The Fantasy Baseball Forecaster has been updated as of Sunday, April 16, at 2:55 p.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 fast as possible. Good luck this season!
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On tap: Patriots' Day in Boston kicks off fantasy baseball's Week 3, as the Boston Red Sox host the Tampa Bay Rays at 11 a.m. ET on Monday, April 17. Mind the early start time in weekly leagues, as it's the only day game Monday.
No offense stands out more than the St. Louis Cardinals', who play a full seven-game schedule, with four of those played at homer-friendly Miller Park (Milwaukee), and all seven against right-handed starting pitchers. Of those seven righties, four possess somewhat wide-to-massive platoon splits -- Ivan Nova and Chad Kuhl of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson of the Milwaukee Brewers -- so it's the left handed-hitting Cardinals bats you'll definitely want active. This should be the week that Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler break through, and Matt Adams is a beneath-the-radar play -- think NL-only and 15-plus-team mixed leagues -- thanks to his healthy amount of usage against righties in left field.
Both American League teams that visit National League ballparks this week do so at inopportune times, beginning with the Baltimore Orioles, who have six outfielders (counting DH-listed Trey Mancini) on their active roster. The Orioles visit Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park from Tuesday through Thursday. Usual DH Mark Trumbo should find time in the outfield for most if not all of the Orioles' six games, but Mancini, Seth Smith, Craig Gentry and Hyun Soo Kim will have to battle for at-bats in the other corner outfield spot for the three games in Cincinnati, and the team is scheduled to face an even number -- three -- of left- and right-handed starters; this makes the hitters in that group a poor choice in anything but AL-only leagues. In short, keep Smith on your bench for Week 3, and don't be lured in by Mancini's hot start.
The New York Yankees are the other team to visit an NL venue, playing three at Pittsburgh's PNC Park from Friday through Sunday. Usual DH Matt Holliday seems unlikely to play in the field, at best perhaps sneaking in one start at first base or right field. Holliday and Greg Bird should be limited to AL-only use during Week 3, as their week-opening series against the back end of the Chicago White Sox rotation is their one supporting case in those formats.
For a five-game schedule including one road start against best-pitcher-in-the-biz Clayton Kershaw, the Colorado Rockies' Week 3 matchups aren't as poor as you might think ... at least for their right-handed hitters. Lefty-hitting Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra, both of whom have had historical struggles against lefties, might find this a difficult week, but three games at Coors Field and three against scheduled left-handed starters should keep Mark Reynolds and Trevor Story as meaningful plays.
Both the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros visit Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field during Week 3, with each team presenting fantasy owners with a pair of streaming-starter candidates: Daniel Norris and Jordan Zimmermann of the Tigers, and Charlie Morton and Joe Musgrove of the Astros, all of whom are available in more than 60 percent of ESPN leagues. The Rays thus far have been the American League's most strikeout-prone offense, after ranking among the majors' 10 most K-prone teams during spring training.
For the second consecutive week, the Cleveland Indians enjoy a favorable schedule, and for the second consecutive week, they face a number of left-handed starters: three, to be exact. Both venues they'll visit, Minnesota's Target Field (four games) and Chicago's Guaranteed Rate Field (three), are favorable venues for right-handed power. Austin Jackson figures to get all three starts in center field, now that Tyler Naquin has been demoted, making Jackson a worthwhile AL-only plug-in.
Since the visiting Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners have not yet hit their full stride offensively, Oakland Athletics' pitchers should benefit from a seven-game schedule played entirely at home, in pitching-friendly O.co Coliseum. In particular, Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs, both of whom are coming off quality starts, are worth adding in ESPN leagues; they're both available in more than two-thirds of them.
While some fantasy owners have begun dropping Eric Thames in ESPN leagues, presumably due to his platoon-player status, Week 3 is a good time to scoop him up and start him. Thames' Milwaukee Brewers face six scheduled right-handed starters, and he has started all seven of their games against a righty starter, batting second in all seven contests. Thames has batted .391/.481/.783 against righties to date.
Kyle Schwarber owners: Don't panic upon noticing that his Chicago Cubs are scheduled to face at least two left-handed starters in Week 3. Schwarber has started all 10 Cubs games thus far, including three against lefty starters, and he hasn't looked helpless against his weak platoon side (albeit in a small sample).