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

Can you trust Randy Vasquez against the Braves on Monday? Photo by Sean M. Haffey/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 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.

Not so hot in Atlanta

One of the driving points for managing a fantasy pitching staff is gauging opposing offenses. For example, avoid using a starting pitcher against the Atlanta Braves.

Avoiding the Braves lineup in April was smart, as they led the majors with 5.43 runs scored per game. The Braves' wOBA was .334, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers.

However, through Saturday's action, the Braves averaged only 3.23 runs per game in May, the third fewest in the league. The club's wOBA has been the seventh lowest this month.

The lesson here isn't to rely on recent data to make roster decisions. It's also not to trust the season-long numbers. This is one of those instances where math doesn't generate the definitive answer. There's too much variance in a small sample. There is usually a lot of turnover in longer samples, so the data is not an accurate reflection of the current lineup.

Fortunately, while every team gets hot or cold, it's usually straightforward to judge an offense as potent or less productive. It's rare that a team plays above its head or is mired in a rut for an extended period. But when teams do, roster management decisions can be a challenge.

For example, the Braves open the week at home with a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres. Reynaldo Lopez and Chris Sale will start for the home team, with the visitors handing the ball to Dylan Cease and Randy Vasquez. Cease is matchup-proof, but what about Vasquez (0.3% rostered in ESPN leagues)? Complicating matters is that the Braves are probably going to start most of their regulars for just one of the two games.

The fact that Vasquez is ranked last reflects how the Braves are typically more productive. It also accounts for how poorly Vasquez has fared in his short stints in the majors, along with some mediocre minor league numbers. Reserving him should be a no-brainer, but if that same conclusion was made for most of the month, it likely backfired.

This discussion would have been better if the starter in question was ranked closer to the middle of the pack. Regardless of the ancillary factors, trusting Vasquez in this spot is risky.

The takeaway is... don't assume anything. Take the time to research decisions, no matter how trivial they may appear. The key after doing so is to understand how to apply the observations. Above is an example of a case where there is no right answer. Consider all the factors (doubleheader, injuries, first day of the scoring week) and decide what is best for your team.

The opener of the Braves-Padres twin bill kicks off the Monday slate at noon ET. All told, there are 12 games on the docket, including the nightcap of the separate admission doubleheader in Truist Park.

What you may have missed on Sunday

  • Atlanta Braves 3B Austin Riley has been sidelined due to intercostal inflammation since May 12. He's not in the lineup for the first game of today's doubleheader with the San Diego Padres and isn't likely to play in the nightcap either. The good news is that C Travis d'Arnaud will start the nightcap. He missed yesterday's contest as a precaution after experiencing dizziness following getting hit in the mask by a foul tip on Friday night.

  • The Cincinnati Reds held 3B/OF Spencer Steer out of Sunday's lineup as he's nursing a sore ankle. Steer entered the game as a pinch hitter, so the hope is he'll be able to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday.

  • The Seattle Mariners indicated they will make a decision today regarding 2B Jorge Polanco's lingering hamstring issue. Polanco has been absent for five games and is able to swing the bat, but he's still feeling soreness when he runs. An IL stint may be in order. The Mariners are slated to get SS J.P. Crawford back for Monday's road date with the New York Yankees. A sore oblique forced Crawford to the IL on April 25. Dylan Moore has been the primary replacement, posting a solid .823 OPS in Crawford's absence. If Polanco remains out, Moore could slide over to man the keystone.

  • On Saturday, Texas Rangers 2B Marcus Semien and OF Adolis Garcia collided chasing a short fly ball. Yesterday, Garcia was held out of the lineup due to a sore right forearm. Imaging revealed no damage, so Garcia is considered day-to-day. The club is off today, so the hope is for Garcia to come back tomorrow when the team begins a road set with the Philadelphia Phillies.

  • Sunday marked the fifth straight game in which 2B/SS Nico Hoerner was on the bench thanks to a hamstring issue. The Chicago Cubs are off today but are slated to get SS Dansby Swanson back from the IL in advance of Tuesday's home tilt with the Braves. If Hoerner is still sore tomorrow, the infielders could switch roster designations.

  • Over the weekend, Edwin Diaz stated he was willing to step back from closing duties. New York Mets manager Carlos Mendoza subsequently announced that Diaz would take on what he deemed a "fluid" role, suggesting Diaz would pitch in lower-leverage scenarios with the expectation he'll return to ninth-inning duties once he rights the ship. In the interim, Reed Garrett and Adam Ottavino are expected to share the closer role.

Everything else you need to know for Monday

  • Taj Bradley (13.8% rostered) tops the list of streaming candidates. He has made two starts this season, the last against Monday's foe, the Boston Red Sox. In 13 innings, Bradley has fanned 13 while issuing just three free passes. The Red Sox have struck out the fourth most in MLB. Bradley is a solid option to start the fantasy week.

  • Reese Olson (17.8%) and the Detroit Tigers have a road date with the Kansas City Royals. Olson has recorded four quality starts in his eight outings, including in his past two efforts. His 2.09 ERA and 0.99 WHIP are aided by a .246 BABIP, but a 3.76 xFIP and 3.78 SIERA still characterize Olson as an above-average hurler. The Royals offense isn't a pushover, as they sport a league-average wOBA, but Olson still checks in as one of the better streaming options.

  • The Cleveland Guardians have a knack for getting the most out of their arms, with Ben Lively the latest example (5.0% rostered). Lively will be at home to face the New York Mets in the opener of an interleague series. Lively's 3.06 ERA is buoyed by an 88.2% left-on-base mark, but he has been keeping the Guardians in games before turning it over to one of the best bullpens in MLB. The Mets will tote the ninth-lowest wOBA into Progressive Field, landing Lively in the streaming bucket.

  • Ryan Weathers (2.5% rostered) has registered three straight quality starts and will go for a fourth at home when the Miami Marlins entertain the surprising Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers are the opposite of the Braves in that their offense has been quietly productive, scoring the third-most runs per game in the league. While the Brewers have been solid on the road, LoanDepot Park is a significant hitting downgrade from American Family Field. Weathers hasn't been missing many bats, with only 12 punchouts over his past 20 innings, but he has surrendered only six earned runs in that stretch, so consider him as a spot starter in deep leagues.

  • Betting tip of the day: The team strikeout rate for the Royals is the lowest in the league. Reese Olson's strikeout rate is below average, so my initial inclination was to look for the best odds on the under for his strikeout total. Nothing was enticing there, especially considering Olson's swinging-strike rate is higher than last season, even though his K% is lower. With this in mind, I'm pivoting to taking Olson for over 4.5 strikeouts (+125).

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.

Hitting report

Plan ahead in fantasy baseball with help from our Forecaster projections. Each day, we will provide an updated preview of the next 10 days for every team, projecting the matchup quality for hitters (overall and by handedness) as well as for base stealers.

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