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Jonathan Lucroy is coming back. Everybody, dance!
Or maybe just those of you who own him, who've stashed him, waiting every so patiently for this day even though you knew nothing but misery for the short while he was healthy.
I mean, what have you known since then? It's not like Wilson Ramos has been leading you to the promised land.
Catcher is weak, and Lucroy is mighty. You would have discovered that soon enough if he didn't break his toe in late April. Given his track record and the lack of alternatives at the position, I'd have no reservations about starting him his first week back, rusty or not.
And he's not the only player expected back from the DL this week -- oh, no. Devon Travis is eligible to return from his shoulder injury Monday and has begun a rehab assignment, and while Jake Lamb isn't as high-end ... well, I'll get to him a little later
First, the best and worst matchups.
Best Hitting Matchups for Week 9:
1. Astros: BAL4, @TOR3
2. Nationals: TOR3, CHC4
3. Twins: @BOS4, MIL3
4. Dodgers: @COL4, STL4
5. Rockies: LAD4, MIA3
The Rockies play a full seven games at home this week, and one of the two teams they host has an eight-game slate. Yet neither the Rockies nor the Dodgers have the most favorable matchups this week, which tells you a little something about the Astros' matchups. I mean, who scares you in the Orioles or Blue Jays rotation right now? Ubaldo Jimenez? Drew Hutchison? Not me.
Worst Hitting Matchups for Week 9:
1. Blue Jays: @WAS3, HOU3
2. Diamondbacks: ATL3, NYM4
3. Orioles: @HOU4, @CLE3
4. Yankees: @SEA3, LAA3
5. Tigers: OAK3, @CHW3
No team plays just five games this week, but plenty of teams play six. Given the weakened state of starting pitching across the league right now, though, I'm mostly underwhelmed by the degree of difficulty here. The Orioles' matchups against the Astros and Indians might actually be the toughest of the bunch, especially if you buy into Lance McCullers.
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 28.
Alex Guerrero, 3B/OF, Dodgers: Guerrero hasn't gotten the
most consistent playing time, but I'm hoping his three home runs in four
games earn him a little more. I'm thinking he may have his best chance
yet with Scott Van Slyke now nursing a
back injury and Juan Uribe out of the
picture entirely, but at last check, Friday's lineup had Van Slyke in it
instead of Guerrero. Still, the 28-year-old Cuban defector can afford to
sit a game or three this week with eight on the schedule for the
Dodgers, and considering four of those eight are at Coors Field, his
power should play like never before.
Start instead of: Josh Hamilton, Luis Valbuena
Nick Hundley, C, Rockies: Hundley has been this season's
biggest Coors Field success story, going from Fantasy zero to Fantasy
hero mostly because of his performance at home, where he's batting .339
with four of his five home runs and a .992 OPS. And as you may have
heard, the Rockies play seven games at home this week, with the final
three of those games against stinky pitchers like Tom Koehler, David Phelps and Jose Urena. I don't view Hundley as an every-week option in
one-catcher leagues, but for this week, he's a good call.
Start instead of: Miguel Montero, Wilson Ramos
Logan Forsythe, 1B/2B/3B, Rays: Forsythe looked like he
might face a playing-time crunch with the return of Nick Franklin from an oblique injury, but then James Loney went and broke his finger, freeing up first base for him.
Given that he's been the ninth-best player at the weakest of the three
positions where he's eligible in Head-to-Head points leagues so far --
that position being second base -- he's deserving of a longer look in
Fantasy. And the five left-handers on tap for the Rays this week only
work in his favor. Of his five home runs this season, four have come
Start instead of: Yasmany Tomas, Addison Russell
Billy Burns, OF, Athletics: You have to love what Burns is
doing in place of the perpetually injured Coco Crisp. He doesn't have the most extensive track record, but
he's getting on base (more because of his hitting than batting eye, but
still) and running when he gets there. He has actually been better than Yoenis Cespedes in terms of Head-to-Head points per game so far, so he
deserves some love with no true aces on tap for the Athletics this week.
Start instead of: Ender Inciarte, Anthony Gose
Preston Tucker, OF, Astros: The Astros have the most
favorable matchups of any team this week, and while Tucker isn't the
safest bet from their lineup since he isn't considered an everyday
player, he's highly available and has been highly productive when he has
played, batting .306 with a .923 OPS. And he actually was in the lineup
for the sixth time in seven games Friday, so maybe his playing time is
more assured than we think. With six hittable righties on tap this week,
including the homer-prone Miguel Gonzalez,
Aaron Sanchez, Drew Hutchison and R.A. Dickey, the
lefty slugger could do some damage.
Start instead of: Nick Markakis, Chris Colabello
Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs: If you didn't heed my warning
about Castro last week, you may want to check and see how that's working
out for you so far. He's not any better against righties now than he was
then, batting .250 with a .602 OPS (compared to .400 and .863 against
lefties), and the Cubs face five of those this week. They also play four
games against the Nationals starting rotation -- missing only the weak
link, Stephen Strasburg -- so his
struggles will be exacerbated.
Sit instead of: Elvis Andrus, Yunel Escobar
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Rangers: You think Castro is bad against
righties? Choo is practically inept against lefties, batting .189 with a
.573 OPS this season. And the splits are just as dramatic over his
11-year career. It's a wonder he didn't wind up in a platoon role. The
Rangers' matchups this week aren't the worst, but half of their games
are against lefties. Choo has cooled off a bit since his early-May
surge, batting .217 (10 for 46) with a homer in his last 11 games, so
you can afford to sit him.
Sit instead of: Rusney Castillo, Denard Span
Yasmany Tomas, 3B/OF, Diamondbacks: Tomas' hit streak is
going on 11 games, but this week he faces his biggest hurdle with the
expected return of Jake Lamb (told you
I'd get to him), a true third baseman who was hitting .414 (12 for 29)
when he suffered a stress reaction in his foot in mid-April. Tomas will
still probably play some third base as well as the outfield, but the
fact is the Diamondbacks have six players for four positions -- and
Tomas is at best fourth in the pecking order behind Mark Trumbo, A.J. Pollock and Lamb.
Considering his upside is a bunch of singles, he's not a priority play,
especially against the Braves and Mets rotations.
Sit instead of: Nori Aoki, Trevor Plouffe
Yan Gomes, C, Indians: Gomes probably seems like an easy
call now that he's back from a sprained knee, especially looking at the
Indians' matchups against the Royals and Orioles rotations this week.
But five of the pitchers on tap throw right-handed, which doesn't play
into Gomes' splits (.725 career OPS vs. righties compared to .848 vs.
lefties). On its own, that wouldn't be a deal-breaker, but right now the
Indians are easing him into the lineup, taking a one-day-on, one-day-off
approach. Even at a thin position, he just doesn't have enough upside
for one-catcher leagues this week.
Sit instead of: Nick Hundley, Wilson Ramos
Chris Colabello, 1B/OF, Blue Jays: Three weeks in,
Colabello continues to pile up hits, and the longer he keeps his batting
average in the .380 range, the more likely you are to believe in it. But
we've seen this from him before. About three weeks into his 2014 season,
he was batting .346, but it was all downhill from there. With a .509
BABIP, another steep fall is inevitable. The Blue Jays have the toughest
matchups of any team this week, going against Jordan Zimmermann, Max Scherzer, Strephen Strasburg and Collin McHugh,
so now would be a logical time for Colabello to come down to earth.
Sit instead of: Mike Napoli, Steve Pearce