Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. MLB game odds are provided by ESPN BET, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

Note: This file will be updated with overnight pitching changes and weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.

Not so hot in Atlanta

One of the driving points for managing a fantasy pitching staff is gauging opposing offenses. For example, avoid using a starting pitcher against the Atlanta Braves.

Avoiding the Braves lineup in April was smart, as they led the majors with 5.43 runs scored per game. The Braves’ wOBA was .334, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers.

However, through Saturday’s action, the Braves averaged only 3.23 runs per game in May, the third fewest in the league. The club’s wOBA has been the seventh lowest this month.

The lesson here isn’t to rely on recent data to make roster decisions. It’s also not to trust the season-long numbers. This is one of those instances where math doesn’t generate the definitive answer. There’s too much variance in a small sample. There is usually a lot of turnover in longer samples, so the data is not an accurate reflection of the current lineup.

Fortunately, while every team gets hot or cold, it’s usually straightforward to judge an offense as potent or less productive. It’s rare that a team plays above its head or is mired in a rut for an extended period. But when teams do, roster management decisions can be a challenge.

For example, the Braves open the week at home with a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres. Reynaldo Lopez and Chris Sale will start for the home team, with the visitors handing the ball to Dylan Cease and Randy Vasquez. Cease is matchup-proof, but what about Vasquez (0.3% rostered in ESPN leagues)? Complicating matters is that the Braves are probably going to start most of their regulars for just one of the two games.

The fact that Vasquez is ranked last reflects how the Braves are typically more productive. It also accounts for how poorly Vasquez has fared in his short stints in the majors, along with some mediocre minor league numbers. Reserving him should be a no-brainer, but if that same conclusion was made for most of the month, it likely backfired.

This discussion would have been better if the starter in question was ranked closer to the middle of the pack. Regardless of the ancillary factors, trusting Vasquez in this spot is risky.

The takeaway is… don’t assume anything. Take the time to research decisions, no matter how trivial they may appear. The key after doing so is to understand how to apply the observations. Above is an example of a case where there is no right answer. Consider all the factors (doubleheader, injuries, first day of the scoring week) and decide what is best for your team.

The opener of the Braves-Padres twin bill kicks off the Monday slate at noon ET. All told, there are 12 games on the docket, including the nightcap of the separate admission doubleheader in Truist Park.

Everything else you need to know for Monday

  • Taj Bradley (13.8% rostered) tops the list of streaming candidates. He has made two starts this season, the last against Monday’s foe, the Boston Red Sox. In 13 innings, Bradley has fanned 13 while issuing just three free passes. The Red Sox have struck out the fourth most in MLB. Bradley is a solid option to start the fantasy week.

  • Reese Olson (17.8%) and the Detroit Tigers have a road date with the Kansas City Royals. Olson has recorded four quality starts in his eight outings, including in his past two efforts. His 2.09 ERA and 0.99 WHIP are aided by a .246 BABIP, but a 3.76 xFIP and 3.78 SIERA still characterize Olson as an above-average hurler. The Royals offense isn’t a pushover, as they sport a league-average wOBA, but Olson still checks in as one of the better streaming options.

  • The Cleveland Guardians have a knack for getting the most out of their arms, with Ben Lively the latest example (5.0% rostered). Lively will be at home to face the New York Mets in the opener of an interleague series. Lively’s 3.06 ERA is buoyed by an 88.2% left-on-base mark, but he has been keeping the Guardians in games before turning it over to one of the best bullpens in MLB. The Mets will tote the ninth-lowest wOBA into Progressive Field, landing Lively in the streaming bucket.

  • Ryan Weathers (2.5% rostered) has registered three straight quality starts and will go for a fourth at home when the Miami Marlins entertain the surprising Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers are the opposite of the Braves in that their offense has been quietly productive, scoring the third-most runs per game in the league. While the Brewers have been solid on the road, LoanDepot Park is a significant hitting downgrade from American Family Field. Weathers hasn’t been missing many bats, with only 12 punchouts over his past 20 innings, but he has surrendered only six earned runs in that stretch, so consider him as a spot starter in deep leagues.

It’s not too late to start a free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday. Come and join the fun!

Starting pitcher rankings for Monday


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