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Reminder: Monday is Victoria Day in Canada, meaning the week gets off to an earlier-than-usual start, 1:07 p.m. ET when the Toronto Blue Jays host the Boston Red Sox. There are 13 additional weekday day games, with five on Wednesday beginning with a pair of games at 1:10 p.m. ET, seven on Thursday with the Washington Nationals at New York Mets game the earliest at 12:10 p.m. ET, and only the Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs on Friday at 2:20 p.m. Note the earlier start times and don't forget to set your lineups! Week 8 also concludes during Memorial Day weekend, so factor that in as well if you have travel plans.
You might not think a New York Yankees single-week schedule could be as attractive for offense as theirs is in Week 8, considering the entirety of it will be played on the road, but getting the benefit of facing a pair of bottom-five pitching staffs in the Baltimore Orioles (5.66 team ERA, last in the majors) and Kansas City Royals (5.27, 28th) drives their favorable ratings. In fact, since the beginning of the 2017 season, the Yankees have averaged more runs per game (6.73) with a greater home run rate (5.1 percent of their trips to the plate) at Baltimore's Camden Yards than at Yankee Stadium (5.42 and 4.5 percent), so only the games at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium are a problem in terms of pitcher-leaning park factors. Luke Voit's .273/.387/.537 triple-slash line and team-best .404 wOBA against right-handed starters since the beginning of 2018 should keep him locked into your lineups, considering the Yankees are scheduled to face six right-handed starters, and the team's injury woes have opened up opportunities for players widely available in ESPN leagues. Clint Frazier (68 percent available) is a .283/.310/.481 hitter against righties and Gio Urshela (92 percent) a .314/.365/.438 hitter during that same time span.
The Colorado Rockies are the other team that gets to feast upon Orioles pitching, and they'll do it during a weekend series at Coors Field, which grants them all the greater hitting advantage. Top prospect Brendan Rodgers (86 percent available in ESPN leagues), promoted on May 17, is the Rockies' hitter to get, worthy of plug-and-play status on the idea he should quickly lock down regular at-bats at second base and capitalize upon these favorable hitting matchups. But it's the Rockies' pitchers who unexpectedly stand out in Week 8. Ace German Marquez is their two-start pitcher, pitching at one of the game's better pitchers' parks in Pittsburgh's PNC Park before facing the Orioles at home, with both of those opponents (including the Pittsburgh Pirates) being bottom-10 teams in terms of runs per game. Jon Gray draws his lone start at PNC, and Kyle Freeland, while drawing a Coors assignment, faces an Orioles team with a .294 wOBA and 27.5 percent strikeout rate against lefties, numbers that both rank only 25th in baseball.
The aforementioned Royals are the American League's only team to play just five games in Week 8 (seven other AL squads play seven), and the fact that two of their games will be played in St. Louis' Busch Stadium without the benefit of the designated hitter puts them in a rough weekly matchups spot. They are by far baseball's most steal-happy team, but their two interleague games are against a St. Louis Cardinals squad that affords the fewest stolen bases (the Yadier Molina factor), and it's likely two of their three (if not all three) games against the Yankees will be against catcher Gary Sanchez, who is above average to say the least at reining in the running game. Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, Alex Gordon and Hunter Dozier have done plenty to earn your trust and Week 8 starts despite the schedule, but speed-oriented contributors like Billy Hamilton and Nicky Lopez are best left to your bench.
Load up on Cubs left-handed hitters -- but only their lefties and not their righties -- as they'll face six right-handed starters in their seven games, with five of them possessing wOBA splits at least 90 points higher against lefty bats this season. The Cubs' best lefty hitters, using wOBA against righties in 2018-19: Anthony Rizzo .395 (.290/.396/.525), Kyle Schwarber .346 (.233/.346/.470), Daniel Descalso .333 (.231/.345/.403), Jason Heyward .327 (.256/.337/.401).
The Twins' hot-starting offense should keep up the good production in a week of games against the two weakest links in each of the Angels' (three road games) and White Sox's (three home) rotations. There are still players readily available from the Twins' offense who are well worth the plug-and-play, considering their schedule: Marwin Gonzalez (59 percent available in ESPN leagues), who has batted .362/.455/.532 in his past 13 games; C.J. Cron (66 percent available), who has batted .286/.366/.600 in his past 20; and Jason Castro (98 percent), who should get the bulk of the catching time with Mitch Garver injured and is a .270/.357/.892 hitter in his past 12.
You might not see a softer five-game schedule all season than the Los Angeles Dodgers draw in Week 8. They'll miss both Blake Snell and Charlie Morton in the Tampa Bay Rays' rotation during their week-opening road interleague series at Tropicana Field, during which time they'll get the DH -- that's a big deal for a team that is traditionally matchups-oriented with a relatively deep bench -- then will draw the inconsistent Joe Musgrove, as well as the Pirates' fifth starter, during their weekend series. Besides your obvious Dodgers bats, Chris Taylor (66 percent available in ESPN leagues) is a .300/.349/.575 May hitter in 12 games who is seeing regular enough time to warrant the add. Incidentally, the other five-game NL teams are the Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and Cardinals.
Willie Calhoun is off to a spectacular start since his May 15 promotion, going 6-for-12 with two home runs, five RBIs and four runs scored in his first two games for the Texas Rangers, both of them out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup. If he can hold down that role for the foreseeable future, he should capitalize on a favorable set of Week 8 hitting matchups, with the Rangers facing a pair of bottom-10 pitching staffs in the Seattle Mariners (4.87 ERA, 23rd) and Los Angeles Angels (4.90, 24th). Hunter Pence (71 percent available in ESPN leagues) is also well worth the add, thanks to his hot hitting, and the Rangers' favorable base-stealing matchups represent good news for Danny Santana (84 percent available).
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 available in ESPN leagues), a .286/.319/.522 hitter against lefties in 2018-19, and Christian Walker (71 percent available), who has .243 isolated power against lefties in 2018-19 and whose Arizona Diamondbacks face three (and potentially four) left-handed starters; Starlin Castro (79 percent available), a .311/.364/.444 hitter against lefties in 2018-19, whose Miami Marlins face three left-handed starters; Randal Grichuk (72 percent available), a .272/.325/.478 hitter against lefties in 2018-19 whose Blue Jays face three left-handed starters; Albert Pujols (91 percent available), who has .224 isolated power against lefties in 2018-19, and Kevan Smith (99-plus percent), a .425/.476/.603 hitter against lefties in 2018-19 whose Angels face three left-handed starters; and Charlie Tilson (98 percent available), a .309/.363/.350 hitter against righties in 2018-19 whose Chicago White Sox face nothing but right-handed starters.