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What you need to know for Monday's MLB games
By Todd Zola
The fantasy week begins with a 10-game evening slate, with action getting started at 6:40 p.m. in Motown with the Detroit Tigers hosting the Chicago Cubs and in the City of Brotherly Love where the Philadelphia Phillies will entertain the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, the Monday schedule is not ideal for those wanting to get an early week jump on pitching, but there are a few options meriting consideration.
Graham Ashcraft (20.8% rostered in ESPN leagues) has posted an impressive 2.38 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over his seven starts since the break. However, he has fanned only 29 in those 45 1/3 frames, rendering him vulnerable to a poor outing. Only 13 walks, five homers and 35 hits allowed over this stretch have mitigated Ashcroft's lack of dominance, but he can't count on maintaining low ratios, especially since his .238 BABIP in this span is due to increase. On Monday, Ashcraft enjoys a favorable road matchup against a Los Angeles Angels offense struggling against right-handers since the break. They check in with the eighth-lowest wOBA and fourth-highest strikeout rate with a righty on the hill since the midseason hiatus.
Alec Marsh (.1% rostered) has control issues, but he has shown overall improvement as the Kansas City Royals transition him to a traditional starter role down the stretch. While it's unclear whether Marsh will start or serve as the bulk reliever in Monday's road tilt with the Oakland Athletics, he'll face an offense with the second-worst wOBA and second-highest strikeout rate facing right-handers.
Javier Assad (2.9%) is one of the reasons the Cubs are within striking distance of the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central lead as well as being in the NL wild-card mix. Assad is another starter who isn't adept at missing bats, but he has registered two straight quality starts, including yielding just one run in seven stanzas to the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rogers Centre. Next up is a Tigers lineup with the third-lowest wOBA facing right-handers.
Allan Winans (5.4%) is being recalled by the Atlanta Braves to replace the injured Yonny Chirinos. Even though he's been with Triple-A Gwinnett for over a week, his last appearance was with the Braves when he tossed seven scoreless innings against the New York Mets in Citi Field on August 12. Winans fanned nine, and gets to run it back with the Mets visiting Truist Park. Expecting a repeat performance is optimistic, but Winans should post another solid effort, worthy of a streaming pick up.
With Matthew Liberatore needing a couple more days for his back to get better, the St, Louis Cardinals will promote Drew Rom (1.1%) to start Monday on the road against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rom was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles as part of the Jack Flaherty deal and has been pitching for Triple-A Memphis this month. For the season, Rom's combined ERA in Triple-A is 4.82 with a 1.56 WHIP, but he's fanned 118 in 97 innings, most of those with Triple-A Norfolk. However, the 23-year-old right-hander has been pitching progressively better over the summer. Over the past month his ratios are 3.75 and 1.14, and in his two starts since the trade, they're a sparkling 0.82 and 0.55. Rom last pitched on August 15, throwing six innings against his former team, fanning eight in the process so workload should not be an issue. Rom has missed bats at every level, but he also struggles with control. The Pirates are a good draw for Rom as they have the seventh lowest wOBA with a lefty on the hill, and they've been even worse over the last month.
With 10 teams on the sidelines, there is likely a hitting hole or two among fantasy batters. In category leagues, filling the holes with players in a good spot to steal a base might mean you won't have to chase steals later in the week. My research shows the leading indicator of stolen base potential is the team tendency, with the ability of the opposition being relevant, but less important. Heading into Sunday's docket, the Royals, Cubs and Washington Nationals are the only teams with 30 steals over the past month, with the first two in action on Monday. The Royals play the Athletics, who have done a good job defending stolen bases lately, but Maikel Garcia (7.7%), Dairon Blanco (.2%) and Samad Taylor (.1%) are all candidates to run. Nico Hoerner and Cody Bellinger have done most of the running for the Cubs over the last month, but they are rostered in most leagues. However, Jeimer Candelario (38.5%) and Seiya Suzuki (43.9%) have chipped in with three each over this span, increasing their already significant appeal as streamers facing Alex Faedo and the Tigers.
Starting pitcher rankings for Monday
Bullpen usage for Monday
By Todd Zola
With 10 teams off today, and six not playing on yesterday, many of the usual suspects have enjoyed or will soon benefit from a day of rest. Only Camilo Doval is flagged with potential unavailability for tonight's road date with the San Francisco Giants opening a set with the Philadelphia Phillies. Doval collected five outs and the win in the Giants 4-3 road win over the Atlanta Braves. He racked up 29 pitches in the process but was working with six days of rest. Chances are that's enough to sideline him tonight despite pitching for the first time in a week, but there have been several instances this month of a contending team using their closer when it appeared he could use a recovery day. With 24 holds and two saves, Tyler Rogers is a solid hedge as he could step in for the save or pick up another hold.
A few lesser rostered closers are in play to fill in holes, and potentially stick in a fantasy lineup for the early part of the week. The No. 1 option in this realm is Seattle Mariners closer Andres Munoz (46.8%). He should be busy early this week with a road series beginning tonight against the Chicago White Sox.
The Chicago Cubs have been on a roll since the break, but Detroit Tigers are quietly 18-17 in that span. The clubs hook up in Motown tonight for the opener of an interleague set. Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay (25.8%) is the main target, but don't dismiss taking a chance on Jason Foley, Beau Brieske or Alex Lange from the Tigers.
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.
Andrew McCutchen (PIT, LF -- 16%) vs. Rom
Ke'Bryan Hayes (PIT, 3B -- 19%) vs. Rom
Spencer Torkelson (DET, 1B -- 20%) vs. Assad
Cal Raleigh (SEA, C -- 31%) at Toussaint
J.P. Crawford (SEA, SS -- 12%) at Toussaint
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Monday
Kyle Schwarber (PHI, LF -- 93%) vs. Manaea
Alec Bohm (PHI, 3B -- 78%) vs. Manaea
Luis Robert Jr. (CHW, CF -- 96%) vs. Castillo
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Monday
Prop of the Day
James Paxton 17.5 pitching outs (-115/-115).
THE BAT sees Paxton putting up 15.1 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 30.0% of the time.
THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $35.41.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
Minute Maid Park has the 3rd-tallest fences in MLB.
The Minute Maid Park roof projects to be closed today, making conditions in this contest -6° colder than the average outdoor game on the slate today -- favorable for pitching.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The third-best projected lineup on the slate in terms of overall batting ability is that of the Houston Astros.
The Houston Astros have been the eighth-unluckiest offense in MLB this year, according to the BAT X, and are likely to perform better in the future.
The No. 6 stadium in Major League Baseball for boosting walks, per the BAT X, is Minute Maid Park.
The shallowest LF dimensions in MLB are found in Minute Maid Park.