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

Blake Snell might be on a pitch count, but he is still worth using on Wednesday. Robert Edwards-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 will be 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.

If at first you don't succeed ...

Since winning the National League's Cy Young Award for 2023, Blake Snell's path has been a rocky one.

A top name on the winter's free agent market, Snell took until mid-March to come to an agreement with his new team, the San Francisco Giants, after which point the delayed start to his spring training ramp-up program cost him the season's first 11 days. He then struggled through a trio of starts, none of them greater than 4⅔ innings or 85 pitches in length, posting a collective 11.57 ERA. Snell then landed on the injured list -- where he has been ever since -- with a left adductor strain.

But there's good news: Snell is scheduled to rejoin the Giants' rotation Wednesday, and he'll do so having looked much-improved during a minor league rehabilitation stint. In two starts, first for Class A San Jose, then for Triple-A Sacramento last Friday, he totaled nine no-hit innings, striking out 17 of 28 batters faced while affording only one walk. That sets up Snell nicely for his second healthy stint with the Giants, which begins with a plus matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates at pitching-friendly PNC Park.

The Pirates are baseball's third-worst scoring (3.75 runs per game) and sixth-most strikeout prone team (24.7% rate), but the projections grade them as the most strikeout-prone offense against left-handed pitchers. All that tilts things significantly in Snell's favor, which is what his fantasy managers want to see when he threw only 46 and 60 pitches in the aforementioned rehab starts and therefore might be capped in the 75-80 range for this outing.

Snell looks like an instant activation in standard leagues, especially since he's a pitcher in a hot spell who has one of the game's most extensive track records of streakiness.

What you may have missed on Tuesday

By Todd Zola

  • Texas Rangers SP Jon Gray left yesterday's game after five frames due to a tight right groin. He had not been sharp, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks, albeit with four strikeouts. However, he had thrown only 75 pitches, so Gray probably would have come out for the sixth inning with the club down just 2-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies won the game 5-2 behind another stellar effort from SP Ranger Suarez, who threw seven innings of one-run ball, scattering five hits with just two walks while fanning 10. The Rangers get SP Dane Dunning back from the IL to start tonight's game. Originally scheduled starter Andrew Heaney will be pushed to tomorrow, with Jose Urena likely exiting the rotation, pending Gray's availability for his next start.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates C Yasmani Grandal left yesterday's extra-inning affair after he experienced left groin discomfort during the club's four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to tie the San Francisco Giants. The Pirates won the game after 2B Nick Gonzales led off the tenth with a walk-off single, plating pinch-runner Michael Taylor. Joey Bart replaced Grandal in the top of the tenth and will likely start today's contest.

  • Chicago White Sox DH Eloy Jimenez hurt his hamstring while scoring a run in the top of the fifth inning. Gavin Sheets pinch hit for Jimenez in the seventh. The White Sox shut out the Toronto Blue Jays behind six solid frames from SP Garrett Crochet, who surrendered just two hits and a walk while punching out four. In anticipation of an IL stint for Jimenez, the White Sox are expected to call up OF Zach DeLoach from Triple-A Charlotte. DeLoach is a strong defender, capable of playing all three outfield spots. Although the 25-year-old is batting just .263/.358/.343, he has swiped eight bases in 10 tries.

  • Cincinnati Reds OF Jake Fraley was forced out of yesterday's game in the first inning after being hit in the hand by a pitch. Initial X-rays were negative, but Fraley will be re-examined today. Stuart Fairchild replaced Fraley as the Reds blanked the San Diego Padres 2-0 with Andrew Abbott posting another gem. Abbott yielded only four hits with one walk and two strikeouts in seven scoreless stanzas. The righty has quietly recorded a 2.68 ERA. However, beware a 4.46 ERA and 4.37 SIERA which indicate that Lady Luck has been on his side. The Padres were without 2B Xander Bogaerts, who is undergoing further evaluation after hurting his shoulder in the first game of Monday's doubleheader.

  • The Colorado Rockies had hoped to have OF Nolan Jones back for last night's game, but Jones hurt his right knee while sliding on Sunday. He was rehabbing a back issue with Triple-A Albuquerque. Rookie Jordan Beck should continue to play in Jones' stead. The Rockies activated OF Kris Bryant from the 10-day IL prior to last night's contest. Bryant had been sidelined since mid-April due to lower back strain.

Everything else you need to know for Wednesday

  • Last night's interleague affair between the St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles was suspended in the middle of the sixth inning with the teams tied 1-1. The game resume today at 12:15 PM ET with the Cardinals at bat. To get credit in ESPN leagues for any production recorded during today's resumption of play, the player must have been active in your lineup from yesterday. Players active today will only accrue statistics/points from today's regularly scheduled game, which will commence 30 minutes after the completion of Tuesday's suspended contest.

  • Snell isn't the only pitcher reportedly returning from injury. The Tampa Bay Rays, who recently lost Zach Eflin to the IL, are expected to welcome Ryan Pepiot back into their rotation for the series finale against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Unlike Snell, Pepiot's matchup is tougher -- the Red Sox grade as a slightly above-average offense, though the game will be in an extreme pitchers' environment -- but his pitch count is also much more in question, after he threw only 40 pitches in his most recent turn for the Rays on May 5 and nothing but bullpen sessions since. He's more of a watch-from-your-bench type.

  • Here's a great example of where batter-versus-pitcher historical stats mislead: The Los Angeles Dodgers' top four hitters -- Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith -- are a combined 2-for-16 lifetime against Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Ryne Nelson, including no extra-base hits and a 36% hard-hit rate. It's a precariously small sample, however, and one accrued at a time where Nelson was pitching far more effectively than he has of late. Nelson has been clobbered for .433/.457/.702 rates in his three May starts, which cements the Dodgers' stack status for this matchup. Note that those top four Dodgers hitters, too, have been among the game's most successful against fastballs, Nelson's most heavily used pitch (including with two strikes) over the past three seasons.

  • Los Angeles Angels left-hander Tyler Anderson has looked much more like the 2022 than 2023 version of himself, though he'll now go up against a Houston Astros' offense that has historically had his number. Since Anderson delivered a Coors Field quality start against the Astros as a member of the Rockies in 2018, he has failed to reach the same thresholds in six career starts against them since -- his ERA 7.34 including that debut outing. Kyle Tucker's track record against Anderson is one of the rare ones worth noting, as in 10 trips to the plate against the fellow lefty, he has seven hits (including one double, two triples and a home run) and one walk, with eight of nine balls in play graded hard hit by Statcast.

  • Can Seattle Mariners sophomore Bryce Miller buck his career trend of weaker road than home outings in a visiting assignment against the New York Yankees? The right-hander's track record reflects the challenge, as he has a 4.64 ERA against winning, versus 2.84 against losing teams in his career, while his four worst outings in terms of fantasy points this season were against the Baltimore Orioles (0, May 17), Red Sox (3, March 31), Astros (6, May 5) and Texas Rangers (3, April 24). Note that the Yankees have also been one of baseball's best teams against the splitter, Miller's go-to pitch with two strikes, with a league-leading .313 wOBA and second-best 24.4% whiff rate against them. Anthony Rizzo is a noted standout against splitters, with three home runs and a .396 wOBA (in 35 trips to the plate) against them in the past three seasons alone.

  • Betting tip of the day: Snell's aforementioned return to the rotation sets up a compelling pitchers' duel, between him and Pirates rookie sensation -- no, not Paul Skenes, the other one -- Jared Jones. Considering both Snell's limited pitch count and Jones' difficulties the third time through the order (.296/.326/.477 rates allowed and 28.3% strikeout rate, compared to .183/.213/.379 and 31.3% the first two trips through), let's go with under 3.5 total runs, first five innings (-105). Additionally, as this is Jones' second career start against the Giants, providing a hint more risk of hitter familiarity on his side, going with Giants, first five innings (+105) is also an attractive bet.

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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.

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 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