Lineups to fear and when exactly to avoid them with your fantasy pitchers

Fred ZinkieYahoo Fantasy Contributor
The <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/houston/" data-ylk="slk:Houston Astros">Houston Astros</a> are one of the most fearsome lineups in baseball. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
The Houston Astros are one of the most fearsome lineups in baseball. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

After discussing lineups to target with streamers last week, we will now turn our attention to the lineups that fantasy owners should avoid with spot starters and manage carefully with midlevel hurlers.

Lineups to avoid in most situations

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Astros: Houston continues to be all-around awesome, leading the Majors in overall OPS (.863) and ranking second in runs scored. They also limit a pitcher’s boom potential, as they rank 29th in total whiffs. This great lineup could be even better in a couple of weeks if Jose Altuve gets healthy and finds his top form.

Dodgers: This group is the National League version of the Astros, as they lead Senior Circuit in runs scored and rank second in OPS. They also have balanced splits against lefties and righties and have been effective at home and on the road. Add in their formidable pitching staff (third in baseball with a 3.39 ERA), and the Dodgers provide little reason for owners to stream against them.

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Twins: The surprise team on this list, the Twins rank second in the Majors with a .848 OPS and lead all teams in runs scored. They have also struck out less often than all but two teams. Tied for tops in baseball in home runs, Minnesota has the potential to spoil a starter’s day in a hurry.

Red Sox: Boston ranks just 12th in overall OPS (.761) but is eighth with 234 total runs scored. They started the season with an ice-cold stretch during a West Coast road trip but have been slowly climbing the ranks in recent weeks. And even marginal fantasy owners will remember that this was the most feared lineup in baseball a year ago.

Lineup to avoid when they are facing a right-hander

Rangers: The Rangers have been much better against right-handers (.823 OPS) than they have been against lefties (.711 OPS). Joey Gallo, Hunter Pence, Shin-Soo Choo, Logan Forsythe, Danny Santana, and Elvis Andrus all own an OPS of at least .889 against righties.

Lineups to avoid when they are facing a left-hander

D-backs: Arizona has been mediocre against right-handers (.749 OPS) but spectacular vs. southpaws (.865 OPS). Members of the D-backs who own an OPS of .900 or better against lefties include Carson Kelly, Eduardo Escobar, Nick Ahmed, and Ketel Marte.

A’s: The fact that Oakland is doing their best work against lefties should be no surprise, as Matt Olson is the only lineup regular who is neither a switch-hitter nor a righty batter. Stephen Piscotty, Khris Davis, Matt Chapman, Josh Phegley, Chad Pinder, and Jurickson Profar all own an OPS of .889 or better against southpaws.

Lineups to avoid when they are at home

Rockies: Perhaps the least surprising part of this article is that fantasy owners should avoid using starters at Coors Field. The Rockies have their typically lofty OPS at home this season (.858) and should be even more dangerous when the weather warms up.

Brewers: Miller Park is one of the best parks in baseball for hitters, and the Brewers have taken full advantage. The club is raking at home (.806 OPS) while being a middle of the pack offense when they are on the road. Surprisingly, Milwaukee was barely above average at home during their impressive 2018 season.

Lineups to avoid when they are on the road

Mariners: Pitcher-friendly Safeco Field has kept Seattle in check when they are at home, but the club has been lights-out (.841 OPS) on the road. The Mariners are tied for the Major League lead in homers and rank third in runs scored, but they are not near the top in overall OPS and are prone to strikeouts. Overall, this is a group to avoid at hitter-friendly road venues but to treat normally the rest of the time.

Cubs: Wrigley Field is not an offense-inducing home venue, and the Cubs predictably rank in the middle of the pack with a .741 OPS at home. But the club has mashed when on the road, producing a .840 OPS in those situations. Chicago also leads the NL in overall OPS (.794).

Lineup to avoid for strikeouts

Angels: The Angels have been much better at home than on the road, but their venue isn’t a hitter-friendly one and I didn’t feel confident enough in their splits to place them in that section of this article. I will, however, slot them in their own category as a mediocre scoring lineup who is excellent at making contact. Los Angeles has struck out just 270 times, which is 57 less than any other team. I’m fine with using my regular starters against them, but I’m not expecting to strike gold with a streamer.

Lineup to avoid down the road

Yankees: The Yankees have not done anything exceptional thus far, but their injury woes have been well-documented and we know this is one of the most potent lineups in baseball when they are healthy. Owners can treat New York as a middle-of-the-road foe for now, but expectations need to totally change when Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge eventually return to action.

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