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'The Nine' for Week 7
The one-quarter mark of the 2018 season arrives early in Week 7. Barring any postponements between now and then, one-quarter of the season will be in the books once two games on Tuesday are complete. Quarter-marks are good times to re-evaluate your team's standings, roster and categorical needs, to determine whether trades are necessary for improvement.
The Chicago Cubs benefit from a rare eight-game week, thanks to a pair of rescheduled games: In an unusual schedule twist, they'll host the Atlanta Braves on Monday at Wrigley Field in a makeup of their April 15 postponement, before the two teams travel to Atlanta to play a three-game series against each other at SunTrust Park. The Cubs will also play a Saturday doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park, with one of the games a makeup of their April 3 postponement. Greater volume is always a plus for the Cubs, a mix-and-match team rich in fantasy talent, not to mention one that has used 30 different lineups in 34 games thus far. As the Cubs should face at least seven and probably eight right-handed starters, Kyle Schwarber (.296/.387/.617 rater against righties this season), Anthony Rizzo (.263/.376/.486 against righties since the beginning of 2017) and Ian Happ (.248/.322/.497 career against righties) should be weekly standouts. From a pickups perspective, Ben Zobrist (roughly 80 percent available in ESPN leagues, .298/.377/.426 against righties this season) has been getting a healthy share of starts at leadoff against right-handers and warrants activation in mixed leagues.
Conversely, the New York Mets, New York Yankees and Washington Nationals have the disadvantage of five-game weeks, in a week where the Cubs play eight and nine other teams play as many as seven times. The Yankees, who lead the majors in runs per game (5.81 runs per game) and isolated power (.199), nevertheless grade a respectable "4" in the hitting ratings, in large part thanks to drawing three weekend games against the Royals' pitching staff. The loss of the designated hitter for two of their five games is the bigger disadvantage for the Yankees, as either Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner or Aaron Hicks will have to sit those games. The team is still scheduled to face three left-handed starters, a huge advantage to Stanton (.406/.444/1.096 against lefties this season) even if he plays only four of the games, as well as Judge, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres. Gardner, a .198/.290/.266 hitter against lefties since the beginning of last season, is the Yankees hitter most adversely affected.
The Mets and Nationals, meanwhile, are at team-wide disadvantages during the short week, both of them grading minimum "1" ratings. The Nationals face Rich Hill and Alex Wood in their weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, not to mention Masahiro Tanaka in the Yankees series, which should limit your exposure in mixed leagues to only Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon. Red-hot Matt Adams, unfortunately, matches up poorly in a week where the Nationals face at least three left-handed starters (CC Sabathia being the third), as he's a .210/.243/.367 hitter with a 28.2 percent strikeout rate against lefties in his career.
Besides the Yankees, the Chicago White Sox (2 games at Pittsburgh, Tuesday-Wednesday) and Toronto Blue Jays (2 games at the Mets, Tuesday-Wednesday) are the other American League teams that visit National League parks and therefore lose the DH for those games. Matt Davidson started one of the White Sox's previous two games in an NL park at third base and earned another start there more recently, so he could sneak in another start in Pittsburgh. He's still a worthwhile play due to three of the team's four weekend games against the Texas Rangers being against left-handed starters in the team's homer-friendly home venue, as Davidson has slugged .655 against lefties this year, so keep him active. The Blue Jays' ice-cold Kendrys Morales seems less likely to bump Justin Smoak off first base, however, and should be kept benched. The White Sox face three lefty starters and the Blue Jays two in Week 7, so you'll want lefty crushers Tim Anderson and Teoscar Hernandez in your lineups.
Among the NL teams that visit AL ballparks this week, gaining the DH, are the Philadelphia Phillies (2 games at Baltimore, Tuesday-Wednesday), Milwaukee Brewers (2 games at Minnesota, Tuesday-Wednesday) and St. Louis Cardinals (3 games at Minnesota, Friday-Sunday), and that's an advantage for all three teams, which have more fantasy-relevant hitters than lineup spots on a given night. The Phillies should be able to squeeze the slow-starting Scott Kingery into their lineup for both games at Baltimore's Camden Yards, a venue which provides the team a hitting matchups bump. The Brewers will have enough space to start all of Jesus Aguilar, Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana, giving each additional weekly-league appeal. The Cardinals, meanwhile, could use the spot to squeeze rookie Harrison Bader into their lineup more frequently, elevating his usefulness in deep-mixed and NL-only leagues.
The Tampa Bay Rays have a favorable week of hitting matchups?! Believe it, as the team opens the week facing the majors' worst pitching staff (in terms of ERA) in the Kansas City Royals and misses Garrett Richards (but perhaps not Shohei Ohtani) during a weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels. These are all road games, too, and while neither Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium nor Los Angeles' Angel Stadium is a hitters' park by any means, either still represents a slight park-factor upgrade over extreme pitchers' park Tropicana Field. Fantasy managers can find useful plug-ins from a Rays roster that has only one player rostered in more than one-third of ESPN leagues (Wilson Ramos, 74.5 percent), as Nos. 2-3 hitters C.J. Cron (roughly 70 percent available) and Matt Duffy (more than 95 percent available) should capitalize most. In deeper leagues, Daniel Robertson (roughly 80 percent available) has been getting plenty of looks as a No. 5 hitter against lefties -- the Rays are scheduled to face three left-handed starters -- and Adeiny Hechavarria has held his own with the bat and has occasionally been drawing starts at leadoff.
There is a pair of two-start pitchers who you should search the waiver wire for ahead of Week 7. The Boston Red Sox's Eduardo Rodriguez (more than 60 percent available), who has whiffed 24 batters in 15 innings in his past three starts despite a mediocre 6.00 ERA during that span, faces the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles at home. The Philadelphia Phillies' Nick Pivetta (roughly 75 percent available), who has a 25.6 percent strikeout rate and 3.26 FIP for the season, pitches on the road against the Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals. The Orioles start is the key for both, as they have the majors' third-worst runs-per-game (3.73) and worst swinging-strike rate (13.9 percent) as a team, providing both pitchers significant weekly upside.
For those seeking platoon- or base stealing-advantage hitters for the week, here are some strong candidates: Kurt Suzuki (roughly 50 percent available), a .329/.396/.671 hitter against left-handers since the beginning of last season who has been splitting starts evenly with Tyler Flowers since the latter's return from the DL, warrants a look in two-catcher leagues as the Atlanta Braves face four lefty starters. Mitch Moreland (more than 80 percent available), a .339/.394/.695 hitter against right-handers this season, should benefit from the Boston Red Sox facing six righty starters. Jarrod Dyson (more than 95 percent available) and Ketel Marte (roughly 95 percent available) should capitalize upon an Arizona Diamondbacks schedule including games against the Milwaukee Brewers' and New York Mets' catchers, who are not accomplished at preventing stolen bases.