We're into August and there is still midweek Wednesday matinees with four games on the afternoon slate, beginning at 12:30 PM ET in Cincinnati. It's an odd schedule with no divisional combatants with playoff aspiration squaring off, though there are a pair of interleague affairs between hopeful World Series participants. First, the Oakland Athletics host the San Diego Padres in an early game then the slate finished with the Houston Astros visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As for fantasy, there is a decent supply of pitchers to stream with a mixture of new and old faces on the hitting ledger.
Good luck getting over the hump this week. Here are Wednesday players in favorable spots, each available in at least half of all ESPN leagues.
Drew Smyly (L), rostered in 21% of ESPN leagues, Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals: After six consecutive efforts of at least five innings, Smyly only lasted four frames in his last two outings. Further, he's allowed 18 homers in only 92 innings this season. However, the Cardinals lineup has the fifth lowest home run rate facing southpaws. Smyly loses the slight skills bump derived from home field advantage but gains a huge edge with respect to venues.
Josh Fleming (L), 7%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Seattle Mariners: Just as it appeared Fleming was falling out of favor as a spot starter, he came through against the Red Sox with seven strikeouts in five stanzas, good enough for his eighth win in 13 decisions. Seattle is a tricky matchup. One on hand, they fan at the third highest clip against lefthanders, fueling the fourth lowest wOBA against them. On the other, the Mariners have the second highest home run rate against lefties. However, Fleming suppresses power, especially at home.
Zach Thompson (R), 28%, Miami Marlins vs. New York Mets: The Mets continue to lead the NL East despite sporting a pedestrian offense, especially with a righty on the hill. Thompson may not have the raw stuff of other Marlins hurlers, but he's been getting the job done with 41 punch outs in 38 2/3 frames while allowing just three long balls all season.
Kolby Allard (L), 3%, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels: Admittedly, this is a tough sell as Allard has recorded a 10.80 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over his last four outings. The main reason for the bloated ratios is seven homers allowed in those 18 frames. While this isn't all attributed to bad luck, he's due some regression. The Angels lineup is still missing several key cogs and it shows as they've averaged the second fewest runs per game since the break.
Spencer Patton and not Josh Sborz was the recipient of the first two Rangers save chances after Texas sent Ian Kennedy to the Phillies. The 33-year-old reliever blew his first chance on Saturday but recorded the win then converted Monday's ninth inning opportunity for his first save of his career.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Jonah Heim (S), 1%, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP Shohei Ohtani): Admittedly, Heim's four homers in three games over the weekend influenced this pick, but not because he's hot. Rather, the power binge brings to light an intriguing platoon edge as six of his eight homers have come against a righthander while six of the seven long balls Ohtani has surrendered have some from lefty swingers.
First Base -- Miguel Cabrera (R), 7%, Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox (LHP Eduardo Rodriguez): On May 3, Cabrera was slashing a lowly .098/.179/.213. Since, he's generated a more respectable .288/.339/.420 with most of the production coming over the past month. Over the first half, the narrative was Rodriguez was unlucky and is in line for a solid second half. However, his skills have waned lately, masking any regression.
Second Base -- Cesar Hernandez (S), 46%, Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Carlos Hernandez): You know the deal. Once Hernandez's rostership eclipses 50%, I'll stop tabling reasons why it should be higher. Let's try this approach. Hernandez is the 24th highest second baseman on the Player Rater. However, 20 of those ahead of him are eligible at other positions and you know many are occupying those alternate spots. Sure, this doesn't propel him to the top-10 at the position, but when middle and utility are considered, Hernandez should at minimum tip the 50% threshold. Stats-wise, he's slashing .273/.337/.500 since June and is now in the two-hole for one of the most potent lineups.
Third Base -- Sam Hilliard (L), 2%, Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs (RHP Alec Mills): Hilliard has been getting a chance to play since the break, and although he's not hitting for average, he's left the yard three times and draws a soft-throwing righty vulnerable to righthanded power.
Shortstop -- Amed Rosario (R), 30%, Cleveland at Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Steven Matz): Rosario's second half is off to a great as he's slashed .333/.370/.500 since the break with three steals. He's especially potent when enjoying the platoon advantage.
Corner Infield -- Gavin Sheets (L), 4%, Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Carlos Hernandez): Sheets playing time could soon be in jeopardy once Luis Robert returns. In the meantime, Sheets is doing his best to stay in the lineup by hitting safely in six of his past seven contests, though he only had one hit in each game.
Middle Infield -- Josh VanMeter (L), under 1%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Kevin Gausman): VanMeter has been playing regularly with a righty on the hill. The is particularly noteworthy since he's swiped a pair of bags over the last week. There used to be a time where no one tried running against the Giants, but they're not nearly as effective in slowing the running game as they were afew years ago.
Outfield -- Lorenzo Cain (R), 24%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (LHP Steven Brault): After an extended stay on the IL, Cain is back, and he didn't miss a beat. He hit .391 (9-for-23) in his first six games since being activated, even stealing a base.
Outfield -- Rafael Ortega (L), 19%, Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies (RHP Jon Gray): Ortega has hit the ball in the air about 70% of the time this season. Keeping in mind Coors Field embellishes hits more than homers, stroking with a line drive or fly ball is a very good thing. Ortega cemented his spot atop the Cubs lineup with three homers on Sunday, but keep in mind he can also run as he's compiled four steals in limited playing time.
Outfield -- Jo Adell (R), under 1%, Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers (LHP Kolby Allard): The Angels finally promoted Adell, one of their top prospects after he posted a .286/.399/.588 with eight steals for Triple-A Salt Lake. That said, Adell fanned 29% of the time with the Bees, so keep expectations in check. That said, there won't be many players emerging over the final two months with Adell's power-speed ceiling.