<
>

Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Wednesday

Astros outfielder Josh Reddick is a strong option as he faces his former team in Oakland. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday's schedule starts early at 12:10 p.m. ET with the Mets-Braves clash. The Reds and Nationals enjoy another contest with a designated hitter in the second leg of their trips to AL parks, yet the Rangers must continue going without one while visiting the Dodgers, who'll welcome back right-hander Kenta Maeda (hip) from the disabled list.

Don't overlook another intriguing arm who's resurfacing from the DL or these other fantasy sleepers rostered in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.

Pitching

Pitchers to stream

Michael Soroka (R), rostered in 16 percent of ESPN leagues, Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets: Soroka is set to return from a stint on the shelf due to shoulder woes. He might be capped at 85-to-90 pitches. It's a risky proposition if you're chasing a win, though, as he matches up with Jacob deGrom, but the Mets bullpen has done little to help its ace convert his great outings into decisions. Soroka should still put up a quality start against this middling offense (.313 wOBA against righties) and will hold plenty of value moving forward in deeper leagues from this matchup anyway.

Tyler Mahle (R), 6.4 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Kansas City Royals: Mahle has failed to record more than five innings in each of his last three starts but has looked a bit better in his last two outings (two earned runs in 10 innings). The Royals hold a .299 wOBA against righties (25th in the majors) and aren't much better at home with a .308 (tied for 17th). The cavernous Kauffman Stadium should further ease Mahle's homer troubles.

Caleb Smith (L), 32 percent, Miami Marlins vs. San Francisco Giants: Fantasy players could theoretically use Smith or the Giants' Andrew Suarez (1.7 percent) against these tepid offenses, but the ever-surprising Smith spins good games at home (2.90 ERA, 38 strikeouts in 31 innings). After surpassing expectations early, he's regressed down to a 3.70 ERA, which isn't far off his ceiling for the rest of the season: He still has fine strikeout stuff and will often work around sloppy control.

Pitchers to avoid

Sonny Gray (R), 63.5 percent, New York Yankees vs. Washington Nationals: Three of Gray's past four starts have seen him go at least six innings and allow one or zero runs. Two have been eight frames. Look closer, though: They came against the Royals, Orioles and Blue Jays -- three vulnerable lineups. The Nationals recently welcomed back Adam Eaton, which lengthened an already threatening order, and Daniel Murphy might come off the DL to join him.

Bullpen

The Rays are expected to install well-travelled Wilmer Font as their "opener" Wednesday as part of another bullpen game, with Matt Andriese the best guess to fill in behind him. The Blue Jays' left-handed bats might be in for a treat, including a recently explosive Curtis Granderson.

Andrew Cashner was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with lower back soreness, forcing the Orioles to piece together Wednesday's contest. Miguel Castro and Yefry Ramirez are expected to be involved. Boston's offense has been quiet lately. This could be the panacea necessary to turn things around.

Projected game scores

GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The "*" symbol means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.

Hitting

Catcher

Sandy Leon (L), 0.3 percent, Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (Bullpen game): The Orioles will be relying on a weak bullpen to get them through after Andrew Cashner was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday. Leon is Chris Sale's caddy, which will come in handy as a switch-hitter, enjoying the platoon edge regardless who's toeing the rubber.

First base

Greg Bird (L), 41.2 percent, New York Yankees vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Erick Fedde): I decided to pivot from overusing Max Muncy. (Seriously, how's he still eligible for this article? Pick him up already!) Bird is a fine alternative with just as much season-long potential -- at least for power -- and Wednesday, he'll take cuts at his hitter-friendly home and staring down a right-hander.

Second base

Cory Spangenberg (L), 0.9 percent, San Diego Padres at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Luke Weaver): Weaver's .340 wOBA allowed to LHBs trumps his .266 in the opposite split. Spangenberg, who left the yard against another talented righty in Jack Flaherty on Monday for his sixth homer in 117 at-bats, has quietly taken platoon starts from the cooled Christian Villanueva and gone 7-for-16 with two homers in his past four. Head-to-head lineup managers should give him a look in these draws.

Third base

Jedd Gyorko (R), 3.6 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer): St. Louis probably will park Kolten Wong on the bench against this southpaw and install Gyorko on the card in his place. The inconsistent playing time has kept Gyorko on the down low in 2018, but he's still obliterated left-handers with a .417/.500/.875 slash with three homers. While those numbers have come in an admittedly small sample size of 30 plate appearances, considering his .355 wOBA in that category it's not surprising. RHBs have tormented Lauer (.409 wOBA, six homers in 32.1 innings).

Shortstop

Matt Duffy (R), 9.5 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays (LHP J.A. Happ): Owner of a seven-game streak, Duffy is quietly hitting .320/.357/.420 in 213 plate appearances so far. Though Duffy has favored facing RHPs so far, Happ has allowed nine of his 10 homers on the year to righties, and now that he's healthy and riding a run of quality hacks, the infielder can help plenty of deep-league teams in the short term.

Corner infield

Yonder Alonso (L), 41.6 percent, Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox (RHP Dylan Covey): Might as well list another platoon-charged first baseman who carries a .349 wOBA against the majority handedness. Covey looks like a better pitcher than we're used to (thanks, sinkers and increased velo), but I'm not shying away from testing him with a solid member of an often-dangerous lineup.

Middle infield

Logan Forsythe (R), 1.1 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Cole Hamels): Though he's struggled to repeat it this year, Forsythe rattled off a .290/.418/.452 split against lefties in 2017, and Hamels' .460 slugging percentage allowed to RHBs is 80 points higher than LHBs'. Per Fangraphs, 47.3 of the contact made by RHBs against Hamels this year falls into the "hard" category.

Outfield

Jason Heyward (L), 10.3 percent, Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Jhoulys Chacin): Is J-Hey's five-game hit streak another tease of the upside many have dreamed about? His too-often long swing looks cleaner lately, so maybe he's found a mechanical cure that might lead to bigger things. Admittedly, he's burned us so much that we can't get ahead of ourselves: Stick with picking him up and assigning him against righties -- including Wednesday's. Chacin has allowed a .349 wOBA to LHBs with a poor combo of a 5.24 K/9 and 4.98 BB/9 in 162 plate appearances.

Josh Reddick (L), 36.1 percent, Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics (RHP Paul Blackburn): The top-side platooner returned from the disabled list last Wednesday and has been eased into action, often sharing time with Tony Kemp. It's a rational idea to consider him in daily-transaction leagues when he'll face a righty, especially one as welcoming to contact as Blackburn (3.48 K/9 in 11 career starts). If Reddick sits, Tony Kemp (2 percent), who's 6-for-18 in his past five games, could work as well.

Robbie Grossman (B), 0.4 percent, Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): Despite hitting both of his homers against righties, Grossman has continued his career pattern of preferring to face southpaws (.262/.347/.333 across 49 plate appearances this year). Boyd has made real improvements to his game this year -- chiefly by limiting homers -- but is pitching above his head (3.20 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 5.01 xFIP). His shortcomings against righty foes (1.63 K/BB, compared to 7.50 for LHBs) may fuel the nibbler's downfall and, more immediately, feed Grossman a couple of hits.