Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Wednesday's MLB games

Alex Wood of the San Francisco Giants. AP Photo/Morry Gash

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 Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared towards ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

For an in-depth look at what to expect in this daily article and for how to best utilize the information contained within, check out our handy primer here.

Note: This file has been 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.

What you need to know for Wednesday's MLB Games

By Todd Zola

  • A quirk leaves the Wednesday ledger one game short as MLB squeezed an extra Memorial Day game onto the holiday slate, scheduling the two-game series between the Kansas Royals and St. Louis Cardinals for Monday and Tuesday, giving an off day on Wednesday and Thursday to both clubs from the Show Me State. As such, it could be best to release, not just reserve fringe batters from both lineups. Festivities begin at 1:10 PM ET in Motown with the Detroit Tigers hosting the Texas Rangers. A pair of 9:40 PM ET contests close the evening with the Arizona Diamondbacks hosting the Colorado Rockies and the Seattle Mariners entertaining the New York Yankees.

  • As is often the case when's he's ticketed to take the hill, Alex Wood (4.3% rostered) is listed at the top streaming option. The rankings factor in track record, so Wood continues to carry a favorable rank despite a rough start to the campaign. That said, the lefty pitched a season-high 5 2/3 innings last time out, albeit with five walks. However, he fanned five, giving him 10 punchouts over his past 10 frames. Wood opposes the Pirates at home, so he'll enjoy working in a pitching haven. Pittsburgh offense is mid-pack facing lefties, though they fan at an above average clip.

  • After a shaky first couple of outings, Atlanta Braves rookie Jared Shuster (4.6%) has settled in, whiffing 12 with four walks over his last two starts, spanning 11.2 frames. Next up is a road affair in Oakland where the southpaw will face the offense with the lowest wOBA versus left-handers in MLB. The Athletics also strike out a generous 25.6% of the time with a lefty on the hill.

  • James Paxton (11.0%) checks in as the lowest ranked starter on today's card, primarily because coming into the season, he threw only 1.1 innings since 2020, and only mustered 20.1 in the pandemic campaign. It also hurts that he's coming off a poor effort, but in his first two starts, Paxton fanned 14 with only three walks in 11 stanzas. The veteran lefty will face the Reds in Fenway Park, where he's likely to get run support from a Red Sox offense more potent at home. The Reds offense is a tick below average in terms of wOBA facing left-handers, in part because they fan at a slightly above average clip.

  • The top three starters on Wednesday's card have been disappointing to date, so much so keeping Aaron Nola, Lance Lynn and Alek Manoah reserved is justified. That said, while Nola and Lynn have been inconsistent lately, they are both showing signs of reverting to form. Manoah, on the other hand, continues to be one of the most frustrating hurlers in the league. In fact, in mixed leagues with 12 or fewer teams, releasing Manoah is defensible, if not recommended. Other than, "He was good last season," there is nothing on which to hang an optimistic hat.

  • As noted, the Cardinals and Royals are off Wednesday and Thursday, so there may be batting holes to fill. Eloy Jimenez (65.8%) is a bit over the usual 50% rostership level, but he is available in about one-third of ESPN leagues, so it merits checking. Five other right-handed batters benefit from the platoon edge on a southpaw, thus are in a favorable spot. They are Esteury Ruiz (37.2%), Jose Siri (5.4%) , Matt McLain (17.6%), Miguel Vargas (24.5%) and Harold Ramirez (26.0%).

Starting pitcher rankings for Wednesday

Bullpen usage watch for Wednesday

By Todd Zola

  • David Bednar garnered his 11th save last night, throwing 15 in the process. His availability for today is in jeopardy, especially since it's an early afternoon affair in San Francisco. Colin Holderman is next in line, but he's thrown 30 pitches over the past three days. However, the Pirates don't play Thursday, so Holderman could be asked for an inning today. He has 10 holds and a save.

  • Earlier in the month, it appeared Felix Bautista and Yennier Cano were alternating saves chances, but it was workload-driven and not a timeshare. This week, the dominant pair pitched on the same days, with Bautista collecting the save yesterday and Sunday. Bautista has thrown 29 pitches since Sunday with Cano adding 32. Both have worked on consecutive days with similar pitch counts and Baltimore has an off day tomorrow, so it's not a clear-cut decision to remove either from Wednesday's fantasy lineup. Furthermore, the likely fill-ins are Bryan Baker and Danny Coulombe who are similarly taxed, and not nearly as effective.

  • After throwing a combined 40 pitches while collecting saves on Saturday and Sunday, Reds manager likely preferred to give Alexis Diaz another day of rest, but after the Reds six-run lead to open the bottom of the ninth shrunk to just three runs, Diaz was summoned to quell the Red Sox rally. Diaz and the Reds held on for a 9-8 in Fenway Park, but not before Boston had the tying run at third base. Diaz retired Triston Casas via strikeout to grab his 13th save. However, the dozen pitches needed could keep Diaz out of tonight's contest since he's now tossed 52 since Saturday. Lucas Sims and Ian Gibaut are both well-rested, so they'll likely be in line for a potential save or hold in the second game of the series.

  • David Robertson logged his ninth save last night, needing 16 pitches to seal the deal. That's sufficient to be flagged for questionable availability, but Robertson has worked in back-to-back games multiple times in similar scenarios. The Mets do have an early afternoon game on Thursday, so adding Adam Ottavino avails the chance for a hold today, or maybe a save or hold tomorrow.

  • Raisel Iglesias is in a similar scenario as Robertson in that his 21 pitches last night triggers a warning, but perhaps not enough to miss today. Plus, whereas the Mets play tomorrow, the Braves enjoy a travel day, affording Iglesias a natural day of rest.

Best Sub-50% Rostered Hitters for Wednesday

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.

Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Wednesday

THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today

Prop of the Day

Louie Varland O/U 17.5 pitching outs (-120/-115)


THE BAT sees Varland putting up 14.0 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 26.8% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $42.31.

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.


  • A "pitchers umpire" is projected for today's game, as Adam Hamari is expected to make the calls on pitches today.

  • The league's third-highest average fence height can be found at Minute Maid Park.


  • The Houston Astros projected offense ranks as the fifth-best of all teams today.

  • The Astros have been the fourth-unluckiest offense in the majors this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to perform better the rest of the season

  • According to THE BAT projection system, Minute Maid Park holds the No. 10 position for walks among all fields in MLB.

  • Louie Varland has a reverse platoon split and has the misfortune of facing seven same-handed hitters today.