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Start and sit options for fantasy | Week 4 hitters edition

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 07: Philadelphia Phillies Outfield Aaron Altherr (23) celebrates a home run in the seventh inning during the game between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies on April 07, 2017 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Maximizing rosters for fantasy baseball should not be exclusive to pitchers or streaming. Using the proper hitters based upon match-ups can be just as important. With this in mind, the start-and-sit column focuses on this part of setting lineups for the upcoming week.

It’s not exclusive to hitters heading to Coors, but that is always factored in. This week, a first baseman, an outfielder and a designated hitter face tough match-ups or time lost due to visiting a National League park; having viable options to fill in will be tantamount to success.

  • Recommended sit: Kendrys Morales, Toronto
  • Week 4 match-ups: Key reason: three games in St. Louis

Despite ninth-inning heroics off of Craig Kimbrel, Kendrys Morales’ slow start will be further exacerbated by a trip to St. Louis next week which could limit him to a pinch-hitting role. Morales did play seven games at first base along with some time in the outfield last year for Kansas City, but it remains to be seen if the Blue Jays will put him at first base with Marco Estrada slated to start against the Cardinals then two shaky options after.

Through 15 games this year, Morales’ .232/.317/.429 slash line with a low BABIP (.244) will rebound, but three road games on the senior circuit combined with home games facing Blake Snell and Chris Archer point to a week with potential options for the Blue Jays designated hitter.

  • Recommended start: Travis Shaw, Milwaukee
  • Week 4 match-ups: Six home games against the Reds and Braves

Seeing Travis Shaw start fast should not come as a surprise if one remembers last year with the Red Sox. Shaw’s already hit 5 home runs with 16 RBIs for the Brewers in a plus ballpark, and his .254/.309/.635 slash jumps to .310/.394/.690 when he’s at home. After eight games in Miller Park, Shaw’s hit 5 doubles and 2 home runs with an OPS of 1.084, a .453 wOBA and 184 wRC+.

Using him on the road can be risky, although the power usually translates, but in a full week at home with pitchers such as Scott Feldman and Tim Adleman on deck, Shaw’s an ideal pivot from Morales for a week.

Milwaukee Brewers' Travis Shaw watches his two-run home run against the Colorado Rockies during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

  • Recommended sit: Brandon Belt, San Francisco
  • Week 4 match-ups: Seven home runs, four against left-handed starting pitchers

Remember his fast start in week one? Brandon Belt’s numbers since speak to the warning with taking him as a breakout candidate each year. Presently, Belt’s hitting .220/.333/.458 after 15 games with 3 home runs but zero since his 2-home run game on April 7.

There are two factors working against Belt: He’s slated to face four southpaws in seven games this week along with being at home. So far this year, Belt’s hitting .222/.276/.333 against left-handed pitching in 14 games with a .271 wOBA and 73 wRC+ for the Giants. At home, the numbers drop to .182 for all three slash categories, a .160 wOBA and a wRC+ of zero. For a week, one can do better in a head-to-head format or rotisserie league.

  • Recommended start: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington
  • Week 4 match-ups: Seven games, four in Colorado

Early returns on Ryan Zimmerman provide optimism. He’s hitting .389/.431/.778 after 15 games with 5 home runs and 13 RBIs, and he even stole a base. With Daniel Murphy scratched on Thursday, Zimmerman ascended to cleanup in the batting order as well. Not only will he be heading to Coors Field for a four-game set, but Zimmerman enjoys his visits there along with three left-handed starters on tap for him to face.

During his career, Zimmerman’s logged 131 at-bats in Colorado with 12 doubles, a triple, 8 home runs and 38 RBIs with 22 walks and 20 strikeouts. His slash line of .359/.441/.649 offers upside as well. Not knowing how long the veteran slugger will remain healthy, this week could be another strong one to have him active on fantasy rosters.

  • Recommended sit: Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh
  • Week 4 match-ups: Three left-handed starters out of six games

With the Pirates offense reeling due to the off-field issues for Jung-Ho Kang along with the suspension of Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco’s off to a slow start hitting fourth in the lineup. His .250/.313/.318 slash line along with 79 wRC+ when league average is 100 does not provide a strong outlook for the week ahead.

Polanco’s hitting .267/.267/.333 against left-handed pitchers this year along with a .260 wOBA and 65 wRC+. With half of his games against southpaws, waiting for him to turn his season around may include benching him until week five of the fantasy season.

  • Recommended start: Justin Bour, Miami
  • Week 4 match-ups: Six games, all against right-handed pitching

Hitting between Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna should pay off soon for Justin Bour. He struggles with left-handed pitching but if next week stays on schedule with rotations, Bour’s in line to play each game with a right-handed pitcher on the mound in Philadelphia and at home against the Pirates. For his career, Bour averages a home run every 17.2 at-bats with a .349 wOBA and .219 isolated power.

FLUSHING, NY - APRIL 07: Miami Marlins First base Justin Bour (41) watches a long foul ball during a National League East match-up between the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets on April 07, 2017, at Citi Field in Flushing, NY. (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire)

  • Recommended start: Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza Jr., Tampa Bay
  • Week 4 match-ups: Road trip to Baltimore and Toronto

Either Tampa Bay outfielder will fare better than Polanco with stronger starts to the season and increased ballpark factors on the road in Camden Yards and Rogers Centre. Since both hit leadoff depending on with which hand the starting pitcher throws, they both hit in premium spots in the batting order as well.

Corey Dickerson’s hitting .322/.365/.576 with 8 runs, 3 home runs and 7 RBIs through 16 games with a .398 wOBA atop the Rays batting order. Potential post-hype poster-boy Steven Souza Jr.’s off to a fast start as well with 11 runs, 3 home runs and 15 RBIs slashing .349/.438/.603 with a .444 wOBA. Add in both opponents’ rotations being in flux and the Rays could be in line to score some runs in the week ahead.

  • Recommended start: Aaron Altherr, Philadelphia
  • Week 4 match-ups: Four games out of six against left-handed pitchers

With Howie Kendrick on the disabled list, Aaron Altherr’s trying to force his way into the everyday lineup during this audition. Altherr’s blend of speed and power can be enticing to fantasy owners, so his performance in the days ahead will be pivotal to his value. Through nine games this year, Altherr’s hitting .333/.391/.571 with 6 runs, 1 home run, 4 RBIs and 1 stolen base.

At home against left-handed pitching, which two of his starts could be, Altherr’s .563 slugging with 3 home runs in 48 at-bats provide hope for success. He’s more of a deep-league play if Dickerson or Souza are not available, but worthy nonetheless.

If Jayson Werth returns to health, his trip to Coors will be worthwhile as well. Werth’s hit .294/.396/.552 in 143 career at-bats in Colorado with 15 doubles and 6 home runs. Against left-handed pitching, his .296/.395/.543 line also comes into play with the Rockies scheduled to start three southpaws during the four-game set.

Best of luck in your match-ups and be sure to check back for the streaming column along with our two-start pitching primer for the week ahead.

Statistical Credits:  Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ESPN.go.com

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