Hello everyone and welcome back to the Hitting Planner! I was on vacation last week and wasn't able to dedicate enough time to plan like I normally would. I apologize if anyone was disappointed by my absence.
Because baseball is so popular in the Dominican Republic, my hotel room came with a subscription to MLB TV. Believe me, it came in handy on mornings where I was recovering from the previous night's activities.
Hopefully, no one missed me too much and we're all ready to move onto the final hitting planner before the All-Star break!
2018 Fantasy Baseball Week 15 Hitting Planner
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Offense To Target - Arizona Diamondbacks
I recommended the D'Backs offense two weeks ago and I'm going back to the well this week. The Snakes have one amazing matchup but finish with a tougher matchup over the weekend.
They'll start with the holy grail of road games on Tuesday and begin a three-game series in Colorado against the Rockies. As always, Coors has been one of the best hitters parks in the league. The last time Arizona visited Coors they put on a better fireworks show than most Fourth of July celebrations. In three games, Arizona scored 29 runs, knocked 21 extra-base hits (including eight home runs) and slugged .661 as a team.
After their vacation in Denver, Arizona will travel to Atlanta for a date with the Braves. Atlanta's staff has been very solid this season, ranking 14th in WAR and 10th in ERA. Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, and Anibal Sanchez have been great for the Braves, so owners in daily leagues might want to bench their more questionable D'Backs unless desperate.
Even if the numbers against Atlanta are a little depressed, the series against the Rockies should more than make-up for it. Weekly league owners should be all-in on the D'Backs regulars. Fresh of his return from the DL, A.J. Pollock is in a great position to regain the power stroke he showed earlier this season. Jake Lamb is hitting the ball well and could inject some power into a hitting streak that's been devoid of it thus far. If John Ryan Murphy plays a couple game in Coors he could be a good catcher stream early in the week. David Peralta, Jon Jay, Steven Souza Jr. and Nick Ahmed are all good options early in the week as well, depending on who plays.
Offense To Avoid - Oakland Athletics
The A's offense has been good this season. By most metrics, they have performed admirably despite playing in one of the worst hitters parks in the league. However, this week might be tough on them, as they face two very good rotations.
Their first assignment will be the on the road against the Astros, who hold a 2.95 ERA at home. The A's are actually much better on the road than at home, but the matchup is still as difficult as they come. Oakland will line up with the heart of the Houston rotation, so owners in points leagues will want to be wary of their strikeout numbers early in the week.
The A's second series sees them travel to San Fransisco for a three-game series with the Giants. AT&T Park is one of the worst parks in the leagues for power, ranking 22nd in home runs. Additionally, AT&T ranked last in the league last season for home runs by left-handed batters. The Giants rotation has been very solid this season and has been even better of late, thanks to Madison Bumgarner's return to form.
In the Astros series, high strikeout players like Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Franklin Barretto, and Matt Chapman should be avoided thanks to the K prowess of the Astros rotation. In the Giants series, left-handed power hitters should be avoided. Olson is the main player affected by AT&T, but deep league owners will want to avoid Dustin Fowler in San Fransisco as well.
Offense To Target - Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers offense has been a little off over the last couple of weeks but should be in for a bounce-back with some good matchups and the expected return of Lorenzo Cain.
The Brewers will play their first series in Miami against the 28th ranked Marlins pitching staff. There's nothing new to go over with the Marlins rotation, they're still as vulnerable as ever. The end of their bullpen has improved, with Kyle Barraclough doing a much better job than Brad Ziegler.
Their second series will be in Pittsburgh where they'll play five games against the Pirates. The Pirates staff has been pretty poor and the doubleheader is just icing on the cake. The Pirates pitching staff ranks 21st in WAR and 19th in ERA, not surprising from a team that traded away it's ace in the offseason. There's no one on the Pirates staff that owners should avoid so Brewers players should be must-starts all week long.
Christian Yelich, Jesus Aguilar, and Travis Shaw are easy starts for the week as set-and-forget options. If Cain returns this weekend, he should be back up to speed enough to use as well. Eric Thames is a great play this week, and I'll dive further into him as a platoon target.
Offense To Avoid - New York Mets
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Is it cheating to put the Mets here? Yes? Too bad I'm doing it anyway.
The Mets actually aren't the worst offense in the league, but it seems that way sometimes, doesn't it? In any case, the Mets have been bad enough that owners need to pay close attention to their matchups. This week will not be kind to them, as they'll face the Phillies and Nationals. The Phillies have the fourth best staff in the league (by WAR), rank seventh in K-BB%, and eighth in HR/9. Four games against one the best pitching staffs in baseball obviously doesn't bode well for a struggling offense.
The Nationals will start the weekend series in style by starting Max Scherzer. In all fairness to the Mets, the rest of the schedule doesn't look too intimidating (Tanner Roark, Jeremy Hellickson, and the ever-dangerous "to be determined"). But, the Mets have a wRC+ of 92 (21st overall) and can't take any matchup for granted.
If you're in a weekly league, the only Mets player you can trust at this point is Asdrubal Cabrera. Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto are both in extended slumps, while Todd Frazier is too inconsistent to trust in a weekly league. Wilmer Flores is on a 13-game hit streak but is not a recommended play in bad matchups.
Eric Thames, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
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As mentioned above, Brewer hitters are excellent plays this week thanks to good matchups and an extra game. Thames has it especially good this week as Milwaukee is currently scheduled to face eight consecutive right-handers. He owns one of the most drastic L/R splits in the league as 92 percent of his home runs this year have been against righties. Thames doesn't get to play when a lefty takes the mound, so he has a great opportunity for extra playing time in Week 15.
If the schedule doesn't change, Thames could have a massive week given the opportunity to go against two sub-par rotations filled with right-handers.
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