Fantasy baseball’s Week 9 has a Monday evening start, as the first of six night games begins at 6:40 p.m. ET. For the remainder of your week’s daily lineup planning, Tuesday has 15 night games, the first scheduled for 6:40 p.m. ET. Wednesday has two day games, the first set to begin at 12:35 p.m. ET, and 15 total. Thursday has five day games, the first on tap for 12:35 p.m. ET, and 11 total. Friday has 15 night games, with the first scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET. Saturday has 11 day games, the first set to begin at 2:10 p.m. ET, and 16 total. Sunday’s games begin at 11:35 p.m. ET, one of 14 day games and 15 overall, concluding with New York Mets at Los Angeles Angels on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball at 7 p.m. ET. That Sunday night contest should be a good one, as it projects to be Noah Syndergaard‘s first start against his former Mets teammates, concluding what is a challenging two-start week for the right-hander (his first turn is at home against the Boston Red Sox).
Additional ESPN+ games for Week 9 include Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City Royals on Monday at 8:10 p.m. ET, Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins on Wednesday at 6:40 p.m. ET, New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins on Thursday at 7:40 p.m. ET, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants on Friday at 10:15 p.m. ET, Red Sox at Seattle Mariners on Saturday at 10:10 p.m. ET, and Red Sox at Mariners on Sunday at 4:10 p.m. ET.
Week 9 is lighter on elite two-start talent. Of the 33 pitchers currently aligned to make two starts, 10 are fifth/sixth starters, injury fill-ins or “TBDs,” and an additional five are pitchers who have scored 20 points or fewer in their past five turns. That means a greater likelihood of teams shuffling rotation orders, and three teams in particular — the Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics and Nationals — have decisions to make regarding their fifth-starter spots following Monday off days. That doesn’t mean this is a week without volume-driven starters, as Kyle Wright (home versus Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates) has the most favorable matchups among higher-profile fantasy choices. Cal Quantrill (home versus Texas Rangers and Athletics, and 36.9% available in ESPN leagues) should be a universal add-and-start thanks to his matchups and his six quality starts in his past seven tries. Jose Quintana (home versus Tigers, road versus Atlanta Braves, and 83.2% available) has pitched well enough of late to warrant adding despite that second challenging turn, especially as each matchup has a good share of strikeout potential.
Here we go again: The Braves enter the first weekend of June a sub-.500 team, just as they did last year, and we all know how that story played out then. To be clear, the Braves made up no ground last June, going 13-15 in the month, and it took until August before they really got going. Flash back to today, and they’re in fantastic shape to begin a quicker climb up the standings heading into Week 9, as they begin a six-game home stand against Athletics and Pirates teams that rank among the majors’ five worst in runs scored per game and 10 worst in team ERA, as referenced with Wright’s example above. Spencer Strider (86.8% available), who should be able to ramp his pitch count up to around 85 in what’ll be his third start of the year on Friday (he’s making start No. 2 on June 4 at Colorado, the weekend entering Week 9), also draws an outstanding matchup against a strikeout-prone, and injury-riddled, Pirates offense. Among hitters, William Contreras (74.9%) and Michael Harris II (92.2%) continue to get enough playing time to be mixed league-relevant when facing matchups as favorable as these, even if they’re bottom-half-of-the-order types.
There is one make-up game during Week 9, as the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres will play a doubleheader at San Diego’s Petco Park on Saturday, making up one of the games postponed due to the lockout. It’s one of seven road games for the Rockies, who draw perhaps their least favorable weekly schedule of the entire year, playing three road games against the Giants before four against said Padres. In the process, they’ll face Carlos Rodon (Tuesday), Alex Wood (Wednesday), Alex Cobb (Thursday), Joe Musgrove (Friday), MacKenzie Gore and Mike Clevinger (Saturday) and Blake Snell (Sunday), meaning there really isn’t a soft spot on their entire schedule, the only plus being the extra at-bats that the doubleheader will provide their hitters in ESPN standard leagues (due to the daily transactions). As four of those projected starters are left-handed, Ryan McMahon, a .229/.322/.338 hitter against lefties since the beginning of 2021, is a weaker mixed-league play. Meanwhile, the two Rockies pitchers who become slightly more interesting because of their road assignments are Chad Kuhl (71.9%), who has a 3.13 road ERA in six starts, and Kyle Freeland (97.3%), who has a 3.00 road ERA in four starts, as each is aligned for a weekend start against a struggling Padres offense rather than against the high-scoring Giants.
Would you believe that the Royals hitters possess Week 9’s highest-graded matchups? Four week-ending home games against the Baltimore Orioles provides most of the advantage, as the Orioles’ patchwork rotation has put a strain on what was a hot-starting, but slowing-lately, bullpen. It also helps that the Blue Jays, who visit Kansas City for three games to begin the week, lost Hyun Jin Ryu (forearm, 15-day IL) to injury recently, forcing Ross Stripling into Monday’s start and putting additional strain on the Blue Jays’ bullpen. Since (and including) the Royals’ three-game trip to Colorado’s Coors Field May 13-15, the team has four hitters who rank among the game’s top 50 in fantasy points, Whit Merrifield (62 fantasy points, tied for 15th), Bobby Witt Jr. (57, tied for 25th), Andrew Benintendi (51, tied for 42nd) and Hunter Dozier (51, tied for 42nd). Dozier is widely available in ESPN leagues, out there in 67.9%, as is catcher MJ Melendez (89.8%), who has .250 isolated power since May 13.
The Royals’ pitching is an entirely different story, facing the same patchwork strategy to the Orioles due to injuries and underperformance. It’s why a lot of the teams with favorable Week 9 hitting matchups face one another, including those Orioles and the Blue Jays, the Royals’ aforementioned opponents. The Blue Jays actually stand out matchups-wise on both the hitting and pitching side, the latter true because they’ll finish their six-game week with three road contests against a Tigers rotation that has also been riddled with injuries. It’s a prime week for the Blue Jays to make their own upward move in the standings, and fantasy managers who haven’t yet need to get on board immediately with Alejandro Kirk (73.7% available) and Santiago Espinal (82.0%), both of whom have captured bigger roles as a result of hot starts.
A pair of teams suffer the misfortune of five-game weeks, the Chicago Cubs and Tigers, but neither one is in especially bad shape despite the volume disadvantage. Each opens its week with a winnable series, the Cubs playing two games at the Orioles and the Tigers playing two at the Pirates. The Cubs then finish their week with three games at the Yankees in their homer-friendly ballpark, while the Tigers host the Blue Jays for three weekend contests, including one game against the aforementioned Stripling. Neither team is a highly recommended source of fantasy starters — and neither is deep enough in talent to be considered that besides — but there’s every reason to keep reliable names like Willson Contreras, Ian Happ and Frank Schwindel, as well as surging Jonathan Schoop, in your Week 9 lineups.
The Brewers, despite their injury-depleted rotation, match up well with the opposing Philadelphia Phillies (three week-opening home games) and Nationals (three weekend road games), drawing the former at the end of what has been a brutal stretch of schedule for the Phillies. While the injuries to Brandon Woodruff (ankle, 15-day IL) and Freddy Peralta (shoulder, 15-day IL) might press rookie Jason Alexander (99.6% available) into two-start duty, Alexander pitched well enough in his big-league debut to have deep-mixed and NL-only value if he makes those starts. Adrian Houser (86.4%) and Aaron Ashby (70.9%), too, warrant add-and-starts this week. On offense, your sleeper pickup is Tyrone Taylor (85.5%), a .292/.340/.625 hitter with four home runs and 14 RBIs while starting each of the Brewers’ past 13 games, even earning spots in the top four of the lineup recently due to other injuries on the roster.