We’re officially at the “wow, we came back from the all-star break a week ago already?” part of the season, and honestly, It’s been a wild few days. Especially the last few days. The amount of runs that have been scored makes you wonder if the balls were juiced or if the pitch clock is really starting to wear these pitchers down. As crazy as that sounds…it honestly may not be that far from the truth.
With this explosion of runs has come plenty of fantasy baseball excitement as well. We’re starting to get a clearer picture of who just had a crazy first half and who may actually be putting together a season for the ages. Guys like Masataka Yoshida have gone from rookies with uncertain upside to one of the best pure hitters in baseball (with a little pop as well).
With that being said, let’s see which teams will continue to see large run totals and which you should avoid for the upcoming fantasy baseball week.
Matchups To Target
Colorado Rockies: @ WAS (3), vs OAK (3)
It’s been quite a while since I featured the Rockies as a matchup to target. They’re here this week for a good reason, though. They start the week with a three-game home series against the lowly Nationals. I don’t think you need me to tell you that Coors Field is the most hitter-friendly park in baseball. At home, the Rockies have the sixth-best batting average (.268) and eighth-best OPS (.767). The Nationals have Corbin, Williams, and Irvin taking the bump. All underwhelming. And Oakland is…well…Oakland. Even on the road, the Rockies should feast.
Hitters To Target:
Big daddy CJ has been the epitome of a slugger in July. Historically known for being much better at home, Cron has found a way to hit everywhere. In July, he’s slashing .310/.341/.643 with six XBH and a very low 15% strikeout rate. He has fully leaned into being a pull-hitting fly ball hitter, and it looks like he’s picking right up where he left off in 2022. He’s got a career-high 16.1% barrel rate and .277 xBA, which point to him having not only big success this week but beyond as well.
He’s been a bit of a platoon player as of late, but Nolan Jones’s power is real. Since the All-Star break, he’s homered twice and already has multiple home runs over 470 feet this season. The hardest thing for Jones has been consistently hitting. What better way to jumpstart that than three games at home and a series against the terrible Oakland pitching staff? He may sit against left-hander Patrick Corbin to start the week, but the rest of the week should see him hit at least two more dingers.
469 FT. HR for Nolan Jones 😳
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 15, 2023
Cleveland Guardians: vs KC (3), @ CWS (4)
Let’s be honest. We love a good seven-game week in the fantasy baseball world. Nothing better than checking on a player and seeing them not only play every day but play in favorable matchups. That’s what you need to prepare for with the Guardians this week. By Stuff+ measures, Kansas City has the third-lowest number in baseball. The White Sox are one of the better Stuff+ teams, but their Pitching+ number is just the middle of the pack. Having just come off a series against Pittsburgh, where they scored 26 runs in three games, Cleveland looks to continue that offensive onslaught.
Hitters To Target:
I think it’s fair to say that Naylor may be one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the beginning of July. In those 13 games, he’s hitting .388 with four doubles, five home runs and 17 RBI. One thing Naylor has always been good at is quality contact, and that has been no different either. He’s got an 11.6% barrel rate and 44.2% hard-hit rate this month which, combined with his crazy power, make for stretches of very high production. He hits for a good average against both righties and lefties but has much more power against righties. They start the week against a lefty in Ryan Yarborough, so temper expectations, but after that, Naylor should feast on weak pitching.
Bell had a lot of people expecting great production this season, only to fall on his face early. As of late, though, he’s been making arguably the best contact of his career. In July, he has a 94.5 MPH average exit velocity, 14% barrel rate, and 51.2% hard-hit rate. It hasn’t translated to over-the-top fantasy production (.275 average, three home runs), but he’s making the type of contact that leads itself to high-level production. He’s already managed five hits and two home runs in his last two games, so there’s reason to believe that the upward trend in power will continue.
Josh Bell CRUSHED this and the Guardians have seven runs in the 3rd! pic.twitter.com/wwTeMW0ErW
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 18, 2023
Matchups To Avoid
Boston Red Sox: vs ATL (2), @ SF (3)
The Red Sox’s schedule is the complete total opposite of Cleveland’s. The Guardians get a seven-game week against favorable opponents, and Boston gets just five games against two of the best teams in baseball. The five games alone are enough to make me want to pass on them, especially when the first two of them come against Charlie Morton and Spencer Strider. Don’t let the Red Sox’s hot start to July give you a false sense of hope. This isn’t the week to try and capitalize, no matter how much we love Jarren Duran around here.
Hitters To Avoid
Duvall started out the season looking like the most sought-after waiver wire darling of the year. That’s not so much the case anymore. Since returning in June, Duvall has hit just .189 with nine XBH and a 37% strikeout rate in 29 games. For reference, he had nine XBH in his first eight games this season. Facing all right-handers this week is a positive, but with them being some of the best strikeout pitchers in the league (Morton, Strider, Webb), it’s fair to say Duvall may be best left on your bench.
I absolutely love Duran’s value for the rest of the season. With that being said, he’s been cold, and a five-game week against some of the league’s best pitching isn’t a great recipe for success. Since the All-Star break, he’s been relegated to the bench twice and gone hitless twice in six games. He has proven to be a great post-hype sleeper who was readily available on the waiver wire for a while, but Duran is streaky. With it being such a short week and him likely being the last OF you’re starting, look to see if you can get the production you’re looking for elsewhere. Jarren does have 11 XBH in 14 July games, but you’ll need to see that he can do it post-All-Star break before continuing to confidently roll him out there every week.