Fantasy Baseball Forecast: Week 22's "Start 'Em" and "Sit 'Em"
The forecast for the upcoming week brings relief to your infield. Three of the must-start players for the upcoming week can be had on the cheap and play some of the most vital positions and hardest to come by. Pitching help this week will come in the form of two new faces to baseball and will rely on dominance against left-handed hitters and an ability to keep runners off the bags.
Neil Walker | Pittsburgh Pirates | 25.1% - Four of the six pitchers that Walker will be facing this week are right-handed. Against righties, Walker’s hitting .303 with a .346 OBP and a .777 OPS. Against both the Cubs and Nationals, Walker has gone eight for 25 this year. His last seven games have yielded seven RBI and a .280 avg.
Erick Aybar | Los Angeles Angels | 78.1% - All of Aybar’s games this week come away from home, where he’s hitting .303 (78 points higher than at home) on the year. His stats against both the Mariners and Athletics on the year are a combined .318 average with a .358 OBP. 37% of his RBIs on the year have come against the A's or Mariners. With an increased probability to get on base, Aybar is increasing his stolen base potential as well.
Chase Headley | San Diego Padres | 90.8% - Chase has the stars aligning for him in this week’s matchups. First up are the Diamondbacks at Chase Field where Headley is hitting .301 for his career (33 points above his career average) and is hitting .356 against the current pitching staff. Second, Chase will face the Rockies at home. This year Chase has hit .314 with a.386 OBP against the Rockies. He wont provide much power (his ISO is a horrible .125) but he will rake in some hits this week.
Dexter Fowler | Colorado Rockies | 32.1% - Coming into this week Fowler has been heating up, hitting .305 in the last seven games. Look for this trend to cool. With the exception of a make-up game against the Phillies, all of his games will be coming on the road this week where he hits 96 points lower.
He’ll be facing the Padres for three of the seven games this week which is more bad news for Fowler. They put the “K” in “Keep Dexter Fowler on the bench.” Through 43 at-bats this year against the Padres, Fowler has only five hits and has struck out 21 times (nearly 50% of his ABs against the Padres).
James Loney | Los Angeles Dodgers | 95.8% - Loney is facing the gauntlet of pitchers this week. He faces both Halladay and Oswalt of the Phillies and Zito, Cain and Sanchez of the Giants. Collectively throughout his career against all of the starting pitchers that he will face this week, Loney is hitting .260 in 104 at-bats (he is two for 26 lifetime against Zito). Another disturbing fact for Loney: he’s hitting .197 during the second-half of the season.
Two-Start Pitchers To Use
Brian Duensing | Minnesota Twins | 39% - Duensing has been a dominating force against lefties this season. He is taking the bat out of their hands, holding them to a .138 average. This should help neutralize the threats he faces this week against the Tigers and Rangers. The Ranger’s key player, Josh Hamilton, bats lefty while nearly half of Detroit’s lineup is left-handed. Both games are coming at home at Target Field for Duensing, where he has 1.36 ERA this year. Strengthening his case to start is Target Field’s weak HR-factor of .580 (worst in the majors).
Travis Wood | Cincinnati Reds | 23.3% - Travis Wood is facing two strong opponents this week in Milwaukee and St. Louis. His stats show that he can likely overpower these teams, though. His BAA for lefties is even stronger then Duensing’s previously mentioned .138—Wood’s is .109. This neutralizes Fielder’s big bat.
Right-handed bats aren’t fairing much better, hitting only .209 against Wood. By keeping runners off the bases, Wood has been able to afford the occasional long-ball. His WHIP is a stellar 0.98.
Two-Start Pitchers To Avoid
Phil Hughes | New York Yankees | 100% - Hughes has been more of himself in the second-half of this year. He’s posted a 5.19 ERA since the all-star game. Look for him to continue his bad second-half pace this week against Oakland and Toronto.
Both games come at home in the most HR-happy place in baseball, Yankee Stadium. Toronto is the number one team for homeruns as well. Hughes has also produced bad numbers against Toronto in three previous starts this year. He has 6.60 ERA through 15 innings, and has given up four homeruns.
Jair Jurrjens | Atlanta Braves | 77.1% - Jurrjens has been fairly decent lately, a trend that you can expect to meet a speed bump with this week. Jurrjens has been Jekyll and Hyde this season in home and away starts. At home his ERA is a phenomenal 1.81. However, on the road, his ERA is 6.62. Collectively Florida is hitting .347 against him in 72 at-bats. Use caution when deploying Jurrjens this week.
Written exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com by James Bryce. James is a Grad student at UCSD and is currently in his 13th year of fantasy sports. Follow James on Twitter @BoltLife4Me.
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