Headed into play on Sunday, May 21, three teams from the N.L. West are in playoff positions and the Giants are not one of them. Isn’t baseball great in its unpredictability?

The Twins, Brewers and Rockies are all division leaders at the moment. Mark Reynolds has an MLB-leading 39 RBI while Edwin Encarnacion, Hanley Ramirez and Eric Hosmer do not even have half of that amount. Alex Wood sports an NL-best 1.88 ERA while senior circuit All Stars like Jake Arrieta and Julio Teheran hold marks well above 5.00.

It’s virtually impossible to see some things coming, but by preplanning for each and every week of the Fantasy Baseball season, you can often get a jump on the trends that are brewing around the league. Let’s take a look at how Week 8 is shaping up.

Game Schedule Breakdown

TEAM # GAMES HOME AWAY OPPONENTS
Braves 7 4 3 vs. PIT (4), at SF (3)
Phillies 7 7 0 vs. COL (4), vs. CIN (3)
Marlins 5 3 2 at OAK (2), vs. LAA (3)
Nationals 6 6 0 vs. SEA (3), vs. SD (3)
Mets 6 3 3 vs. SD (3), at PIT (3)
Pirates 7 3 4 at ATL (4), vs. NYM (3)
Cubs 7 4 3 vs. SF (4), at LAD (3)
Cardinals 6 0 6 at LAD (3), at COL (3)
Reds 7 2 5 vs. CLE (2), at CLE (2), at PHI (3)
Brewers 6 6 0 vs. TOR (2), vs. ARI (4)
Diamondbacks 7 3 4 vs. CWS (3), at MIL (4)
Rockies 7 3 4 at PHI (4), vs. STL (3)
Dodgers 6 6 0 vs. STL (3), vs. CHC (3)
Giants 7 3 4 at CHC (4), vs. ATL (3)
Padres 6 0 6 at NYM (3), at WSH (3)
Red Sox 6 6 0 vs. TEX (3), vs. SEA (3)
Yankees 7 7 0 vs. KC (4), vs. OAK (3)
Rays 7 4 3 vs. LAA (4), at MIN (3)
Blue Jays 5 3 2 at MIL (2), vs. TEX (3)
Orioles 6 3 3 vs. MIN (3), at HOU (3)
Indians 7 5 2 at CIN (2), vs. CIN (2), vs. KC (3)
White Sox 7 4 3 at ARI (3), vs. DET (4)
Twins 6 3 3 at BAL (3), vs. TB (3)
Royals 7 0 7 at NYY (4), at CLE (3)
Tigers 8 0 8 at HOU (4), at CWS (4)
Astros 7 7 0 vs. DET (4), vs. BAL (3)
Angels 7 0 7 at TB (4), at MIA (3)
Rangers 6 0 6 at BOS (3), at TOR (3)
Mariners 6 0 6 at WSH (3), at BOS (3)
Athletics 5 2 3 vs. MIA (2), at NYY (3)

Analysis (Noteworthy information to keep in mind headed into the week)

  • Three teams are looking at short, five-game slates this week - the Marlins, Blue Jays and Athletics. On the flip side, more than half the clubs in the league will play at least seven times, including the Tigers who have eight games on the docket due to Friday’s planned doubleheader.

  • The Yankees, Phillies and Astros are the only teams that will play as many as seven home games over the next seven days. All three of them have significant home-road splits on the season, but in differing areas. The Yankees’ and Phillies’ batting orders have been taking advantage of their respective hitter-friendly home parks while the Astros’ pitching staff has been dominating in Houston so far this year.

  • The Yankees have not necessarily struggled to score away from New York City, as they are averaging better than 5.0 runs per game on the road. That number just simply pales in comparison to the 6.5 they are pushing across at home. Across 19 games at Yankee Stadium this year, the Pinstripers boast an incredibly impressive .871 OPS.

  • Heading into Sunday’s action, the Phillies (15-25) had played just 16-of-40 games on the season in their home park. They have evenly split those contests, going 8-8 in Philadelphia compared to an ugly 7-17 on the road. Much of the reason for that discrepancy is a solid .279/.350/.470 slash line at Citizen’s Bank Park and a mediocre .242/.304/.397 mark in other venues.

  • Finally, the Astros’ staff, which did unfortunately see ace Dallas Keuchel (neck) hit the DL over the weekend, has been simply sensational in Houston. Entering play Sunday at Minute Maid Park, Manager A.J. Hinch’s hurlers have cruised to the tune of a 2.90 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 through 205.0 innings at home.

Interleague Outlook

AWAY TEAM HOME TEAM # GAMES DH? PLAYER(S) IMPACTED
White Sox Diamondbacks 3 No Matt Davidson
Indians Reds 2 No Bradley Zimmer, Lonnie Chisenhall
Reds Indians 2 Yes Scooter Gennett
Angels Marlins 3 No C.J. Cron
Marlins   2 Yes Ichiro Suzuki
Blue Jays Brewers 2 No Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak
Mariners Nationals 3 No Nelson Cruz

Analysis

  • The potential absence of Nelson Cruz (.938 OPS, 10 HR) from the Mariners’ lineup over three games in Washington D.C. (Tue - Thu) is definitely something to keep in mind this week. Cruz has yet to play at all in the field this season and was out of the starting lineup for both games of a two-day visit to Philadelphia earlier this month.

Top-50 Starting Pitcher Rankings

RANK PITCHER MATCHUP 1 MATCHUP 2
1 Chris Sale vs. Rangers  
2 Clayton Kershaw vs. Cardinals  
3 Lance McCullers vs. Tigers vs. Orioles
4 Zack Greinke vs. White Sox @Brewers
5 Max Scherzer vs. Mariners  
6 Yu Darvish @Blue Jays  
7 Michael Pineda vs. Royals  
8 Gerrit Cole @Braves vs. Mets
9 Jacob deGrom vs. Padres  
10 Carlos Carrasco @Reds vs. Royals
11 Michael Fulmer @Astros @White Sox
12 Carlos Martinez @Dodgers  
13 Stephen Strasburg vs. Padres  
14 Jake Odorizzi vs. Angels @Twins
15 Johnny Cueto @Cubs vs. Braves
16 Kyle Hendricks vs. Giants @Dodgers
17 Chris Archer @Twins  
18 Alex Wood vs. Cubs  
19 Rick Porcello vs. Rangers vs. Mariners
20 Ervin Santana @Orioles vs. Rays
21 Jon Lester vs. Giants  
22 Luis Severino vs. Royals  
23 Jason Vargas @Yankees @Indians
24 Alex Cobb vs. Angels @Twins
25 Matt Shoemaker @Rays @Marlins
26 Mike Leake @Dodgers  
27 Marcus Stroman @Brewers  
28 Andrew Triggs @Yankees  
29 Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Mariners  
30 Dylan Bundy vs. Twins  
31 Danny Duffy @Yankees  
32 John Lackey vs. Giants @Dodgers
33 Ivan Nova @Braves  
34 Lance Lynn @Dodgers @Rockies
35 Mike Foltynewicz vs. Pirates @Giants
36 Zack Wheeler vs. Padres  
37 Taijuan Walker vs. White Sox  
38 Justin Verlander @Astros  
39 Jimmy Nelson vs. Blue Jays vs. Diamondbacks
40 Jerad Eickhoff vs. Rockies vs. Reds
41 Jose Berrios @Orioles  
42 German Marquez @Phillies vs. Cardinals
43 J.C. Ramirez @Rays @Marlins
44 Michael Wacha @Rockies  
45 Matt Garza vs. Blue Jays  
46 Jose Quintana @Diamondbacks  
47 Tyler Anderson @Phillies  
48 Nate Karns @Yankees  
49 Gio Gonzalez vs. Mariners  
50 Jeff Samardzija @Cubs  

Analysis

  • Jacob deGrom’s upcoming matchup with the Padres is certainly one for fantasy owners to salivate over, but a blister issue that apparently crept up in the last of his seven shutout frames against the Angels this past Friday is something to monitor with the All-Star righty.

  • Slotting into the rankings just behind deGrom, Carlos Carrasco could be looking at an inviting two-start schedule if the Indians follow through on reports that he will return to the mound Tuesday in Cincinnati. Carrasco has not pitched since last Monday when he exited after 3.2 innings due to a pectoral issue.

  • It is inadvisable to go too far with Jose Berrios’ ranking just yet, but his performance at the show so far this season has been outstanding. He was clearly overmatched in the bigs during 2016, posting an ugly 8.02 ERA over 14 starts for the Twins. This year, after dominating Triple-A bats across 39.2 innings, Berrios has surrendered only one run on four hits and two walks while registering 15 punchouts through 15.2 innings.

Next 25 Starting Pitcher Rankings

RANK PITCHER MATCHUP 1 MATCHUP 2
51 Rich Hill vs. Cardinals  
52 Danny Salazar vs. Royals  
53 Jordan Montgomery vs. Royals  
54 Zack Godley @Brewers  
55 Julio Teheran vs. Prates @Giants
56 Jake Arrieta @Dodgers  
57 Mike Clevinger vs. Reds  
58 Charlie Morton vs. Tigers  
59 Tanner Roark vs. Mariners vs. Padres
60 Dan Straily vs. Angels  
61 Sonny Gray vs. Marlins  
62 Patrick Corbin vs. White Sox @Brewers
63 Marco Estrada vs. Rangers  
64 Drew Pomeranz vs. Mariners  
65 Robbie Ray @Brewers  
66 Chris Tillman vs. Twins  
67 Kendall Graveman vs. Marlins  
68 Ian Kennedy @Indians  
69 Kyle Freeland vs. Cardinals  
70 Ricky Nolasco @Rays  
71 Matt Andriese vs. Angels  
72 Derek Holland vs. Tigers  
73 Matt Moore @Cubs  
74 Trevor Bauer vs. Reds  
75 Jaime Garcia @Giants  
  • Danny Salazar has been frustrating for fantasy owners to this point in the campaign, but the peripherals are there to support some serious overall improvement. A 13.5 K/9 is obviously top notch, but a 5.66 ERA and 1.57 WHIP are almost too much to stomach. So what to do? Look at a 3.20 xFIP and .383 BABIP against the 2016 All Star this season for some direction. Run him out there for a meeting with the Royals on Friday night in Cleveland.

Nate Miller is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and has been an analyst in the industry since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @Miller_RotoDad, where he is always up for fielding any Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Football or DFS questions.