As has been the trend this season for clubs playing a short interleague two-game set to begin the week, the Rangers and Giants have a rare Wednesday off. However, there are still 15 games as the Padres and Rockies will make up Monday's rainout in a double-header.
Please note, the schedule starts early with the Mets hosting the Orioles for an 12:15 p.m. EST interleague matinee. The Reds and Pirates soon follow at 12:30 p.m. EST with another interleague clash at 1:10 p.m. EST featuring the Indians entertaining the Cubs.
Here is Wednesday's array of players designed to keep your lineup strong, with everyone rostered in fewer than half of all ESPN leagues.
Taijuan Walker (R), rostered in 43% of ESPN leagues, New York Mets vs. Baltimore Orioles: The Mets took a chance Walker would be able to repeat last season's success while staying healthy. So far, so good as the veteran righty has fanned 35 in 34 innings in six starts. He's walked 15 but allowing just one homer has minimized the damage. Walker is in a fantastic spot to keep the momentum, facing a weak lineup, without the designated hitter in one of the best pitching venues in the league.
J.A. Happ (L), 29%, Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox: The Twins have done a good job protecting Happ, lifting him at the first sign of trouble. The result is a 1.91 ERA but only 28 1/3 innings over five starts, and that includes a pair of seven inning efforts. The White Sox lineup is dangerous, but not as potent as initially expected, so there is an opportunity for Happ to squeeze out five frames and hand the ball to the bullpen.
Casey Mize (R), 17%, Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals: Mize is enduring the typical ups and downs of a young hurler as three of his six efforts have been quality starts, but he's also turned in a couple of clunkers. Overall, he needs to ramp up his strikeouts as 23 in 32 2/3 innings does not portend success in today's landscape. Five homers seem high, but they came in just two starts so chalk it up to inconsistency. Mize has a solid chance to add another quality outing to his ledger, facing a Royals lineup.
Zach Davies (R), 15%, Chicago Cubs at Cleveland Indians: Davies has only worked five innings in two of his seven outings: opening day and his last time out, both at home against the Pirates. With 19 walks, he's issued one more free pass than he has punch outs. So why the recommendation? The Indians are one of the least productive lineups in the league. It's not just when facing southpaws having been no-hit by Carlos Rodon and Wade Miley, but their wOBA against righties is 12th lowest in MLB.
Bullpen: With the San Diego Padres sending Yu Darvish and Blake Snell to the hill in Wednesday's doubleheader, at least one save chance should be in the offing. Mark Melancon will no doubt be the recipient, but if the Friars are in line for a second win, the call may go to Drew Pomeranz or Emilio Pagan, putting both in play for those looking to grab an extra save.
The Sunshine State should change its nickname to the Bullpen State today as both Tampa Bay and Miami will deploy relievers in their respective contests. The Rays will send Collin McHugh to the hill in their patented opener role, likely to be followed by Ryan Yarbrough. Yarbrough has enjoyed much success in this manner, but the opposing Yankees offense is beginning to wake up and Yarbrough hasn't been as sharp this season. The Marlins plan on the old-fashioned parade of relievers.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Austin Nola (R), 30%, San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies (Doubleheader): Choosing a player from a doubleheader has advantages and disadvantages. If they play both ends, you get bonus at bats. However, if they play just one, you could lose an at bat or two. Catchers are almost assured to play just one game, but I'll take three or maybe four plate appearances on Coors Field over using a backstop hitting in the bottom of the order elsewhere. Lefty Austin Gomber is slated to start one of the contests so Nola should have the platoon edge as well.
First Base -- Andrew Vaughn (R), 35%, Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins (LHP J.A. Happ): While he's still not raking, Vaughn's .290/.343/.419 line over the prior nine games heading into Tuesday's action shows he's getting comfortable. Further, he's only fanned 17% of the time over that span. As is the case with most hitters, Vaughn has fared better when enjoying the platoon edge so he's a solid play facing a southpaw.
Second Base -- Gavin Lux (L), 41%, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Justin Dunn): After a sluggish April, Lux has picked it up in May, though he is still lagging expectations. A good sign is reduced strikeouts this month; he just needs to take the next step with more solid contact. Lux has a chance to get going against one of the weakest starters on the board. In addition, Dunn has allowed eight steals in just five starts and Lax has the ability to take advantage.
Third Base -- Matt Duffy (R), 2%, Chicago Cubs at Cleveland Indians (LHP Sam Hentges): Buoyed by a personal best 39% on base clip, Duffy has been leading off lately for the Cubs. Cleveland has a knack with young pitching, but don't expect Hentgen to be the next beneficiary, having allowed 14 hits on nine innings, four of the long ball variety.
Shortstop -- Jorge Polanco (S), 48%, Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox (LHP Dallas Keuchel): Polanco is far from the prototypical cleanup batter, but he's responded with a .344/.417/.719 slash over the previous nine games heading into Tuesday's action.
Corner Infield -- Daniel Vogelbach (L), 1%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP John Gant): Injuries have paved the way for more playing time than initially expected. While he's not taking full advantage, Vogelbach remains dangerous against righthanded pitching, especially at home in American Family Field. Gant's 2.15 ERA may seem impressive, but his 1.70 WHIP tells a different story.
Middle Infield -- Marwin Gonzalez (S), 7%, Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics (Undecided): Since taking over the leadoff spot in Enrique Hernandez's absence, Gonzalez has responded, though Baltimore pitching snapped his modest seven-game hitting streak on Monday. The best part about using a switch-hitter in what is likely to be a bullpen game is Gonzalez will enjoy the platoon bump irrespective of what the Athletics decide.
Outfield -- Aaron Hicks (S), 41%, New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Josh Fleming): Speaking of switch-hitters, Hicks has been a mainstay in this space over the past few years. However, an extremely slow start rendered it difficult to recommend Hicks for pickup. He's still performing below his usual level, but a .241/.333/.444 slash since April 22 is palatable.
Outfield -- Nick Senzel (R), 30%, Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Cahill): Senzel has been slowed by assorted injuries, but a healthy stretch has resulted in a four-game hitting streak entering Tuesday's action. Senzel's Statcast indicators all foretell continued improvement. Cahill usually pitches with a lot of traffic on the bases but so far this season they've been even more congested with 37 hits and nine walks in 29 1/3 frames.
Outfield -- Josh Naylor (L), 7%, Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs (RHP Zach Davies): Naylor has been quietly productive in May, recording a .300/.364/.567 line for the month. As he has been for his career, Naylor is expectedly better with a lefty on the hill.