Fantasy baseball forecaster for Week 2: Aug. 3-9

Andrew Benintendi has gotten off on the wrong foot this season. With a light Week 2 schedule, he and his Boston teammates may be ones to avoid. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

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  • The COVID-19 situation surrounding the Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals, which has also impacted the schedules of the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals, has the Week 2 schedule in a state of flux. As of Monday morning, the Phillies were scheduled to return to the field Monday, with a four-game, home-and-home series against the Yankees, and the Marlins were tentatively set to begin a four-game, three-day series in Baltimore on Tuesday, though the date of a planned doubleheader is not yet known (and therefore not programmed yet into the Forecaster charts). The Cardinals, meanwhile, are scheduled to play a similar four-game, three-day series at Detroit beginning on Tuesday. It's possible that Major League Baseball will make additional Week 2 scheduling changes. As these are announced, the Forecaster will be updated with the latest scheduling news. The Yankees, by the way, are currenrly set to play eight games during Week 2.

  • Week 2 rotations for the Marlins, Phillies and Cardinals and Nationals are entirely undecided, and the Blue Jays have announced only one starter, because of the numerous off days leading into the week. Again, those will be updated in the Forecaster as announced by teams, but it's probable the Phillies and Blue Jays will try to get as many starts as possible out of veteran/front-of-the-rotation types like Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Matt Shoemaker.

  • Rosters are currently scheduled to shrink from 30 to 28 players on Aug. 7, or Friday of Week 2. While that might not have a monumental impact on anyone's fantasy planning, it will still result in a thinning out of the player pool. Whether the players demoted will more commonly be extra bullpen arms or third catchers is unclear -- and perhaps it's both -- but the catcher possibility is the actionable one in fantasy. There's a good chance we'll see an increase in playing time for catchers like Yasmani Grandal, Carson Kelly, Wilson Ramos and Christian Vazquez after that date.

  • The Rockies complete their seven-game homestand with four games hosting the San Francisco Giants, before heading to Seattle's T-Mobile Park for a three-game weekend series. As the Mariners have a pitching staff composed of the opening weekend's worst-performing rotation and a thin, inexperienced bullpen, the Rockies offense enjoys the best-graded Week 2 schedule, despite the split home-and-road week. Expect better production from slow-starting regulars David Dahl and Ryan McMahon, even if it's possible that either might sit a game or two should the Rockies face three left-handed starters (as seems likely). Matt Kemp is also a strong dice-roll play, especially in daily leagues where you can pick from only his starts against lefties. As for the pitching staff, two-start pitcher German Marquez should be one of your top choices for Week 2, despite his wide home/road platoon split (5.01 at Coors, compared to 3.64 on the road, in his big-league career) and 6.60 career ERA in eight starts against the Giants. Closer Jairo Diaz is another strong play in a week like this.

  • The Minnesota Twins are another team that stands out on both sides of the ball in Week 2, as they have a pair of two-game, home-and-home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, followed by three games at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium. Considering five of the seven games will be played at pitching-friendly venues -- PNC Park hosts two -- Twins pitchers should find places in all of your fantasy lineups. Rich Hill's injury history makes him a dicey play, but he's set up for a two-start week, and considering the likelihood that the team will pile up the wins, both closer Taylor Rogers and his primary setup man (and day-off fill-in) Sergio Romo warrant lineup spots. About the only Twins player who doesn't stand out for Week 2 is Byron Buxton, whose foot continues to bother him and who might struggle to steal bases against Salvador Perez (Royals) and Jacob Stallings (Pirates), two of the best catchers at reining in the running game.

  • The Boston Red Sox, whose rotation has been one of the worst-performing thus far, draw the short end of the stick schedule-wise, as the only team originally slated for a five-game week. Currently, the Nationals are also scheduled for five, and the totals can change for additional teams, but in a week where 15 teams are scheduled play a full seven games, a short week presents a disadvantage in fantasy. This would be a good week to sit the struggling Andrew Benintendi, who has batted .095/.321/.143 and hit in the bottom two spots against left-handers July 28 and 30.

  • While the Blue Jays have struggled to score runs in the season's early going -- at least relative to expectations -- three games at the Atlanta Braves (including one against their open fifth-starter spot) and another three against the aforementioned Red Sox might be just what this offense needs to wake up. Travel has probably been a challenge for this young squad, and it might continue to be so with nothing but road games during Week 2, but it's not yet time to bench struggling hitters like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Stick by this squad for at least another week.

  • We'll see the return of Clayton Kershaw (back) to the Dodgers' rotation on Aug, 2, setting him up for a Week 2 weekend start against the Giants. We might also see the return of Jake Odorizzi (back) to the Twins' rotation during Week 2. As mentioned above, Odorizzi would draw an extremely favorable matchup if activated the next time his spot in the rotation arrives on Wednesday.

  • Among the most righty-/lefty-heavy schedules this week are the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox, who are scheduled to face six right-handed starters apiece;; the Tampa Bay Rays, who are scheduled to face three (and potentially four) left-handed starters; and both the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics, who are scheduled to face three lefties apiece. Among players therefore worth starting: Shogo Akiyama; Ryan Braun, a .288/.363/.569 hitter against lefties in 2019-20; Jose Martinez, a .316/.379/.608 hitter against lefties in 2019-20; Yoan Moncada, a .324/.378/.573 hitter against righties in 2019-20; and Stephen Piscotty, a .356/.387/.621 hitter against lefties in 2019-20.