Fantasy Baseball Forecaster for Week 18

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  • A doubleheader on Monday between the Cleveland Guardians and Detroit Tigers at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, with one of the games making up their July 17 postponement, causes a slightly earlier than usual start to the week. Game 1, which is to be broadcast on ESPN+, has a 3:10 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch. Remember to set your lineups! That kicks off one of the busier weeks on the schedule, as 26-of-30 teams will play on Monday, with all of the remainder of that day’s action in the evening, and there are 101 total games scheduled. In addition to that one game of the Tigers-Guardians doubleheader, there are two other make-up games scheduled during Week 18, the Chicago Cubs at Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, that rescheduling their June 8 postponement and causing a one-game series on what would’ve been either team’s travel day; and a New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies reschedule of their May 6 postponement on Saturday, which also creates a doubleheader.

  • For the remainder of your daily lineup planning, Tuesday has 15 night games scheduled, the earliest two slated for 6:40 p.m. ET. Wednesday has six day games, the earliest being Phillies at Cincinnati Reds on ESPN+ at 12:35 p.m. ET, and 15 total. Thursday has six day games, the first on tap for 1:15 p.m. ET, among 11 total. Friday has one day game, scheduled for 2:20 p.m. ET, and 15 total. Saturday has six day games, the earliest two starting at 1:05 p.m. ET, among 16 total. Sunday’s games begin at 12:05 p.m., one of 14 day games and 15 overall, concluding with Boston Red Sox at Orioles on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball at 7 p.m. ET.

  • Additional ESPN+ games for Week 18 include Mets at Atlanta Braves on Thursday at 7:20 p.m. ET, San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies on Friday at 8:40 p.m. ET, and Texas Rangers at Minnesota Twins on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET.

  • That Mets-Phillies doubleheader results in an eight-game week for the Amazins, and it’s a critical stage of their remaining schedule. It concludes their season series with the rival Phillies, leads into the high-energy, two-game Subway Series at the New York Yankees (Aug. 22-23, which begins fantasy’s Week 19), and other than a three-game, final-weekend series at the Braves, gives them their best remaining head-to-head chance at creating some space in the division. While the Forecaster ratings don’t grade the Mets’ schedule as particularly favorable — the Braves and Phillies are top-eight teams in both runs per game on offense and ERA on the pitching side for the season — you can be sure that the team will bring its best effort to these contests. After all, the Mets are 17-7 against these teams for the season. As the Mets are projected to face six (and possibly seven) right-handed starters during Week 18, this would be a good week to add and start red-hot, left-handed recent acquisitions Tyler Naquin (90.0% available in ESPN leagues) and Daniel Vogelbach (93.2% available), .282/.344/.541 and .282/.391/.549 hitters against righties this season who tend to occupy the Nos. 7 and 5 lineup spots as the left fielder and designated hitter against that side.

  • The other “motivation-over-matchups” team for Week 18 is the Orioles, who begin with a three-game series at the Toronto Blue Jays, before returning home for that lone Cubs make-up game and a three-game weekend series against the Red Sox. The Orioles are very much in the American League wild-card race, entering play on Aug. 12 a half-game out of the third wild-card spot, and they won their two-game series against these Blue Jays Aug. 8-9, while the Red Sox have been reeling since July 1 (25 losses in 37 games from that date forward). Adley Rutschman (36.0% available) is quietly developing into one of the better-hitting catchers in baseball, batting .328/.506/.448 in his 18 games since the All-Star break to capture the No. 2 spot in the lineup, and his .289/.396/.509 rates against righties for the season bode quite well considering all of the Orioles’ projected opposing starters are right-handed. As the Orioles are also finding themselves fighting and clawing for victories, new closer Felix Bautista (72.7%) is also transforming into a must-have in fantasy leagues, with four saves (including each of the team’s past three), one hold and a 1.59 ERA in 11 second-half appearances.

  • The Giants are Week 18’s lone visitor to Colorado’s Coors Field, and that’s a big deal for this “tweener” team in the standings, especially considering that five of the team’s active hitters (as of Aug. 12, that’s Brandon Belt, Thairo Estrada, Wilmer Flores, Tommy La Stella and Mike Yastrzemski) have at least .400 career wOBA at Coors, while Evan Longoria has .377 career wOBA there. The Giants continue to mix and match based upon the opposing starter’s handedness — it’s a five-righty and two-lefty projected week — but Belt (67.3% available), Flores (17.2%) and Yastrzemski (45.0%) are all seeing enough playing time to warrant mixed-league activation facing this schedule. About the only Giants player who matches up poorly as a result of the team’s weekly schedule is Alex Wood, who despite his 2.54 ERA in his past seven starts should be avoided in his Coors assignment, especially since he has an 8.26 career ERA there in 11 appearances (10 starts).

  • The Miami Marlins have entered what can only be described as a treacherous remaining portion of their schedule, and theirs certainly isn’t easy during Week 18, as they play a three-game series against the San Diego Padres (home) and Los Angeles Dodgers (road). That three of the Marlins’ six games are projected to be against left-handed starters is bad news for this team that ranks dead last in wOBA (.261) and strikeout rate (27.9%) against left-handers, especially since all three of the team’s best lefty crushers were on the injured list as of Aug. 12, Brian Anderson, Jon Berti and Jorge Soler. Anderson and Berti could be back this week, making them NL-only factors, but this might well be an avoid-the-lot-of-’em offense for Week 18. Hey, at least Sandy Alcantara is lined up as their two-start pitcher.

  • Speaking of the Padres, is this the week during which we see Fernando Tatis Jr.’s (wrist, 60-day IL) 2022 debut? As of Aug. 12, he has played four rehabilitation games for Double-A San Antonio, three of them at shortstop, batting .222 with one double and one triple. Tatis’ Padres draw the league-worst Washington Nationals rotation during their week-ending, four-game home series, which are plenty good enough matchups to warrant activating him everywhere if he’s cleared to return in time.

  • The St. Louis Cardinals play three-game series against the Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, which begins what is an awfully soft portion of their remaining schedule. As the Rockies are baseball’s second-lowest scoring offense and third-worst-in-ERA pitching staff in road games, that the series takes place at Busch Stadium vastly elevates these overall matchups. The Cardinals are projected to face three left-handed starters, which is great news for their righty-heavy heart of the lineup. Paul DeJong (91.5% available), a .297/.400/.757 hitter in 11 games since his recall, is a universal add-and-start facing this schedule. Albert Pujols (97.4%), a .357/.395/.614 hitter against lefties this season, is also worth the pickup in NL-only and 15-plus-team mixed leagues. Jose Quintana (66.0%), who has three quality starts in his past four tries, also aligns for a favorable two-start week.

  • Though their aforementioned weekend series against the Mets will present quite a challenge, the Phillies aren’t exactly in that rough shape, matchups-wise, heading into Week 18. Under interim manager Rob Thompson, they’re a third-best-in-baseball 40-20, and a fantasy-friendly three game series at the rebuilding Reds counterbalances the challenges of that Mets series. By the way, the Phillies are projected to miss both Max Scherzer (Wednesday, at Braves) and Jacob deGrom (Thursday) during their series, which only bumps up their hitting matchups. The team is getting good production out of two less-likely, widely available sources, Alec Bohm (54.2% available), who typically bats third in the order, and Darick Hall (94.6%), their designated hitter against righties. Both are worthy add-and-starts.

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