An already abbreviated slate is a little lighter as the St. Louis Cardinals continue to wait for the green light to resume their season with only five games in the book. As such, the Pittsburgh Pirates are forced to sit idly on Monday, hoping they can pick up their series with the Redbirds on Tuesday.
There’s additional bad news for those hoping to get a jump on the competition by adding a couple of pitchers as the streaming options are few and far between. However, the opposite is true for bats as there’s a steady supply of available offense for the choosing.
Good luck as the fantasy scoring week kicks off. Here are Monday’s pitchers and hitters in a favorable spot to help fortify your fantasy lineup. Per usual, they’re all available in over half of ESPN leagues.
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Adrian Houser (R), rostered in 46% of ESPN leagues, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Minnesota Twins: Aside from being contractually obligated, recommending more than two pitchers is the right thing to do. The problem is, in a vacuum, only two starters qualify, or at least are comfortable options. Houser gets the nod as the third (his relatively high rate of rostering gets him top billing). Being on a roster in almost half of ESPN leagues suggests Houser is better than the typical streamer. The issue is that he’s facing the high-scoring Twins offense. However, experience is a good teacher and historically, opting for good pitchers against good teams is better than a lesser pitcher against a lesser offense.
Randy Dobnak (R), 25%, Minnesota Twins at Milwaukee Brewers: Not only are there only three featured pitchers on the card, two of them are in the same game. That said, Dobnak checks many of the boxes inherent to a spot starter. While he isn’t dominant (only eight whiffs in 15 frames so far this season), the Brewers are fanning at the third-highest click in the league. Dobnak supported by a strong lineup and effective bullpen.
Kyle Gibson (R), 10%, Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners: Gibson is perceived as more of a finesse guy than a dominant pitcher. However, his strikeout rate has increased each of the past three seasons and is on the way to a fourth with 13 punchouts in his first 11 IP. The Mariners are whiffing in 25% of their plate appearances a couple ticks above average.
Bullpen: At least one and possibly two teams will deploy a bullpen game. The Detroit Tigers have announced they’ll pair opener Michael Fulmer with bulk reliever Daniel Norris. This is an intriguing duo as it’s righty followed by lefty, often forcing the opposing team to reset their lineup mid-game, potentially limiting bench options in the late innings. However, neither Fulmer nor Norris are fantasy-worthy as both have struggled in limited work.
The Boston Red Sox have demoted Ryan Weber off the roster and although they’ve added Dylan Covey in his spot, the former White Sox hurler will work out of the bullpen, at least initially. That leaves Monday’s matchup with Tampa to the bullpen or perhaps calling up Brian Johnson, Kyle Hart or Tanner Houck. With the Rays offense in a rut, the Red Sox starter could crack the streaming pitching list in the morning update.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Lance McCullers Jr.
Catcher — Chadwick Tromp (R), 3%, San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros (RHP Lance McCullers Jr.): With Buster Posey opting out, Tromp has stepped up, authoring a productive, albeit unusual .269/.259/.538 slash line. The 25-year-old backstop was on the bench Sunday, a solid indication he’s the Giants lead catcher, and thus should be back in the lineup for most of the week.
First Base — Todd Frazier (R), 11%, Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Justin Dunn): One of the traps of streaming hitters is becoming too reliant on forcing platoon edges and overlooking solid same-side matchups. In 13 ⅔ innings split between this year and last, Dunn has issued 16 free passes. No sample size caveat is necessary — that’s terrible. Frazier has the patience to wait for a pitch to hit and is dialed in to do damage, carrying a modest five-game hitting streak into Sunday’s action, posting a slick 9-for-19 in that span.
Second Base — Danny Mendick (R), under 1%, Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers (Bullpen game): Injuries to Tim Anderson and Nick Madrigal have paved the way for Mendick to see regular action. The 26-year-old infielder responded by registering a 7-for-20 line. Last season with Triple-A Charlotte, Mendick swatted 17 homers with 19 steals. Keeping in mind the Knights’ park is one of the most hitter-friendly in the minors, Mendick teased the power/speed combo so desirable in fantasy baseball.
Third Base — Jeimer Candelario (S), 1%, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox (LHP Dallas Keuchel): Candelario is one of the few switch-hitters with better numbers against southpaw pitching. After a slow start, Candelario has knocks in four of his last five games, including a trio of multi-hit efforts.
Shortstop — Willy Adames (R), 13%, Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox (Undecided): Regardless who takes the hill for Boston, it won’t be anyone of quality. Two of the three possibilities discussed above are lefties (Johnson and Hart) potentially setting Adames up with the platoon bump. Adames is displaying more patience which usually manifests in a power spike, especially if he maintains his 73rd percentile hard-hit rate.
Corner Infield — Albert Pujols (R), 12%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics (LHP Sean Manaea): Pujols is obviously well past the point of being an everyday fantasy stalwart. However, he still has enough pop to slide in with a lefty on the hill.
Middle Infield — Orlando Arcia (R), 2%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Randy Dobnak): The numbers don’t show it yet but Arcia’s exit velocity, hard-hit and barrel rates are all up significantly compared to last season. While they could drop, assuming them maintain something close to the current level, Arcia’s production is ripe for an uptick.
Outfield — Kole Calhoun (L), 32%, Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies (RHP Jon Gray): Flip a coin, heads it’s Calhoun, tails it’s David Peralta as both are in play with the platoon advantage at Coors Field. Gray has been effective but has fanned a mere seven in 16 ⅓ innings.
Outfield — Kevin Pillar (R), 25%, Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Ryan Yarbrough): It’s a given Pillar will be in the lineups against all southpaws. It wasn’t clear which Red Sox fly-chaser would sit at his expense. Early on, Andrew Benintendi appears to be the off man out. One of the repercussions is not only is Pillar in the lineup with a southpaw on the hill, he bats lead off.
Outfield — Matt Kemp (R), 14%, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Robbie Ray): For some reason, the Rockies opted to bring in Kemp instead of letting some of their younger players learn in the heat of action. Though, as a fantasy manager, who cares? Let someone else question team management while you plug in a righty power bat to face lefty Ray and his six homers allowed in just 13 ⅓ IP.
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher’s history (three years’ worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. “LH” and “RH” ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent. A “*” means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author’s ratings.