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Note: This file has been updated with overnight pitching changes and weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.
What you need to know for Monday's MLB games
By Todd Zola
Monday's slate was initially scheduled for nine games, but an April rainout in Motown brings it to double digits. The bonus game is a 1:10 PM matinee with the San Francisco Giants visiting the Detroit Tigers. Taking the hill for the visitors will be Ross Stripling (4.2% rostered in ESPN leagues) while the hosts will counter with Tarik Skubal (19.2% rostered). Both starters carry fantasy appeal.
As usual, Stripling has served in many capacities this season, but after pitching six innings in his last outing, he's ready to return to the rotation. His 19.7% strikeout rate is below average, but he's aided by a stingy 5% walk rate. Stripling also benefits from facing a Tigers lineup averaging the third-fewest runs per game in MLB.
Skubal is riskier, but he offers more upside even though he's yet to throw more than 64 pitches in any of his three outings since making his 2023 debut in early July. Even though the Giants stack their lineup with right-handed hitters with a southpaw on the hill, their wOBA facing left-handers is well below average while their strikeout rate is a bit above average. Another factor to consider is that San Francisco is coming in from Washington and will head back to the Bay Area immediately after the game, so they could be more impatient than usual at the dish. In fact, umpires tend to widen the strike zone in games of this nature, benefiting both hurlers.
When Shane Bieber recently landed on the IL, the Cleveland Guardians recalled Logan Allen (11.2%) -- and he delivered by shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates for five frames, allowing just one hit while fanning eight. On Monday, Allen has a home date with the Kansas City Royals. For the season, the Royals have the seventh-lowest wOBA with a left-hander on the hill while fanning at an above-average clip.
Kenta Maeda's ranking is low since it reflects the 10 runs he allowed in his three-inning outing against the New York Yankees right before he went on the IL in late April. However, in his five starts since returning in early June, Maeda (9.6%) has posted a 2.73 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP, fully supported with 36 strikeouts over 26 1/3 innings. On Monday, Maeda and the Minnesota Twins host the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners offense has been suspect all season when facing right-handers, with the 11th worst wOBA and second-highest strikeout rate. Plus, now they'll be without Jarred Kelenic for around a month.
Graham Ashcraft (8.1%) is in an interesting spot when the Cincinnati Reds open an important road set with the Milwaukee Brewers. Ashcraft has registered four straight quality starts, but he's punched out only 14 in those 24 2/3 innings. On the other hand, the Brewers' strikeout rate facing righties is seventh-highest in the league. It's early in the week to take chances with pitching, but there is potential for Ashcroft to have a big game. Perhaps this renders him more of a DFS GPP play than as a streamer in traditional fantasy action.
CJ Abrams (22.5%) is enjoying a July worthy of "Player of the Month" honors. Through Saturday's action, he has put up a .375/.420/.625 July line with 10 steals -- the most by any player this month. ESPN fantasy managers are taking notice as his rostership was only in the single digits just a little over a week ago. The Washington Nationals have also noticed as Abrams has moved from hitting ninth to leading off, where he stands to gain at least 50 more plate appearances if he maintains that top spot in their lineup.
Starting pitcher rankings for Monday
Bullpen usage watch for Monday
By Todd Zola
The Baltimore Orioles took three out of four games from the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, with Felix Bautista chipping in with a win and two saves, including locking down yesterday's finale. Bautista has now appeared on four of the past five days, hurling a combined 60 pitches over five innings, signaling an off day when the club stays on the road and opens a set with the Philadelphia Phillies. Yennier Cano also pitched in the same four games as Bautista, and even though Cano only totaled 50 tosses, he's also earmarked to spend the evening on the bullpen bench. Bryan Baker and Danny Coulombe are both well-rested and capable of handling the late-inning duties if necessary.
Jordan Romano received an extended break after he left the All-Star game with back tightness, but he returned to pitch on three of the prior four days, including a 21-pitch effort yesterday where he collected his 27th save. Even though he was working with a day of rest, accumulating 42 pitches over a four-day period so soon after an injury scare likely renders Romano unavailable tonight when the Toronto Blue Jays head to SoCal for an interleague set with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Erik Swanson would normally be the next man up, but he appeared in the same three games as Romano, but needed even more pitches, 58 to be exact. Yimi Garcia is the most likely candidate to fill in as closer.
Paul Sewald was brought into yesterday's game with the Blue Jays with the Seattle Mariners down by a run in the eighth. Sewald retired Bo Bichette, Brandon Belt and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in order, but his club was kept off the scoreboard by Romano in the ninth. Normally, when a closer is used in this capacity, he's able to come back the next day, but with Sewald tossing 48 pitches since Thursday, someone else will likely handle late-inning responsibilities for tonight's road opener with the Minnesota Twins. Andres Munoz, Matt Brash and Justin Topa are all well-rested, with Munoz being the primary target.
With only 10 games on the schedule, Monday is a good time to fill in open roster spots with closers rostered in fewer than half of all ESPN leagues, and on teams with a good chance to be competitive over the next few days. The top three options are Craig Kimbrel (47.1%), Evan Phillips (26.8%) and Jordan Hicks (13.1%).
Best sub-50% rostered hitters for Monday
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 (WSH, 3B -- 17%) vs. Karl Kauffmann
CJ Abrams (WSH, SS -- 22%) vs. Karl Kauffmann
Brendan Donovan (STL, 2B -- 39%) at Ryne Nelson
Dominic Smith (WSH, 1B -- 1%) vs. Karl Kauffmann
Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Monday
Teoscar Hernandez (SEA, RF -- 60%) at Kenta Maeda
Jonah Heim (TEX, C -- 92%) at Brandon Bielak
Alec Bohm (PHI, 3B -- 72%) vs. Dean Kremer
Salvador Perez (KC, C -- 86%) at Logan Allen
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today
Toronto Blue Jays at Michael Grove
Cincinnati Reds at Colin Rea
Washington Nationals vs. Karl Kauffmann
Prop of the Day
Tarik Skubal O/U 17.5 pitching outs (-103/-127)
THE BAT sees Skubal putting up 13.0 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 11.7% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $73.35.
Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
THE BAT forecasts Tarik Skubal in the 88th percentile when it comes to his overall pitching skills.
Among all major league stadiums, Comerica Park's center field dimensions are the second-deepest.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
THE BAT X expects Tarik Skubal to be on a pitch count today, projecting a maximum of 80 pitches.
Comerica Park ranks as the No. 5 venue in the game for walks, per THE BAT.
The weather report expects temperatures in this game to reach the second-highest level of all games on the slate today at 83 degrees, which is highly linked to an increase in offense and a reduction in strikeouts.
The San Francisco Giants have seven bats in the projected batting order that will hold the platoon advantage against Skubal in today's game.