Fantasy baseball pickups – Your attention should be on Coors Field this week

It’s a new week, the first full one of the season’s second half, and in ESPN’s standard leagues that means a brand-new matchup in those head-to-head leagues. The Forecaster has been updated to provide you in-depth projections and analysis of the July 25-31 games ahead, but let’s use this space to dig into some specifics on the add/drop front.


Gavin Lux, SS/2B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (36.7% available in ESPN leagues): As referenced in said Forecaster, the Dodgers have by far the most favorable set of hitting matchups — as well as from a competitive, all-around standpoint — during this next seven-day scoring period, thanks to three home games against the worst-in-the-majors Washington Nationals, followed by a four-game trip to Colorado’s Coors Field. Those Coors games do detract from Dodgers pitchers’ matchups, and that they’ll utilize a six-man rotation for the week waters down the starters’ appeal from a volume perspective as well as clouds who will fall into unfortunate Coors assignments, but things couldn’t align much better than they do for the team’s hitters. Freddie Freeman has been on a massive tear, a large part of the reason the team entered the All-Star break on a hot streak, then exited it with a four-game sweep of the division-rival San Francisco Giants, but there’s value to be had off the waiver wire from this roster.

Lux needs to be a universal add-and-start considering this schedule, having started 15 of the team’s past 18 games, including 5-of-7 against lefty starters, not to mention moving up to fifth/sixth in the batting order for two of the past three. He’s a .308/.419/.577 hitter during that 18-game span, making late-game appearances in the three that he did not start.

Randal Grichuk, OF, Colorado Rockies (55.2% available): The Rockies’ matchups, despite six of their seven games coming at Coors Field, don’t stack up as well as those of the Dodgers, primarily because those Dodgers are simply the better team, but also because the Rockies have to deal with some pretty talented pitching in the process (Michael Kopech, Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw, most notably). Still, Rockies hitters benefit from the week heavy on Coors games, and it’ll be especially true for their lefty-mashers, a group that includes Kris Bryant (.345/.397/.621 rates against lefties this year), Brendan Rodgers (.330/.393/.547) and, yes, Grichuk (.313/.343/.525).

Grichuk might be in the midst of a seriously disappointing first year in Colorado, but two things he has excelled at are these types of matchups – home games, as he has batted .295/.326/.479, in addition to the above rates against lefties, having started 35-of-38 Rockies games against left-handed starters. Grichuk and all of your regular Rockies need to be active everywhere for Week 15.

George Kirby, SP, Seattle Mariners (78.9% available): The Mariners are expected to recall Kirby from Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday, setting him up for a two-start week, with matchups at home against the Texas Rangers and on the road against the Houston Astros. While that latter assignment is a challenging one — the Astros have an above-average runs per game average, are a top-five offense at making contact and began the second half on a five-game winning streak — the additional volume makes a workload-concern pitcher like Kirby a more attractive add-and-start. He has enjoyed just about as much success with his fastball during his rookie year as fellow rotation mate Logan Gilbert did with his last season, and has been shown some of the best control of any pitcher in baseball in 2022, his walk rate a mere 3.3%.

Kirby is nearly certain to see his innings capped, probably at most around 140, after he threw only 67 2/3 combined between high Class A and Double-A ball in 2021. Still, that would give him roughly another 49 this season over the Mariners’ final 66 games, meaning that slowing-/shutting-down process is probably still a few weeks off. As is, the Mariners don’t have another ideal point in their schedule to skip him altogether for another month, so this is a prime time to scoop him up.

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The fantasy value of George Kirby and Drew Rasmussen fell into question slightly before the All-Star break, but both right-handers seem on track to deliver solid second halves. Video by Tristan H. Cockcroft

More Week 15 notes: The St. Louis Cardinals will be without both Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt for their week-opening, two-game series in Toronto on Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s a significant disadvantage for the team’s offense, especially with it being a five-game schedule, and that should weigh in your weekly-league decisions for all of your Cardinals hitters. Brendan Donovan, who has several spots at which he can squeeze into the lineup, is probably the hitter most likely to capitalize upon the expanded opportunity, but even he is only a .184/.328/.184 hitter in 15 games in July who isn’t a great pickup.

Leody Taveras might’ve taken quite a while to figure things out at the big-league level, an unsurprising development considering the swing-and-miss nature to his game, but he seems to be coming on of late at a favorable time in the Texas Rangers’ schedule. He has bumped his zone contact rate by more than 6% this season, helping him bat .420 (21-for-50) over his past 14 games. Statcast says he’s still performing well over his head, his xBA still only .256, but even that represents a near-30 point bump, and he continues to show some of the quickest speed in the game. His Rangers are in the midst of an 18-day span (14 of those remain) and 34-of-35 without a day off, so this is a good time to get on board with him in mixed leagues.

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