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

Taj Bradley has been a bright spot for the Rays and should rack up strikeouts on Monday. Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire

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 Ray of hope

The Tampa Bay Rays are in an unfamiliar position. The midpoint of the season is fast approaching, and they're not in the current playoff picture. Their hitting and pitching are equally at fault. The offense is averaging the sixth-fewest runs per game and the staff's ERA is seventh-lowest in the league.

Injuries have played a part on both sides of the ball, but being without ace SP Shane McClanahan and potential ace SP Shane Baz are especially hard to overcome. McClanahan is out for the season while rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery. Baz is pitching for Triple-A Durham. He has completed rehab from Tommy John surgery, but the club opted to have him continue to toil on the farm, though he could be called up at any time.

One of the few bright spots for the Rays is SP Taj Bradley. The 23-year-old right-hander impressed last season with 129 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings, but he tainted it with an above-average walk rate while yielding 23 home runs. Bradley's HR% was the ninth-highest among pitchers to throw at last 100 innings.

A pectoral strain suffered in spring training delayed Bradley's 2024 debut until the second week of May. He has maintained his strikeout dominance while improving his control, but the long ball remains an issue. In 44 1/3 innings, Bradley has surrendered nine home runs. Four of the homers Bradley served up came in the span of 3 1/3 innings, courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles. Take that nine-run affair off Bradley's ledger and he has pitched to a 2.41 ERA and .95 WHIP with 50 punch-outs in 41 frames. Bradley issued just 11 walks while administering five homers over that span.

On Monday, Bradley (17.2% rostered in ESPN leagues) is in a great spot to rack up a lot of strikeouts and drop his 4.06 ERA down a few ticks with a home date against the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners tote the league's highest strikeout rate and sixth-worst wOBA into Tropicana Field.

The Rays-Mariners affair is one of a dozen contests on a relatively busy Monday docket. Everything will be played under the lights. Action commences at 6:35 p.m. ET with the Orioles hosting the Cleveland Guardians.

What you may have missed on Sunday

  • New York Mets RP Edwin Diaz was ejected from last night's contest after the umpiring crew deemed his fingers were too sticky. They found no evidence of a foreign substance on his glove, hat or belt. The violation comes with an automatic 10-game suspension, which can be appealed. Diaz indicated he'd accept the suspension, but that is unofficial. The Mets are off today, and will also have Thursday off, so if Diaz does not appeal, he would be eligible to return on July 6. In the interim, Reed Garrett is the favorite for saves in the Mets bullpen.

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates will be without their closer after placing RP David Bednar on the 15-day IL due to a strained left oblique. Bednar initially experienced some soreness on Saturday. After it didn't improve yesterday, the club decided that an IL visit was needed. Look for Aroldis Chapman and Colin Holderman to share closing duties until Bednar returns.

  • The St. Louis Cardinals are expected to activate C Willson Contreras prior to tonight's home date with the Atlanta Braves. The initial timetable called for Contreras to return from his fractured left arm closer to the All-Star break, but he reported no issues during six rehab appearances at Triple-A Memphis. Contreras' return is timely as C Jose Herrera was placed on the IL two days ago. The club was also without 3B Nolan Arenado yesterday. The veteran has missed three of the last five games due to a left forearm issue. Arenado received an injection yesterday, putting his availability for tonight in jeopardy.

  • San Diego Padres OF Fernando Tatis Jr. missed his second straight game after getting hit by a pitch on Friday night. He also had been nursing a sore triceps. He's listed as day-to-day. The Padres open a home series tonight against the Washington Nationals.

  • Texas Rangers SP Max Scherzer made his 2024 debut, hurling five scoreless frames while allowing just one hit to the Kansas City Royals. Scherzer fanned four without issuing any walks. Scherzer recorded the win, with Jose Urena finishing up with a rare four-inning save in the Rangers' 4-0 home victory.

Everything else you need to know for Monday

  • The evening's top-ranked streaming candidate is San Diego SP Matt Waldron (29.6% rostered), who lands one spot above Bradley. Waldron will take the hill in Petco Park for the opener of a series with the Washington Nationals. The Nationals sport a below-average strikeout rate, but team tendencies don't always hold firm against knuckleball pitchers. Waldron also throws a four-seam fastball, sinker, cutter and sweeper. However, at 38.5% usage, he throws his knuckleball the most out of his repertoire.

  • Next on the list is Atlanta Braves rookie SP Spencer Schwellenbach (3.6%). After yielding nine runs in 9 2/3 innings over his first two outings, Schwellenbach has posted consecutive quality starts. Last time out at home against the Detroit Tigers, he fanned a career-high seven while walking just two to capture his first career win. On Monday, the 24-year-old right-hander has a road date with the St. Louis Cardinals. Not only is this a park upgrade for the freshman, but the Cardinals fan at an above average clip.

  • In May, the Oakland Athletics averaged the 10th-most runs per game in MLB. So far this month, they check in with the fourth-fewest. On Monday, Los Angeles Angels SP Griffin Canning (5.4%) hopes facing the Athletics is the panacea for his recent struggles. Canning yielded nine runs in his last two efforts, covering 11 innings. In his 10 previous outings, Canning logged a 3.38 ERA, albeit with just 35 strikeouts in 56 frames. On Monday, Canning should pad his strikeouts facing the lineup fanning at the highest rate in June.

  • Betting tip of the day: Historically, Chicago White Sox OF Luis Robert Jr. has thrived with the platoon advantage. However, the righty swinger is off to a slow start this season with injuries limiting him to only 21 plate appearances against southpaw pitching. Tonight, the turnaround should begin with Los Angeles Dodgers SP James Paxton taking the hill at Guaranteed Rate Field. Take Robert for OVER 1.5 total bases (+120).

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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