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Fantasy Baseball Week 5 Planner: Anthony Rizzo, Jackson Merrill, Chas McCormick (April 22 – 28)

Fantasy Baseball Week 5 Planner: Anthony Rizzo, Jackson Merrill, Chas McCormick (April 22 – 28)

It has been a weird week in baseball — good teams playing poorly and bad teams showing up and showing out. Yes, I’m looking at you, Seattle Mariners. They were highlighted in last week’s teams that I liked but they’ve already managed to exceed my expectations and we haven’t even made it to the Rockies series yet. Next week I’m hoping for the same outcome from a few other teams.

In Week Five, 11 teams play a seven-game schedule, which is the most so far this season. In the world of fantasy baseball, a lot of times the best ability is availability. Any player who’s playing seven games in a week is automatically more valuable than those who are not. More games mean more of an opportunity to compile stats. Depending on your league scoring format that can be very beneficial.

Instead of rocking a longer intro this week, I think this feels like a good point to get right into it and do the thing where I get you prepped for the upcoming week.

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Fantasy Baseball Planner: Week 5

Matchups to Target

New York Yankees – vs. OAK (4), at MIL (3)

I mentioned before that 11 teams have a seven-game schedule this week. None have a more primo schedule than the Yankees of New York. One of the best teams overall in terms of limiting strikeouts, they are set to face two teams who struggle to strike batters out. The benefit of this week’s schedule is they avoid Freddy Peralta in Milwaukee, so they have no overly great pitchers on the schedule.

They start the week with four games in their small home stadium against an Oakland pitching staff whose 4.48 xFIP on the road is sixth-worst in baseball. Overall, this Yankees team should put up runs in bunches this week.

San Diego Padres – at COL (4), at PHI (3)

Normally a team playing nothing but away games wouldn’t make the good side of this list, but here we are. It’s hard not to pick a team set to play four games in Colorado, though. At home, opposing hitters are slashing .262/.348/.379 against the Rockies. They’ve also given up 31 runs in just six home games.

On the other side of things, they’re set to face a Phillies team that’s rolling. Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez and Taijuan Walker are all on the docket. The Nola/Suarez combo just had great outings. It’s their relief pitching that’s failing them. San Diego makes great contact and does well chasing starting pitchers earlier than most teams would like. They’re going to get plenty of at-bats against shaky Phillies relievers, which should pay off nicely.

Players to Target

Anthony Rizzo (1B – NYY) 

Anthony Rizzo historically performs better at home and against right-handed pitchers. This upcoming week he’s set to face three lefties, which normally would make him an avoid, but two of the three lefties shouldn’t pose much of an issue. The Athletics are poised to run Alex Wood and JP Sears out. Wood hasn’t made it more than five innings once in four starts and has made it more than four just once. Sears has had decent back-to-back starts but has made it through the sixth just once. Rizzo should see plenty of at-bats against right-handed relievers along with the very hittable right-handed starters he’ll see this week. Rizzo is looking primed for a multiple home run week.

Alex Verdugo (OF – NYY) 

Alex Verdugo is one of the best contact hitters in baseball and faces a lineup of pitchers who regularly give up a healthy dose of contact. The only pitcher with a strikeout rate above 20% is Joe Boyle, who also walks batters at a 13% rate. Not a single starter he’s set to face has a K-BB rate over 11%. While he may not be out there mashing home runs this week, there should be plenty of doubles and scored runs headed Verdugo’s way.

Jackson Merrill (SS, OF – SD) 

It’s not often I get the chance to put a rookie on this list, but when you have one performing at the level Jackson Merrill is, you find a way. Not only is he about to play four games in Coors Field this week, but he’s lined up to face five right-handers. This season, Merrill is hitting .353 off righties with a .921 OPS. He’s also facing one lefty by the name of Austin Gomber, who’s already given up four home runs to right-handed hitters in just 14.2 innings. Merrill has already found tons of success this season, but this may be the week he takes the lead for Rookie of the Year.

Jurickson Profar (OF – SD)

He may be irrelevant to Will Smith, but Jurickson Profar is becoming very relevant in fantasy baseball. Especially lately. Profar has hits in 12 of his last 14 games. In that timeframe, he’s hitting .313 with seven XBH and 11 RBI. He’s a switch hitter so pitcher handedness doesn’t matter, and he has 23 XBH in 56 career games in Coors Field. I’m not counting on him to go yard, since he doesn’t have massive power, but there’s no reason he can’t rack up the total bases in other ways. The Rockies have allowed 91 hits in their last 86.2 IP while striking out just 66. Profar should have a field day.

Team to Avoid

Houston Astros – at CHC (3), at COL (2)

Not only does Houston play just five games this next week, the fewest of any team in baseball, but they also line up to face Shota Imanaga in one of them. One of the hardest-to-hit pitchers in baseball. Yes, they do end the week with two games on the road in Colorado. That’s nice. But it’s nowhere near enough to cancel out everything else they have going for them negatively.

Houston has been good offensively this season, leading the league in strikeout rate while being third in average and fifth in slugging, but that doesn’t help them play more games this week. It also doesn’t neutralize the fact that Imanaga has been virtually unhittable so far this season. Any other week I’d likely love Houston, but I’m staying away from anyone not named Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve or Kyle Tucker this week.

Hitter to Avoid

Chas McCormick (OF – HOU)

There seems to be a trend with outfielders this week. I promise it’s not intentional. I also promise that Chas McCormick is in for another long week this week. He’s already struggling, hitting just .216 with zero home runs. Now he has to face both Shota Imanaga and Jameson Taillon this week. He’s dealt with some injuries lately, which have slowed him down a bit, but I was already skeptical of McCormick coming into this season. I don’t think a short week against some tough competition is the time he gets right. Bench him if you can.

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