The typical Wednesday schedule includes several afternoon games, but the latest has only two that start before 6:10 p.m. ET, giving fantasy baseball players some leeway in setting their lineups.
Rain on the East Coast last night forced three postponements, causing several clubs to rework their rotation. The Mets, after originally thinking about skipping Robert Gsellman in favor of Noah Syndergaard, have decided to maintain the status quo. Everyone else has pushed their hurler up a day, costing rookie Nick Pivetta his MLB debut with the Phillies. Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto highlight the card. James Paxton and Lance McCullers Jr. look to build on early success. Here are some safe streamers to ride.
(Note: The game between the Blue Jays and Cardinals scheduled for tonight in St. Louis has been postponed due to rain.)
Looking for a spot starter Wednesday? Here's a list of potential options still available in more than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Wei-Yin Chen, Miami Marlins (14 percent ownership in ESPN leagues): Chen was scheduled to work yesterday, but the rain in Philadelphia pushed him to today. Here's what colleague Paul Sporer said in Tuesday's notes: The Phillies rank 28th in ISO, 29th in wOBA, and 29th in wRC+ vs LHP since the beginning of 2016. Chen, meanwhile, is coming off of a huge start in Seattle with seven no-hit innings. Only the Braves (29) have fewer homers than Philly's 32 against lefties since the start of 2016.
Trevor Cahill, San Diego Padres (3 percent): Both mediocre starters at Chase Field? Don't laugh too hard. Cahill is a grounder-heavy pitcher who could limit any potential damage. Plus, have you seen his ridiculous 14.8 swinging-strike percentage? That's a trend worth watching.
Nathan Karns, Kansas City Royals (2 percent): Karns has never been confused for Greg Maddux; he typically racks up walks and a high pitch count. But he has a chance to deliver against a White Sox club that ranks 28th with 14 home runs and 29th with a .633 OPS. At least Karns' 7.41 K/9 should improve, considering his exciting 10 percent swinging-strike rate.
Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers (4 percent): Starting in place of Rich Hill (finger), Wood couldn't make it through the fifth inning Friday. Still, if he could battle through five innings Wednesday, he could eke out a win against a struggling Giants club that has hit the second-fewest home runs (13) and registered the fifth-lowest OPS (.656) through Monday.
Here are the pitchers to avoid with more than 50 percent ownership in ESPN leagues.
The Angels' bullpen has lost some wings, with Huston Street (back), Andrew Bailey (shoulder) and Cam Bedrosian (groin) on the disabled list. Since Bedrosian went down, Bud Norris has racked up two saves. As a starter, he disappointed for years with spotty control and strikeout potential, but out of the bullpen, he's rediscovering that old upside with 12 strikeouts in 10⅔ innings. Bedrosian could resurface sometime next week, but the injury-laden history of the other two back-enders could allow Norris to keep a high-leverage setup role while adding a few more save chances in the next few weeks.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
James McCann, Detroit Tigers (8 percent): He probably will start ahead of Alex Avila because Detroit faces lefty James Paxton. Though Paxton is better than your average MLB pitcher, McCann preferred facing lefties last season (.258/.323/.525) and already has launched three of his four home runs this season against them.
Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers (50 percent): Napoli's .169 clip makes him a borderline start, but owners should click him almost without thinking when he faces a southpaw. Hector Santiago has overachieved so far and should falter against Texas, especially Napoli, who raked to an .817 OPS versus lefties last year.
Cory Spangenberg, San Diego Padres (less than 1 percent): Ryan Schimpf has slumped early, resulting in Spangenberg's promotion and insertion at the hot corner. He's likely to be hitting second, putting him in a good spot to utilize his speed.
Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros (29 percent): Gurriel's hot start comes with only one home run and one walk in 56 at-bats. Still, facing the wild Trevor Bauer should help him cure both columns for at least one game.
Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels (24 percent): Simmons, who's riding a five-game hitting streak, enjoyed a .292/.339/.406 line against left-handers last year. On the back of changes to his swing and approach, he's finding more power. He's only one home run away from tying last season's total of four.
Christian Arroyo, San Francisco Giants, (8 percent): Last night, Arroyo hit second and got his first major league knock off none other than Clayton Kershaw. Brandon Belt should return to the lineup tonight, dropping Arroyo to sixth in the order. Still, he enjoys the platoon edge on Alex Wood. Arroyo is more of a gap-hitter than slugger, but that plays just fine in AT&T Park.
Taylor Motter, Seattle Mariners (19 percent): One of the most popular ESPN league adds in the past few days might be the biggest beneficiary of Seattle designating Leonys Martin for assignment. Motter has two home runs, six RBIs and one steal in his past four games and should pester Daniel Norris, whose 3.71 ERA hides his nine walks in 17 innings so far.
David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks (21 percent): Pick him up if he's still available. He's again showing the potent bat that his injury-marred 2016 masked. He should be a fantasy start against most right-handers, and an assignment at his hitter-friendly home of Chase Field is no different.
Seth Smith, Baltimore Orioles (2 percent): Baltimore facing a righty? Daily transaction players should slot Smith in as a starter most of the time. He returned from the disabled list Monday in time to face Alex Cobb, who has been touched up by left-handed hitters (.365/.418/.750) in 84 at-bats since his return from Tommy John surgery.
Robbie Grossman, Minnesota Twins (8 percent): Hamels is one of just four pitchers to have allowed at least 20 home runs to right-handed batters in each of the past two seasons. In 2016, Grossman boasted the eighth-best wOBA against southpaws (minimum 130 plate appearances), and he should again occupy the two-hole Wednesday against them.
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth, as well as the past 21 days) and ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, whereas a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.