This has been a season replete with oddities and frequent declaration of "first time ever." Wednesday is no exception as the normally full docket is short a few games as MLB moved them to afford some teams a full off day amid a long stretch of games forced by an inordinate number of makeups. The clubs on the sidelines include the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals. As such, if you normally start players from these teams, take the time to find replacements.
Despite the short slate, pitching to steam is plentiful, as are intriguing bats.
Pablo Lopez (R), rostered in 53% of ESPN leagues, Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves: Lopez is coming off his only clunker of the season, failing to last five innings for the first time in six starts as the Rays touched him for five runs in four frames. Lopez still managed to fan six, bringing his total to 38 punch outs in 38 1/3 stanzas. A rebound against the Braves will be a challenge, though Lopez has two factors in his favor. Atlanta does a lot of their damage versus righthanders via the long ball Lopez has allowed just two homers all season. Plus, Braves bats strike out at a high 24% clip with a righty on the hill.
Deivi Garcia (R), 20%, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays: In what should prove to be a fun matchup for the next several season, the Yankees rookie righthander will take the hill against several exciting young Blue Jays hitters. Garcia is providing the injury-riddled Bronx Bombers with a much-needed lift in the pitching department, fanning 12 with just two walks in his inaugural 10 2/3 innings.
Danny Duffy (L), 18%, Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians: Making a case for Duffy is more difficult after his last outing, but then the White Sox are roughing up a lot of mound foes this season. Before that six runs in six innings effort, Duffy had allowed just five runs in the previous 15 2/3 innings, fanning 20 with only four walks in that span. On paper, the Indians are a good team to face for a bounce back as Cleveland has posted the fourth worst weighted on base average (wOBA) versus lefties.
Dane Dunning (R), 16%, Chicago White Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates: Dunning is still a work in progress as evidenced by walking four in 4 1/3 innings last time out. That said, in the freshman's first two starts, he whiffed 11 in 9 2/3 frames, walking just a pair. Dunning is in a great spot to get back on track, toeing the rubber against a Pirates lineup sitting last against righties in wOBA while striking out a quarter of the time.
Nick Margevicius (L), 3%, Seattle Mariners at San Francisco Giants: Since Lopez's %ROST has teetered over 50% since the selections were made, a bonus arm will be provided. Margevicius has made this space a lot, but usually as the pitcher a favorable batter is facing. Since entering the rotation in mid-August, the 24-year old lefty has pitched better than his 4.15 ERA in that span indicates, as he's posted a tidy 1.15 WHIP over 17 1/3 innings, albeit with a relatively light 15 whiffs. Note, the Giants are pushovers, registering a top-five wOBA with a southpaw on the bump.
Bullpen: Sticking with the Mariners, Yohan Ramirez has assumed closer duties in the Pacific Northwest and is available in 98% of ESPN leagues. Beware, his 1.43 WHIP is driven by an excessive 15 walks in just 14 2/3 innings, albeit with 22 strikeouts.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Roberto Perez (R), 3%, Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy): One of last season's many break out catchers has been rather silent this year, until recently. Perhaps motivated by the Indians acquisition of fellow defensive-minded backstop Austin Hedges at the trade deadline, Perez has hit safely in his last three starts, including bashing his first home run.
First Base -- Mitch Moreland (L), 34%, San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Antonio Senzatela): Moreland was acquired by the Padres to be the string side of a platoon at designated hitter. That pickup proved prescient as Eric Hosmer fractured his finger on a bunt attempting to beat the shift and is out two to six weeks. As such, Moreland will again need to bring his first baseman's mitt to the yard. Playing in the field again will hopefully ignite Moreland who is just 2-for-15 since donning a Padres uniform.
Second Base -- Ty France (R), 8%, Seattle Mariners at San Francisco Giants (LHP Tyler Anderson): In one of the more under-the-radar deadline deals, the Mariners acquired France from the Padres and have installed him as their everyday second baseman. This time last season, France recorded a .399/.477/.770 triple slash at Triple-A El Paso. He hasn't been able to carry over that prowess to the bigs in limited chances, but Seattle will give him the next few weeks to show what he can do. So far, so good as he's 4-for-13 with four walks since the trade.
Third Base -- Rio Ruiz (L), 5%, Baltimore Orioles at New York Mets (RHP Rick Porcello): Ruiz carries an eight-game hitting streak into Tuesday's action. A 9-for26 stretch has raised his average 30 points in that span. Porcello has given up 47 hits in 39 innings - enough said.
Shortstop -- Miguel Rojas (R), 10%, Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves (LHP Tommy Milone): It's understandable Rojas' %ROST as he convalesced on the COVID-19 IL. However, he's slashing .304/.407/.457 since returning almost four weeks ago. Sure, shortstop is loaded this season, but a 41% on base clip is especially useful in points leagues. Milone's 1.43 WHIP shows the lefty is no stranger to permitting base runners.
Corner Infield -- Miguel Andujar (R), 29%, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Tanner Roark): Platoon splits require more than the 712 career plate appearances Andujar has under his belt to be deemed real. However, his success facing righthanders suggests the righty swinger is at least comfortable against same-side pitching. Meanwhile, Roark has been equally generous to batters from both sides of the plate.
Middle Infield -- Willi Castro (S), 3%, Detroit Tigers vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Corbin Burnes): All Castro has done since becoming a regular a week ago is slash .393/.414/.607. Drawing Burnes may seem like a poor matchup. Granted, 53 pinch outs in 38 1/3 innings is impressive, but Lady Luck has also blessed the Brewers righty with a .253 BABIP, and particularly a 3.2% HR/FB mark.
Outfield -- Leody Taveras (S), 1%, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP Julio Teheran): in previous seasons, the approach was stacking lefty swingers against Teheran. This year, it's only 22 2/3 innings, but the veteran righthander has been abysmal versus everyone, posting a 7.94 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. Taveras is known more for speed than pop, though the 21-year old leadoff hitter is still maturing physically, already muscling up twice, along with a pair of pilfers.
Outfield -- Brandon Nimmo (L), 41%, New York Mets vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Jorge Lopez): September has been kind to Nimmo as he's slashed 348/.400/.478 this month. Lopez is coming off his first win with the Orioles. However, fanning only 13 batters in 19 1/3 innings, while issuing seven walks, doesn't bode well for future success.
Outfield -- Ryan Braun (R), 24%, Milwaukee Brewers at Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): Braun has yet to get untracked in this odd campaign, perhaps hindered by a sore back. The veteran took four days off and has gone 3-for-7 since returning. Perhaps some rest was what he needed to ignite a productive finish to the season.