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Major League Baseball announced a number of scheduling changes during the past week, including the postponement of the St. Louis Cardinals' week-opening series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Assuming the Cardinals are cleared to return to action later in the week, the Detroit Tigers are slated to host them in a doubleheader at Comerica Park on Thursday in a makeup of their Aug. 4-5 postponements. That'd force the Cardinals' scheduled Thursday road game against the Chicago White Sox, which was originally set to be played at "Field of Dreams" in Dyersville, Iowa, to be rescheduled for Friday at Chicago's Guaranteed Rate Field. The changes give the Tigers an eight-game week -- a sizable fantasy advantage in a week where five other teams play only five times apiece.
At most, the Cardinals will play five games during Week 3, but their schedule in those games is extremely favorable. The Tigers and White Sox both have bottom-10 pitching staffs in terms of ERA, and bottom-half in terms of runs per game on offense. Try to limit your Cardinals usage only to leagues that allow daily transactions, but if they're cleared by Thursday, it'd be a good weekend to get Tommy Edman, who should handle the shortstop duties until the return of Paul DeJong (COVID-19), and Tyler O'Neill, who homered twice in his first five games. On the pitching side, Kwang-Hyun Kim is scheduled to join the Cardinals rotation during Week 3, and if he makes his first start during the weekend he'd be worth activation.
The Colorado Rockies are the top-graded team on offense, and it's no surprise why. They're scheduled for six games at Coors Field, with three apiece against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Texas Rangers pitching staffs that rank 28th (5.43) and 22nd (4.62) in the majors in ERA. Ryan McMahon (available in 42% of ESPN leagues) has made 11 starts in the Rockies' first 12 games, including three against left-handed starters, and is well worth having active in all formats.
Here's how quickly a 60-game season goes: One-quarter of the 2020 season will be in the books once five games go final on Monday -- and that's even accounting for all the games already postponed that have been rescheduled for future dates. To compare that to a typical, 162-game season, at the onset of Monday's play, the 220 games that will already be in the books would represent 9.1% of the schedule.
The five teams scheduled to play only five games during Week 3 are the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees, Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays are one team worth watching, as they return "home" to Buffalo's Sahlen Field to host the Marlins for two games and the Tampa Bay Rays for three. Sahlen Field's playing dimensions are similar to those of Toronto's Rogers Centre, so the Forecaster applies Rogers Centre's park factors in its formulas, at least until we get enough of a sample to judge how the Buffalo ballpark plays. It's a good idea to monitor the Blue Jays' results for ballpark takeaways, but it's also better to do so with their less-prominent players on your bench. Incidentally, due to their early-week postponements, the Pirates are slated for only four games.
A rise in pitcher injuries has opened up several rotation spots, not to mention cast some doubt on projected starters more than 2-3 days out. Most notably, Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals left his most-recent start after one inning with a hamstring injury, but he is expected to make his next scheduled turn on Tuesday and is a projected two-start Week 3 pitcher. Jose Quintana (thumb) threw a bullpen session on Aug. 8 and could rejoin the Chicago Cubs' active roster during Week 3, though it's unclear whether he'll return as starter or reliever. Marcus Stroman (calf) is also trending towards a return during the weekend, and could be activated by the New York Mets on Sunday if his Tuesday simulated game goes well.
While the Cincinnati Reds didn't capitalize upon what was a strong opening-week schedule, they've got another shot at a similarly strong set of weekly matchups. They'll host the Royals for two and Pirates for four games, with those teams struggling to find arms to fill their open rotation spots thus far. The Reds are scheduled to face at least three right-handed starters during Week 3. so It's another good week to get Joey Votto into your lineup. In addition, while Shogo Akiyama (available in 78% of ESPN leagues) and Jesse Winker (available in 97%) have gotten off to slow starts, both are well worth taking another chance on thanks to their both having started every Reds game thus far against a right-hander, with Akiyama generally the leadoff man.
The pitching staff of the Los Angeles Dodgers is off to a sensational start, their 2.39 ERA ranking second in the majors, and their Week 3 has two of their lesser-known names aligned for two starts: Dustin May, coming off an Aug. 4 quality start against the San Diego Padres, gets a rematch against them at home on Monday and a start at Angel Stadium on Saturday. Meanwhile, Ross Stripling, who has a 4.00 ERA through three starts, works on Tuesday and Sunday against those same Padres and the Los Angeles Angels.
Among the teams scheduled to face a greater-than-usual number of left- or right-handed starting pitchers are the Houston Astros and Padres, who are each set to face four lefties apiece, the Nationals, who are scheduled to face at least two and as many as four lefties, Mets and Oakland Athletics, who are scheduled to face six righties apiece, and Pirates, who are scheduled to face nothing but righties. Consider it a good week to activate Starlin Castro (35% available in ESPN leagues), a .341/.367/.559 hitter against lefties since the beginning of 2019; Howie Kendrick (58% available), a .383/.426/.642 hitter against lefties during the same time period; Colin Moran (45%), a .275/.328/.448 hitter against righties; Wil Myers (34%), a .245/.373/.561 hitter against lefties; Brandon Nimmo (75%), a .292/.514/.458 hitter against righties; and Dominic Smith (94%), a .269/.348/.500 hitter against righties.