Wednesday features three matinees, including an early 12:35 PM ET start in Ohio for an interleague tilt between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds. Heading into the season, the White Sox were expected to feature one of the league's most exciting young outfields but have since lost both Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert to the IL.
Yes, injuries have been one of the bigger early-season stories, but with Lorenzo Cain, Juan Soto and George Springer all due back this week and the likes of Ketel Marte, Cody Bellinger, and Adalberto Mondesi all making progress, fantasy managers should have many of their stars back soon. In the meantime, our job is to offer candidates to keep your lineups solid in the interim.
Here are Wednesday's top options, with recommendations focused on those players rostered in under 50% of all ESPN leagues.
Kwang Hyun Kim (L), rostered in 17% of ESPN leagues, St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets: Over his first three starts, Kim has displayed more dominance than last season, sporting a 27% strikeout rate, albeit in just 13 2/3 innings. However, he's throwing more curves and sliders, with both offerings generating more strikeouts than his lesser used fastball. In addition, Kim is working higher in the zone, with more strikeouts coming in the top-third than in previous seasons.
Adbert Alzolay (R), 9%, Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: Alzolay is benefiting from a low .208 BABIP, but he's also helping himself with an exceptional 71% first-strike rate. Oddly, first-strike rate matters more for walks than punch outs -- and it shows here with Alzolay, who has seen his walk rate drop to a tidy 7.4%. The Dodgers are usually a poor choice to stream against, but they're missing several key parts and Wrigley Field is still playing big.
Martin Perez (L), 2%, Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers: Streaming specifically for a win is usually a fool's errand, but when one of the top offenses in the league is supporting a starter who is facing the poorest offense in baseball, it's foolish not to try to reach for what could be a breezy victory.
Erick Fedde (R), 1%, Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves: Like Kim, Fedde has altered his repertoire and the early returns have been encouraging. In fact, Fedde's 25.8% strikeout clip is more than double last season's level. He has ditched his four-seamer, instead relying on more cutters and changeups. Fedde is throwing his two-seamer and cutter higher in the zone while burying his changeup in the lower-third. This change in eye level is fueling the increase in punch outs.
Bullpen: Ian Kennedy has collected seven saves for the Rangers. He's tossed 12 frames and has compiled 16 whiffs with no walks. Kennedy is rostered in only 43% of ESPN leagues. We will forgive NL-only players for not looking in his direction, but what are the rest of you waiting for?
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Sean Murphy (R), 38%, Oakland Athletics vs. Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Robbie Ray): After a power surge to end April, Murphy has since cooled down. That said, three of his four homers this season have come with a left-hander on the hill and Ray is homer-prone, serving up 17 blasts over his last 74 1/3 innings, dating back to the beginning of 2020.
First Base -- Brandon Belt (L), 8%, San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies (RHP Jon Gray): The weather hasn't been ideal in Denver for this series, but using Belt in Coors Field couldn't be more perfect. He's a fly-ball hitter enjoying the platoon edge on Gray.
Second Base -- Josh Rojas (L), 21%, Arizona Diamondbacks at Miami Marlins (RHP Pablo Lopez): A significant segment of the fantasy industry has been calling for Rojas to get more playing time. Well, they are now getting their wish and he's been quite cooperative, with a 7-for-16 stretch that includes three homers heading into Tuesday's action.
Third Base -- Brian Anderson (R), 28%, Miami Marlins vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Luke Weaver): After a 13-day stint on the IL, Anderson returned yesterday and hit a homer in his first game back. Today he draws Weaver, who has been quite generous in that department, surrendering 15 homers over his previous 77 2/3 innings dating back to the beginning of the 2020 season.
Shortstop -- Andrelton Simmons (R), 12%, Minnesota Twins vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Hyeon-Jong Yang): Yang is making a spot-start for Kohei Arihara who is out with a callus issue. This will be Yang's first MLB start, though both of his relief appearances have lasted at least four frames. This should give Simmons a few cracks at the 33-year-old southpaw while enjoying the platoon edge.
Corner Infield -- Jonathan Schoop (R), 5%, Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox (LHP Martin Perez): Schoop is off to a slow start in 2021, but for his career, he has exhibited good power against left-handers. Perez is only responsible for one homer in 23 stanzas so far, but he usually is more generous.
Middle Infield -- Amed Rosario (R), 6%, Cleveland at Kansas City Royals (RHP Brady Singer): Rosario has earned more playing time lately, as he has been striking out a lot less. He recently swiped his first base since 2019, which could be a sign of growing confidence.
Outfield -- Dylan Moore (R), 49%, Seattle Mariners vs. Baltimore Orioles (LHP John Means): Although the Orioles kept him in check in the series opener, Moore has been showing signs of snapping out if his early-season malaise with a homer and two steals over the past week.
Outfield -- Tyler O'Neill (R), 35%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets (RHP Marcus Stroman): When O'Neill hits the ball, good things usually happen. The problem, of course, is the frequency at which he makes contact. He's been putting the ball in play lately, with only three strikeouts in his last 17 plate appearances headed into Tuesday's slate. As usual, good results have followed as he's slashed .471/.471/.765 with a steal over this stretch.
Outfield -- Justin Upton (R), 29%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Ryan Yarbrough): Upton's slash line doesn't yet reflect it, but if he keeps on this current track, better results should soon follow. On Wednesday, Upton has the platoon advantage against a left-hander struggling to find his early-season groove. The normally reliable Yarbrough has yielded five-plus runs in three of his six appearances, after doing that just once in 11 outings last year.