Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Wednesday

Shane Bieber is a smart pickup for Wednesday and beyond in fantasy baseball. Getty Images

It's a 14-game schedule Wednesday without the Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays -- the latter causing some fist pumps among fantasy analysts who typically have to guess which reliever will ... open.

The Cleveland Indians lose their designated hitter in St. Louis. Watch if Edwin Encarnacion or Yonder Alonso plays. E5 started at first base on Monday. For their trip to Milwaukee, the Kansas City Royals also lose their DH ... but will anyone notice?

Arizona Diamondbacks strikeout machine Robbie Ray is slated to make his return from the disabled list, but anyone who won't benefit still can find plenty of help with some rentals who could wind up as long-term contributors.

Time to spin through names with fewer than 50 percent possession in ESPN leagues.


Pitchers to stream

Shane Bieber (R), rostered in 25.9 percent of ESPN leagues, Cleveland Indians at St. Louis Cardinals: The right-hander has been known for pristine control throughout the minors (career 8.5 K/9, 0.6 BB/9) and is catching major-leaguers by surprise with 22 whiffs in his first three starts (18.1 innings). The Cardinals are a relatively patient squad but are middling enough (.307 wOBA in June, ranking 19th) that Bieber can excel in this outing as a precursor to a potentially longer run of fantasy utility.

Kyle Gibson (R), 32.9 percent, Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox: The White Sox remain a frequent target for pitcher rentals. Their 25.5 percent strikeout rate sits tied for second-highest heading into Tuesday. Gibson has thrown a quality start in eight of his past 11 outings and deserves more popular acclaim in ESPN formats beyond this assignment.

Brent Suter (L), 33.7 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Kansas City Royals: That percentage spiked recently as people got ahead of the waiver-wire rush for this matchup. KC holds the fifth-worst BB/K (0.34) and ranks tied for 22nd with a .300 wOBA against left-handers. The control-inclined Suter has piled up his 7-2 record during his past nine games (eight starts) and has yielded just three runs in his past two (14 innings, 8 strikeouts, 2 walks).

Pitchers to avoid

Sean Newcomb (L), 91.6 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Cincinnati Reds: The southpaw has been the big breakout starter for this young, promising rotation, but he might have been a bit too successful for what some of his indicators (3.93 BB/9, 78.8 percent left-on-base rate) predict. The toiling Reds typically qualify as fodder for pitcher starts, but surprisingly, they boast a .337 wOBA against lefties (tied for sixth).


The Royals' mess of a saves picture post-Kelvin Herrera added another name onto the pile when Wily Peralta recorded a save Monday in a scoreless ninth inning, with one hit allowed and two strikeouts. Peralta has long been flawed but, to some, intriguing because of his high velocity, and starter-to-reliever is a conversion that frequently produces closers.

That they've deployed him in this situation at least throws his hat into the ring, but that stage is crowded, and while a cautious bid isn't a completely ignorant gamble, deep-leaguers interested might have to get aggressive to an uncomfortable degree, especially if he gets another save opportunity before next week's FAAB bidding. Remember: KC went with Tim Hill for a one-out closure Friday, and this still looks like a committee.

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.



Tucker Barnhart (B), 26.5 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves (LHP Sean Newcomb): Among players with at least 50 plate appearances against southpaws in 2018, Barnhart crashes a party of elite hitters with the 13th-highest wOBA (.448). He's hitting .404 against them with a 14.0 BB% and a 0.67 BB/K, which should pester the walk-haunted Newcomb.

First base

Yuli Gurriel (R), 47.3 percent, Houston Astros vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Marco Estrada): Yuli is in step with his career reverse-platoon splits (.303/.321/.438) but is even figuring out left-handers, as well. He'll get to face a RHP in Estrada who has left a few too many pitches in the sweet spot for righties (.356 wOBA, 1.89 HR/9).

Second base

Ketel Marte (B), 38.7 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Miami Marlins (LHP Wei-Yin Chen): Todd Zola requires us Daily Notes writers to include Marte at least once per month. That's only a half-joke, but against left-handers, the switch-hitter is a wise start (.296/.349/.510, .366 wOBA in 2018). Chen dreads facing righties (.398 wOBA, .533 slugging in 38.2 frames).

Third base

Christian Villanueva (R), 28.1 percent, San Diego Padres at Texas Rangers (LHP Mike Minor): Since the end of April, Villanueva has dragged down his fantasy teams' offensive rate stats (.179/.228/.371 in 149 plate appearances), but he still has launched eight homers in that window, and he's still a dominant plug-in tool for daily lineup players against southpaws (.324/.377/.803 -- yes, .803 slugging percentage -- and a whopping .487 wOBA). Right-handers stats against Minor add up to a .353 wOBA with a 1.54 HR/9.


Tim Beckham (R), 2.4 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Wade LeBlanc): The O's activated the infielder from the disabled list Monday. Beckham re-enters the fantasy conversation for some mixed leagues. He improved against righties last season but held with his traditional LHP-friendly approach by scalding them for six homers in just 136 at-bats. LeBlanc still may continue his unexpected run of brilliance against these K-happy birds, but Beckham could still get his in the process.

Corner infield

Maikel Franco (R), 22.1 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees (RHP Luis Cessa): While Franco's power stands out more against southpaws, he is going to play nearly every day with J.P. Crawford (hand) on the disabled list. He has taken advantage of the new opportunity, going 6-for-11 in his past three games, including a homer Monday off Aroldis Chapman. Cessa (career .349 wOBA against RHBs) might help feed Franco's value in fantasy games, as a Phillies trade chip or as a revived thumper who, after all, is just 25 years old coming off seasons of 25 and 24 homers.

Middle infield

Niko Goodrum (B), 4 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Chris Bassitt): Bassitt's stay in Triple-A was short as he was summoned to replace the injured Daniel Mengden. Bassitt will pitch on regular rest as this is the spot he was lined up for, had he not been sent down last Friday. Goodrum has become Detroit's "Swiss Army knife," playing every day and appearing at every position but catcher and center field. His .226 batting average is low, but with an 11 percent walk rate and 22 of his 42 hits going for extra bases, Goodrum has been productive across the board with respect to counting stats. He can be helpful in both points-based and rotisserie-scoring formats.


Teoscar Hernandez (R), 48.2 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Houston Astros (LHP Dallas Keuchel): In a bit of a down season (3.90 ERA), Keuchel has proven more vulnerable against LHBs (.341 wOBA). This seems like a big exception: The lightly heralded but often dazzling Hernandez has tattooed southpaws (.373 wOBA with five homers in just 80 at-bats) and continues to be a Statcast darling, ranking third in MLB's barrels per plate appearance stat (12.1, behind Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez).

Stephen Piscotty (R), 16.5 percent, Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers (RHP Mike Fiers): Though he's focusing on line drives instead of launch angle, Piscotty has turned things on in June with a .329/.407/.586 slash in 81 plate appearances. The three homers in his past six games played bolsters excitement, considering there have been questions about his pop potential, and his reverse platoon favoritism (.296/.350/.475, compared to .175/.267/.300 with RHPs) puts him in play for majority duties. Fiers has been torched from both sides of the plate, and righties hold a .351 wOBA and seven homers in 39.2 frames.

Gorkys Hernandez (R), 7.8 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): The 30-year-old might be considered by many as a mere placeholder in center field for Steven Duggar, but he might be finding his groove as a near everyday player and even the Giants' leadoff option. The numbers hide how effectively he squares up left-handed offerings (40.4 hard contact rate, per Fangraphs), and while this is at pitcher's paradise AT&T Park instead of Freeland's Coors Field, nine of the 11 big flies Freeland has allowed have come off right-handed bats.

Hitter matchup ratings

Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.

Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.