We are past the 20% mark for the regular season in 2021 and we are back with the Hitting Planner, a matchup-focused look into the hitters and lineups you can Pick (start and trust given their schedule 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 6 (May 3 — May 9). For each team, we will note their opponents in italics, including the number of times they play in the week. 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 6 Hitting Planner
Fades: Stay Away
Tampa Bay Rays
Opponents: NYY (3), NYM (3)
The Rays will spend an entire 6-game slate at home this coming week but will have to do so hosting two New York teams with high-ceiling pitching. As teams, the Yankees and Mets rank in the top 5 in ERA. To make matters worse, as rotations currently stand, the Rays will have to contend with AL Cy Young contender Gerrit Cole in the first series and NL Cy Young frontrunner Jacob deGrom in the second series. There isn’t much of a window for the deep, high-variance lineup of Tampa Bay to thrive for your fantasy team.
Opponents: LAD (2), CLE (4)
The Mariners have been an electric fantasy situation to observe. They’ve gotten outstanding beginnings to the season from Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager, and Ty France, and have had some hot stints from J.P. Crawford, Dylan Moore, and in deep leagues, Taylor Trammell. None of them are slated to be top-end options on the market this coming week. They begin their week with a 2-game interleague set against the Dodgers, who rank top 10 in MLB in ERA, xFIP, SIERA, and K% as a pitching staff. The Mariners then host Cleveland in a four-game stretch that includes facing the high-caliber arms of Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale and a Sunday against the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber. Bench your Mariners for the most part; in deep leagues, Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager can provide good value if you are able to cherry-pick when you start them.
Opponents: TOR (3), MIL (3)
Just last week, I was all over the high-caliber power and depth of the Atlanta offense. Our main job here, however, is to spot when the matchups are far from favorable. That’s exactly what the upcoming week is going to be for the Braves offense. First, they host the Toronto Blue Jays for 3 games in a series that awaits Robbie Ray (9.1 K/9 in 2012, 11.1 K/9 in his career) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (3.31 ERA and 1.102 WHIP in 2021, Cy Young Award finalist in 2019 and 2020).
The Braves then finish their week on the road in a park that we’ve trashed on previously in this series for one simple reason: hitters hate Milwaukee. Granted, as the starters currently line up, Atlanta will likely avoid both Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, but the task doesn’t get much easier still—the Brewers, as a pitching staff, rank top 10 in MLB in ERA, xFIP, SIERA, and K%, thanks in part to their filthy bullpen.
St. Louis Cardinals
Opponents: MIL (3), SDP (3)
Speaking of Woodruff and Burnes—the reason they won’t be toeing the rubber against Atlanta? Woodruff is slated to face the Cardinals on Wednesday and although an exact return schedule is unclear, Burnes could make a comeback from injury this coming week and if so, could do so on Thursday, also against the St. Louis Cardinals. After the Cardinals face Milwaukee and their loaded pitching staff for three games, they will set out on another flight, this time to the West Coast to face the San Diego Padres for three games to finish out the week.
The Padres rank top 3 in MLB in ERA, xFIP, SIERA, and K% and will likely send out at least Dinelson Lamet and Mr. No-Hit Joe Musgrove to the mound in that series.
Picks: Buy In
Chicago White Sox
Opponents: MIN (3), KCR (4)
The White Sox offense is electric and they showed exactly that when they exploded for 8 runs in the first inning in Kansas City on Saturday. It could be more of the same this upcoming week when they get a full 7-game slate against two pitching staffs that are simply middle-of-the-pack in every statistical category.
To add to the good news, the White Sox’s first series of the week at home will see them completely avoiding Minnesota’s top two starters, Kenta Maeda and José Berríos. Fire up not just the superstar talent of José Abreu but also the hot bats of Yermin Mercedes, Adam Eaton, and Nick Madrigal, and the high potential of Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, and Yasmani Grandal.
Opponents: KCR (3), CHC (3)
Speaking of the Royals and their mediocre talent on the mound, the Cubs are nearly identical in most regards to the Royals and in fact give up hits at a higher rate than the downhill Royals. The Tigers haven’t done many things right this season but their offensive talent is sufficient to explore against those lackluster Royal and Cub pitching staffs.
The upside too? It’s possible that your league is shallow enough that there aren’t even any Tigers owned yet. Keep your options open and don’t sleep on the possibilities of infielders like Jeimer Candelario, Niko Goodrum, Willi Castro, and Jonathan Schoop, or outfielders like on-base machine Robbie Grossman and electricity factory Akil Baddoo.
Opponents: LAA (3), TEX (4)
It wouldn’t be a complete episode of Hitting Planner if we didn’t target the Rangers at least once. Luckily, we’ve got an offense with plenty of talent that not only has a full 7-game slate this week but also gets to spend it facing two shallow pitching staffs. The Angels have had a low floor and a high ceiling from their starters so far. The Astros will have to contend with two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani on Tuesday but the high upside against Alex Cobb and Andrew Heaney in addition to the 4-game slate against the Rangers make Houston a perfect offensive unit to explore for the next 7 days.
Fire up every Astro, regardless of how you feel about them. Don’t be distracted by the slow starts from Kyle Tucker and José Altuve—start them. Don’t be intimidated by the hot streaks of Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, and Yordan Álvarez—start them. Just accept it, Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley are studs—start them.
Opponents: PIT (3), COL (4)
When the Reds are hot, they are red-hot (yes, I continue with the clumsy puns, shut up about it). When they face a tough matchup, they are capable of disappointing. That shouldn’t be in the realm of possibility this coming week as the Pirates and Rockies have very little to offer in terms of competition on the mound. There’s a simple way of putting it — both teams are horrible and the Reds get 7 games to just use them as punching bags to inflate their offensive numbers.
If there’s a Red that you are able to roster, just start them. Dig deep and go back to Jonathan India, ride the high-upside fantasy talent of Nick Senzel, and trust in a hot streak from Eugenio Suarez and Mike Moustakas. That’s what matchup-hunting is all about.
For more help, check out Eric Cross’s latest Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column.
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