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Note: This file has been updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.
What you need to know for Monday's MLB Games
By Todd Zola
Monday marks the first time an AL East competitor is scheduled to cross the border to challenge the Toronto Blue Jays. Players failing to meet vaccination protocol are ineligible to make the trip. Teams aren't reporting the affected players, but it will be clear as each team visits Rogers Center. It has been announced that Boston Red Sox starter Tanner Houck will not be heading north, requiring Garrett Whitlock to make a start later this week. The repercussion is the Red Sox bullpen will be short one arm, aiding an already potent Blue Jays lineup. Keep an eye on the Monday lineup for Boston, if it's missing some key components, Jose Berrios becomes a more attractive DFS play, as well as a less risky starter in traditional fantasy leagues.
After three starts, Kyle Gibson has a career-high 27.5 K% with the spike supported by a personal best 16.3% swinging strike rate. The caveat is his velocity and pitch mix hasn't changed appreciably from past seasons. He is throwing his cutter and slider a bit more with fewer four-seam fastballs, but not enough to account for the marked increase in whiffs. Gibson should still be started on Monday at home against the Colorado Rockies, but don't get too confident with DFS play or strikeout props based on the early jump in punch outs.
Monday is one of the poorest slates thus far for streaming pitching. It's a typically abbreviated card with a slew of front of the rotation hurlers on the bump. The top option is Michael Lorenzen (10% rostered in ESPN leagues). Lorenzen's conversion to starter has been a mixed bag as he dominated the Miami Marlins in his opener, then was hit hard by the Astros in his follow-up. Angels Stadium is a good place to pitch while the visiting Cleveland Guardians are out over their skis. On another day, Lorenzen would be the fourth or fifth best spot starter, but on Monday he leads the pack.
To be contrarian or not to be contrarian, that is the Philadelphia Phillies facing Kyle Freeland question. DFS GPP players aim to differentiate their lineup. On Monday night, the Phillies are going to be chalk at home against the Rockies southpaw. The Phillies lead the league in wOBA facing lefties, which is insignificant this early, but will still drive heavy rostership. Even so, fading righties Jean Segura (now leading off), Rhys Hoskins, Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto is likely a mistake.
Those looking for a lesser rostered stack, or batters to stream should look to Arlington where the Texas Rangers right-handed lineup will face their second straight lefty starter with Framber Valdez taking the hill for the visiting Houston Astros. Being in the lineup on consecutive days should help Marcus Semien, Mitch Garver and Adolis Garcia in a stack while making Nick Solak (1%) and Charlie Culberson (0%) solid choices to fill holes in traditional fantasy formats.
It's not too late to start another free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday.
Starting pitcher rankings for Monday
Best Sub-50% Rostered Hitters for Monday
Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing, and lots more.
Christian Walker (ARI, 1B -- 3%) vs. Buehler
Alec Bohm (PHI, 3B -- 14%) vs. Freeland
Pavin Smith (ARI, RF -- 5%) vs. Buehler
Seth Beer (ARI, DH -- 7%) vs. Buehler
Lorenzo Cain (MIL, CF -- 1%) vs. Long
Oscar Mercado (CLE, LF -- 13%) at Lorenzen
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Monday
Dylan Carlson (STL, CF -- 77%) vs. Scherzer
Paul Goldschmidt (STL, 1B -- 99%) vs. Scherzer
Nolan Arenado (STL, 3B -- 100%) vs. Scherzer
Nathaniel Lowe (TEX, 1B -- 55%) vs. Valdez
Owen Miller (CLE, 2B -- 69%) at Lorenzen
Connor Joe (COL, LF -- 72%) at Gibson
Brandon Belt (SF, 1B -- 72%) at Burnes
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Monday
Cleveland Guardians at Lorenzen
Prop of the Day
Framber Valdez pitching outs: Over/Under 15.5 (+100/-135)
THE BAT sees Valdez putting up 17.7 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 64.9% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $29.79.
Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
THE BAT projects Valdez in the 92nd percentile as it relates to his overall pitching talent level.
Valdez has averaged 17.8 outs per outing since the start of last season, checking in at the 95th percentile.
The projected lineup for the Rangers ranks as the third-worst on the slate today.
Given that groundball pitchers are most effective against groundball hitters, Valdez (61.9% GB% per THE BAT projections) is well-situated today with three such hitters in the projected lineup for Texas.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
Valdez allowed a monstrous six earned runs in his last start.
Valdez will be at a disadvantage playing on the road today.