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2021 Fantasy Baseball: Week 19 Hitting Planner

Welcome back to the Hitting Planner, a matchup-focused look into the hitters and lineups you can Pick (start and trust given their schedule for the upcoming week) or Fade (consider sitting, avoiding on the waiver wire due to a rough upcoming week of matchups). All players mentioned will generally be around the threshold of either ownership or starting/sitting for your fantasy team. 

As usual, I’ll point out the teams and corresponding players with noticeably poor matchups (the Fades) and noticeably great matchups (the Picks). Let’s get started with Week 19 (Monday, August 16 — Sunday, August 22). For each team we evaluate, we will note their opponents for the week in italics, including the number of times they play. For this week, stats mentioned from the season until now will be up-to-date as of the end of Friday night games. 

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Week 19 Hitting Planner

Fades: Stay Away

Chicago White Sox

Opponents: OAK (4), TBR (3)

The White Sox just played in arguably the most electric game of the MLB season a few days ago when Tim Anderson walked off a back-and-forth theatrical Field of Dreams Game against the Yankees. With their lineup piecing together as more healthy, nearly every bat the White Sox have poses a threat to produce runs and therefore value in fantasy baseball.

However, the upcoming seven-game slate for the World Series contending Chicago team is anything but easy. Since the All-Star break, the Athletics rank among the top 2 pitching staffs in MLB in ERA and strikeout rate. As for the Rays, their high-talent pitching roster continues to rank in the upper echelon of MLB and the White Sox will have to play in Tampa Bay to face that staff. Since the All-Star break, the White Sox rank in the bottom 6 in MLB as a road offense in OPS and wRC+. 

Start high-draft-capital stars like José Abreu and the blue-hot Eloy Jiménez but be wary of other White Sox; depending on league format and depth, don’t be afraid to fade other members of that lineup. 

Oakland Athletics

Opponents: ​​CHW (4), SFG (3)

Speaking of the Athletics’ hot pitching staff, how about their volatile offense that has recently lost Ramón Laureano to a PED suspension? Of course, you have to start Matt Olson, one of the best power hitters in baseball in 2021. But what about other fantasy assets that have displayed their highs and lows? Not excluding one of the best Trade Deadline bats of the season, Starling Marte, the Athletics are worth a full-week fade for the upcoming slate.

In the next week, Oakland faces the White Sox and Giants, both of whom rank among the top 10 in MLB in ERA, xFIP, and SIERA as pitching staffs. The Athletics’ floor sees them having trouble making contact and producing run-scoring opportunities as an offensive unit. Fade those mid-tier Athletics bats. 

Washington Nationals

Opponents: TOR (2), MIL (3)

Less than two years after winning a storybook championship, the Nationals are Ridin’ S̶o̶t̶o̶ Solo as they have emptied their core, only holding on to generational superstar Juan Soto. There is no situation in which a healthy Juan Soto should be faded. If you are in a fantasy league (non-DFS), Soto is starting for you, no questions asked.

Other than him, what about borderline fantasy assets such as Josh Bell, Victor Robles, and Ryan Zimmerman? In deeper leagues, even Yadiel Hernández and Alcides Escobar? In weekly formats, the answer should be a no-brainer—stay the hell away. 

Not only do the Nationals only get just five games on the slate but none of those should be a cakewalk in the batter’s box. They start the series with a 2-game set against Toronto where they have to face young stud starters Alek Manoah (1.93 ERA, 9.2 K/9 since the All-Star break) and José Berríos (3.86 ERA, 8.8 K/9 as a Blue Jay).

The Nationals then finish the series facing one of the best pitching staffs in baseball when they visit Milwaukee. The Brewers are scheduled to send both Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes to the mound in that series. Need I say more? Cy Young talent and an elite bullpen to back it up? Fade whatever Nationals bats you might consider next week—except Juan Soto; if you bench him, you deserve to lose.

New York Mets

Opponents: SFG (3), LAD (4)

The Mets have been one of the most disappointing stories of the second half of the season, heavily in part to their collapsing offense. Injuries haven’t helped either as fantasy stars like Francisco Lindor and Javier Báez remain with relatively tentative IL timelines. With the lineup getting weaker, the fantasy-relevant stack of Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, Jonathan Villar, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and James McCann sees roadblocks already. The kicker? The seven-game slate of matchups coming up. 

The Giants and Dodgers continue to dominate on the mound as they both rank top 10 in MLB in ERA, xFIP, and SIERA as pitching staffs since the All-Star break. The Mets will have to face a good bit of the meat of those teams’ staffs as they are in line to square up against Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, rising underrated star Logan Webb, Walker Buehler, and Max Scherzer

Picks: Buy In

Milwaukee Brewers

Opponents: STL (3), WSH (3)

The Brewers, although rightfully known for their cheat-code pitching staff, are World Series contenders for a reason. One of which—their high-upside offense since the trade for shortstop sensation Willy Adames. Like Adames, new acquisition Eduardo Escobar, utility man Luis Urías, and veterans Christian Yelich, Avisail Garcia, Omar Narváez, and Kolten Wong all remain among the headliners in fantasy baseball. 

No doubt, with these matchups, you should look into starting as many of these bats as possible as they work in unison to beat up on some spicy matchups for the upcoming 6 games. Milwaukee begins the week facing a St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff that ranks mediocre overall on paper. Granted, they will have to face elite-talent starter Jack Flaherty in the series but that shouldn’t scare the Brewers off the full series as this series will be played in St. Louis. Since the All-Star Break, Milwaukee claims a .902 OPS and 139 wRC+, both MLB-best numbers as a road team. 

To finish out the week, things get arguably way better as they face a Washington Nationals pitching staff that continues to be one of the worst in baseball when Max Scherzer is no longer on the mound for them. Fire up those high-power Brewers. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Opponents: PHI (3), COL (3)

The Diamondbacks arguably just claimed the best individual story in baseball despite their lack of relevance as a team when Tyler Gilbert threw a no-hitter in his first MLB start. But that’s not why you’re here. Arizona can cause some noise with the bats themselves in the upcoming week of 6 games. They start the week facing the rising Philadelphia Phillies. On first sight, this is a scary thought considering they will likely send out NL Cy Young candidate Zack Wheeler to the mound in the series. But despite employing Wheeler on their staff, Philadelphia still ranks below average as a pitching staff due to their shallow rotation elsewhere and weak, unreliable bullpen. That’s where the Diamondbacks can do plenty of damage, starting with Game 1 in Arizona facing newest acquisition Kyle Gibson, who has been significantly worse in 2021 as a road pitcher than at home. 

To finish out the week, the Diamondbacks smash the hitter’s jackpot when they get to hit at Coors Field against an already-bad Rockies pitching staff that will likely not send out their top 2 starters Germán Márquez and Austin Gomber in the series. Start the underrated fantasy performer Pavin Smith who can be valuable in any format. Start veterans like David Peralta and Asdrubal Cabrera. Start the versatile skillset of Josh Rojas and elite upside of Ketel Marte. And in deep leagues, go after catcher Carson Kelly, shortstop Nick Ahmed, first baseman Christian Walker, or catcher/outfielder with a red-hot bat Daulton Varsho.

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