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

The Cuba have been slumping, but Shota Imanaga is still worth starting Wednesday. Photo by Alika Jenner/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.

North Sliders

The North Siders' fortunes certainly have gone south of late.

Since winning two of three home games against the Milwaukee Brewers to move into a tie for the National League Central lead on May 5, the Chicago Cubs have dropped 13 of 19 games since (through Monday's action), including eight of their past 10. The Cubs' Monday loss, a road game against the aforementioned Brewers, which represented manager Craig Counsell's return to Milwaukee, put them a season-worst 4 ½ games behind those Brewers in the division standings.

In their past 13 games, spanning May 13-27, the Cubs' offense has been the worst in baseball, averaging 2.54 runs per game. They have been shut out three times and limited to two or fewer runs in seven of those contests. BOOOO, indeed!

The Cubs' most recent regulation win (entering Tuesday's play) came in a game started by free-agent sensation Shota Imanaga, a 1-0, May 18 walk-off victory in the left-hander's most recent turn. That was Imanaga's most recent appearance as, following a postponement last Friday, the Cubs pushed him back to start Wednesday's game against the Brewers. He'll be working on 10 days' rest, easily his most by far this season.

Imanaga, who was accustomed to pitching on greater rest during his days in Japan, has started on five days' rest or more in seven of his nine regular-season, as well as all four of his spring training starts, so the extra rest should be nothing unusual to him. He'll also be facing a team that he never previously has, and bear in mind he has already done that eight times during the regular season (meaning excluding his April 7 and 13 starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle Mariners, each of whom he faced during spring training), and delivered a quality start in seven of those while tossing five shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves in the other.

The Brewers represent a more favorable matchup for a lefty than a righty, their wOBA split a third-widest (in either direction) 41 points, and their 24.3% strikeout rate against that side sixth-worst. Imanaga should deliver another top-notch outing despite the modest projection, which is mostly due to the game taking place in a hitting-friendly environment, as well as regressing to the mean from his early returns.

As for the Cubs' bats? Cody Bellinger and Nico Hoerner are shaping up as their only reliable fantasy starters in ESPN standard leagues, but a matchup against Bryse Wilson, who is pitching way over his head in part due to a .235 BABIP and 90.3% left-on-base rate, gives the team a bounce-back opportunity up and down the lineup. Ian Happ, available in a little more than one-third of leagues, is a worthwhile streaming candidate.

What you may have missed on Tuesday

By Todd Zola

  • New York Mets SS Francisco Lindor hurt his finger during a bunt attempt in the first game of yesterday's doubleheader with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, Lindor still played in the nightcap of an eventual Dodgers sweep. Lindor's finger is swollen, but X-rays indicate it isn't broken. The Mets are thin in the infield with 3B Brett Baty serving as the backup middle infielder. It wouldn't be surprising if the Mets called up someone to fortify the infield today.

  • Milwaukee Brewers RP Trevor Megill was struck on the right arm by a 99.4-mph line drive off the bat of Chicago Cubs OF Mike Tauchman in the 10th inning of last night's NL Central encounter. The Cubs won the game 6-3, with Megill saddled with the painful loss. Tests showed no fracture. Megill has been serving as the Brewers' primary closer since late April, logging eight saves. If he's forced to miss time, the club would probably deploy a committee approach with Hoby Milner and Joel Payamps in the mix. Abner Uribe, who was sent to Triple-A Nashville after struggling with control to begin the season, has walked seven in 8 2/3 innings on the farm. He's not likely in line for a promotion.

  • Detroit Tigers OF Kerry Carpenter was placed on the 10-day IL due to lower back soreness. Carpenter initially experienced soreness last weekend, but it has lingered, so the club decided the injury needs time to heal. Carpenter's bat will be missed as he has posted a .283/.342/.572 line. The club called up OF Akil Baddoo but can also increase OF Matt Vierling's playing time.

  • Kansas City Royals 1B Vinnie Pasquantino was forced out of yesterday's game against the Minnesota Twins after OF Byron Buxton's knee caught Pasquantino's shin as Buxton was running through the first base bag. The initial diagnosis is a bruise, with Pasquantino considered as day-to-day.

  • Struggling Texas Rangers OF Evan Carter was put on the 10-day IL due to lingering back tightness. For the season, Carter has recorded only a .633 OPS. His last hit came back on May 8. Since then, he's gone 0-for-20 with seven strikeouts and a walk. Rookie OF Wyatt Langford returned last night, serving as the DH. Carter's IL stint should keep IF/OF Ezequiel Duran in the lineup. Duran's playing time had been in jeopardy with Langford getting activated from the IL.

  • Boston Red Sox OF Tyler O'Neill flew back to Boston, missing yesterday's AL East clash with the Baltimore Orioles, as well as tonight's rubber game of the three-game set in Camden Yards. O'Neill underwent an MRI on his right knee. It's unclear whether he'll be available tomorrow when the club is back home for a four-game series against the Tigers.

Everything else you need to know for Wednesday

  • Paul Skenes' fastball velocity was down in his third career start, especially later in the game, as he averaged 98.8 mph for the day and 97.7 in his final two innings last Thursday. That he leaned more upon his splitter, thrown an elevated 39.8% of the time, helped alleviate any fears of diminished stuff, as he allowed an 86.4 mph average exit velocity and mere 21.1% hard-hit rate. Skenes' raw stuff remains upper-tier. He'll get another favorable matchup against the Detroit Tigers in the second game of today's doubleheader (made necessary after yesterday's rainout). Detroit strikes out noticeably more against righties than lefties (+2.6%).

  • Justin Verlander scored 19 fantasy points for his fantasy managers last Friday, in what was a favorable matchup for the right-hander, and he'll follow it up with another plus matchup against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park. The Mariners have struck out a major league-leading 27.7% of the time overall and 28.4% against right-handed pitchers, so even with Verlander's average fastball velocity clocking a season-low 92.9 mph on Friday, he remains a solid fantasy option for this outing.

  • Ryan Pepiot will make his second start since returning from a leg injury, and he's in much better position to succeed than he was in his first start back. He threw 66 pitches last Wednesday, teeing him up for a pitch count closer to 80-85 in this game, and will be facing an Oakland Athletics offense that has averaged just 3.00 runs per game in their past 13 contests. Get Pepiot, available in more than half of ESPN leagues, back into your lineups.

  • Plenty of offense should be expected at Colorado's Coors Field, as is typically the case, though it's the Colorado Rockies who stand out as perhaps Wednesday's greater value of the two hitting teams there. Left-hander Logan Allen is scheduled to start for the visiting Cleveland Guardians, and he has one of the wider platoon splits out there (59 points' worth of wOBA for his career, while righties account for 23 of his 27 homers allowed). The Rockies make more contact against lefties (2.2% lower K rate, and generally bat Ezeqiuel Tovar (.293/.333/.483 against lefties in 2024), Brendan Rodgers (.293/.326/.341), Ryan McMahon (.328/.419/.563) and Elias Diaz (.292/.314/.417) one through four against them. All four belong in fantasy lineups for this game.

  • Betting tip of the day: Despite dropping the first two games of the series, the visiting Houston Astros are in better shape to win Game 3 on Wednesday, despite going up against Seattle's George Kirby. Having Verlander gives the Astros a good chance at keeping the Mariners offense in check and, as the Houston offense is one of the best out there on pitches in the "rulebook strike zone," this is a good match for strike-throwing Kirby's style. Take the Astros (-105) on the money line.

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.

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