Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner: Week 15
The All-Star Game and break are in the rearview mirror, and the regular season resumes Thursday. The result is an odd week in most head-to-head formats, with this Thursday-Sunday getting tacked onto next week’s matchups. With that in mind, this week’s Weekly Planner is looking at games from Thursday, July 11 through Sunday, July 21. One team sits at the bottom of the games-scheduled ladder for this scoring period with only eight. There are 11 teams scheduled to play nine games, 14 teams with 10 games on the docket, and three teams with a whopping 11. Teams are still planning their rotations coming out of the break, so a bit more guesswork is necessary in planning ahead. As a result, I suggest leaning more heavily than usual on volume of games and park factors when making roster decisions. Per usual, the Weekly Planner is rounded out with notable injury updates on a handful of hitters and pitchers.
Mariners at Angels (3), at Athletics (2), vs. Angels (3)
The M’s drew the short stick coming out of the break. They’re the only team with just eight games scheduled for this scoring period, and that knocks down the value of their hitters a couple of pegs in leagues with weekly (or scoring period) lineup changes. As added salt in the wound, all eight games are played in run-suppressing parks. Angel Stadium of Anaheim has a park factor for runs of 0.942, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum checks in at 0.921, and T-Mobile Park ranks as the fifth-toughest stadium to score in with a park factor of 0.902.
Orioles vs. Rays (4), vs. Nationals (2), vs. Red Sox (3)
The Orioles are somewhat of an eight-game team with a cherry on top. They play a doubleheader Saturday against the Rays, bumping their total up from eight to nine during this scoring period. As I frequently do, I’ll caution that some regulars will likely sit out one of those games as opposed to playing in both legs of the doubleheader. Toss in some likely tough pitching matchups, and their hitters’ stock is down during this stretch of contests.
Rangers vs. Astros (4), vs. Diamondbacks (2), at Astros (3)
The Rangers and Astros kick the second half of the MLB season off Thursday night. Despite the jump ahead of the other clubs, the Rangers play just nine games with Monday and Thursday off next week. The ho-hum schedule fails to distinguish them from the pack, and possibly drawing Justin Verlander twice and Gerrit Cole once casts a wet blanket on the outlook for Texas’ bats. On the plus side, though, they do play six games at home. Globe Life Park in Arlington has the second-highest park factor for runs at 1.239, and it ranks fifth in park factor for homers at 1.145.
Reds at Rockies (3), at Cubs (3), vs. Cardinals (4)
The Reds are the first of the 10-game clubs to appear in this section. They stand out from many teams in the mix thanks to playing three games in Colorado before closing with four in their hitter-friendly (1.045 for runs) and homer-friendly (1.205 for homers) home digs. Additionally, their pitching matchups are likely to be among the weakest during this scoring period. There’s a big flashing arrow pointed upward for Cincinnati’s hitters over the next week and change.
Rockies vs. Reds (3), vs. Giants (4), at Yankees (3)
The Rockies will be treated to some home cooking for seven games out of the chute following the break. Two of them, however, will be played on Monday as part of a doubleheader against the visiting Giants. They’ll close the week with three games in another homer-friendly venue. Yankee Stadium’s 1.265 park factor for homers is second only to Coors’ 1.280 mark. Fire up your Rockies hitters.
Dodgers at Red Sox (3), at Phillies (4), vs. Marlins (3)
The Dodgers’ hitters will open with a double dose of good news for their three games in Boston. First, the lineup will get a bump from featuring a designated hitter instead of a pitcher. Second, Fenway Park’s park factor of 1.100 for runs is third highest. Things don’t come up all roses for those three games, though. Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, and David Price make for a potentially challenging trio of hurlers to square up against. Sandwiched between their first series in Boston and three games at home against the Marlins to close the week, they’ll play four games at homer-friendly (1.224, third highest park factor for homers) Citizens Bank Park. In all, the positives outweigh the negatives for the Dodgers’ bats.
Yankees vs. Blue Jays (3), vs. Rays (4), vs. Rockies (3)
The Bronx Bombers will play all 10 games in their next three series in front of the hometown faithful. Despite all the injuries the Yankees have battled this year, they’ve thrived at home, tying for ninth in wRC+ (106), per FanGraphs. Also, the pitching matchups should be mostly favorable, adding to the appeal of using New York’s hitters in this scoring period.
Astros at Rangers (4), at Angels (4), vs. Rangers (3)
The Astros are the only team that plays 11 games without the help of a doubleheader. They play every day/night starting Thursday through Sunday, July 21. Volume is king, as more games played than the opposition creates more counting stats (i.e. runs, RBIs, homers, and stolen bases) opportunities. Some non-threatening pitching matchups are quite nice for Houston’s hitters, too. Houston’s outlook is dreamy for this 11-game stretch.
Giants at Brewers (3), at Rockies (4), vs. Mets (4)
San Francisco’s offense is one of the most punchless in MLB, but it will get a pick-me-up from three games at Miller Park (1.019 for runs and 1.104 for homers) and four at Coors Field. And, oh yeah, 11 games is a nice bonus as well.
Rays at Orioles (4), at Yankees (4), vs. White Sox (3)
The Rays are the third team at the top of the heap with 11 games in this scoring period. Their first four games next week are against Baltimore’s MLB-worst 5.68 ERA, and their last three are against the team with the fifth-worst team ERA (5.04). Having said that, one of their three games against the White Sox could prove challenging with Lucas Giolito potentially getting the ball. Overall, the outlook is outstanding for Tampa Bay’s hitters.
Corey Seager (SS – LAD)
A.J. Pollock (OF – LAD)
Activated from the IL, Seager can be reinserted in fantasy lineups immediately. Pollock is also expected to rejoin the Dodgers on Friday night, but his slow start to the year — coupled with a much longer IL stint than the aforementioned Seager — makes him a candidate to keep benched until he proves worthy of starting again.
Brandon Lowe (2B/OF – TB)
Lowe aims to return from the IL when first eligible Saturday. The Rays play twice that day, so it’s possible he won’t start the first game against lefty John Means even if activated. Regardless, gamers in leagues with weekly lineup changes can expect to count on contributions from Lowe this scoring period.
Tim Anderson (SS – CHW)
Anderson is reportedly moving around better, per Dan Santaromita of NBC Sports Chicago. He remains without a timetable for his return, though, and should continue to be stashed in an IL spot or on the bench for the time being.
Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
Yelich didn’t play in the Brewers’ final game before the All-Star break, and he bowed out of the Home Run Derby. He did play in the All-Star Game, though, so he’s good to go.
Sean Manaea (SP – OAK)
Manaea began his rehab assignment Monday at the High-A level with Stockton. The good news is that he was able to throw 43 pitches with no reports of a setback. The bad news is that he lasted only 2.1 innings and coughed up six runs (four earned) on seven hits, zero walks, and two strikeouts. His health is most important, and a rough start to his rehab doesn’t preclude him from having fantasy value down the stretch. For now, however, he’s a stash option only in larger leagues (think 14-team mixers or larger).
Brad Peacock (SP/RP – HOU)
Peacock hit the IL with shoulder soreness at the end of June, but an MRI revealed no structural damage. He tossed two hitless innings in Double-A Wednesday night. Prior to the rehab outing, Jake Kaplan from The Athletic tweeted that he could return to Houston’s rotation Monday night if he avoids any setbacks.
Diego Castillo (RP – TB)
Castillo threw a scoreless inning in a rehab appearance at the Rookie level on Tuesday, and he’s expected back from the IL when the Rays play their first game after the All-Star break Friday. He could quickly find himself back in the saves mix, making him a strong add in leagues where he’s available. He’s rostered in 27% of Yahoo leagues and just 9% of ESPN leagues.