National League Schedule Analysis

I usually don’t worry about schedule specific details during a regular season since so much can change in a month or two. This season is only going to last a couple of months, so it has some importance. I dug through all of the National League teams trying to find some stretches to stream players. I didn’t find a bunch of one to two-week stretches but I did come to some overarching themes.

I tried to digest as much of the information as possible and I’m sure I’ve missed something obvious. I started the analysis hoping to find a list of week-by-week targets to stream and came away with a new perspective.

I found some teams who project to have a favorable schedule throughout the season. I want to build my team’s core around them. I know every week they have even to favorable matchups. A few teams have an early favorable stretch, I want to draft the near replacement-level talent, start them for a few games and move on. For example, the Braves face weak pitching to start the season so I may consider taking a dart throw with Austin Riley (293 ADP) and Ender Inciarte (468 ADP) late in a draft.

Here are my overall thoughts on each division

  • East: Evenly difficult with some opportunities for hitters (vs Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, Marlins, Phillies, and possible at the Yankees).
  • Central: The talent distribution is level even with some real pushovers like the Royals, Pirates, and Tigers. None of the elite pitching staff are in the Central with the Cardinals having the lowest projected RA/G with the Reds next. There is some talk about getting Central pitchers but the hitters are the real bargains.
  • West: The term wild, wild west applies here. There are so many extremes out west. For example, the Rockies may have the most feared offense at home but cakewalks on the road. The team-to-team and week-to-week variances make it the place fantasy managers need to start trying to find streaming options each week.

Besides the Nationals and Dodgers, I found none of the other pitching staffs to be elite. When streaming pitchers, the matchups (hitters and opposing starter) will need to be analyzed a week or two out.

Even though I didn’t find a ton of streaming options, here is what I did find:

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • While they have some landmines all over the place, there is a beautiful stretch starting on August 21st. They face San Francisco 10 times, Colorado (pathetic road offense), and three games to work around at the Dodgers. This is a great stretch for starters. On both ends of this stretch, there are a couple of tough opponents (A’s and Dodgers) but a starter might be able to miss both of these series. If so, they have games against the Padres and Mariners.
  • August 10th starts a six-game week with the first half at Colorado.

Atlanta Braves

  • Owners maybe can rely on Braves hitters until August 16th with the four against the Rays and two at the Yankees as the tough matchups.
  • There is a dream week to end the season, seven games against the Marlins and Red Sox.

Chicago Cubs

  • They don’t have a perfect week all year when they face a combination of the Royals, Tigers, and Pirates. It’s not a bad schedule, just no soft spots.
  • The fourth starter ( Tyler Chatwood?) will have a Week 2 two-start week (@ Reds, vs Pirates) and at the Royals in Week 3.

Cincinnati Reds

  • The first week and a half is a nice opportunity to stream hitters with seven games against the Tigers and the Cubs sandwiched in between.
  • A dream week against the Royals and Pirates starting on August 11th.

Colorado Rockies

  • There are just two week-long stretches at home to stream all the hitters from August 10th to 16th (Diamondbacks and Rangers) and September 15th to 20th (A’s and Dodgers).
  • The only decent stretch for starters is the last week of the season (at Giants, at Diamondbacks)

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • It’s a dream walk for the starters until mid-September when they face Houston and four games at Colorado.
  • There are no tough matchups for the hitters.

Miami Marlins

  • There is no weak spot in the schedule to attack. Just two games early in Baltimore. The two games at Toronto are in a five-game week.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • An amazing start for hitters and there aren’t any killer back-to-back opponents. The last week is the worst one at the Reds and Cardinals. It’s beautiful.
  • As for pitchers, there is a nice stretch from August 21st to early September where they face nine games against the Pirates and Tigers and four against the Reds.

New York Mets

  • The schedule is rough to start the season, but an amazing stretch starts on August 25th for the hitters until September 13th (vs Marlins, at Yankees, at Baltimore, vs Phillies, vs Orioles, at Blue Jays).

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Stream those hitters in the first 13 games with six against the Marlins, five at the Yankees and Blue Jays, and just two at home against the Yankees.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • The half-decent stretch for hitters exists near the season’s start with games at the Cubs and Twins, home against the Twins and Tigers.

San Diego Padres

  • There is no large block of games to stream. Just weeks here and there. In late August, Hitters can be added versus the Mariners and at the Rockies. In the second week of September, the Rockies and Giants come to San Diego. Pitchers can be added over the last week with six of eight games at the Mariners and Giants.

San Francisco Giants

  • There are no weak spots to exploit. The deal is that the Giants don’t have any fantasy stars with Buster Posey being the first player drafted.
  • They have two trips to Colorado. The first one ends with three games at the Dodgers. The second one is only two games at Colorado in a five-game week.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Buy, buy, buy the hitters. Besides two games at the Twins (mediocre pitching staff), the schedule is beautiful until mid-August when it levels off and goes back to great over the last two weeks.

Washington Nationals

  • Besides the opening series against the Yankees, the Nationals hitters have it easy until the end of August.
  • The fourth and fifth starters might be able to miss the Yankees and bounce around to vs the Blue Jays, at Marlins, vs Orioles.

Overall Team Targets

  • Pitching: Dodgers. Nationals and Cubs 4th and 5th starters have a nice early schedule.
  • Hitting: Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Brewers. Good early stretches for the Phillies, Pirates, and Braves.

We hoped you liked reading National League Schedule Analysis by Jeff Zimmerman!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

newest oldest most voted
JCMason
Member
Member
JCMason

Outstanding breakdown sir. When can we expect the AL version?