What a difference a year makes! This time last year, the season was barely underway. Fast forward 365 days and some of us are still recovering from what many have tabbed as the best ever MLB trade deadline. Monday's slate reflects some of the fallout as a pair of the recommended streamers will be making their first starts for their new teams. In fact, for an abbreviated schedule, Monday's available spot-starters are actually quite solid. Not only that, but batters are so plentiful it wasn't necessary to double down on the same team -- despite there being fewer games than usual.
Good luck getting your week off on a strong note. Here are Monday's recommendations, all available in approximately 50% of ESPN leagues.
Tylor Megill (R), rostered in 44% of ESPN leagues, New York Mets at Miami Marlins: Megill is not only putting up Jacob deGrom-like ratios, but he's also working with similar run support. Megill isn't as dominant as deGrom -- who could be? -- but a 27.1% strikeout rate is well above the league average. On Monday, Megill is in a great spot to win his second game of the season as the Marlins' already middling offense is now without the traded-away Starling Marte.
Andrew Heaney (L), 53%, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles: OK, maybe not every recommendation is rostered in fewer than 50% of all ESPN leagues, but Heaney barely eclipses the cutoff and he's in a great spot. Further, this gives us a great opportunity to remind you that Yankee Stadium has an erroneous reputation of being a hitter's park. Yes, it is homer-friendly, but overall runs are actually suppressed 3%. The caveat here is that Heaney is HR prone, but at least he's left-handed so it will take a righty swinger with opposite-field power to take advantage of the southpaw.
Eric Lauer (L), 14%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: After six straight starts hurling at least five frames, Lauer was used for a three-inning relief appearance against the Pirates in his last time on the mound. The Brewers have stated they'll be fiddling with their rotation to try and keep everyone fresh for what they hope is an extended playoff run. On Monday, Lauer returns to starting against the lowest-scoring offense in the league.
Dane Dunning (R), 12%, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels: According to most of the ERA estimators, Dunning has pitched about half a run better than his 4.20 ERA indicates. The primary culprit is a bloated .347 BABIP. Batted-ball luck is independent of the opponent, but regression isn't guaranteed -- and it doesn't punch a time clock. That's why it's best to judge Dunning on a start-to-start basis. On Monday, he draws an Angels club still missing Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, along with All-Star Jared Walsh.
Josiah Gray (R), 13%, Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies: As of this writing, Gray has not been formally announced as Monday's starter and, to be honest, facing the Phillies isn't the ideal matchup. That said, he's being featured to point out that his pathway to starts is much clearer with the Nationals. However, he's also moving to a much more hitter-friendly home venue with far worse run support. Still, opportunity is important, and Gray was considered one of the top pitching prospects in the minors.
Jesus Luzardo (L), 42%, Miami Marlins vs. New York Mets: Pretty much everything you just read about Gray is also true for Luzardo, with one major exception being that Luzardo's new home park is actually more favorable to the pitcher. As such, this is more about Luzardo being an attractive keeper in NL-only formats than it is about rolling him out on Monday.
Bullpen: The closer carousel is still spinning from the fallout of the trading frenzy. There are three teams with readily available newly-minted closers on Monday's ledger. Kyle Finnegan (Nationals) is only rostered in 13% of ESPN leagues while Josh Sborz (Rangers) is available in over 99%. The Pirates' saves scenario is still unclear as expected closer David Bednar blew the lead in the eighth inning of Saturday's contest, giving Chris Stratton the chance to vulture a win. It's a coin flip between the two, with both being readily available.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Alejandro Kirk (R), 2%, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland (RHP Eli Morgan): Sometimes it's best not to force the platoon edge and look to check some other boxes. Kirk is part of one of the most dangerous lineups and will face a lesser arm in Morgan. However, to be fair, the right-hander has pitched better than his 7.47 ERA suggests, though nowhere near well enough to pass on a chance to get a piece of the action.
First Base -- Matt Thaiss (L), under 1%, Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers (RHP Dane Dunning): Call it a hunch, but the Angels called Thaiss up when Jared Walsh was put on the IL, so it makes sense they give him a look, especially with the platoon edge. Thaiss has struggled with the Angels in limited playing time over the past two seasons, but he was hitting .287/.395/.537 for Triple-A Salt Lake prior to being summoned.
Second Base -- Kolten Wong (L), 48%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Max Kranick): Lather, rinse, repeat. Wong continues to fall short of the 50% cutoff, so he'll continue to receive Daily Notes plaudits. Wong's .826 OPS is by far a personal high and he also runs. Add in the fact that Wong hits at (or near) the top of a strong lineup and his roster percentage should be higher.
Third Base -- J.D. Davis (R), 27%, New York Mets at Miami Marlins (LHP Jesus Luzardo): Davis had been mired in a slump since returning from the IL on July 16, batting just .214/.298/.405. However, history shows he's a productive hitter, so it's only a matter of time before Davis reverts to form. Third base is the hardest spot to fill in Monday, thus it's worth taking the chance that Davis rediscovers his groove soon.
Shortstop -- J.P. Crawford (L), 25%, Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Michael Wacha): After a torrid June and early July, Crawford had been mired in a rut. However, he enters August in on an upswing after batting .333/.379/.370 over the last week of July.
Corner Infield -- Ji-Man Choi (L), 6%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Chris Flexen): Some may view this as chasing stats as Choi has homered four times over the past week. I see it as taking advantage of a solid matchup as Flexen is vulnerable to left-handed pop.
Middle Infield -- Rougned Odor (L), 6%, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Jorge Lopez): It's always a good idea to pick on the lowest-ranked starting pitcher on the ledger -- and today, that means Lopez. The Yankees lineup doesn't yield many available candidates, but Odor makes the cut. He's been batting fifth or sixth in the Yankees' revamped order, but that's still high enough for fantasy purposes. It also doesn't stink that Odor is entering August on the heels of a .292/.361/.523 July.
Outfield -- LaMonte Wade Jr. (L), 17%, San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Taylor Widener): It's astounding how the Giants lead the Senior Circuit in longballs with Brandon Crawford topping the team with 18 homers. The main reason is that Gabe Kapler has done a great job putting his players in the best position to succeed which includes slotting Wade in at leadoff with a right-hander on the hill. All 13 of Wade's home runs have come with the platoon advantage.
Outfield -- Anthony Santander (S), 38%, Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees (LHP Andrew Heaney): Injuries have curtailed what many hoped would be a breakthrough campaign for the 26-year-old switch-hitter. That said, Santander's Statcast metrics show he's hit the ball with more authority this season. He just isn't getting the requisite outcomes. It should be noted he's striking out more than normal, but even so, Santander and teammate Austin Hays are both solid candidates for a strong two months down the stretch.
Outfield -- Michael Chavis (R), 1%, Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers (LHP Eric Lauer): It's unclear how much (or where, for that matter) Chavis will play with the Pirates, but he should be in the lineup whenever a southpaw is on the hill. Chavis has always displayed plus-power, he just fans too much to take advantage of the skill. Lauer's 23.4% strikeout clip is around the league average, giving Chavis a chance to muscle up in one of the friendliest power venues in the league.