- The Cardinals dropped Matt Carpenter from his usual leadoff spot to the five-hole on Friday, and he's 5-for-8 with a home run in their first two games with the new batting order. Is the lineup switch all he needed? Let's set the table for another week of baseball.
The SI.com Fantasy Baseball Table Setter gets you ready for the week ahead with a focus on the hitters and pitchers who deserve extra attention in the coming days, and all the schedule details you need to get your lineups set for this week’s games.
Pitchers to Watch
Gerrit Cole, Astros
Cole allowed six earned runs over five innings in his last start against the White Sox, spiking his ERA from 3.56 to 4.11. The 28-year-old righthander has been inconsistent over the first two months of the season, with two bad starts blemishing his overall fantasy numbers. Still, Cole leads the majors with 13.71 strikeouts per nine innings and his walk rate is the lowest it’s been since 2015 when he was with the Pirates. Those figures, along with his elite 16.2% swinging strike percentage, suggest Cole will remain a top-tier starter. He’ll face the Cubs at home on Monday and the A’s in Oakland next Sunday.
Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees
Tanaka’s command escaped him during his rough stretch from the mid-April through May 1—10 of his 15 walks this season came during that four-start span. But he’s been on a roll since then; beginning on May 7, Tanaka has a 1.42 ERA with 22 strikeouts and three walks in 25 1/3 innings across four starts. He’s scheduled to pitch twice this week at Yankee Stadium, against the Padres on Tuesday and the Red Sox on Sunday.
Lance Lynn, Rangers
Lynn is 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA in the five starts since his dreadful April 23 outing against the A’s, when he allowed eight runs over 3 1/3 innings. His last three starts, specifically have been excellent. He completed seven innings in all three games with a combined 24 strikeouts and three walks. Lynn will pitch Monday at Seattle and on Saturday at home against the Royals.
Max Scherzer, Nationals
Will Scherzer end up being this year’s Jacob deGrom? Well, he probably won’t finish the season with a 1.70 ERA, but the Nationals’ horrendous bullpen and underwhelming offense has definitely hurt Scherzer’s win-loss record thus far (2-5 in 11 starts). While wins don’t really matter much anymore in terms of evaluating a pitcher’s performance, they still are important in fantasy leagues. However, Mad Max’s 3.41 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and NL-leading 96 strikeouts still make him one of the best options for starting pitchers. Plus, his ERA and WHIP both should continue to improve, based on his 2.33 FIP. He goes twice this week, against the Marlins on Monday and in Cincinnati on Sunday.
Hitters to Watch
Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Reds
Like almost the entire Reds lineup, Suarez underperformed over the first month of the season. Since then, he’s returned to form as one of the most underrated hitters in baseball. Entering Sunday, Suarez is slashing .310/.375/.609 with seven home runs, 18 RBI and 17 runs in May.
Alex Bregman, 3B/SS, Astros
Bregman was white hot over the first half of the month, bashing nine homers and 20 RBI in 14 games from May 1-15. Since then, however, he is batting .222 with one home run and one RBI. Remarkably, Bregman has just one double this month and six total this season after leading the majors with 51 last year. This could be nothing to worry about. Often times, as great hitters enter the prime of their careers, they hit fewer doubles because the pitches they once hit in the gaps start carrying over the fence for homers. Still, Bregman’s recent skid is worth keeping an eye on this week, especially because both George Springer and Jose Altuve are on the injured list and will not be providing protection in the Astros lineup.
Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, Cardinals
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt dropped Carpenter from the leadoff spot Friday night after his cold start to the season and the team’s prolonged offensive dry spell. So far, the move seems to have jolted Carpenter’s bat. In his two games batting fifth, Carpenter is 5-for-8 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. The Cardinals will finish up their three-game series with the Braves Sunday night before traveling to Philadelphia for three games starting Tuesday and then returning to St. Louis to host the Cubs for a weekend series.
Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers
Andrus was off to a great start to the season—slashing .325/.373/.510 with six homers, 26 RBI, 25 runs and eight stolen bases—before landing on the injured list on May 15. The Rangers activated him on Saturday night, and he went 2-for-3 with a stolen base in their 3-2 loss to the Angels.
Pitchers scheduled to make two starts this week (alphabetical order by team)
Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks
Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox
Ryan Weber, Boston Red Sox
Cole Hamels, Chicago Cubs
Ivan Nova, Chicago White Sox
Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds
Sonny Gray, Cincinnati Reds
Jefry Rodriguez, Cleveland Indians
Zach Plesac, Cleveland Indians
Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies
Antonio Senzatela, Colorado Rockies
Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers
Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers
Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
Homer Bailey, Kansas City Royals
Trevor Cahill, Los Angeles Angels
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jose Urena, Miami Marlins
Trevor Richards, Miami Marlins
Gio Gonzalez, Milwaukee Brewers
Michael Pineda, Minnesota Twins
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
Steven Matz, New York Mets
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Chris Bassitt, Oakland Athletics
Nick Pivetta, Philadelphia Phillies
Jordan Lyles, Pittsburgh Pirates
Montana DuRapau, Pittsburgh Pirates
Matt Strahm, San Diego Padres
Tommy Milone, Seattle Mariners
Marco Gonzales, Seattle Mariners
Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco Giants
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Yonny Chirinos, Tampa Bay Rays
Ryan Yarbrough, Tampa Bay Rays
Lance Lynn, Texas Rangers
Adrian Sampson, Texas Rangers
Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
Teams playing eight games: Pirates
Teams playing seven games: Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Reds, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Yankees, Mariners, Rays, Rangers,
Teams playing six games: Orioles, Cubs, Tigers, Astros, Brewers, Twins, Athletics, Phillies, Padres, Giants, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Nationals
Teams playing five games: Braves