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Week 5 is one of the lighter ones on the schedule, with a whopping 11 of the 30 big league teams playing only five games. That's due to five early-week, two-game interleague series, as well as the Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels' two-game series at Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, on Saturday and Sunday. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Angels, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers all play short weeks.
The Astros-Angels Sunday game will create a doubleheader on ESPN on May 5, with the St. Louis Cardinals at Cubs game following it. As far as the Monterrey venue's park factors, while the five regular-season games that have been played there since the beginning of last season totaled 39 runs, that the stadium has greater elevation than any other venue except Coors Field as well as smaller-than-league-average outfield measurements give it a hitting-friendly leaning. Trust the projections ahead of the five-game sample already in the books.
The Tampa Bay Rays have a dream schedule on both the hitting and pitching sides, making a four-game stop at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium followed by a three-game visit to Baltimore's Camden Yards. The former's park factors favor the Rays' pitchers and the latter their hitters, but the matchups advantages mostly stem from the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles sporting below-average offenses and bottom-five-in-baseball pitching staffs. That's a big deal if you consider that Rays players aren't exactly household names, and therefore can be found available in large percentages of ESPN leagues; Yandy Diaz (available in more than 60 percent), Brandon Lowe (available in roughly 60 percent) and Avisail Garcia (available in more than 85 percent) should all see everyday at-bats during Week 5 and all should be slotted into your active lineups. Yonny Chirinos (available in more than 65 percent) will start at least once and possibly twice and is a worthwhile add-and-start for the week, while Jalen Beeks (available in roughly 99 percent) could provide an advantage to those seeking quality "follower" innings while avoiding the restraints of the weekly starts cap.
If you're looking for widely available pitchers with matchups to exploit, look no further than the Braves' staff. They'll host the San Diego Padres for four games to open the week before making a three-game visit to Miami's Marlins Park, with the latter an obviously outstanding group of matchups because of the team's weak lineup and pitching-friendly home venue. The Padres also grade as one of the best matchups for an opposing pitcher, though, because they're a bottom-five team in terms of both runs per game and strikeout rate. Here are the ESPN available percentages for the Braves' rotation: Mike Foltynewicz (roughly 10 percent), Max Fried and Kevin Gausman (roughly 30 percent), Julio Teheran (roughly 55 percent), Mike Soroka (nearly 85 percent). All five should be in your lineups, and Soroka is probably the best bang-for-your-buck pick of the week. Closer A.J. Minter, available in roughly 70 percent of leagues, should also provide a good amount of value this week.
The Boston Red Sox have another week of extremely favorable hitting matchups, but at some point they're going to need to push their seasonal runs-per-game average past the league average of 4.63. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi have finally begun to hit at the level of their preseason expectations, and Rafael Devers has batted .321 with good plate-discipline numbers in the past 10 days (entering Friday), but it's call-up Michael Chavis who stands out among the add-and-start Red Sox, available in nearly 95 percent of ESPN leagues. Chavis has started five of the team's first seven games since his call-up and has .260-25 full-season potential (on the higher end of his projection range), and should benefit from three home games against an Oakland Athletics pitching staff with a below-average team ERA (4.58, league average 4.36) followed by four at hitting-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field against a Chicago White Sox staff with a bottom-five team ERA (5.44).
The New York Mets have one of the widest team wOBA splits favoring their left-handed hitters -- they've managed a .365 mark compared to the righties' .318 -- and get at least six games against right-handed starters during Week 5, with the final three coming in one of the best hitters' parks in baseball at Milwaukee's Miller Park. This might well be the week that slow-starting Brandon Nimmo (available in roughly 40 percent of ESPN leagues) finally recaptures his hitting stroke, while Jeff McNeil (also available in roughly 40 percent) is an effective must for your lineup, thanks to his .340 batting average and 88.9 percent contact rate in his career against right-handed pitchers.
The Milwaukee Brewers, the Mets' weekend opponent, play an entire seven-game week at Miller Park, reaping the rewards of their extreme hitters' home venue to a degree that the Mets won't. The Mets, at press time, lined up neither Jacob deGrom nor Noah Syndergaard for their weekend visit to Milwaukee, which is a huge boost from a weekly matchups perspective. The righty/lefty divide is fairly even -- three lefty starters, four righty -- so the Brewers will probably continue their first-base rotation but otherwise stick with the regulars we've seen in there lately, with Mike Moustakas' health dictating his availability at second base. This would be a good week to speculate on Orlando Arcia (available in more than 95 percent of ESPN leagues) in mixed leagues, and if you play in a 14-plus-team mixed or National League-only, Eric Thames (available in more than 95 percent) is a worthwhile add-and-start even if he gets only a handful of starts.
The hot-starting, homer-happy Minnesota Twins have quite a rough time of it on the hitting side in Week 5, due to having to face Astros righties Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole to open the week (not to mention Brad Peacock and Collin McHugh to round out their series), then the Yankees' best two starters to date in James Paxton and Domingo German during their weekend trip to Yankee Stadium. Remember: The Forecaster provides merely matchups grades, which don't address the talent in the offense in question; it estimates how good the schedule is if an average team were facing it. Eddie Rosario, Nelson Cruz, Jorge Polanco and, yes, even Byron Buxton and Jonathan Schoop are performing far too well to bench despite the rough schedule. It's the catcher rotation and less-prominent players like C.J. Cron, Marwin Gonzalez and Max Kepler who might not offer you enough to be worth using over the alternatives.
If you're looking for righty/lefty matchup advantages among players more suited for deep-mixed (think 14-plus-team) or "only" leagues, consider: Matt Adams (available in more than 99 percent of ESPN leagues), a .243/.310/.493 hitter against righties in 2018-19, whose Washington Nationals face nothing but right-handed starters; Nick Ahmed (available in nearly 90 percent), a .282/.315/.507 hitter against lefties in 2018-19, whose Diamondbacks face three left-handed starters; Tyler Flowers (available in more than 95 percent), a .324/.485/.554 hitter against lefties in 2018-19 ,whose Braves face three left-handed starters; David Freese (available in more than 99 percent), a .292/.376/.448 hitter against lefties in 2018-19, whose Los Angeles Dodgers face four left-handed starters; and Jorge Soler (available in nearly 85 percent), a .298/.375/.607 hitter against lefties in 2018-19, whose Royals face three lefty starters.