Welcome to the new and improved version of the Fantasy Baseball Forecaster! This year, we’ve reorganized the story into four parts; it’s the same great intel, but you get right where you need to go as fast as possible. Good luck this season!

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On tap: Welcome to May! The new week and new month coincide on May 1, at which point more than 15 percent of the 2017 Major League Baseball season will be in the books (barring a significant number of April 28-30 weekend postponements). Week 5 is another one with a late start, with the first game on Monday scheduled for 7:05 p.m., and it’s one during which the American League East — and the defending World Series champions — takes center stage on ESPN: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox is on Monday Night Baseball at 7:10 p.m. ET; Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees is on Wednesday Night Baseball at 7 p.m. ET; and Yankees at Chicago Cubs is on Sunday Night Baseball at 8 p.m. ET.

The Nine

  • It’s a golden opportunity for the slow-starting Pittsburgh Pirates offense to start piling up runs, as they’ve got easily the most favorable overall set of hitting matchups despite three of their seven games being played at home, at pitching-friendly PNC Park. Here are their seven projected opposing starters: Scott Feldman, Rookie Davis, Tim Adleman, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Garza, Kyle Davies and Wily Peralta, none of whom has an ERA beneath 3.84 since the beginning of 2015. As all seven of those starters are right-handed, this should be an especially appealing week for Pirates left-handed (and switch-hitters) bats, with Josh Bell, available in nearly 90 percent of ESPN leagues, a specific matchups standout. The switch-hitter is a career .274/.376/.425 hitter against right-handers, and he has made five of his 10 starts against a righty to date as the Pirates’ No. 2 hitter.

  • New York Yankees-Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field will be one of the week’s bigger storylines, but for fantasy purposes, the resulting impact on Yankees hitters’ matchups is the relevant tale. The Yankees, who have hit right-handed pitchers (.347 team wOBA) far better than left-handed pitchers (.311) to date, are set to face three lefty starters, one of whom is named Jon Lester (scheduled for May 7). The loss of the designated hitter is a looming problem in that regard, as usual Yankees DH Matt Holliday is one of their better matchup bats in those games, but he was relegated to pinch-hitting duty for the team’s three game series at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park from April 21-23. Holliday won’t help owners in anything more shallow than an AL-only league, and Starlin Castro and Aaron Judge might be the only truly useful Yankees in a mixed league.

  • We’ll see several notable fantasy names rejoin rotations this week: Jake Odorizzi is scheduled to rejoin the Tampa Bay Rays‘ starting five on May 1, setting him up for a two-start week; Sonny Gray should return to the Oakland Athletics‘ rotation on either May 2 or 3, potentially granting him a two-start week; and Chris Tillman might be ready to start for the Baltimore Orioles on May 2, otherwise May 7, giving him a shot at two starts of his own if it’s the former. Odorizzi’s more certain return date, plus his superior matchups, makes him the clear best choice of the three to immediately activate in all fantasy leagues. He’ll face the Miami Marlins in their pitching-friendly home ballpark, then battle the struggling Toronto Blue Jays at his own pitching-friendly home. Tillman, incidentally, would draw the light-hitting Chicago White Sox on May 7, if his return is delayed, but his lengthy absence coupled with the possibility of a tough road assignment at Boston’s Fenway Park on May 2 makes him a definite bench-and-scout.

  • Though the San Francisco Giants have been one of the worst-performing teams against left-handed pitchers to date, their .274 team wOBA against that side third-worst in the majors, they do have one hitter who warrants a pickup-and-start in a week where they’ll face potentially four left-handed starters: Rookie Christian Arroyo, who has batted sixth, second, fifth and fifth in his first four career starts, all of them against left-handed starters. Though the strength of Arroyo’s weekly matchups hinge somewhat upon whether Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu or Rich Hill starts for the opposing Los Angeles Dodgers on May 1, four of the team’s projected opposing starters aren’t big-strikeout types, which benefits the contact-oriented Arroyo.

  • The Cleveland Indians are the other team to face as many as four lefty starters this week, and just like the aforementioned Giants, the Indians have struggled against that side to date, with a .310 team wOBA that’s 42 points beneath their mark against right-handers. Much of that can be attributed to the sluggish play of Edwin Encarnacion (.174/.406/.174), Brandon Guyer (.148/.179/.259) and Carlos Santana (.200/.333/.333) against that side, but all three should be started with confidence this week nevertheless. Encarnacion and Guyer, after all, each had a .400-plus wOBA against lefties in 2016, while Santana has made all 21 team starts at leadoff, including the nine against a lefty starter, maximizing his counting-numbers potential.

  • If you’ve got the luxury in your standard mixed league, bench all Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers during Week 5 — with the possible exception of Zack Greinke. The team embarks upon a six-game road trip with three games apiece at the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies. You know what that means: A series against the highest-scoring offense to date, as the Nationals have averaged 6.32 runs per game, and another at the most hitting-friendly environment in baseball, Coors Field. Closer Fernando Rodney in particular is a pitcher to avoid. Incidentally, if you’re a Robbie Ray owner, consider this: The Nationals have an outrageous, major league-leading .451 wOBA against left-handers (albeit in a small, 102 plate appearance sample).

  • After a lengthy recovery from hip and shoulder issues, Devin Mesoraco is back with the Cincinnati Reds, and those looking to squeeze decent value out of their No. 2 catchers might consider giving him a look. While he might need some time to shake the rust off his swing, he faces about the best matchups a player fresh off the DL could ask: His Reds play a full seven games, all of them at home at homer-friendly Great American Ball Park, where he has a lifetime wOBA 22 points higher (.326, compared to .304 on the road) and 25 of his 41 home runs. Again, he’s a borderline No. 2 catcher consideration; keep your expectations in check. Scott Schebler also warrants a start: He’s a .281/.346/.450 hitter in his home games, and .260/.331/.465 hitter against right-handers, since the beginning of 2016, and his Reds are set to face nothing but righty starters.

  • St. Louis Cardinals lefty hitters stand out in a big way, with seven scheduled games against right-handed starters and all of them at home. Only three teams have a wider wOBA differential favoring greater success against righties than lefties than the Cardinals, who have a 50 point split (.326 against right-handers, .276 left-handers). What’s more, the Cardinals have been scorching right-handed pitching of late, with a .391 team wOBA against them since the beginning of their series at Milwaukee’s Miller Park on April 20. Even right-handed hitters like Jedd Gyorko (.325/.426/.625 against righties to date) and Randal Grichuk (.266/.309/.453) need be kept active.

  • Though he has yet to heat up at the plate following his return from the DL on April 22, Jackie Bradley Jr. should be in for a good week, considering his Red Sox face the weak Baltimore Orioles rotation while drawing the Minnesota Twins‘ fifth starter for one of their three games at Target Field during the weekend. There’s a decent chance the Red Sox could face as many as six right-handed starters and they’ll certainly face at least five, which benefits Bradley, a .270/.355/.520 hitter against righties since the beginning of the 2016 season.