So far, the week 16 planner I put together has been a bag of mixed results. Cj Cron hasn’t played, and Josh Naylor hasn’t done much to write home about, but both Nolan Jones and Josh Bell have gotten off to great starts. I am writing this Thursday, though, so there is still plenty of time in the week for the guys to pick up the pace, especially with a weekend jam-packed full of games.
Real quickly, before I continue, can we just acknowledge how good Shohei Ohtani is? A complete game one-hitter followed by two home runs in the second leg of the doubleheader. My brain honestly can’t even compute how ridiculous that is. He’s doing things we’ve never seen in the game of baseball and honestly may never see again. He’s not someone who’ll likely ever grace my weekly planner because, well, he’s too damn good, and you don’t need me to point that out. With that being said, I never get to write about him, so I wanted to at least take a moment to recognize his greatness.
This upcoming week is a juicy one. Tons of teams have seven-game schedules, which is something that hasn’t happened in a minute. Let’s figure out the best way for you to attack it and get yourself a win in week 17.
Matchups To Target
Milwaukee Brewers: @ WAS (3), vs PIT (4)
One of the teams playing seven games in seven days next week, and they’re pretty damn enticing matchups. Are their bats running pretty cold right now? Yes. As a team, they’ve only scored 40 runs in the last 18 days. Thankfully for fantasy managers, that matters only slightly. If you can pick and choose the right players to target this week, you’ll be just fine. Especially guys from a lineup facing a pair of pitching staffs who’ve given up the first and second most runs in baseball in the month of July.
Hitters To Target
Since getting called up on the 22nd, Frelick has been everything Brewers fans and fantasy managers could have asked for. He’s scored a run in all five games and has a 5:2 BB/K ratio. He has hit a home run as well, but the power expectations need to be tempered a bit. He hit just 15 home runs in 805 career minor league games and profiles out similarly to Andrew Benintendi. The batting average should stay high, and he’s got enough speed to steal double-digit bases for the rest of the season. Look for him to have a solid all-around week.
My favorite catcher coming into this season is having himself a month right now. In July, Contreras is hitting .346 with eight XBH and 12 RBI. He’s lowered his strikeout rate to 15.5% and is making some of the best contact of his career. He’s got a 51.5% hard-hit rate and 76.4% contact rate, a full 6% higher than his career average and almost 10% higher than his 2022 number. He doesn’t quite have the power he showed in 2022 where he hit 20 home runs in 97 games. Despite that, he’s still finding a way to put together a top-10 catcher season, and he’s worth starting in all formats. Especially this week.
— Bally Sports Wisconsin (@BallySportWI) July 20, 2023
Arizona Diamondbacks: @ SFG (4), @ MIN (3)
If you’ve realized one thing about me over the last few weeks, it’s that I put a ton of value on a team playing a seven-game week. They aren’t something that happens very consistently, and more games mean more at-bats and more potential counting stats for your fantasy team. While I normally may shy away from a team playing all of their games on the road, the Dbacks seem to thrive in that environment. On the road this season, they’ve scored 270 runs, fourth best in baseball. They’re also set to face just one lefty. Against right-handers, they have a .772 OPS as a team and are set to feast on the Giants and Twins’ pitching.
Thomas has been pretty overlooked in the fantasy baseball world, rostered in just 1% of most leagues. What he’s done as of late is be one of the lefty bats in the Diamondbacks lineup. In his last 12 games, Thomas is hitting .277 with six XBH, seven runs scored, and six RBI. He has yet to barrel the ball up in that timeframe, and his 35% hard-hit rate isn’t great, but that can be overlooked as long as the numbers are still there. There have been some trade rumblings around Thomas, so he may end up being traded, but if he’s not, he should be a sneaky good producer in week 17.
If you follow my work, this may be a familiar name. A few weeks back, I highlighted Rivera as a deep league waiver wire option that should be on everyone’s radar. He’s an interesting fantasy asset as he doesn’t have amazing power or speed, but he’s the epitome of consistency. In July, he’s hitting .245 with three home runs (he has four on the year), and he’s scored seven runs in 14 games. For the year, he has an excellent 91.4 MPH average exit velocity, and his 50.6% hard-hit rate is a pleasant surprise. Combine that hard hit rate with his 26% line drive rate, and Rivera should see a healthy amount of XBH in week 17.
Emmanuel Rivera goes deep and the Braves have gone back-to-back off Strider! pic.twitter.com/qZp8n7ARYo
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 20, 2023
Matchups To Avoid
Detroit Tigers: @ PIT (2), vs TB (3)
In a week full of seven-game schedules, it’s hard to recommend a team playing just five. Especially when the final three come against the Tampa Bay Rays and their impressive pitching staff. In July, the Tigers have scored just the 19th most runs, they have the 20th best batting average as a team, and their .687 OPS is 24th best and just flat-out not good. They have some guys performing well, but this feels like a week where they just aren’t going to get enough of a chance to produce at a high level.
McKinstry was, at one point, a very popular waiver wire addition. He started out showing great power and contact metrics, and unfortunately, that hasn’t continued. He’s still had utility in deep leagues, but he’s likely to struggle in week 17. Over his last 18 games, he’s hitting just .212 with five XBH and one lonely RBI. He is batting leadoff, which is always enticing, but he’s scored just eight runs in that span despite that. Detroit’s lineup isn’t great behind him, and they’re facing pitching good enough for the whole team to struggle. I’d look elsewhere.
Let me first say I love Kerry Carpenter, and I’ve featured him twice now in my weekly waiver wire articles. He may have even been in my last one if memory serves me correctly. The issue is this is a new week. Rest of the season, he has plenty of value, but in a five-game week where he faces a lefty in at least one game, he may struggle. Carpenter mashes right-handers. His .269 batting average and .829 OPS can attest to that. The same can’t be said against left-handers. His .657 OPS is far from good enough to hold fantasy value. With him already set to play in a less-than-ideal amount of games, the fact that he’s likely to be sat in another means Carpenter won’t get the necessary chances to provide enough fantasy value in week 17.