Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Wednesday's MLB games (2024)

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          Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Wednesday's MLB games

          5dTristan H. co*ckcroft

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          Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Wednesday's MLB games (2)
          • Tristan H. co*ckcroft

          Jun 5, 2024, 11:03 AM ET

          Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. MLB game odds are provided by ESPN BET, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

          Note: This file has been updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.

          Comeback Zach

          The Tampa Bay Rays rotation is inching ever closer to whole.

          Though the whole truth to that statement will coincide with the point at which Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs, all of whom were lost to season-ending injuries in 2023, return to action, the recent return of Taj Bradley, coupled with the approaching return of Shane Baz, has improved the pitching depth.

          On Wednesday, it'll take a big step forward with the anticipated return of Zach Eflin, who has been sidelined since May 18 with lower back inflammation. After Eflin threw 26 and 40 pitches during bullpen sessions Thursday and Sunday, he's expected to rejoin the team in time to pitch the Rays' series finale at Miami's loanDepot Park.

          Eflin was quite the find for fantasy managers in 2023, finishing with 416 fantasy points, 12th-best among starting pitchers. That earned him the No. 22 spot among starting pitchers in terms of average draft position during the preseason, and while his 96 fantasy points scored through his most recent appearance on May 18 ranked only 53rd, he had exhibited similarly strong underlying skills to last season. Eflin's Statcast expected ERA is 3.53, and he's on pace for the best walk rate (1.6%) of his career.

          While the Rays are sure to keep Eflin on a tight pitch count for his return start, likely in the 60-65 range after his recent bullpen session usage, that might be enough to get him to the five-inning minimum requirement for a win. The game is at one of the best pitchers' parks in baseball, and it'll be against a Miami Marlins offense that ranks 29th in the majors in runs per game (3.65). Eflin is probably best left to the sideline in any league with a tight starts cap, though his performance Wednesday should determine how quickly he'll be able to return to every-start fantasy status.

          What you may have missed on Tuesday

          By Todd Zola

          • Let's start with some good news before reviewing the next wave of injuries. The New York Yankees rotation is getting closer to having SP Gerrit Cole return. Cole threw his first rehab start last night, recording 3 1/3 shutout frames for Double-A Somerset. He yielded two hits while fanning five. Cole tossed 45 pitches, with a high of 97 mph. The Yankees plan on Cole making at least two more rehab starts, stretching him out a bit more each time.

          • In Cole's stead, SP Luis Gil continues to excel. Last night, Gil posted six scoreless stanzas, allowing just one hit to the Minnesota Twins in the Yankees' 5-1 victory. Gil punched out six with three walks. Control remains an issue as Gil has issued 34 free passes over his 69 1/3 innings, but he's benefiting from a .178 BABIP and an 84.2% LOB. To his credit, Gil has 85 strikeouts with just four home runs allowed. Even so, assuming his BABIP corrects, Gil's 1.82 ERA is due to head north, as indicated by the associated 3.55 xFIP and 3.57 SIERA.

          • Now the bad news. Houston Astros SP Cristian Javier will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow. There is a chance he will be able to come back late next season. The announcement came on the heels of ESPN's Alden Gonzalez and Jeff Passan reporting that SP Jose Urquidy plans to meet with Dr. Keith Meister, with a second Tommy John procedure a possibility. On the field, last night's starter, Spencer Arrighetti was hit in the calf by a 104-mph line drive in the second inning. He retrieved the ball and threw the runner out at first, but Arrighetti was only able to complete three innings before leaving due to the resultant left calf contusion. He's questionable to make his next start.

          • Astros 3B Alex Bregman appears to have escaped a scare last night. He was hit in the hand by a 93-mph two-seam fastball in the first inning. Bregman stayed in the game, going 1-for-3. He scored three of the club's runs in the 8-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. X-rays came back negative, but if his hand is sore, Bregman could miss today's day game after a night game.

          • Detroit Tigers SP Jack Flaherty threw five scoreless frames last night, but back tightness prevented him from coming out for the sixth. To that point, Flaherty had thrown 60 pitches with four strikeouts, no walks and only two hits. He still registered the win in the Tigers' 3-1 taming of the Texas Rangers. Flaherty's status going forward is currently unclear.

          • Seattle Mariners RP Andres Munoz aggravated a lingering back injury while covering home last night. Munoz and Oakland Athletics SS Max Schuemann got entangled when Schuemann raced home after a wild pitch. The run narrowed the Mariners lead to 4-3, and Munoz had to leave the game. Tayler Saucedo came in and captured his second save. If Munoz must miss time, RP Ryne Stanek (along with Saucedo) is likely to handle ninth-inning duties.

          • Boston Red Sox OF Tyler O'Neill could be activated in advance of today's matinee against the Atlanta Braves. O'Neill was 0-for-3 last night in a rehab game with Triple-A Worcester. The club is already shorthanded in the outfield with Wilyer Abreu having been placed on the 10-day IL due to a sore ankle. The Braves will try to sweep the short two-game set in Fenway Park but will do so without C Sean Murphy. Murphy was hit in the right elbow by a pitch last night. X-rays came back negative, but C Travis d'Arnaud is expected to play today.

          • San Diego Padres SP Adam Mazur was one of two pitchers to make his MLB debut last night. He began his career with a quality start against the Los Angeles Angels, allowing just one run on two hits in six frames. The 23-year-old righty walked four with just two strikeouts. However, he didn't factor in the decision as the Padres fell 4-2.

          • Washington Nationals SP DJ Herz wasn't as fortunate in his inaugural effort. The 23-year-old southpaw was summoned after scheduled starter Trevor Williams was placed on the 15-day IL due to an elbow issue. Herz gave up four runs on seven hits to the New York Mets, mustering only three strikeouts while issuing two free passes. Herz was saddled with the loss as the Nationals fell 6-3.

          Everything else you need to know for Wednesday

          • Pittsburgh Pirates phenom Paul Skenes makes his fifth major league start, which will be by far his toughest matchup yet, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander is riding a streak of three quality starts, during which time he has averaged 96.3 pitches, alleviating much of the workload concern surrounding him at the time of his big-league debut. Among starting pitchers during that time, Skenes' 68 points are tied for 20th, and both his 99.3 mph average fastball velocity and 33.7% overall whiff rate are best in the league. He's far too talented to worry about the matchups at this stage, though his projection seems to account for it about right.

          • Chicago Cubs right-hander Jameson Taillon has twice battled back issues this season, in between those stints (one resulting in an injured list stint, the other in his being skipped in the rotation for one turn) delivering ordinary fantasy numbers. Nevertheless, he's good enough in turns of his control, ability to generate grounders and minimize hard contact that he's a plenty serviceable option when the matchup is right. A home game against the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox certainly fits the description, considering they rank easily last in the league in runs per game (2.87).

          • Though the Texas Rangers have struggled to muster a comparable level of offense to what they showed us in 2023 -- their 5.44 runs per game during the regular season ranked third, while their 5.71 average during the postseason was tops among the 12 qualifying teams -- they'll get a chance to fatten up their stats in a home game against struggling Minnesota Twins veteran Kenta Maeda. Maeda, who has historically pitched worse on the road (4.69 career ERA) than at home (3.32), has sub-20th percentile numbers in terms of strikeout, ground-ball and Statcast Barrel rates, which is a scary combination. The Rangers already got to him for six runs (five earned) on seven hits on April 18, a game in which Marcus Semien, Jonah Heim and Adolis Garcia all took him deep. Load up on Rangers for this game.

          • The New York Mets have historically hit Washington Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin hard, as he has a 5.81 ERA, 1.57 WHIP and only four quality starts in 11 turns against them since the beginning of 2021. Additionally, the Mets' probable starting nine combined has .320/.372/.538 career rates against Corbin, including averaging one home run per 19.7 at-bats. Yes, hitter-versus-pitcher data can be fluky, usually due to small samples, but there's enough evidence here to prop up hitters like Starling Marte, J.D. Martinez and Mark Vientos as solid daily fill-ins.

          • Betting tip of the day: Speaking of those Mets, Martinez's and Vientos' significantly stronger historical performances against left-handed pitchers make both good prop-bet picks for Wednesday. Vientos (+360) to homer and (+200) to get at least two hits both stand out, accounting for the matchup. Martinez is (+290) and (+175) for those same props and also warrants a look.

          It's never too late to start a free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday. Come and join the fun!

          Starting pitcher rankings for Wednesday

          Reliever report

          To get the latest information on each team's bullpen hierarchy, as well as which pitchers might be facing a bit of fatigue and who might be the most likely suspects to vulture a save or pick up a surprise hold in their stead, check out the latest Closer Chart, which will be updated every morning.

          Hitting report

          Plan ahead in fantasy baseball with help from our Forecaster projections. Each day, we will provide an updated preview of the next 10 days for every team, projecting the matchup quality for hitters (overall and by handedness) as well as for base stealers.

          Best sub-50% rostered hitters for Wednesday

          Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing, and lots more.

          • Jeimer Candelario (CIN, 3B -- 13%) at Dakota Hudson

          • TJ Friedl (CIN, CF -- 29%) at Hudson

          • J.D. Martinez (NYM, DH -- 13%) at Patrick Corbin

          • Jake Fraley (CIN, RF -- 3%) at Hudson

          • Jonathan India (CIN, 2B -- 10%) at Hudson

          • Tyler Stephenson (CIN, C -- 6%) at Hudson

          • Charlie Blackmon (COL, RF -- 7%) vs. Graham Ashcraft

          • Ezequiel Tovar (COL, SS -- 25%) vs. Ashcraft

          • Luis Garcia Jr. (WSH, 2B -- 10%) vs. Luis Severino

          • Joc Pederson (ARI, LF -- 6%) vs. Jordan Hicks

          Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Wednesday

          • Teoscar Hernandez (LAD, RF -- 90%) at Paul Skenes

          • Brent Rooker (OAK, RF -- 54%) vs. Logan Gilbert

          • Jordan Westburg (BAL, 2B -- 84%) at Jose Berrios

          • Brice Turang (MIL, 2B -- 69%) at Aaron Nola

          • Jonah Heim (TEX, C -- 54%) vs. Kenta Maeda

          • Ryan Jeffers (MIN, C -- 69%) at Carlos Rodon

          • Luis Rengifo (LAA, 2B -- 70%) vs. Dylan Cease

          • Maikel Garcia (KC, 3B -- 70%) at Nick Sandlin

          • Salvador Perez (KC, C -- 96%) at Sandlin

          • Ha-Seong Kim (SD, 2B -- 92%) at Jose Soriano

          THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Wednesday

          • Cincinnati Reds at Hudson

          • Atlanta Braves at Nick Pivetta

          • New York Mets at Corbin

          Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Wednesday's MLB games (2024)
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