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Note: This 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
The dog days of August commence with a 10-game slate, beginning with a matchup in South Beach with the Marlins hosting the Reds. Jesus Luzardo (20% rostered in ESPN leagues) is slated to come off the IL after being out since mid-May with a forearm strain. The lefty made three rehab starts, reaching 75 pitches in the last. This is sufficient to use Luzardo at home against a vulnerable Cincinnati lineup.
Hunter Greene (29%) takes the hill for the visitors and is also in play, facing another week offense in what portends to be a game with a bunch of strikeouts and not many runs. Unfortunately, there isn't much else by way of available pitching to spot start. The best of the rest is Brad Keller (8%) and he comes with a warning as the Kansas City Royals could deal him to a contender. Assuming Keller makes the start, the matchup isn't ideal in Guaranteed Rate Park as the host Chicago White Sox aren't especially productive, but they don't fan much, and Keller's strikeout rate is pedestrian.
In lieu of streaming starters, Monday is a good day to fortify relievers. Looking ahead to Tuesday when San Diego Padres has a doubleheader against Colorado, Padres closer Taylor Rogers has been in a rut, rendering Luis Garcia (2%) a nice speculative pickup. Garcia may even close on Monday, but with a pair on Tuesday, he's worth the early add. Another prescient ploy is taking a chance on the setup men on teams whose closer may be dealt. The Pirates don't play Monday but getting a jump on Yerry De Los Santos (1%) could prove beneficial if David Bednar is dealt. The Royals Scott Barlow could be moved, elevating Josh Staumont (1%) to ninth-inning duties.
Stacking hitters is usually a tactic reserved for DFS. However, with the paucity of available pitching, and the likely holes in a fantasy lineup with an abbreviated slate, doubling down on free agent batters from the same team has the same additive effect, especially if you already have a batter or two from that team. For example, adding Jeremy Pena (58%), Aledmys Diaz (6%), Mauricio Dubon (1%), Chas McCormick (1%) and/or Jake Meyers (1%) to a lineup already with a top Houston hitter could be fruitful against Boston's Nathan Eovaldi whose recent drop in velocity has rendered him prone to home runs. There are a pair of other duos both enjoying the platoon bump in a mini stack. The Twins Jose Miranda (17%) and Kyle Garlick (1%) are at home facing Tigers southpaw Tarik Skubal while the Giants Austin Slater (2%) and Darin Ruf (3%) have a home date with Dodgers lefty Andrew Heaney.
It's never 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.
Hunter Dozier (KC, RF -- 18%) at Kopech
Riley Greene (DET, CF -- 20%) at Devin Smeltzer
Alek Thomas (ARI, CF -- 8%) at Quantrill
Gavin Sheets (CHW, DH -- 1%) vs. Keller
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Monday
Ryan Mountcastle (BAL, 1B -- 84%) at Gray
Brendan Rodgers (COL, 2B -- 73%) at Clevinger
Trey Mancini (BAL, 1B -- 76%) at Gray
C.J. Cron (COL, 1B -- 97%) at Clevinger
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today
Kansas City Royals at Michael Kopech
Prop of the Day
Brad Keller Strikeouts: Over/Under 3.5 (-180/+135)
THE BAT sees Keller putting up 3.5 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 48.1% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $22.08.
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
Keller has relied on his sinker 5.6% less often this season (23.8%) than he did last year (29.4%).
Keller has been unlucky with his strikeouts this year, compiling a 6.10 K/9 despite THE BAT estimating his true talent level to be 6.88 - a 0.78 K/9 difference.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
Guaranteed Rate Field profiles as the No. 22 park in the league for strikeouts, via THE BAT projection system.
The weather report calls for the second-best hitting weather of all games on the slate, as it relates to temperature and humidity.
The wind projects to be blowing out to centerfield at 10.3 mph in this contest, the most-favorable of the day for hitters.
Keller has a reverse platoon split and has the misfortune of facing six same-handed bats today.