-to-Head points leagues -- and closer to No.
1, Hanley Ramirez, than No. 3. The
25-year-old has become an extra-base hit machine in his first year under
hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, whose up-the-middle philosophy has gotten
the most out of Simmons' high contact rate. The only above-average
pitcher the Braves face in their six games this week is Mike Leake, so Simmons' hot May, during which he has hit .476 (10
for 21), should continue.
Start instead of: Jean Segura, Jhonny Peralta
Yasmani Grandal, C, Dodgers: Grandal's historic two-homer,
eight-RBI game Thursday was only the continuation of a trend. Over his
last five games, he's 12 for 17 with three homer and three doubles,
bringing his season slash line to .301/.414/.534. And yet he remains
widely available at the position most devastated by injuries this year.
I liked him as a sleeper coming into the season, so I'm taking advantage
of a week he's scheduled to face Tom Koehler,
Dan Haren, Jarred Cosart, Eddie Butler, Jorge De La Rosa, Kyle Kendrick and Tyler Matzek.
Start instead of: Miguel Montero, A.J. Pierzynski
Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants: One discouraging development this
year is that Belt hardly plays against left-handed pitchers anymore, but
you don't have to worry about it this week with six righties on tap for
the Giants (and mostly hittable types like Samuel Deduno, Michael Lorenzen, Mike Leake and Anthony DeSclafani).
The timing couldn't be any more perfect either. Belt is showing his
first signs of life, batting .471 (8 for 17) with five doubles, a triple
and three walks in his last five games.
Start instead of: Matt Adams, Billy Butler
Nick Markakis, OF, Braves: After a blistering start to the
season, Markakis has cooled off a bit in May, going 5 for 26 (.192) in
six games, but all five of those hits have come in his last three games.
Plus, the Braves have favorable matchups this week, as I mentioned for
Simmons, facing off with Anthony DeSclafani,
Jason Marquis, David Phelps, Mat Latos and Tom Koehler. In fact, all six of the pitchers on tap are
right-handers, which has been a bigger deal to Markakis this year than
in previous years.
Start instead of: Avisail Garcia, Yasmany Tomas
Marlon Byrd, OF, Reds: This is a shameless example of a
hot-hand play, but after looking like he was finished in April, Byrd
seems to be making up for lost time, batting .533 (8 for 15) with three
home runs in his last four games and .349 (15 for 43) with five home
runs in his last 12. The Reds' matchups this week are nothing
intimidating -- and all home games to boot -- so why not enjoy the ride?
Byrd is coming off back-to-back 25-homer seasons (close enough, anyway),
so it's not like this power is coming out of nowhere.
Start instead of: Alex Guerrero, Dexter Fowler
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Red Sox: Sandoval has been a steady
contributor so far, but like many switch-hitters, he's gotten to where
he's no longer so productive from the right side of the plate, batting
.199 against left-handers last year and a ghastly .074 (2 for 27) so far
this year. Too bad the Red Sox have four lefties on tap this week.
Overall, their schedule isn't especially favorable, with matchups
against Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, Felix Hernandez and James Paxton.
Sit instead of: Mike Moustakas, Alex Rodriguez
Justin Morneau, 1B, Rockies: The Rockies play all of their
games on the road and half of their games against lefties this week,
neither of which is a favorable development for Morneau. He's batting
.196 (10 for 51) away from Coors Field this year and had a .665 OPS
against lefties just last year. He's off to a relatively slow start,
too, after winning the NL batting title last year.
Sit instead of: Brandon Moss, Adam Lind
Jayson Werth, OF, Nationals: Speaking of slow starts,
Werth's return from offseason shoulder surgery has so far gone as poorly
as anyone could have imagined. He recently sat out a couple games to
rest the shoulder, which suggests he's not 100 percent, and the numbers
back it up. Through 19 games, he's batting just .176 (13 for 74) with a
.450 OPS and showing no signs of coming out of it. Facing seven righties
this week doesn't help. He has hit about 50 points lower against them
than lefties each of the last two years.
Sit instead of: Denard Span, Markakis
Addison Russell, 2B/SS, Cubs: Given his 10-game hitting
streak that includes a couple of home runs, Russell owners are probably
itching to activate the rookie, but you'll want to act cautiously with
him. For all of his success so far, he has struck out nearly every other
at-bat, which came back to bite Javier Baez
after a hot start last year. The Cubs face strikeout artists Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Gerrit Cole in their seven games this week.
Sit instead of: Luis Valbuena, Alcides Escobar
Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Twins: You may also want to go against
the streak in Plouffe's case. Third base is a deep position, after all,
and his matchups against David Price, Drew Smyly, Alex Colome and Chris Archer aren't especially inviting. He may be batting .333 (23
for 69) in his last 18 games, but he's just 3 for 14 (.214) in his last
Sit instead of: Yasmany Tomas, Jimmy Paredes