After the litany of injuries this season has had, maximizing matchups becomes critical for fantasy success. Week 8 shapes up to be wild with the following three teams only playing five games: Oakland, Miami and Toronto. There are 15 teams slated to play a full seven-game week, so finding the right players to use could make a difference in head-to-head leagues where every counting statistic matters.
This week’s start and sit column will focus on hitters from St. Louis along with some players who might be strong upside plays thanks to favorable matchups. Seattle, Cleveland and the New York Yankees line up to face three left-handed starters each, so keep Matt Holliday and Aaron Hicks active once again in the week ahead. As for the Cardinals, will playing a three-game set in Coors Field offset the potential of facing three or four southpaws on the road?
- St. Louis Cardinals — six games on the road, at least three against left-handed starters with the potential for four, but visiting Coors Field
Recommended sits: Matt Carpenter, 1B; Aledmys Diaz, SS; Stephen Piscotty, OF
While sitting Matt Carpenter could make sense due to his slow start against left-handed pitchers this year, it’s less than ideal with players hitting the disabled list at a rapid pace. Carpenter’s .179/.286/.357 slash line along with a 69 wRC+ does not provide much hope despite his power upside for fantasy lineups. There’s a chance he could gain a matchup with Kenta Maeda in Los Angeles, but for now he likely faces Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kyle Freeland in the week ahead.
One would think a right-handed hitter would do well against a southpaws, but Aledmys Diaz struggles against them. He’s hitting .259/.333/.296 with a .037 ISO and wRC+ of 75 against left-handers in 2017. Add in his slow start this year with an overall .261 average and .288 OBP, the ballpark shift to Coors at the end of Week 8 might not be enough to justify using him in the week ahead.
Due to be activated this weekend, Stephen Piscotty also lands on the sit list for the Cardinals. His fantasy owners have waited patiently for his return and a trip to Coors can be alluring, but Piscotty raked southpaws at home last year, not on the road. Piscotty did record 20 extra-base hits against left-handed pitching last year in 145 at-bats for a .297/.400/.552 slash but on the road his line dropped to .236/.353/.389. Looking at his power indicator, Piscotty’s ISO at home reached an impressive .356 but in away games dropped to .153. Facing the tough Dodger left-handed starters might get him off to a slow start upon his return to the lineup, so waiting one more week to activate him may be savvy.
- Colorado will face seven right-handed starters, four on the road in Philadelphia and three at home
Recommended start: Carlos Gonzalez, OF
Advising Carlos Gonzalez to start in fantasy lineups does not seem like stepping out on a ledge, but he’s off to a slow start in 2017 with many fantasy owners pressing the panic button. If their trigger finger’s engaged, try to add him this weekend from a frustrated owner. Gonzalez has a hit in eight of his past nine starts with four runs, three doubles and five RBI’s. Rather pedestrian for the perennial All-Star.
For the season, Gonzalez carries a .262 BABIP which can be fluky, but his career rate of .334 suggests positive migration to the mean will occur. Also, his ISO remains more than 100 points below his career mark. Hitters can be streaky and with four games to open Week 8 on the road in Philadelphia against a struggling rotation, along with three home games against three Cardinals right-handers, might be what Gonzalez needs to get hot. If a double or two hops over the wall or he hits a ball or two hard to the opposite field, look out. His hard contact rate, plate discipline numbers and skill set remain in line with last year’s statistics, which means home runs and production will be on tap soon. Especially when factoring in his career .299/.364/.547 slash against right-handed pitchers, a 1.039 OPS at home against them with a .309 ISO as well.
- Arizona faces six right-handed starters of their seven games in Week 8 with four home games and three in Milwaukee
Recommended start: David Peralta, Arizona
Peralta has missed time of late with a glute injury, but he should be back in the lineup this weekend — just in time for juicy matchups at home with White Sox pitching, then a trip to Miller Park which favors left-handed bats. David Peralta could pair with Jake Lamb to thrive against Miguel Gonzalez and Dylan Covey at home before facing four right-handed pitchers in Milwaukee.
Before his injury, Peralta’s modest four-game hit streak with seven hits in 17 at-bats with three doubles, an RBI and a stolen base seemed to be turning around his statistics in May. For the season, Peralta’s hitting .320 versus right-handed pitching with spikes to .388 at home with a 1.080 OPS and all three of his home runs.
Be sure to track Kendrys Morales and Devon Travis, who seem to be turning their seasons around but will not be helped by the five games they play this week. Also, call it a gut feel, but Maikel Franco turns things around in Week 8 for the Phillies.
Be sure to check back this weekend for the Sunday stream article for a last minute push in head-to-head match-ups and the two-start pitcher column for Week 8 as well.