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

Garrett Crochet is at home Monday against a Twins team that won't have a pair of its better hitters. Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

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.

Great expectations

One guy sports a 4.64 ERA. His xFIP is 3.39, to go along with a 3.33 SIERA. His 28.1% strikeout rate is 16th-best among qualified starters, though his 20.7% K-BB% drops to 20th. He has benefited from a 75.6% left on base rate, though he has been victimized by a high .365 BABIP.

The other guy has a 6.37 ERA. However, his xFIP is 2.98 and his SIERA is 2.76. His 32.0% strikeout rate is fourth-best among qualified pitchers, while his 25.6% K-BB% checks in as sixth highest. His issues have been a 55.9% left-on-base mark and a bloated 18.8% home run-per-fly ball level.

Via number scouting, both have underperformed expectations. It can be argued the second guy has incurred more misfortune than the first, as his skills through the first month of the season are superior.

The former is Grayson Rodriguez. The Baltimore Orioles 24-year-old right-hander is rostered in 95.8% of ESPN leagues.

The latter is Garrett Crochet. The Chicago White Sox 24-year-old left-hander is rostered in only 38.6% of ESPN leagues.

The initial reaction is, if almost every one of Rodriguez's team managers are willing to hold onto him, anticipating the good kind of regression, then far more should extend Crochet the same courtesy.

However, a closer look reveals that Rodriguez posted a 2.63 ERA over his first four outings, then after yielding seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, it ballooned to 4.45.

On the other hand, Crochet opened the season with a sparkling 2.00 ERA over his first three efforts, as compared to a 13.11 mark spanning his last three starts. The optimal approach in standard ESPN leagues is rostering three or four starting pitchers, then streaming everyone else. Stashing a struggling arm on the three-man reserve hinders the ability to keep the active roster at maximum performance, especially on Mondays and Thursdays. As such, many have run out patience with Crochet. Chances are, that's a mistake.

Both hurlers are slated to pitch Monday, with Crochet drawing the Minnesota Twins at home and Rodriguez squaring off with the New York Yankees, also at home. Crochet is ranked a bit higher than his counterpart. Rodriguez pitches in a more favorable venue, supported by a more potent offense. Meanwhile, Crochet faces a weaker lineup, as two of the Twins better hitters, Edouard Julien and Max Kepler, routinely sit with a lefty on the hill. That said, Carlos Correa may return, boosting the Twins lineup.

Both are in play. However, think twice before dumping Crochet for your next spot starter.

What you may have missed on Sunday

  • After playing the full game on Saturday, Nolan Jones again experienced back stiffness yesterday and had to leave the finale of the Mexico City Series in the seventh inning. Manager Bud Black expressed concern over the lingering issue. The Colorado Rockies play six games this week, three in Miami and three in Pittsburgh. It's best to reserve Jones for now since he wouldn't get the Coors Field boost even if were in the lineup.

  • Christian Encarnacion-Strand of the Cincinnati Reds was on the bench for yesterday's matchup in Arlington against the Texas Rangers. Strand was hit in the hand by a pitch on Saturday. X-rays were negative, but Strand was sore and missed the Reds' 4-3 loss. Manager David Bell indicated Encarnacion-Strand could be out for a few more days. The club opens a road set with the San Diego Padres tonight.

  • Masataka Yoshida of the Chicago Cubs jammed his hand in the first inning of last night's game in Fenway Park. He stayed in the contest at first, but left in the sixth inning. If Yoshida is still experiencing pain today, he'll get an X-ray. The club has Monday off before hosting the San Francisco Giants for a three-game set on Tuesday.

  • Jordan Westburg was under the weather and had to miss yesterday's loss by the Baltimore Orioles, 7-6 to the Oakland Athletics. It's unknown if Westburg will play in tonight's opener of a three-game series with the New York Yankees in Camden Yards. It's the first game on tonight's docket, so you'll have the luxury of being able to check the lineups before acting accordingly.

  • Orioles closer Craig Kimbrel blew the save in that loss to the Athletics. He's now failed to convert his last two chances after opening the season with seven straight successful saves. After the game, it was revealed that Kimbrel has been dealing with upper-back tightness. Yennier Cano will probably handle closing duties if Kimbrel is unable to pitch for a few days.

  • Jordan Leasure registered his first career save yesterday as he got the final two outs of the Chicago White Sox' 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Erick Fedde went 8 1/3 innings, but left after surrendering a single and a double, shaving the lead to two runs. Leasure needed just six pitches to retire the final two batters. Michael Kopech has been serving as the White Sox closer and was rested after having last pitched on Friday. Still, Leasure got the call. Kopech should still be considered the team's primary closer, although he likely won't be afforded as many chances as others in the role.

Everything else you need to know for Monday

  • There are no matinees on Monday's docket, with action beginning at 6:35 p.m. ET at Camden Yards. The evening features 12 contests with a handful of solid streaming candidates.

  • The top-ranked spot starter checks in second overall with Jameson Taillon (8.5% rostered) and the Chicago Cubs in Queens to open a set against the New York Mets. Taillon's 2024 debit was delayed by a back strain. He logged a win in his first two outings, both at Wrigley Field. Citi Field is the most favorable pitching venue in MLB, driving Taillon's high ranking. The Mets offense has been around league average, though it received a boost with J.D. Martinez joining the club over the weekend. Taillon is the type of starter where trying to time his favorable matchups is futile, as he'll dominate a potent lineup and then get hard by a weaker unit. The Mets don't strike out much, so despite the lofty ranking, Taillon is best deployed in deeper leagues.

  • Streaming pitchers at home is generally preferred, but when home is the Great American Ballpark, a favorable road venue is preferred. That said, the way Nick Lodolo (42.8% rostered) is pitching, it doesn't matter. Lodolo has fanned 20 in 17 innings, helping support his 2.12 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over three games to begin the season. The Cincinnati Reds take on the San Diego Padres in Petco Park, with Lodolo getting the nod. The Padres offense has been league average thus far, though their strikeout rate is below average. Even so, Lodolo is one of the better streaming options on the ledger.

  • An under-the-radar target is Jake Irvin (2.6% rostered), who will take the hill in South Beach with the Washington Nationals visiting the Miami Marlins. LoanDepot Park is an upgrade for Irvin, who will face the National League's lowest-scoring offense. Two starts ago, Irvin stifled the Los Angeles Dodgers with six shutout frames. However, in their rematch, the Dodgers tallied six runs in 4 2/3 innings. For the season, Irvin has a pedestrian 20.4% strikeout rate, so don't expect a bunch of punch outs, but the righty should keep the Marlins offense in check.

  • Betting tip of the day: The Philadelphia Phillies are in Anaheim for an interleague date with the Los Angeles Angels. Phillies starter Cristopher Sanchez has 28 strikeouts over 24 1/3 innings. This equates to 5.5 over five innings or 6.9 over six frames. The Angels' strikeout rate is the sixth-highest in the league, so the chances of Sanchez fanning six seem likely, with a reasonable case to make for seven-plus. Taking over 5.5 strikeouts (+105) is the safer bet, but I like over 6.5 strikeouts (+175) even better.

It's not too late to start a free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday. Come and join the fun!

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