The Fantasy Baseball Forecaster has been updated as of Friday, Aug. 18, at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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On tap: Three doubleheaders, all of them a result of making up previous postponements, grace the Week 20 schedule, leading to a busy week in which three teams play as many as eight times and 10 other teams play as many as seven.
The week gets off to a slightly earlier start due to the 5:10 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch of the Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox straight doubleheader on Monday, with one game making up the teams’ May 10 rainout. Fantasy players should take heed of the unusual, slightly early start time, as well as Tuesday’s similarly early start time — 4:05 p.m. ET, which begins the first game of the Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies straight doubleheader, with one game making up the teams’ April 25 rainout.
ESPN will televise a pair of games from the Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels series, on Tuesday and Wednesday, with both broadcasts beginning at 10 p.m. ET. Sunday Night Baseball will feature Game 2 of the New York Mets at Washington Nationals split-admission doubleheader, which begins at 8 p.m. ET.
1. Fatigue is an inevitable factor in a week with so many doubleheaders, and the greater volume of games for teams might mean more off days for regulars rather than additional at-bats for those players. In order of the likelihood of fatigue factoring:
The Twins’ Monday doubleheader is their second in a five-day span and gives them 13 scheduled games in an 11-day span from Aug. 17-27.
The Mets’ Aug. 27 doubleheader concludes a 21-games-in-20-days stretch without a day off.
The Nationals, the Mets’ opponent in that Aug. 27 doubleheader, will be on their sixth day of a 21-games-in-20-days stretch without a day off.
The White Sox, the Twins’ Monday doubleheader opponent, will play 14 games in a 13-day span from Aug. 15-27.
Finally, both the Marlins and Phillies have Monday off days before kicking off a 21-games-in-20-days stretch from Aug. 22-Sept. 10 with their Tuesday doubleheader, though neither team might reflect signs of fatigue until Weeks 21 or 22.
For the Phillies, incidentally, the final 11 of those days will all be played on the road. The additional games are good from a team perspective when drawing players from their respective rosters, but an eight-game week won’t necessarily mean eight starts for a hitter like Brian Dozier, and rather might mean part-timers, like Eduardo Escobar, pick up additional starts.
2. Taking that a step further with the Twins, five games at Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field followed by three at Toronto’s Rogers Centre — in which they’ll face neutral-to-fly-ball-leaning starting pitchers Reynaldo Lopez, James Shields, Derek Holland, Miguel Gonzalez, Nick Tepesch and Marco Estrada — give their roster, top to bottom, a great schedule. Worth slotting into any mixed-league lineup are: Max Kepler, who has .308 isolated power and an 84.6 percent contact rate in August and is available in roughly 85 percent of ESPN leagues; Jorge Polanco, a .413/.438/.587 August hitter available in more than 95 percent; and Eddie Rosario, a .324/.365/.610 hitter since the All-Star break available in more than 50 percent. Just beware this: None seems likely to make all eight starts. Seven? Perhaps.
3. This should be a week for the Chicago Cubs to put some space between themselves and their National League Central competition, as they’ll play three games at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, against a Cincinnati Reds pitching staff with the majors’ worst second-half ERA (6.07), followed by three at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park against a Phillies staff that might be feeling the effects of fatigue. This is a dream schedule for a left-handed hitter, which is why Alex Avila (rostered in 50.4 percent of ESPN leagues), a .281/.398/.525 hitter against right-handers this season, and Kyle Schwarber (50.2), a .286/.389/.597 hitter against righties since his recall on July 6, warrant your start everywhere. In NL-only formats, Ian Happ (26.0), a .236/.325/.533 hitter against righties this season, and Jon Jay (1.7), a .286/.377/.397 hitter against righties, should amass enough quality at-bats to matter.
4. An eight-game week doesn’t suit the Mets as well as you might think, and in fact, since their rating doesn’t account for player fatigue, they’re quite a bit less appealing from a matchups standpoint in Week 20. Try to limit your Mets exposure to Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson, the team’s few productive hitters of late. Wilmer Flores is a .292/.342/.625 hitter in 26 games since the All-Star break and could get almost all of the third-base at-bats if healthy, but questions about his rib-cage injury make him a potentially shaky choice in mixed leagues.
5. Here’s a pair of widely available players who should benefit from a good volume of “favorable platoon side” matchups: Austin Jackson, a .342/.432/.618 hitter against left-handers, in a week where his Cleveland Indians will face at least four and potentially five lefty starters; and Nicky Delmonico, a .284/.363/.442 hitter against right-handed starters between Triple-A Charlotte and the majors this season, whose White Sox play eight games with at least five of them and potentially seven against right-handed starters. Jackson is held in 1.4 percent of ESPN leagues, Delmonico 3.1 percent.
6. If Robbie Ray indeed rejoins the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ rotation on Tuesday, as seems likely, he’d align for a brilliant two-start set of matchups: He’d pitch at New York’s Citi Field and back home versus the San Francisco Giants. The Mets have struggled mightily against left-handers of late, batting .231/.269/.426 with a 29.2 percent strikeout rate against them since the All-Star break, and Ray gets a significant ballpark boost compared to a game at Chase Field. As for the weekend start at Chase, the Giants are one of the game’s offenses least likely to capitalize upon the cozy confines; their 1.9 percent home run rate against lefties is last in the majors this season. Ray is an automatic start in all formats, even if he’s brought back Wednesday for one start (which, again, would be played at Citi Field against those Mets).
7. Carlos Rodon stands out among two-start Week 20 values. Available in nearly two-thirds of ESPN leagues, the left-hander is riding a streak of four quality starts, with those games coming against the majors’ Nos. 8, 10, 1 and 5 offenses in terms of runs per game. His matchups are a tad challenging, both of them played at home at Guaranteed Rate Field, against Twins and Detroit Tigers offenses that typically make greater contact and hit for more success against lefties than righties. Still, what makes Rodon stand out is his significantly improved control, as he has boosted his first-pitch strike rate by two percent this season compared to 2015-16 combined, placed nearly two percent more overall pitches in the strike zone, and posted a remarkable 5.3 percent walk rate in his four-quality-start streak (he had a 10.0 percent rate in his career up to that point).
8. Among American League DHs losing at-bats due to interleague implications, the Seattle Mariners‘ Nelson Cruz should simply shift to right field for at least two of and perhaps all three games of the team’s week-opening series at Atlanta’s Turner Field. That most hurts Ben Gamel, a .128/.163/.149 hitter in August who will likely also lose at-bats in the two games against left-handed New York Yankees starters during the team’s weekend series. The Tampa Bay Rays, meanwhile, will face a difficult decision between Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison, who have been rotating between first base and DH since Duda’s acquisition on July 27. Between the loss of at-bats — they might split the starts at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium two-to-one, with it being a coin flip as to which one gets more — and Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ facing them in the week-opening series at home versus the Toronto Blue Jays, neither Duda nor Morrison is a recommended mixed-league play.
9. As for National League players gaining at-bats thanks to picking up the DH in interleague play, the Colorado Rockies are the team to watch, with prospect Ryan McMahon an obvious candidate to pick up first-base starts with Mark Reynolds shifting to DH. The Rockies play the week entirely on the road but could face as many as three left-handed starters, meaning McMahon would provide them some much-needed balance in those games. He’s well worth an NL-only start. The Washington Nationals also visit an AL park, with three week-opening games at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, though there’s minimal fantasy benefit with Alejandro De Aza and Andrew Stevenson likely to pick up the extra at-bats at the corner outfield spots (Adam Lind and Howie Kendrick should simply shift to DH as matchups dictate).