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There are some schedule quirks during Week 13, most notably created by the week-ending Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees two-game series to be played Saturday and Sunday in London, the first game in history to be played in Europe. The two teams have a pair of days off for travel in advance of that series, and each plays a five-game week as a result. Sunday's game will be on ESPN with a 10:10 a.m. ET scheduled first pitch, and fantasy managers in leagues with daily transactions should take note the unusually early start time (at least for those of us in the U.S.). The Red Sox will be the "home team" for these games at London's Olympic Stadium, which will be played on artificial turf but with a dirt infield rather than dirt cutouts. The outfield dimensions give a look of a hitting-friendly environment, measuring 330 feet down either foul line but just 385 to straightaway center field, with the walls 16 feet in height, and while final measurements to the power alleys aren't yet known, initial reports suggested they'd be 375 feet in distance. Between the fence distances and height, that gives the venue a look closest to Toronto's Rogers Centre, but with a 15-feet-closer center field measurement and 6-feet-higher fences. From 2014 to 1018, Rogers Centre was a neutral run-scoring environment (0.995 factor, 15th highest) and was 10th best for home runs (1.067). This season, it's the No. 1 park for home runs (1.558) but 14th for runs scored (1.041), so don't make any rash roster adjustments in preparation but brace for a potentially wacky home run-laden short series.
The mathematical midway point of the 2019 season arrives during Week 13. Assuming no postponements between publication and then, that will occur once 11 of the 15 games are in the books on Thursday (June 27), which is a whole 11 days before the season's traditional "midway" point, the All-Star break (July 8-10). It's a good time to assess your team's current standing, strengths and weaknesses, knowing you have as much time remaining to fix any issues as there is in the books.
The Los Angeles Dodgers -- the No. 3 team in the National League in runs per game (5.26) and No. 2 in home run rate (4.1 percent of their plate appearances) -- are the week's only visitor to Colorado's Coors Field, with their four-game stop there from Thursday through Sunday driving their best-in-baseball weekly hitting matchups. While most Dodgers hitters are already rostered in a majority of ESPN leagues, a pair of their current regulars are not: Chris Taylor (68 percent available) and Alex Verdugo (78 percent) are .353/.450/.647 and .306/.366/.444 hitters in their past 10 games. This team is also notorious for exploiting lefty/righty starting pitcher matchups, so if you play in either a deeper-than-standard or daily-transactions league, you should consider first-base partner Matt Beaty (more than 99 percent available), a .280/.341/.413 hitter against right-handers between the majors and minors.
The hottest offense in baseball, that of the Atlanta Braves, doesn't grade far behind the Dodgers as far as most favorable Week 13 matchups. The Braves make a four-game stop at Chicago's Wrigley Field before concluding their week with three games at New York's Citi Field, benefiting from catching the Chicago Cubs at a time where ace Kyle Hendricks is on the IL and the New York Mets at a time where their pitching has struggled to the tune of a 5.28 June ERA, prompting them to replace pitching coach Dave Eiland. Seven of the Braves' eight hitting regulars are rostered in more than 70 percent of ESPN leagues, so if you have them, enjoy continued production from this offense that has averaged a major league-best 7.39 runs per game in June. For those streaming catchers, both Tyler Flowers (98 percent available) and Brian McCann (95 percent) are worth consideration while they're splitting the duties nearly evenly and facing a schedule like this.
Jose Altuve was activated by the Houston Astros on Wednesday and George Springer (hamstring, IL) could return sometime during Week 13, having begun a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi on June 20. It's great timing for an Astros team that struggled through its recent road trip, as they now get a pair of three-game home series with much softer matchups. The opposing Pittsburgh Pirates (5.90, 29th) and Seattle Mariners (5.67, 25th) rank among the majors' bottom 10 in terms of team ERA in June, and they'll throw a combined three left-handed starters against this offense that ranks first in baseball in seasonal wOBA against lefties (.382). Heads up: Left handed-hitting Yordan Alvarez (.338/.442/.692 combined between the majors and minors, Michael Brantley (.351/.422/.500) and Josh Reddick (.340/.386/.547) have been extremely successful against same-handed pitchers this season, so have no fear starting them. Jake Marisnick (more than 99 percent available in ESPN leagues), a .340/.415/.660 hitter against lefties, is also worth consideration in 14-plus-team mixed and AL-only leagues.
Several fantasy-relevant rotation situations are subject to change entering Week 13, so keep tabs on the news leading into the weekly lineup deadline. The Red Sox will skip Brian Johnson in their rotation due to the Thursday-Friday off days, and moved Eduardo Rodriguez up in the rotation in order to pitch him in London, making him a two-start pitcher. The Cubs will shift to a six-man rotation giving both Tyler Chatwood and Adbert Alzolay starts. Mike Clevinger (ankle, IL-bound) is projected for a minimum IL stay or close to it, which would line him up for a favorable matchup at Baltimore's Camden Yards during their Friday-Sunday weekend series. The Dodgers are expected to piggyback Ross Stripling and Julio Urias on Tuesday, filling the rotation spot of Rich Hill (forearm, IL) on Tuesday. The San Diego Padres will start Logan Allen on Tuesday at Camden Yards, a favorable matchup in his second big-league turn, but he's unlikely to make two starts during Week 13 due to the team's multiple off days.
The Yankees' 6.11 runs-per-game average in June is the American League's best and majors' third-best rate (through June 20), and they've scored at least five runs in 11 of their 18 games in the month. Still, with the Yankees getting Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton back from the injured list within the past 15 days, and the team facing a five-game week, there might be some uncertainty among fantasy managers as to the Week 13 hitting expectations. Worry not, as the three week-opening games against the Toronto Blue Jays will be played at hitters' heaven Yankee Stadium, against a pitching staff with the month's third-worst ERA (5.87), and the two games in London will be played in what's likely a hitting-friendly venue (as mentioned above). This is one of the most favorable five-game weeks an offense can ask for, and the return of those three hitters simply means that recent Yankee fill-ins -- players like Clint Frazier, Cameron Maybin, Gio Urshela -- are either headed to the bench or minors, but their nine regulars are must-starts in every league. My guess at their most common lineup this week: DJ LeMahieu (3B), Judge (RF), Gary Sanchez (C), Stanton (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Edwin Encarnacion (DH), Luke Voit (1B), Gregorius (SS) and Gleyber Torres (2B).
Speaking of five-game weeks, the Baltimore Orioles, Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cardinals and Padres are the five other teams to play that infrequently during Week 13, a week in which eight other teams play a full seven games. None grades especially poorly despite the short schedule, with the Padres benefiting most from the addition of the designated hitter for two games at Camden Yards, allowing them to get Hunter Renfroe, Wil Myers, Franmil Reyes and either Manuel Margot or Josh Naylor into the same lineup. Speaking of DH implications, Khris Davis of the Oakland Athletics has played all three interleague games in National League parks this season and 10 of the team's past 13 in left field, so he should do the same for at least one and perhaps both of the team's two games at St. Louis' Busch Stadium.
If you're looking for righty/lefty matchup advantages among players more suited for deep-mixed (think 14-plus-team) or "only" leagues, consider: Nick Ahmed (91 percent) and Carson Kelly (98 percent), .361/.382/.583 and .400/.478/.850 hitters against lefties, whose Arizona Diamondbacks face three left-handed starters; Kole Calhoun (63 percent), a .254/.342/.503 hitter against righties, whose Los Angeles Angels face five right-handed starters; Ji-Man Choi (97 percent) and Brandon Lowe (54 percent), .285/.359/.488 and .280/.348/.554 hitters against righties, whose Tampa Bay Rays face five right-handed starters; J.P. Crawford (more than 99 percent), a .304/.360/.464 hitter against righties, whose Mariners face five right-handed starters; Ian Desmond (33 percent), a .314/.366/.686 hitter against lefties, whose Colorado Rockies face four left-handed starters; Leury Garcia (93 percent) and James McCann (80 percent), .343/.387/.529 and .318/.423/.545 hitters against lefties, whose Chicago White Sox face three left-handed starters; Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (60 percent), a .298/.327/.681 hitter against lefties, whose Blue Jays face three left-handed starters; Colin Moran (95 percent) and Bryan Reynolds (72 percent), .270/.328/.489 and .359/.427/.547 hitters against righties, whose Pirates face five right-handed starters.