2021 Fantasy Baseball: Week 9 Hitting Planner
The MLB season is moving forward at an alarming rate. For many teams, fans are fully back in the stands and for many fantasy baseball teams, you’re missing your big dogs in the lineup due to injury or are simply struggling to start the right dudes on the right days/weeks. Welcome back to 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.
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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 9 (May 31 — June 6). For each team we evaluate, 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.
Fades: Stay Away
Toronto Blue Jays
Opponents: MIA (2), HOU (3)
If you’re playing in a weekly lineups setting, the Blue Jays have a nightmare schedule of only 5 games to play next week. To make matters worse, they don’t have it easy in terms of opponents. The Marlins bullpen ranks seventh in MLB in ERA and on Wednesday, they will start breakout youngster Pablo López, who has a 2.71 ERA and 1.127 WHIP in 11 starts this season. The Blue Jays then have to face the Astros, who will likely send Zack Greinke to the mound on Friday and another breakout stud, Luis García, to the mound on Saturday.
Opponents: WSH (4), LAD (3)
The Atlanta lineup is electric and even though they recently lost a top-of-the-order bat to injury and a likely suspension, it’s highly likely that you might have to make a fantasy decision about Braves hitters. Other than the elite high-end bats of Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman, no hitter in Atlanta should be an easy start next week. Indeed, they start the week with 4 games against the mediocre-pitching Nationals, but don’t be fooled—two of those games are against the high-ceiling Joe Ross and the strikeout pedigree of Stephen Strasburg. To close out the week, the Braves will have to contend with the elite pitching staff of the Dodgers, who will likely line up Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, and Trevor Bauer in the 3-game set.
Opponents: NYM (3), MIL (4)
The Diamondbacks are horrible but you can’t fully fault the offense for that. The Arizona lineup provides many fantasy-relevant performers; e.g., Eduardo Escobar, David Peralta, Pavin Smith, Josh Rojas, and Carson Kelly. But none of them should be all that trustworthy facing a 7-game slate next week that consists of two of the top pitching staffs in baseball. Despite Jacob deGrom missing a short amount of time, the Mets rank top four in MLB in ERA, xFIP, and SIERA and sixth in strikeout percentage. The Milwaukee Brewers—they’re simply stacked on the mound and the Diamondbacks are going to have to contend with the meat of that filthy rotation. They are currently lined up to end the week facing Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, and Corbin Burnes, all of whom could end up atop the NL Cy Young race.
Picks: Buy In
Opponents: BAL (3), KCR (4)
The Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals have some bright spots on the mound but as a unit, there really isn’t too much to worry about for the potent lineup of the Minnesota Twins. Both Baltimore and Kansas City rank below average in ERA, xFIP, and SIERA and middle-of-the-pack in strikeout rate. Additionally, the Twins will completely avoid the most competitive members of both starting rotations (John Means for Baltimore will not toe the rubber in the series, Danny Duffy for Kansas City remains on the IL).
Fire up the now-healthy Nelson Cruz. Ride the warm bat of Jorge Polanco. Get ready to be brought some rain with Josh Donaldson. If you’re looking for power, head to good ol’ Miguel Sanó at first base. And if you want a steal at the catcher spot, Mitch Garver is your man.
Opponents: SEA (3), COL (3)
The Oakland Athletics offense is the definition of high-ceiling: they can string together rallies and hurt you with the home run ball. That’s exactly what you should expect them to do when they take on the mediocre arms of Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales, and Chris Flexen. And that might not even be the smoothest ride of the week for Oakland. They finish the week with a 3-game set in Coors Field; that’s all it takes to fire up your Oakland Athletics. Feast on the fiery bat of Mark Canha, trust in the consistent Matt Olson, and root for a healthy Ramón Laureano and bounce-back Matt Chapman. Need some depth at some tricky positions? Take a look at Jed Lowrie and examine a major steal in the market, Sean Murphy.
Opponents: TOR (2), PIT (4)
One of the most beautiful aspects of baseball is you don’t have to be a certified superstar or a media’s pet to be expected to produce. The Marlins send out a bunch of under-the-radar talents every day and will do so again facing the roller-coaster pitching of the Blue Jays and the horrible Pirates. Worried about the beginning of that week? You really shouldn’t be sweating considering Toronto will likely run with a bullpen day on Tuesday.
Opponents: DET (2), ARI (4)
The Tigers and Diamondbacks rank in the bottom 10 in MLB as pitching staffs in ERA, xFIP, and SIERA and well below average in strikeout percentage. The strategy has been simple with these two staffs: attack them. With Christian Yelich back and in his groove again, you’re obviously starting him every opportunity you get. But that also creates scoring opportunities for fantasy-relevant bats like Avisail Garcia, Kolten Wong, and Travis Shaw. Additionally, don’t sleep on new acquisition Willy Adames, the utility value of Luis Urias, the high-power catcher Omar Narvaez, or the streaky ability of Lorenzo Cain and Jackie Bradley Jr.
For more help, check out Eric Cross’s latest Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column.
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