Fantasy Baseball Forecaster for Week 15: July 25-31

July 21, 2022

  • The traditional second half of the season begins Thursday at 1:10 p.m. ET, with a pair of games that includes Texas Rangers at Miami Marlins on ESPN+. Eight teams will be in action, with two doubleheaders scheduled, New York Yankees at Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics, and six of those teams will do so as a direct result of rescheduled games originally planned for April 4-6 but postponed by the lockout. Only the evening’s San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers game, on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET, was on the original Thursday schedule. There are three day games scheduled among the six overall.


  • In ESPN leagues, these four days exiting the All-Star break remain part of fantasy’s “Week 14,” a scoring period that began on Monday, July 11, and concludes on Sunday, July 24. Any weekly lineups remain locked through that Sunday, and head-to-head matchups concluded with that day’s games. Week 15 for ESPN’s head-to-head and weekly-lineup purposes extends from Monday, July 25, through Sunday, July 31. Offsite leagues might lump the 11 days exiting the All-Star break into one scoring period, so check your league’s settings before locking in your lineups.


  • For the remainder of your daily lineup planning extending through Sunday, July 31: Friday (July 22) has 14 night games, the earliest scheduled for 6:40 p.m. ET. Saturday (July 23) has three day games, the first being Cleveland Guardians at Chicago White Sox on ESPN at 1:10 p.m. ET, among 16 total. Sunday’s (July 24) games begin at 12:05 p.m. ET, one of 14 day games and 15 overall, concluding with San Diego Padres at New York Mets on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball at 7 p.m. ET.


  • Monday (July 25) has 12 night games — take note if you play in a weekly league with a lineup lock beginning on this date — with the first scheduled for 6:40 p.m. ET. Tuesday (July 26) has one day game, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs on ESPN+ at 2:20 p.m. ET, among 15 total. Wednesday (July 27) has nine day games, the earliest having a 12:35 p.m. ET planned first pitch, and 14 total. Thursday (July 28) has two day games, the first two on tap for 12:35 p.m. ET with one being Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles on ESPN+, among 10 total. Friday (July 29) has 15 night games, the earliest two scheduled for 6:40 p.m. ET. Saturday (July 30) has four day games, the first being Guardians at Rays on ESPN+ at 1:10 p.m. ET, and 15 total. Sunday’s (July 31) games begin at 12:05 p.m. ET, one of 14 day games and 15 overall, concluding with Cubs at Giants on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball at 7 p.m. ET.


  • ESPN will also broadcast Yankees at Mets on Wednesday, July 27, at 7 p.m. ET. Additional ESPN+ games for Week 15 include Yankees at Orioles on Friday, July 22, at 7:05 p.m. ET, Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox on Sunday, July 24, at 1:35 p.m. ET, Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers on Monday, July 25, at 8:10 p.m. ET, Astros at Athletics on Wednesday, July 27, at 3:37 p.m. ET, Brewers at Red Sox on Friday, July 29, at 7:10 p.m. ET, and Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves on Sunday, July 31, at 1:35 p.m. ET.


  • For managers whose leagues treat the July 21-24 weekend as a single scoring period, there are three teams scheduled to play five times, the aforementioned Astros, Yankees, Athletics, all due to those July 21 doubleheaders. The Minnesota Twins, meanwhile, draw the short end of the stick, with only two games scheduled during that four-day span, although those games come against the Tigers, which at least helps boost their daily matchup grades. The Yankees, thanks to their three-game weekend series at the Orioles, have the most favorable hitting matchups, while outside of the Twins, the Cubs and Kansas City Royals have the least favorable hitting matchups. On the pitching side, the Rangers have a sneaky-good pitching schedule that includes that July 21 game at the Marlins and three more at the Athletics.


  • For managers who lump the entire July 21-31 span into a single scoring period, there’s a wide disparity in numbers of games among teams. The Astros are scheduled for a league-high 12 games, with the Guardians, Tigers, Dodgers, Marlins, Yankees, Athletics, Giants and Rangers all scheduled for 11. On the opposite side, the Twins are scheduled to play just seven times — a huge disadvantage — while the Mets and St. Louis Cardinals are scheduled for only eight games.


  • The Dodgers, hosts of this year’s All-Star Game, should bring some of that midsummer buzz into the opening stages of their second half. Sure, their week-opening series against the rival Giants presents a bit of a matchups challenge, but it’s also a potentially good time to be facing them, as the Giants lost 16 of their final 27 first-half games with eight of 12 of those played on the road. Those games are at Dodger Stadium, which is a plus. The Dodgers then host the Washington Nationals for three games before heading to Colorado’s Coors Field for a four-game, period-ending series, with all seven of those games definitively winnable ones. About the only knock on this Dodgers schedule is that their pitchers assigned for those Coors games — with four there, only one member of their five-man rotation would avoid the series — will be less attractive options for those starts. Whomever gets the July 21 assignment, however, has a real chance at a three-start period — July 21, 26 and 31 — which would more than compensate for the Coors game. The bullpen, which is in serious need of reinforcements, probably takes the biggest matchups hit.


  • Speaking of trade reinforcements, the annual trade deadline arrives on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m. ET, or two days after the conclusion of fantasy’s Week 15. That means a heightened chance of players changing hands during the upcoming scoring period. Among the biggest names rumored to be dealt are the Kansas City’s Andrew Benintendi, Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo, Brandon Drury and Tyler Mahle, the Cubs’ Willson Contreras and David Robertson, Baltimore’s Trey Mancini, Oakland’s Frankie Montas, Pittsburgh’s Jose Quintana and Washington’s Josh Bell. Remember, it often takes a player a full day’s travel to rejoin his new team, and starting pitchers often need to be slotted into their new rotations with a couple of days of delay after that. Prepare accordingly, as trade chips aligned for multiple starts are at greater risk of having their schedules shifted.


  • Mahle and Montas are two of the higher-profile pitchers scheduled to return from the IL during Week 15. The Reds announced that Mahle will be activated to pitch on Sunday, July 24. He might be on a somewhat limited pitch count for that game, but between his 2.58 ERA and 28.3% strikeout rate in his most recent seven big-league starts and the likelihood that he’ll face either the Marlins or Orioles at home later in the scoring period, he’s well worth universal activation. The Athletics, meanwhile, will activate Montas to start Game 2 of their Thursday, July 21, doubleheader against the Tigers, a superb matchup that supports his universal activation. He might then make one more home start against the Astros before likely being traded. The Yankees should get Domingo German back in action as either a starter, perhaps in place of the injured Luis Severino (lat, 15-day IL), or as a reliever, but his uncertain role and pitch counts make him a better wait-and-see in fantasy. The Mets, meanwhile, had Jacob deGrom (shoulder, 60-day IL) suffer a setback in his recovery, pushing a scheduled throwing session back to Thursday, July 21, so at best he’d be ready to make a start late during the scoring period. Take a wait-and-see approach with him.


  • Returning to those Rangers, despite all 11 of their games being played on the road during Week 15, they have an awfully favorable group of matchups on both sides of the ball — and that’s whether your league counts the next four or 11 games as a single scoring period. Besides the second-half opener against the Marlins, the Rangers play three games at the Athletics, three at the Seattle Mariners and four at the Los Angeles Angels, with the Marlins, Athletics and Angels all rating among the 10 worst offenses so far in July. About the toughest part of this schedule is Miami’s Pablo Lopez as well as that series against the red-hot Mariners, but even in the latter case, the Rangers draw the Mariners’ two most pitch-to-contact rotation members (Chris Flexen on July 25, Marco Gonzales on July 27) as opponents. Ace Jon Gray (19.4% available in ESPN leagues) has a legitimate chance at a rare three-start scoring period, closer Brett Martin (91.3% available) is a worthy add-and-start, and Kole Calhoun (94.2%) and Leody Taveras (78.9%) have both captured regular roles while hitting well enough to warrant add-and-starts in all but the shallowest leagues.

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