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

Kyle Bradish makes his second start of the season after a terrific 2024 debut. James A. Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

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.

A traditional doubleheader

The 2024 MLB schedule had a pair of traditional, pre-planned doubleheaders, and the first arrives on Wednesday, as the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics pull an "Ernie Banks" and play two. (The other is on Saturday, July 27, between the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants.)

Fantasy baseball managers know well the advantages of doubleheaders, whether scheduled or weather-created, the most obvious of which is that 18 innings' opportunity is considerably greater than nine innings' worth. Hitters get a chance at two starts, potentially as many as 10 trips to the plate and sometimes more than that, against an opponent with greater likelihood of a tired bullpen. Relievers, meanwhile, have twice the prospect of logging work.

With the latter, we won't know the availability of certain relievers until the conclusion of Tuesday's game. On the hitting side, however, we can venture a guess at who might earn starts in both doubleheader games, though it's important to remember that teams often look at these as opportunities for days off even for regulars.

For the Rangers, Marcus Semien has started 330 consecutive games for the team, so he'd be a natural double-dip starter -- though that could make it just as likely he's due a game off -- while Corey Seager, Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis Garcia shape up as natural two-game starters. The Athletics will start a left-hander, JP Sears, and probably right-hander Osvaldo Bido, boosting the matchups for lefty Evan Carter, catcher Jonah Heim and switch-hitter Leody Taveras, even if each makes only one start. Taveras might be the next most-likely Rangers hitter to get starts in both games.

For the Athletics, a righty/lefty matchups-oriented offense, no one player stands out as a lock to start both games. New No. 2 hitter Tyler Nevin, a .261/.327/.544 hitter with four home runs in his past 12 games, but hitless in his past 15 at-bats entering play on Tuesday, and Brent Rooker, the team's designated hitter and No. 3/4 hitter, are the closest things to it. As the Rangers are likely to start a pair of right-handers, Michael Lorenzen and probable 27th man Jack Leiter, JJ Bleday, a .348/.500/.913 hitter with three home runs in his past eight games, is worth the add-and-start.

None of the starting pitchers scheduled stands out for standard-league fantasy purposes, however, barring either team announcing a pre-Game 1 lineup missing one or more key hitters. Sears and Lorenzen enjoy modest projections, so any hitter absences could push either into fantasy-relevant territory.

What you may have missed on Tuesday

By Todd Zola

  • St. Louis Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras will undergo surgery for a broken left forearm, incurred last night when he was hit by a swing in the second inning. The club recently positioned Contreras closer to the plate so he could improve the presentation of low pitches. With Contreras expected to miss 6-8 weeks, Ivan Herrera will return to primary backstop duties while Pedro Pages rejoins the club to serve as the backup.

  • The move isn't yet official, but on Tuesday the Tampa Bay Rays indicated that Ryan Pepiot is probably headed for an IL stint. The good news is that the X-ray and CT scan both indicated no structural damage after Pepiot was struck by a 107.5 mph comebacker on Sunday. However, the area is still sore and pitching through the pain could alter his motion, resulting in an arm issue. Pepiot's spot in the rotation could be filled by Taj Bradley, who is slated to come off the IL to make his 2024 debut in advance of Friday night's matchup with the New York Yankees.

  • The Miami Marlins rotation continues to be snake-bitten with Edward Cabrera forced to leave last night's contest against the Los Angeles Dodgers due to a sore biceps. Cabrera was struggling, having yielded four runs in two innings before his exit. Cabrera's 2024 debut had been delayed due to right shoulder impingement experienced in the spring. He shined in his first outing, then struggled over his next four, including last night. If Cabrera must miss time, his turn in the rotation could be taken by Braxton Garrett or Jesus Luzardo, both on target to return this weekend.

  • Gabriel Moreno was under the weather last night, so he was held out of the Arizona Diamondbacks' 6-2 road win over the Cincinnati Reds. Corbin Carroll sparked the offense with his second straight two-hit game, which included just his second home run of the season. Carroll had recorded just a .538 OPS through April 30, with a low 84.1-mph average exit velocity and a 27.2% hard-hit rate. Through the first five games in May, Carroll's OPS is .824 with a 90.7-mph average exit velocity and 46.2% hard-hit mark.

  • Paul Sewald made his 2024 debut in Arizona's win, pitching the ninth inning in a non-save scenario. Sewald fanned one but also surrendered a home run to Tyler Stephenson. He threw 11 of his 15 pitches for strikes, though his velocity was down a tick. Even so, Sewald is expected to garner the next save chance, with Kevin Ginkel returning to setup duties.

  • Luis Garcia Jr. left Sunday's game after jamming his wrist on a slide. The Washington Nationals had Monday off and Garcia's availability for last night's game against the Baltimore Orioles was unclear. However, he did end up playing, going 0-for-2 with a pair of walks. Fueled by a .330/.385/.500 line, Garcia has been moved up to the three-hole while ascending to 2B10 on the ESPN Player Rater. Despite the surge, Garcia is rostered in just 12.5% of ESPN leagues.

Everything else you need to know for Wednesday

  • Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Aaron Civale has been in a funk, his ERA 11.85 in his past three starts, and has been one of the most-dropped players in fantasy. A home matchup against the Chicago White Sox, however, represents a big bounce-back opportunity with Chicago's offense grading as the majors' worst and Tropicana Field rating as one of the game's most pitching-friendly environments. Starting pitchers have averaged 13.2 fantasy points per outing while delivering a quality start 48.6% of the time against the White Sox, both second-most in the majors (the Rockies' 13.6 points per start, and Cardinals' 51.4% quality start rate, are the only ones better).

  • Nick Pivetta rejoins the Boston Red Sox's rotation for a road start against the Atlanta Braves, one of the least-favorable matchups a pitcher could draw. The Braves are a top-three graded offense, and Truist Park leans slightly hitter-friendly. Pivetta walked four batters and threw only 36 of 62 pitches for strikes in a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Worcester last Thursday. The shaky outing, coupled with his likely being in the 75-pitch range, makes him wiser to bench for evaluation.

  • Kyle Bradish's return to the Baltimore Orioles was brilliant, as he held a potent New York Yankees offense to one run on four hits in 4⅔ innings' work last Thursday. In the outing, he generated nine swings and misses and 19 called strikes, maintained near-identical four-seam fastball and sinker average velocities to his 2023 breakthrough, and had a right-in-line-with-2023 38% whiff rate with his slider. After throwing 84 pitches in that game, Bradish should be close to full stamina for his second start, a favorable road matchup against the Washington Nationals, whose offense grades bottom-four run-producing but as one of the most contact-oriented.

  • Giants hitters stand out in a big way in a Coors Field game against hittable Rockies right-hander Peter Lambert. Lambert delivered negative fantasy point totals in each of his two starts against the Giants in 2023, and his fastball/changeup repertoire against lefties represents a favorable matchup for LaMonte Wade Jr., a .301/.432/.506 hitter against fastballs since the beginning of 2023.

  • Minnesota Twins right-hander Chris Paddack is a useful pickup for his home start against the Seattle Mariners, graded the best matchup in baseball for strikeouts. Paddack has been excellent at home thus far, with a 1.02 ERA and 30.0% strikeout rate in his three starts at Target Field. Which brings us to...

  • Betting tip of the day: Paddack's strikeout prop stands out because the K-prone Mariners have been a go-to categorical matchup all year. The Mariners have struck out in double-digits as a team 24 times (four more than anyone else) and in their last 14 games, opposing starters have averaged 6.8 K's against them. Take over 5.5 strikeouts (-115).

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 Wednesday

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 Wednesday

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 Wednesday

THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Wednesday