We're heading into action one week removed from the trade deadline, which left plenty of rubble to clean up among fantasy baseball leagues.
On this 14-game Wednesday, the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Angels are taking the day off. The Oakland Athletics lose the designated hitter once again at Wrigley Field, meaning Khris Davis probably won't sit on the lineup card. San Diego gains a DH at one of the league's worst hitting environments. And as you'll see, an Atlanta Braves pitcher will not enjoy going to an American League park.
Today's pitcher rentals could help the rest of the way in most fantasy leagues, notably this often underappreciated NL hurler whose team is suddenly knocking on the door to a playoff spot.
Steven Matz (L), rostered in 31.9% of ESPN leagues, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins: The Mets' recent roll gives Matz a great shot at a stream win over the perpetually rebuilding Marlins. They remain an easy draw for left-handed pitching, limping to a .285 wOBA versus lefties -- the league's second-lowest mark. Matz has cut his walk by rate by more than one per nine (2.78 this season) and should work toward correcting his 4.60 ERA at home, where he's spun a 2.06 ERA (6.79 elsewhere).
Brendan McKay (L), 18.9%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays: The promising two-way asset has a much more certain spot in Tampa Bay's rotation with Blake Snell (elbow) joining Tyler Glasnow (forearm) on the injured list, though McKay has been plagued by homers a bit (1.46 per nine), which has negated his promising 25:2 K:BB in 24 2/3 innings. The southpaw will face some fellow blue-chippers in Toronto's infield but otherwise remains a solid plug-in versus the rebuilding Jays.
Zac Gallen (R), 21.4%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies: The righty's trade from the Marlins at least shipped him to another pitcher-friendly locale, and the Phillies have been a mere middling offense versus righties (.313 wOBA and .737 OPS rank in the bottom half and third, respectively).
Dustin May (R), 21.6%, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals: The 21-year-old gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings in his big-league debut Friday, though he'll have another favorable matchup this time around: St. Louis is lagging with the fifth-worst wOBA (.299) over the past 30 days.
Pitchers to avoid
Max Fried (L), 68.4%, Atlanta Braves at Minnesota Twins: The Twins rank third with a 128 wRC+ at home versus lefty pitchers. Fried carries a 4.40 ERA and 3.77 BB/9 on the road. The Twins' homer-happy lineup must be drooling at the prospect of facing the pitcher with the league's third-highest HR/FB (20.5%).
Three clubs are deploying a bullpen game of the old-fashioned variety, featuring a parade of relievers -- as opposed to a primary pitcher following an opener. After last night's postponement, the Cleveland Indians opted to push Mike Clevinger to Thursday's matchup with the Minnesota Twins instead of starting him in today's doubleheader. Cleveland will have all bullpen hands on deck. It's even unclear who will work the first inning. The Toronto Blue Jays will deploy Wilmer Font as as opener, while the Milwaukee Brewers will hand the ball to Drew Pomeranz for the first pitch. Pomeranz has been a starter in past seasons, but the Brewers reportedly will keep this stint short, preferring to keep the southpaw a reliever.
Catcher: Carson Kelly (R), 7%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies (LHP Jason Vargas): We're not typically supposed to list two players from the same team, but I couldn't pass on including Kelly, who if he starts would face a lefty. When that happens, good things usually follow: The 25-year-old has ripped five homers in just 70 plate appearances against lefties while slashing .383/.471/.767.
First base: Renato Nunez (R), 36.4%, Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees (LHP James Paxton): Righty batters have launched 2.15 HR/9 off the up-and-down Paxton, and Nunez has posted a .356 wOBA, .869 OPS and 11 homers off southpaws across 145 plate appearances in 2019. Add Nunez's .863 OPS at home, compared to .737 elsewhere. The lefty hurler actually holds the fifth-highest wOBA by righty opponents (.355).
Second base: Scooter Gennett (L), 36.1%, San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Joe Ross): The 29-year-old's lost season with Cincinnati ended after he was traded at the deadline. Gennett at least finally hit a homer this season, going deep off a righty. Top-side work generally favors him over his career (.299/.349/.477), and Ross has coughed up a .462 wOBA and a .388/.531/.551 slash against lefties in 10 2/3 innings this year.
Third base: Miguel Sano (R), 32.5%, Minnesota Twins vs. Atlanta Braves (LHP Max Fried): He still qualifies for this article? Come on, folks. Players with daily transactions should at least take advantage of his dominance against lefties (.403 wOBA, .282/.354/.634 this year). It's easy to see right-handers (.290/.341/.461) give Fried more trouble than lefty hitters (.231/.292/.317), and remember his penchant for allowing dingers.
Shortstop: Leury Garcia (S), 12.4%, Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers (LHP Tyler Alexander): The switch hitter has pasted a .326/.360/.477 line with a .355 wOBA against southpaws. Alexander, who's more of a finesse arm than an overpowering pitcher, has 22 major-league innings under his belt.
Corner infield: Miguel Cabrera (R), 47.4%, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Ivan Nova): Righty batters have tagged Nova for the sixth-highest wOBA (.354) of any qualified starting pitcher, so Cabrera could at least dig out a few base knocks -- which understandably sounds like more than most have expected out of the 36-year-old's eroding skills.
Middle infield: Nick Ahmed (R), 12.8%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies (LHP Jason Vargas): I had to squeeze this second D-back into the article, considering the absurdly favorable split. Ahmed's glove is his biggest plus, but when a left-hander takes the hill, he gets a fantasy boost. He's hit nine of his 11 homers against righties, but the 29-year-old connects much more effectively on the whole versus southpaws (.314/.360/.510). You can also consider lefty-mashing backstop Carson Kelly (7%) if he's in the lineup.
Outfield: Manuel Margot (R), 7.6%, San Diego Padres at Seattle Mariners (LHP Yusei Kikuchi): The 24-year-old has pushed his way into a regular role with hit recent hot streak, his defense and the trade of Franmil Reyes. Margot makes particularly useful contact and plate control against lefties (.383/.471/.533 with a 0.83 BB/K). A trip to T-Mobile Park doesn't typically favor hitters, but Kikuchi has coughed up 16 long balls at home and has the majors' fourth-highest HR/FB (20.1%).
Outfield: Eric Thames (L), 4.2%, Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Williams): Thames' majority platoon work remains his strength, with 14 homers in 228 at-bats, and Williams melts against left-handed batters (.331/.377/.536 with .380 wOBA). Williams' less-than-stellar strikeout ability leaves him prone to leave hittable pitches for the opposite handedness.
Outfield: Bryan Reynolds (S), 29.5%, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Bullpen game): Milwaukee is starting with Drew Pomeranz, with several relievers to follow. This switch-hitting breakout bat has at least a .355 wOBA against each handedness (that's against southpaws), and he's typically better versus righties. Either way, with a clear path to playing time following the trade of Corey Dickerson, Reynolds should be wrapped up on many more rosters.
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) 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 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, 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. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author's ratings.