<
>

Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Monday

Eduardo Rodriguez looks for win No. 14 on Monday. Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Monday's abbreviated slate is embellished with some bonus baseball as the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles play a pair in the Bronx. The pitching choices to stream are expectedly scant, so be prudent with your choices. Hitting, as usual, offers reinforcements everywhere.

Good luck this week. Here are some candidates (and their teammates) to head you in the right direction, all available in a minimum of 50% of ESPN leagues.

Pitching

Anthony DeSclafani (R), rostered in 16% of ESPN leagues, Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals: Last June, DeSclafani began throwing his four-seamer a couple of ticks higher than earlier in the season, in fact working at a career best in terms of velocity. Unfortunately, he's been unable to maintain it, though he's still throwing harder than most of the first half. Even with the slight drop, DeSclafani is still fanning a batter an inning. The Nationals' offense is league average, so the setup isn't ideal, but on a day with limited choices, facing league average will suffice.

Mitch Keller (R), 2%, Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels: Keller was once one of the top pitching prospects in the game but has lost some of his luster. The caveat is Keller is still just 23 years old and thus can regain shine as quickly as it dulled. He's fanned 123 in 103 2/3 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis, allowing just nine homers, which is intriguing since he's been tossing the same juiced ball used in the majors. Keller's short stints with the Bucs haven't gone well, with a 10.50 ERA and 2.25 WHIP in three starts, spanning 12 frames. Admittedly, this is a big risk, especially since Keller will face Shohei Ohtani and not an NL pitcher. But again, this is a poor slate for streaming, and Keller has some strikeout upside.

Ariel Jurado (R), 2%, Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays: To put the nail in the coffin surrounding Monday's docket, the best streaming option could be one of the lowest-ranking hurlers in the day's Pitching Forecaster. For the season, Jurado has been a below-average pitcher. That said, he's worked seven stanzas in two of his past three outings, suggesting he's figured something out. The Blue Jays sport one of the most exciting trios of young infielders in the game, but overall their lineup is still below average.

Bullpen

Usually, the recommendation on a day with a twin bill is focusing on the combatant's respective closers. With a pair of likely blowouts in store, this is moot since the principals are the Yankees and Orioles. Instead, consider some dominant relievers, especially on the Yankees. Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton and Chad Green are all likely to appear at least once, maybe twice.

Add the Toronto Blue Jays to the clubs deploying an opener and "bulk pitcher" with Neil Ramirez set to pass the baton to former Dodgers starter Brock Stewart. This is worth monitoring as Stewart could thrive in the role. The Tampa Bay Rays will open with Diego Castillo before turning to Austin Pruitt.

Hitting

Catcher -- Roberto Perez (R), 11%, Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox (LHP Eduardo Rodriguez): The underlying metrics are not kind to Perez, yet he's one blast away from a 20-homer campaign. Rodriguez has shown strides this season, but he remains vulnerable to righty power. Recently acquired Franmil Reyes as well as Oscar Mercado are other Indians enjoying the platoon edge over the Red Sox southpaw.

First Base -- Ryan McMahon (L), 13%, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Merrill Kelly): Get ready for frequent Coors Field references this week as the Rockies have a pair of three-game series at home this week. Kelly has surrendered a high 22 home runs in 131 1/3 innings after three years in Korea. McMahon isn't a slugger, but he has cracked eight of his dozen homers at home.

Second Base -- Chris Owings (R), under 1%, Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians (RHP Zach Plesac): In full disclosure, Owings is likely to be on the bench, ceding second base to Brock Holt (a viable option as well). This is more an alert that Owings has been called up by Boston with the intent of moving all around the diamond, playing mostly against southpaws but also getting some action with a righty on the hill. Owings earned the promotion with a .325/.385/.595 campaign for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Third Base -- Josh VanMeter (L), 42%, Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals (RHP Erick Fedde): Aristides Aquino is deservedly getting the headlines and is still widely available, but don't sleep on VanMeter. The 24-year-old lefty swinger looks to be a regular down the stretch, playing at minimum on the good side of a platoon. VanMeter displays above-average plate patience will good contact skills. He's not a slugger nor a speed demon but is capable of chipping in with both homers and steals, pacing to high teens in both prorated to a full season.

Shortstop -- Willy Adames (R), 10%, Tampa Bay Rays at San Diego Padres (LHP Joey Lucchesi): Adames and fellow infielders Jesus Aguilar and Michael Brosseau all enjoy the platoon edge on Lucchesi, an improving but still occasionally control-challenged southpaw.

Corner Infield -- Jake Lamb (L), 13%, Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies (RHP Peter Lambert): Lamb has yet to find a groove after missing the first half with a quadriceps issue. The good news is his plate skills are improved over past seasons as he's walking more and fanning less. Perhaps a visit to Coors Field, facing a pitcher giving up 13 homers in just 55 frames, will be the panacea.

Middle Infield -- Hanser Alberto (R), 4%, Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees (LHP James Paxton): Protocol during a doubleheader is searching for batters with a chance to play both ends. It obviously isn't a guarantee, but with Renato Nunez nursing a bruised ankle, Alberto could be busy.

Outfield -- Bryan Reynolds (S), 35%, Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels (LHP Jose Suarez): In some seasons, a rookie slashing .330/.402/.517 would be the talk of the league. This year, Reynolds' rookie of the year efforts will be foiled by Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr. He can, however, still help your efforts, facing a below-average starter and a suspect bullpen.

Outfield -- Mike Tauchman (L), 30%, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Gabriel Ynoa): With so many injuries, the Yankees may not have a choice but to play Tauchman in Monday's opener and nightcap. Ynoa starts the first game with the second likely to be a bullpen affair, depending on who pitches in the matinee. Don't worry about Tauchman losing the platoon edge against southpaw relievers as he's fared better facing same-side pitching in his breakout campaign.

Outfield -- Teoscar Hernandez (R), 3%, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Ariel Jurado): Hernandez's average is potentially a drain, but he's been muscling up a lot lately, totaling six long balls over the past three weeks. Jurado has authored generous big flies in 93 stanzas.