COVID-19, and its impact upon the baseball schedule, remains the story of 2020. By my rough count, there have been 38 games postponed as a direct result of positive COVID-19 tests, 19 of which have yet to have been made up, and four of those are set to be played during Week 6. There have also been nine weather-related postponements, two of which have yet to be made up but will be during Week 6, and another 10 to protest social injustice, seven of which have yet to be rescheduled. That’s a grand total of 28 games yet to be made up in the season’s final 28 days, and six of those games are scheduled during Week 6.
Three teams enjoy eight-game weeks as a result of rescheduled contests: The New York Yankees have two makeup games, one of which creates a Thursday doubleheader at Baltimore’s Camden Yards; the Pittsburgh Pirates have one makeup game that creates a Friday doubleheader at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park; and the Washington Nationals have one makeup game that creates a Friday doubleheader at Atlanta’s Truist Park. While all three teams’ schedules grant each a sizable volume-driven advantage, bear in mind that each team is in the midst of an exhausting stretch on the calendar: The Yankees are playing days 4-10 of a 17-day stretch without a day off during which they have 20 total games; the Pirates are concluding a 13-day stretch without a day off during which they have 15 total games; and the Nationals are playing days 11-17 of a 19-day stretch without a day off during which they have 21 total games. Expect these teams to grant their regulars more rest days than usual accordingly, though the busy schedules practically guarantee fantasy-relevant starting pitchers Gerrit Cole, Patrick Corbin and Masahiro Tanaka two-start weeks.
Rescheduled games also boost the weekly schedules of the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros. The Braves have a week-opening, three-game road series against the Boston Red Sox and their bottom-ranked (6.05 ERA) pitching staff, before playing four games back home against a Washington Nationals staff that has struggled in the back end. The Reds host the St. Louis Cardinals for three games before visiting Pittsburgh’s PNC Park for four, with both of those opponents’ offenses ranking among the bottom seven in runs per game. The Astros, meanwhile, host a Texas Rangers team that ranks 30th in runs scored per game (3.60) and 24th in ERA (5.16) for three games, before playing four on the road against a Los Angeles Angels team ranked 29th in ERA (5.41). Austin Riley (81% available in ESPN leagues), who has career .306 isolated power against lefties, is a worthwhile add-and-start in a week where the Braves should face at least three left-handed starters; Tyler Mahle (93% available) should pick up a spot start at PNC Park, making him a worthwhile streamer; and Martin Maldonado (67%), a .265/.329/.470 hitter against lefties in 2019-20, warrants a start with the Astros scheduled to face at least three left-handed starters.
Here’s the full list of rescheduled games during Week 6: Yankees at New York Mets on Thursday (makeup of their Aug. 23 postponement); Nationals at Braves on Friday (makeup of their Aug. 19 postponement, which creates a doubleheader); Yankees at Baltimore Orioles on Friday (makeup of their Aug. 5 postponement, which creates a doubleheader); Reds versus Pirates on Friday (makeup of their Aug. 15 postponement, which creates a doubleheader where each team will be the “home” team for one game); Astros versus Angels on Saturday (makeup of their Aug. 26 postponement, which creates a doubleheader where each team will be “home” for one game); and Chicago Cubs at Cardinals on Saturday (makeup of their Aug. 9 postponement, which creates a doubleheader where each team will be “home” for one game).
As with Week 5, it’s a great week for left-handed Nationals hitters, as a result of the eight-game week. Even in what has been a disappointing season for him, Adam Eaton (23% available in ESPN leagues) has batted .293/.338/.493 against right-handers this season and warrants universal-start status. Luis Garcia (89% available) has started all nine of the Nationals’ games against a right-handed starter since his promotion, batting .355/.375/.516 thus far against righties, and continues to warrant your start.
Three teams suffer the misfortune of five-game weeks: The Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants, though at least the Giants’ weekly hitting matchups are buoyed by their playing two of five games at Colorado’s Coors Field. Entering play on Aug. 28, these three teams placed only six players among the Player Rater top 100 — Mike Yastrzemski, Jonathan Villar, Austin Slater, Jon Berti, Wilmer Flores and Pablo Lopez — so their shorter schedules probably won’t hurt too many fantasy teams.
The Toronto Blue Jays play four of their seven games against the Red Sox’ sorry pitching staff, with their other three coming against the Orioles (one home game) and Miami Marlins (two road), neither of which is stocked with elite pitching. While having all seven games played at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, where the Blue Jays have scored 63 runs and they and their opponents have totaled 115 runs in nine games, would be preferable to their scheduled one, this Blue Jays offense has still picked up its play in recent weeks and should extend that into Week 6. Randal Grichuk (21% available in ESPN leagues), a .309 hitter with seven home runs in 12 games since his move into the No. 2 spot in the lineup, is an absolute must. Rowdy Tellez (97% available) has also begun to pick up starts at first base against right-handed starters, and with the Blue Jays set to face five during Week 6, he’s worth the add-and-start.
On the injury front, Ozzie Albies (wrist) has resumed taking batting practice and might be ready to rejoin the Braves by Week 6, in which case he’d warrant immediate activation facing matchups like these. Madison Bumgarner (back) was scheduled for a simulated game on Aug. 29, and could be an option for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rotation beginning on Thursday. Though a weekend start at San Francisco’s Oracle Park would be a favorable one fantasy-wise, it’s still better to leave Bumgarner on the sidelines for Week 6 until he again proves his worth. Nick Anderson (forearm) is expected to rejoin the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 30, and his Week 6 matchups are favorable enough that he’s worth activating for ERA, WHIP and K’s help.
Among the teams scheduled to face a greater-than-usual number of left- or right-handed starting pitchers are the Arizona Diamondbacks, Braves, Astros, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and Giants, each of which is scheduled to face three left-handed starters; and the Philadelphia Phillies, Pirates and Nationals, each of which is scheduled to face six right-handed starters. Among the hitters you should activate accordingly: Alec Bohm (70% available in ESPN leagues), a .387/.486/.548 hitter against righties; Wilmer Flores (30% available), a .297/.341/.730 hitter against lefties; and Wil Myers (26%), a .406/.472/.906 hitter against lefties.