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

Kutter Crawford of the Boston Red Sox is off to a strong start. John Cordes/Icon Sportswire

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.

Marathon, not a sprint

Major League Baseball is honoring Jackie Robinson Day with a full 15-game slate, beginning with the annual Patriots' Day game in Fenway Park, with an 11:10 AM ET first pitch. The early start was initially so fans could attend the game, then walk a few blocks to catch the end of the Boston Marathon. Pulling off the double dip became increasingly difficult as ballgames lengthened and finishing times shortened. With the advent of the pitch clock, witnessing the end of both events is back in play.

The Boston Red Sox will give the ball to Kutter Crawford with the visiting Cleveland Guardians countering with Xzavion Curry. Crawford is sporting a .57 ERA and .96 WHIP with 18 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. However, a fortunate .189 BABIP has masked issuing eight walks (4.60 BB/9). Under the tutelage of new Red Sox pitching coach Andrew Bailey, Crawford has made tangible changes to his pitch mix, throwing fewer four-seam fastballs, cutters and curves while almost tripling sweeper usage. Last season, Crawford threw the sleeper at a 13.0% clip, now he's deploying it 35.8% of the time.

Gametime temperatures are forecast for the low 60s, which still favors pitching. Crawford (60.0% rostered in ESPN leagues) is above the cutoff to be considered a streaming option, but since he's still available in two of five leagues, it's worth checking on his availability.

What you may have missed on Sunday

  • The back end of the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen is poised for a couple of reinforcements with closer Jordan Romano and primary set-up man Erik Swanson both on the cusp of returning -- perhaps as early as tonight when the New York Yankees visit Rogers Centre. However, Romano had two short rehab appearances, totaling just one inning, in which he walked four with only one strikeout, so he may not assume the closer role right away.

  • Staying with the Blue Jays, catcher Danny Jansen could be behind the plate when Romano and Swanson return as the backstop has completed a rehab assignment and is set to join the club tonight. Jansen should take over the primary catching duties as Alejandro Kirk failed to take advantage of extra playing time, showcasing merely a .170/.259/.170 line.

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers and Bobby Miller are optimistic his right shoulder inflammation isn't a major issue, but it will still be around a week before he'll pick up a baseball. Things aren't as encouraging for Emmet Sheehan and his recovery from a forearm issue. Sheehan has been shut down as the arm has not responded as planned.

  • The next step is not clear. With a .385/.500/.923 line over the past week, Dominic Canzone was getting more playing time for the Seattle Mariners, but he hurt his shoulder making a catch early in yesterday's contest and had to leave the game. The severity is unknown.

  • A pair of third basemen have missed the last several games. Houston's Alex Bregman has been out due to an illness, but was able to participate in pregame warmups yesterday, so he's expected to return tonight. Rafael Devers has missed the last four games thanks to a sore shoulder, but he will be in the lineup, batting second for today's early Patriots' Day affair in Fenway Park between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Guardians.

Everything else you need to know for Monday

  • A.J. Puk is feeling under the weather, and thus he will not make today's scheduled start. Instead, the Miami Marlins will activate Edward Cabrera from the IL to take the hill in South Beach against the San Francisco Giants. Puk will now pitch on Wednesday. Cabrera was slated for one more rehab outing as he's recovering from a shoulder impingement, but since he threw 82 pitches in his last effort, the Marlins opted to forgo another start with Triple-A Jacksonville. Over three starts covering 12 2/3 innings, Cabrera fanned 12 with eight walks, allowing 11 hits and just one earned run.

  • Martin Perez (12.7%) is the slate's top ranked streaming candidate. Perez is typically risky since he doesn't miss many bats and he's not getting much help from his defense as the Pittsburgh Pirates defense ranks near the bottom in both infield and outfield fielding percentage. Perez will face the New York Mets in Citi Field, the top pitching venue in the league. That said, the Mets are striking out at the fourth lowest rate in the league. This feels like a trap game, so it's worth looking further down the rankings for a spot starter. It's too early in the fantasy scoring week to take unnecessary chances.

  • The next highest ranked spot starter is Frankie Montas (35.1%). Montas had a rough spring in his first season with the Cincinnati Reds, but he received plaudits for his leadership. The 31-year-old right-hander turned things around once the games counted with a 2.16 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over three starts, covering 16 2/3 innings. He hasn't been dominant with just 13 strikeouts and four walks, but the key is Montas is healthy. He doesn't throw as hard as before, but Montas has introduced a cutter, giving batters three distinct velocity ranges to worry about. On Monday, he'll face the Seattle Mariners in T-Mobile Park, which is a significant park upgrade. The Mariners are sporting the fourth lowest wOBA in the league, rendering Montas a solid streaming option.

  • Seth Lugo (21.9%) sits just below Montas. Lugo was one of the veterans the Kansas City Royals added to their rotation and so far, he's delivered. To be fair, fanning nine with five walks in 18 2/3 stanzas is nothing special, but he's posted three quality starts to begin the season. If he were facing someone other than the Chicago White Sox, the narrative would be Lugo is ripe for his first subpar effort, but the White Sox are without Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada, which has contributed to their .259 wOBA, the lowest in the American League.

  • It's a good news/bad news scenario in Arlington with Michael Lorenzen (2.5%) poised to make his Texas Rangers debut on Monday. On the other hand, Cody Bradford was placed on the IL with a sore back. Bradford opened the season with a 1.40 ERA and .62 WHIP over 19 1/3 innings, with 17 strikeouts and just two bases on balls, earning a permanent spot in the rotation. Bradford's success put Lorenzen's starting role in jeopardy, but now Lorenzen has a chance to stake his claim to a rotation spot. His 2024 debut will be in the Motor City against the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers check in with the fifth lowest wOBA and eighth highest strikeout rate to open the season.

  • Betting tip of the day: Two of the top offenses in the league square off in Minute Maid Park with the Houston Astros entertaining the Atlanta Braves. Both rotations are missing key cogs and are using minor league call-ups tonight. With Darius Vines taking the hill for the visitors and Spencer Arrighetti getting the nod for the hosts, the scoreboard operator should be busy. I'm backing over 9.5 runs scored (-125).

Starting pitcher rankings for Monday

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.

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.

Worst Over-50% rostered hitters for Monday

THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Monday