2020 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Hitting Planner

by Tyler Thompson
2020 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Hitting Planner

Baseball is back. Of course, we had a game delayed and called due to rain because it's 2020 and 2020 isn't here for your fun and games. But still, baseball is BACK.

This also means the hitting planner is back! Each week, I will analyze the starting rotations of each team, then determine which offenses will be good to target or avoid. Because this season is going to be bizarre, I'm going to be learning on the fly with you as we learn how different teams utilize their expanded rosters and react to the new league rules.

Nonetheless, this will be a learning experience. At first, I was against playing fantasy baseball because a 60-game season would be so fluky. However, I've now flipped because I don't want to be behind on strategy going into future seasons should the universal DH and relief pitcher rules continue.

I'm excited to present my new easy-to-follow chart and hope I can provide some value to your rosters this weekend! I'll be turning around another hitting planner for Week 2 this weekend as well, so be on the lookout for that.

2020 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Hitting Planner

Matchup Chart

The formatting won't be this ugly in the future. Don't judge! It's midnight on a Thursday and I'm a few drinks in...

The basic idea behind the chart is to give a quick, digestible view of the pitchers each team will face using "R"/"L" for righty versus lefty and color-coding those letters based on that pitcher's skill level. This will be a gut feeling color-coding, not an exact science. Green will mean a good matchup and red will mean a bad matchup.

Of course, this chart is subject to change. I may try to incorporate some BI software to create an interactive chart where you can select dropdown options by handedness, pitcher rank, or actual pitcher name. We shall see - the season is young!

Also, my source for probable pitchers will come from the folks over at FantasyPros. Once I learn who to give the props to, I will certainly do so! It's basically this chart transposed and nameless.

Offenses to Target

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Boston Red Sox

It's going to be too easy to pick on the Orioles this year, but I'm not trying to make my job any harder than it has to be. Especially when you've got two washed-up lefties going in Tommy Milone and Wade LeBlanc. Alex Cobb will be the sandwiched in on Saturday, who has no noticeable splits when it comes to the handedness of the batter.

When we look at Fenway Park, we love right-handed hitters already because of the park factors. Throw in this group of arms and it's going to be a laser show out there. Obviously, you aren't sitting any of the regular players here. This does open the door for a guy like Michael Chavis to get an early opportunity to lock down an infield spot. On the flip side, perhaps wait until a righty-heavy setup to employ Mitch Moreland or Alex Verdugo (who I love from a season-long perspective).

Nonetheless, those thumpers like J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers are going to be very attractive DFS plays in the opening weekend and rightfully so.

Baltimore Orioles

Call me crazy, but I would stream these Orioles hitters in this series too! With various reasons for pitcher absence, the Red Sox are rolling out Nathan Eovaldi as their de facto ace. Sure, he's not bad, but then we go Ryan Weber and Martin Perez. Big yikes, kids. This could be the highest-scoring series of opening weekend and I'm here for it!

As mentioned previously, we are interested in righties that can utilize the Green Monster to their advantage. This brings guys like Austin HaysAnthony Santander, and Renato Nunez into the mix as streaming options in redraft or cheap DFS plays so we can spend up on pitchers and other stud hitters.

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Philadelphia Phillies

While the Marlins rotation has some upside heading into the season, I'm not afraid to pick on them a little bit in the early going. This weekend, the Phillies will face two righties in Sandy Alcantara and Jose Urena while facing lefty ace (?) Caleb Smith.

Andrew McCutchen is someone I've targeted in my short-season drafts as a quality leadoff hitter with big bats behind him. He's in line for a huge weekend in the runs scored department. Didi Gregorius also feels underrated as a potential 4- or 5-hole hitter in a strong lineup. Didi is certainly worth a start in your MI slot this weekend.

Another name of note is Jay Bruce who signed this offseason as a platoon option in the outfield. Now that the DH has been normalized across the league, Bruce could be as busy as he wants to be should he return to anything close to his old form. I certainly wouldn't stream him this weekend, but he's someone to monitor in deeper leagues or as a value play in DFS.

Offenses to Avoid

The Usuals

We've got a few teams with World Series odds in the tens of thousands that project to have a rough opening weekend. I decided to lump them together here just for some quick-hitting analysis.

  • The Detroit Tigers will face the three-headed monster of the Cincy rotation including Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Trevor Bauer. All the major thumpers for Detroit are righties too, so this series could get ugly in a hurry.
  • In the same mold, the Kansas City Royals square up against that nasty Cleveland trio of Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, and author-favorite Carlos Carrasco. Additionally, the Cleveland bullpen is certainly nothing to sneeze at, so the Royals will have their work cut out for them.
  • Wouldn't you know it, the Seattle Mariners are in the same damn boat. They'll face the top three arms in Houston in Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, and Lance McCullers Jr.

Did I mention that all three of these teams are on the road too? Just not the situation you'd want to be in for any of these offenses.

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Colorado Rockies

While it's not a complete "avoid" situation for me, I would be wary of playing a few of the lower-tier Rockies hitters this week. The top three of the Rangers rotation is quite formidable this season. Lance Lynn and Corey Kluber will contend from the right while Mike Minor brings the junk from the left. It's a wide array of pitch types and velocities from the three of these guys, which should cause some adjustment time for Colorado hitters on the road.

Now, it's hard to sit a guy like Daniel Murphy or David Dahl, but I would be tempering expectations for them if only for a weekend. I am worried about Garrett Hampson and Ryan McMahon enough to bench them until you see it, especially with their average-at-best play last season. This all assumes that those two play - we've seen reports of Chris Owings and Matt Kemp getting some run, which is just disgusting.

Anyway, you gotta do what you gotta do. If you want to focus on the splits for Lynn and Kluber to justify rolling McMahon out there, I say trust your gut. My gut is saying no. Or, that could just be the gin talking.

Anyway, in a normal week, I would add another section to talk about specific guys I like in a given week. I'll save that fun for Week 2. Enjoy the weekend everyone and take in that pumped-in crowd noise.

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