The Fantasy Baseball Forecaster has been updated as of Monday, May 22, at 9:55 a.m. ET.
Welcome to the new and improved version of the Fantasy Baseball Forecaster! This year, we've reorganized the story into four parts; it's the same great intel, but you get right where you need to go as quickly as possible. Good luck this season!
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On tap: Week 8 begins with another Monday of only night games, as that night's action begins at 7:05 p.m. ET. ESPN has a doubleheader on Tuesday: San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs at 7 p.m. ET, followed by St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers at 10 p.m. ET, and the pitching matchups are quite appealing, as Johnny Cueto battles Kyle Hendricks in the former, while Lance Lynn takes on Clayton Kershaw in the latter. The week concludes with the New York Mets and Matt Harvey visiting the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tyler Glasnow on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball during Memorial Day weekend.
We'll see the rare eight-game schedule in Week 8, as the Detroit Tigers play an additional game due to a May 26 doubleheader, which includes a makeup of their April 5 rainout. It's a straight doubleheader with a 5:10 p.m. ET start rather than split admission, so it's possible that the Tigers will give all of their hitters a day's rest sometime during Week 8 to account for it. Still, that's a significant volume advantage in a week where three other teams -- two of them in the American League, and one of them visiting a National League city where there'll be no designated hitter -- are scheduled to play just five times. It also helps that the additional game is against the Chicago White Sox, making it a four-game series, as they've got a much more fly ball-oriented rotation than the Houston Astros, the Tigers' opponent for four games to begin the week. Expect red-hot Victor Martinez to continue his hot hitting in a week against seven right-handed starters, and consider left-handed Alex Avila as a No. 2 catcher in larger mixed and AL-only leagues. Avila could sneak in multiple starts behind the plate and possibly sneak in a game or two at first base if the team wants to give the banged-up Cabrera a day's rest, and Avila is a .407/.508/.741 hitter against righties this season.
Speaking of five-game weeks, the Toronto Blue Jays are one of the two American League teams to visit a National League park, with two games at Milwaukee's Miller Park to begin the week. It's awful timing for Kendrys Morales, who is now healthy, and Justin Smoak, who has been on a recent tear, as they're likely to split the starts at first base in those games, meaning they'll each make a maximum of four starts, with one of them against Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish on Saturday. Morales, Smoak, Jose Bautista and possibly Kevin Pillar, who will be back from his two-game suspension in advance of Week 8, and Devon Travis are the only four Blue Jays who warrant consideration in standard mixed leagues despite the relatively favorable hitting matchups grade. The point is that you might be able to find a stronger alternative with more scheduled games in those formats, but be sure to keep names like Smoak around on your bench even if they don't crack your starting lineup.
It's a good time to exploit matchups against the injury-depleted Seattle Mariners pitching staff, and the Boston Red Sox are one of the two to reap that schedule benefit during Week 8. These Red Sox enjoy the advantage of avoiding Darvish in their three home games to begin the week before battling the Mariners at home for three. Jackie Bradley Jr. should be reinserted into your lineup (if he wasn't already), after posting four multi-hit games and three home runs in his past eight contests (through the games of May 18). Mitch Moreland and Sandy Leon are also worthwhile plug-ins, even in standard mixed, facing this favorable set of hitting matchups.
If there's anything to be said for the Miami Marlins' five-game Week 8, it's that they'll gain an additional roster spot with the designated hitter for two games at the Oakland Coliseum, and that they're a significantly better offense against right-handed (.347 team wOBA) than left-handed pitching (.306) and will face five righty starters. That's about where the positives end, however, as those five righty starters have combined for a 3.57 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in the past month (through May 18) and include two who are better than their stats suggest in Sonny Gray and Matt Shoemaker. The Marlins also typically DH Giancarlo Stanton while starting Ichiro Suzuki in right field when they gain that advantage, and Ichiro simply isn't a fantasy option outside of the deepest NL-only leagues at this phase of his career. Besides your obvious Marlins, the only non-obvious hitter who makes a case to remain in a standard-mixed lineup is Justin Bour, who has five home runs in his past eight games.
The St. Louis Cardinals' offense could put forth better-than-their-rating fantasy numbers this week, considering the team is scheduled to face three left-handed starters and has been one of the most productive against lefties to date (.341 wOBA, compared to .302 against right-handers), not to mention it gets three of its six games at Colorado's Coors Field. Jedd Gyorko, a .308 hitter with .231 isolated power against lefties this season and .312/.364/.651 in his 27 career games at Coors, is a standout option in all formats. Tommy Pham also warrants a look.
The Super 2 arbitration eligibility debate rages on with the New York Mets and their top prospect, Amed Rosario, but from a matchups perspective, it'd benefit them to at least consider him for a call-up this week. A plenty capable batsman, Rosario also brings some speed to the table, and the Mets couldn't have much more favorable stolen-base matchups than they do: The San Diego Padres' Austin Hedges has allowed the second-most steals this season (21), and the Pittsburgh Pirates' Francisco Cervelli has allowed the most (27). Even if Rosario doesn't make an appearance, Jose Reyes should benefit, earning him a look in deeper-than-standard mixed formats. The Mets also will face nothing but right-handed starters, a plus for this lefty-heavy offense that has a team wOBA 14 points higher against righties (.334) than lefties (.320).
The Arizona Diamondbacks have one of the highest team wOBAs against right-handers (.354, fifth best) as well as one of the widest wOBA splits favoring that side (41 points, fourth most), with much of the reason being two of the team's righty-mashing lefties: Jake Lamb is a .330/.417/.621 hitter against righties this season, and David Peralta is a .320/.366/.485 hitter against them. If Peralta is cleared from his glute injury before Monday, he needs to be in your active lineup. Those hurting for a second catcher might also want to consider Chris Herrmann, who has .227 isolated power against righties this season and might sneak in catcher starts this week with Chris Iannetta injured.
Lance Lynn's modest projections and ranking might cause you to dismiss him as a standard-league starter, but his two-start week actually has a higher ceiling than other two-start pitchers projected/ranked in his tier. (To be fair, his floor is also noticeably lower because one of his starts is at Colorado's Coors Field.) Bear in mind that he has four quality starts in his past five outings, with one of those coming at hitter-friendly Milwaukee's Miller Park and another versus the Red Sox, and in his career, Lynn is a perfect 3-for-3 in quality starts with a 1.77 ERA at Coors.
Also note that Jose Berrios received a generous projection and ranking despite his limited experience at the big league level. While an assignment at hitter-friendly Baltimore's Camden Yards might appear worrisome, keep in mind that the Baltimore Orioles have been one of the game's more free-swinging, strikeout-prone offenses in the month of May: Their 29 percent chase rate (swing percentage at non-strikes) is sixth highest, 26 percent miss rate on swings is fifth highest and 12.2 percent swinging-strike rate is fourth highest. This team also misses a lot against curveballs -- 17.7 percent swinging-strike rate -- which was Berrios' standout pitch during his dominating May 18 performance.