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Major League Baseball's trade deadline arrives at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Bear in mind that a rule change which took effect this season makes it the trade deadline, as players will be ineligible to be moved via waivers in August and September as they were in seasons past. That means that you should expect more trades and roster changes this week than usual, with players potentially losing a game or two mid-week due to travel to join their new teams. Rotation changes can have the greatest effect upon weekly matchups during the week that includes the trade deadline. Cleveland's Trevor Bauer, Detroit's Matthew Boyd, San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, Texas' Mike Minor, Arizona's Robbie Ray, and the Mets' Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler are among the most prominent names on the rumor mill. Syndergaard is currently aligned for a two-start week, but a trade could change his schedules and limit him to only one turn. Newest Met Marcus Stroman had been projected for a two-start week as well, but his schedule as a member of his new team is as of yet unknown. Plan accordingly.
Week 17 is one of the lighter ones on the 2019 schedule, with five teams scheduled for five-game weeks and 20 others scheduled for only six games. Coupled with the previous note about the trade deadline makes this a tricky week for planning. The Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are the five teams playing the shortest weeks, with only the Rays and Rangers enjoying weekly schedules that grade out at league-average or better. The Athletics and Rays, though, are contending teams with matchups-oriented lineup approaches. Both of these sides might add players via trade. The Rangers, meanwhile, play their whole week at home in their hitter-friendly home ballpark but could trade players away before the deadline, resulting in significant shifts in matchups weight for those moved.
Can you guess which National League team has the best record, as well as the most runs scored-per-game in the month of July? Almost unbelievably, it's the Giants, with their 16-4 record and 6.35 runs-per-game average (through July 25), which represents quite the turnaround considering the team ranked 14th out of 15 NL teams in both categories (36-47 record, 3.93 runs per game) through the end of June. The Giants' contender status -- and therefore its potential direction on the trade market as the deadline approaches -- has been a matter of extensive debate recently, and while it's a fair point that the team has one of the tougher schedules over the season's final two months, this week's schedule is one of the most favorable from a hitting standpoint. Three-game visits to both Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park and Colorado's Coors Field represent a huge park-factor boost on the hitting side. So, naturally, you'll want to avoid Giants pitchers wherever you can as a result. The lineup's left-handed slant aligns well with a schedule of four projected right-handed starters, with a possibility of up to six, which is great news for Brandon Belt (89% available in ESPN leagues), a .268/.363/.461 lifetime hitter against righties, and Alex Dickerson (92% available), a .295/.366/.554 lifetime hitter against righties. In addition, left-handed hitting Brandon Crawford (93%) and Mike Yastrzemski (95%) have swung two of the team's hottest bats of late, with Crawford slashing .295/.386/.541 in 17 July games and Yastrzemski batting .274 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 18 July games.
The Blue Jays (another unexpected source), have the American League's most favorable Week 17 hitting schedule, in large part because they'll conclude their week with four road games against the sport's worst pitching staff in the Baltimore Orioles (5.54 ERA). Among their widely available players, Teoscar Hernandez (98% available in ESPN leagues) has started 33 of 44 Blue Jays games since his recall, slugging .512 with nine home runs during that time span. Prospect Bo Bichette (95% available) is expected to be recalled by the team on July 29 and should be an instant plug-and-play. Catcher Danny Jansen (65%), despite his sluggish past week, nevertheless has .296/.342/.620 rates and six homers in his past 22 games.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the other road team scheduled to visit Coors Field during Week 17, playing three games there to begin their week before finishing it with four home games against the San Diego Padres. A.J. Pollock (23% available in ESPN leagues) is a .350/.400/.675 hitter in his 11 games since returning from the injured list, starting seven of the team's nine games against right-handers and signaling both that he's back to "pre-injury form" as well as being a regular for the team. Will Smith (98% available) was also recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on July 26 and had a huge game a day later, after having hit 15 home runs with a .685 slugging percentage between the majors and minors over his previous 32 games. He's well worth an add in leagues of appropriate depth.
The Minnesota Twins pitching staff might have struggled of late, posting a 5.00 ERA since the All-Star break (through July 25), but Week 17 brings them an extremely favorable schedule on the pitching side, with three games at Miami's Marlins Park followed by three home contests against the Kansas City Royals. The Miami Marlins rank last in baseball in runs-per-game, both for the season (3.57) and in July (3.22), while the Royals have consistently rated a below-average offense. Closer Taylor Rogers (57% available in ESPN leagues) is 11-for-14 in converting saves, with a 2.38 ERA in 17 appearances since June 1. Michael Pineda (70% available) has six quality starts and a 3.47 ERA in his past 10 starts. Two-start pitcher Jake Odorizzi has been the rotation's weakest link of late but, in his defense, he has faced a brutal July schedule and should rebound somewhat facing these matchups. Note that on the hitting side, three games at a National League venue means no DH spot available for Nelson Cruz, who seems unlikely to play a defensive position at this stage of his career.
Besides the aforementioned threat of the trade deadline shuffling up rotations, the short week results in a smaller number of two-start pitchers for Week 17. Amongst the 29 currently aligned to take two turns, the best values (as well as the most likely to remain on turn for both outings) are Caleb Smith (38% available in ESPN leagues), who has three quality starts in his past four outings and faces the Diamondbacks and Rays, and Reynaldo Lopez (84% available), who has a 1.71 ERA and 25 strikeouts in his past three starts and faces the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.
Putting aside Lopez's matchup, the Phillies' offense otherwise matches up well for Week 17, missing Madison Bumgarner during its three games against the Giants, as well as Lucas Giolito in the three against the Chicago White Sox. The Phillies have struggled mightily with the bats in July, averaging just 4.06 runs-per-game (26th out of 30) with a .299 team wOBA (27th). Still, the team's homer-friendly ballpark should be a boon to their weekly matchups. They're scheduled to face at least five and possibly six right-handed starters, so get Adam Haseley (99% available in ESPN leagues), a .254/.341/.471 hitter combined against righties between the majors and minors, and Scott Kingery (58% available), a .262/.348/.497 hitter against righties, into your lineup.
If you're looking for righty/lefty matchup advantages amongst players more suited for deep-mixed (think 14-plus-team) or "only" leagues, consider: Nick Ahmed (91% available in ESPN leagues) and Carson Kelly (97% available), .330/.367/.538 and .385/.475/.808 hitters against lefties, whose Diamondbacks face three left-handed starters; Hunter Pence (51% available) and Danny Santana (59%), .305/.345/.622 and .303/.338/.605 hitters against lefties, whose Rangers face three left-handed starters; Mike Tauchman (97%), a .438/.514/.625 hitter against lefties, whose New York Yankees face three (and possibly four) left-handed starters; and Christian Vazquez (32%), a .300/.354/.567 hitter against lefties, whose Boston Red Sox face four (and possibly five) left-handed starters.