Fantasy baseball weekend watch: Expect runs aplenty in Mexico

Baseball returns to Mexico this weekend, as the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies meet for a two-game series at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú in Mexico City on Saturday and Sunday. It's a highlight series for fantasy baseball managers and seems likely to dominate the headlines for our purposes, considering the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants totaled 37 runs, 49 hits and 15 home runs at the same venue in their two-game series there last April.

How should managers adjust their lineups, accounting for the unusual park factors of that venue? And what else is on tap for the weekend? Our fantasy baseball analysts, Tristan H. Cockcroft and Eric Karabell, have the info you need.

Cockcroft: What makes Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú such an unusual venue in terms of the park factors is actually its altitude. At 7,349 feet, it's more than 2,000 feet higher in elevation than Colorado's Coors Field, and we already know how much the ball travels in that ballpark.

At Coors, the architects accounted for this with the outfield dimensions -- 347 feet down the left-field line and 350 down the right-field line, 415 feet to straightaway center and 390 to the left-center power alley. Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú's outfield isn't nearly as spacious, measuring a near-MLB-average 332 feet to either foul pole.

What's the upshot of that? Well, suffice to say that when I first entered this series into the Forecaster projections system, Austin Gomber, projected to start Sunday's game there, registered such a poor fantasy point total that he failed to meet a minimum threshold I had forgotten I programmed into the system many years back (at the time, the lowest-scoring pitchers were excluded from the column).

Yes, Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú is so hitting-friendly that a pitch-to-contact lefty with a career 4.69 FIP is projected for minus-4.2 points, the fewest for any pitcher since I've run Forecaster projections!

Naturally, you'll want to load up on Astros and Rockies hitters accordingly, despite the fact that they play two games from Friday to Sunday relative to the other 28 teams' three. My projections account for a 1.440 run factor for the series, meaning run scoring should inflate by 44%. At Coors, that number is 1.307. And since these are Rockies home games, here's an apt comparison: If Coors is the In-N-Out Burger Double-Double of baseball park factors, then Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú is a Double-Double Animal Style (and, yes, I highly recommend you try one).

Karabell: Stop making me hungry! You know there are no In-N-Out burger joints on the East Coast! How dare you!

Let's name names. You mentioned the five-most rostered Rockies in your "bad team" column this week (Charlie Blackmon, Elias Diaz, Ryan McMahon, Ezequiel Tovar, Nolan Jones), but even though the Astros will likely bring back LHP Framber Valdez this weekend, adding 1B Elehuris Montero, OF Brenton Doyle, 2B Brendan Rodgers and even new OF Sean Bouchard (playing regularly) is logical. OF/1B Hunter Goodman just got promoted, too, and I am interested. Whether the Astros go with RHP Ronel Blanco or RHP Hunter Brown, who has lost four consecutive starts, doesn't matter in this environment. Stack Rockies.

Houston's offense presumably gets the lefty Gomber and RHP Cal Quantrill, who is striking out a sad 12.7% of hitters. Five Astros hitters are rostered in more than 90% of ESPN standard leagues, but SS Jeremy Pena and OF Chas McCormick are not. Add them! This also brings up quite a dilemma. Astros 1B Jose Abreu is arguably baseball's worst hitter. He entered Thursday with minus-two fantasy points this season! Can you make a case to add Abreu for this two-game set?

Cockcroft: I cannot. I mean, Jon Singleton and his .605 career OPS has drawn five starts ahead of Abreu in the team's past 12 games, so I couldn't even promise that Abreu gets both of those starts.

What I can promise is that at least Five Guys exists on the east coast, and that's a mighty fine burger in its own right, even if different. My advice: Order the little fries, not the regular or large. You'd be all good, even for two people. And pass on the Cajun, they're nothing special.

So if we can't count on those pitchers in Mexico, on whom can we trust? I'm picking on those Chicago White Sox left and right, I couldn't believe how much their opponents have dominated the leaderboard. (I mean, I knew they were bad, but 20-plus points routinely for opponents?) Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale, Zack Littell. More advice: Never tout a two-start pitcher, then abandon trust in advance of his second turn, as some did with Littell after his Monday disappointment. This start was the hook anyway, and all three of those guys seem teed up for quality-start lines.

(If only the White Sox still had a Burger.)

Karabell: The highlight series seems to be Cubs at Red Sox (this is the Sunday night game on ESPN), and I am interested to see how these lineups perform without some key hitters. The Cubs lost OF/1B Cody Bellinger to a broken rib this week, and I would like to see prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong get a chance to play. He bats left-handed, and the Red Sox are throwing lots of right-handed pitching. First baseman Matt Mervis also is up, and one would think he gets a legitimate chance to play as well. Remember how much everyone loved Mervis entering 2023.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox finally have 3B Rafael Devers (knee) back in the lineup, and manager Alex Cora seems set on a defensive-minded outfield of Tyler O'Neill, Jarren Duran and Wilyer Abreu, making OF Masataka Yoshida a bench option when Devers has to DH, which he did Wednesday (and he homered). Not sure I want any part of Yoshida in fantasy, and I want to see how Devers hits. The Red Sox already lack 1B Triston Casas, and when the starting rotation starts to give up runs, the offense may not be able to compensate.

Your Yankees travel to Milwaukee to face RHPs Colin Rea and Joe Ross to start off, which hopefully gets struggling OF Aaron Judge (though he homered Wednesday) and 2B Gleyber Torres going. I am sure you are not too worried about these Yankees, and you are loving the Juan Soto experience, but the Yankees aren't scoring a ton of runs. The Brewers are doing a good job, even with journeyman pitchers, suppressing runs. Thoughts on the Yankees?

Cockcroft: Well, American Family Field should at least feel like familiar territory, as one of the game's most homer-friendly environments alongside Yankee Stadium. Judge had a few good swings on Tuesday, and his skill set leans towards streaky stretches, so I'm on board for this being perhaps the weekend he breaks through. The same goes for Torres, who continues to show the level of plate discipline that he did last year. I just traded for him in a key league this past week, accounting for what should be better stats in the near future.

You mention those Red Sox, for all the hoopla about their hot-starting rotation -- and I did very much like all five as bargain picks -- they're now down to just Friday and Sunday starters Kutter Crawford and Tanner Houck. What's going on with all the injuries in Boston?

Another struggling team that draws a prime opportunity to wake up is the Miami Marlins, a miserable 6-20 thus far but now hosting the Washington Nationals, a rebuilding team whom they beat in 11 of 13 meetings last season. Jesus Luzardo and Edward Cabrera, Friday's and Saturday's starters, stand out in a big way with those matchups, but there are also opportunities for the offense, with Trevor Williams and Patrick Corbin starting two out of the three games for the Nationals. Luis Arraez tore Nationals pitching to shreds last year (.431/.473/.608 in 12 games), so I've got my eye on him for a breakthrough.

Karabell: Yes, I agree that the Marlins have appealing starting pitching. You conveniently glossed over the other Nationals starter this weekend, lefty Mitchell Parker, who has already beaten the Dodgers and the Astros in his two starts, permitting nary a home run nor a walk. Parker in Miami seems worth a look. It doesn't always have to be about the top pitching prospects. I watched Sixto Sanchez this week. What a shame.

As for other readily available starters on my mind this weekend, I can't quit watching Dodgers RHP Gavin Stone (Friday at Toronto), and your Yankees RHP Luis Gil is at Milwaukee. Gil has a whole lotta strikeouts and walks, but enough of the former to make him interesting. Saturday features (to me) Parker in Miami and former Reds OF/SP Michael Lorenzen versus the Reds. Revenge! If only they would let Lorenzen hit, too!

I love the story about Orioles RHP Albert Suarez. He is 34 and back in the big leagues after seven years away in Korea, and his first two starts back have gone well. He gets to face the Athletics on Sunday. Keaton Winn should induce plenty of Pirates ground balls. He has won consecutive starts. The Sunday night contest is Cubs RHP Jordan Wicks against Houck. Wicks finally made it through six innings in his most recent start. He's run into some rough BABIP luck this season. I don't know if Wicks is going to stick in this rotation, but there is some upside here.