Position Players to Start
Corey Hart has not gotten off to a great start on the season, but his matchups in the coming week could prove to be just the jump start he needs to get rolling. Hart boasts a .386 (22-for-57) career average when facing the starters that he and the Milwaukee Brewers will see. Hart has also homered off of four of the pitchers. Make sure he is active for this set of positive matchups.
Michael Cuddyer has come to life in the last week and has started hitting the ball better than he did earlier in the season. Cuddyer has a career average of better than .300 against five of the starters he will face. He does not have an at-bat against Patrick Corbin, and he has struggled against Tim Cahill. Other than those two hurlers, Cuddyer has been incredibly successful against this week’s matchups. Plug him in with confidence this week.
If history is any indicator, Carlos Lee should be in store for a great week. Lee is not only a career .301 (31-for-103) hitter against the starters he will face this week, but he also has slugged eight home runs. Overlook his less than stellar start and get him plugged in to your lineup this week to take advantage of his success when facing this team of hurlers.
Alex Avila has come out of the gates dependable but unspectacular at the plate. Against this week’s starters, Avila has a relatively small sampling but he is a career .364 (16-for-44) hitter. With so few dependable offensive catchers, Avila is certainly an excellent option this week.
Position Players to Avoid
Nelson Cruz might find it nearly impossible to drive any runs in as long as he is hitting behind Josh Hamilton since no one is left on base. In addition to that little logistical issue, Cruz also does not have a positive track record against the pitchers he will face this week. Cruz has the talent that makes it difficult to bench him, but with only a .125 career average against this week’s pitchers if you have better options this is the week to relegate him to your bench.
Ben Zobrist has been slumping lately and he won’t find any relief in this week’s matchups. Zobrist has only collected 10 hits in 58 at bats for a puny .172 average against the starting pitchers he is scheduled to face this week. Reserve Zobrist until he heats up and gets his stroke back.
Neil Walker is the type of fringe starter that typically sees your lineup in a matchup-driven platoon role. If you find yourself in that predicament, this is one of those weeks that you sit Walker. In 14 at-bats, Walker has only one hit. He faces three starters that he has not ever faced in Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Drew Smyly. These three starters are all solid starters and stand to have the upper hand in their first encounter with Walker. Keep Walker on your bench this week.
With no more than a single hit against any of the pitchers that he will face in the coming week, Nick Swisher probably should ride your bench this week. He does have a small sampling to examine but Swisher is staring at a .190 (4-for-21) average against the team of pitchers and will likely find the going rough this week. Plug in another option for this week’s matchup.
All Teams ARE Created Equal … sort of
All major league teams have a full slate of seven scheduled games this week, but that doesn’t mean you are off the hook when you strategically select your starters. With the interleague games late in the week strategy will come in to play with the designated hitter based on where teams are playing. Platoon National League players playing in American League parks will have the opportunity to see action as a designated hitter. On the other hand, players who only have designated hitter eligibility and rarely see the field may get fewer at bats if their interleague matchups take them to National League parks. Plan accordingly and strategically!
Anibal Sanchez has been the Miami Marlins’ ace so far this season and gets two favorable matchups this week. Start him.
Tim Hudson has been rusty since coming off the disabled list. His track record against the Cincinnati Reds and Tampa Bay Rays suggest he is due for a rebound. Start him.
Dan Haren struggled in his last start and is a little banged up. Start him, but expect a split.
Josh Beckett is too busy creating distractions to focus on pitching well. Sit him until his commitment to the game is obvious.
Colby Lewis was roughed up in his last two starts. He has a bad track record against the Kansas City Royals. Sit him this week.
Kyle Lohse has kept the St. Louis Cardinals in every game in which he has pitched. This degree of success this season was unpredictable. He has two unfavorable matchups this week, but Lohse is a different pitcher this season. Start him and cross your fingers.
Yovani Gallardo has not pitched consistently this season. He has two matchups against teams he has pitched well. It may be this week or never. Start him with reasonable expectations.
Ian Kennedy has only had one tough start on the season … more specifically two bad innings. Start him this week as he takes the mound against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals.
Jon Lester has allowed three or less earned runs in five of his seven starts on the season despite a 1-3 record. He has pitched well against his two foes this week and is a start.
Brandon Morrow has been throwing the ball extremely well while earning a sub-one walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP). Start him this week.
Johnny Cueto is 4-0 and has pitched as well as anyone in the league early in the season. He is a must-start at this point.
Jake Peavy has pitched better than anyone expected this season. He has a favorable history against his opponents this week. Just as no one saw this level of success coming, no one knows how long it will last. Don’t jump off the bandwagon this week.
Josh Johnson is 0-3 with an earned run average approaching six. His matchups aren’t that bad, but his pitching has been. Sit him down this week and see if he can regroup.
One Start Wonders
Even though these guys get only one start this week, all signs point to them having the opportunity to register good numbers. Make sure to have them active.
Joe Saunders, Arizona
C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels
Clay Buchholz, Boston
Gio Gonzalez, Washington
Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs
Ted Lilly, Los Angeles Dodgers
Derek Holland, Texas
Wait til Next Week
Ross Detwiler, Washington
Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Ricky Nolasco, Miami