At this point in the fantasy baseball season, it’s a delicate balance when considering season-long stats and recency bias. Deciding which is real and which is fool’s gold goes a long way toward making the right lineup calls.
So with that in mind, let’s sort out the best picks to optimize your lineups for Wednesday’s fantasy slate.
Pitchers to stream
Blake Snell (L), 6.6 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Tampa Bay Rays at Pittsburgh Pirates: Snell unsurprisingly rolled over competition at Triple-A Durham after his recent demotion (2.66 ERA with 61 strikeouts and only 15 walks in seven starts). He has nothing left to prove there. Can he carry his control improvements over to his second majors stint this year? It might be a good opportunity to try him out of the gate: The sunken Buccaneers have a .296 wOBA against LHP, tied for the league’s fifth-lowest mark.
Trevor Bauer (R), 29.8 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Texas Rangers: Though we might get gray hair waiting for a consistent turnaround, his 5.53 ERA doesn’t reflect his true skills. Progressive Field plays toward hitters, but Texas has the third-worst wOBA on the road (.294). At least Bauer Power should result in some strikeouts, especially against the club with the league’s fifth-highest strikeout rate (24.5 percent).
David Paulino (R), 4.3 percent, Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics: The rookie hasn’t walked more than two batters or struck out fewer than four in any of his five starts, and he’s keeping his rotation spot with Joe Musgrove suffering a demotion. With the A’s integrating more youth into their lineup, they’ll start becoming an even more favorable matchup for pitcher rentals.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (L), 7.4 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels: Desperate deep-leaguers could consider the southpaw, despite possible workload management from the coaches. The Halos own a weak .298 wOBA against his handedness.
Pitchers to avoid
Chase Anderson (R), 82.4 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds: He’s been a star lately while building up his strikeouts and limiting homers. However, the Reds hold a competent .332 wOBA against righties and expect the surprising Zack Cozart to return from the disabled list Wednesday.
Marcus Stroman (R), 96.2 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles: Right-handed bats have pelted Stroman for the 17th-highest wOBA (.361), and the O’s boast stellar righty power bats in Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini.
It was good to see Roberto Osuna back on the mound Sunday after recently revealing he was dealing with anxiety issues. The Blue Jays’ closer may not be available for every chance moving forward. Despite Jason Grilli‘s closer experience, Toronto probably won’t deploy him and his 6.97 ERA again, considering he blew Friday’s spot. Perhaps Ryan Tepera or Danny Barnes will fill in on those occasions. Barnes is the better pitcher, but Tepera may benefit from working as the chief setup arm on most occasions.
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. A 50 typically earns the pitcher a “quality start” by this measure, while a 70 is considered a dominant start.
Mike Zunino (R), 39.6 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Mark Leiter Jr.): Just one of many M’s worthy of fantasy start. This is a reminder that Zunino, who’s hit 10 homers in 170 at-bats, is still widely available. Changes to his swing have led to a more palatable swing-and-miss approach because it’s leading to the power many have hoped for. The 26-year-old minors lifer Leiter is in a solid spot to get a peek at it.
Wilmer Flores (R), 4.9 percent, New York Mets at Miami Marlins (LHP Jeff Locke): Are the Mets facing a southpaw? Will Wilmer into your lineup. He’s 19-for-61 (.311) with an .815 OPS and .333 wOBA against them this season, living up to his recently established reputation as a southpaw-smashing specialist.
Josh Harrison (R), 59.9 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Blake Snell): If you’re not using Snell, here’s a fine platoon play. The versatile Harrison has a .414 wOBA against left-handers and a .383 wOBA in 96 June plate appearances.
Matt Davidson (R), 27.7 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka): Tanaka looked good Friday but still has allowed 21 home runs on the season. His sinker’s consistency isn’t yet verified, and the homer-happy, late-blooming Davidson — who’s launched seven home runs in both May and June — could take full advantage.
Troy Tulowitzki (R), 63.8 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles (LHP Wade Miley): Tulo is heavily owned, but here’s a chance to feel somewhat good about using him. Miley’s right-handed opponents have put together a sparkling .355 wOBA.
Whit Merrifield (R), 22.8 percent, Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers (LHP Daniel Norris): June has smacked Merrifield with a dose of reality (.267, zero homers), but Merrifield has pushed across 17 RBI this month. He’ll carry his .341 wOBA against left-handers into this clash.
David Peralta (L), 41.7 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright): Chase Field plus the platoon advantage over Wainwright (9.48 road ERA) equals a move Peralta into the lineup.
Joc Pederson (L), 27.5 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Alex Meyer): Meyer boasts a 2.77 ERA in June, but the red-hot Pederson has knocked all six of his homers off right-handers.
Domingo Santana (R), 40.1 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Luis Castillo): Castillo turned heads with his triple-digit heat over the weekend, and Great American Ball Park doesn’t play as well for righty bats. Still, Santana’s .358 wOBA against righties is one point higher than against lefties, and he’s been one of baseball’s hottest hitters since the end of April.
Hitter matchup ratings
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher’s 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.