Wednesday's full 15-game docket includes the long-awaited return of a talented but injury-plagued pitcher; a possible pitfall for a fast-starting hurler; and some sneaky bats, including one who quietly ranked among May's leaders in home runs.
Jimmy Nelson (R), 11.4 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Miami Marlins: Nelson is making his first start in 21 months after the completion of his injury rehab. I would normally want to play it cautiously with such debuts in most mixed leagues, but I'll put him as a risk-reward option. Anyone facing the Marlins (24.9 K% versus righties) gets a token mention. Plus, it's a reminder to scoop him up immediately for the chance he produces at least a big chunk of his 2017 brilliance (3.49 ERA, 10.21 K/9, 2.46 BB/9) the rest of the way.
Dakota Hudson (R), 7.3 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds: Hudson should probably have worse than a 3.94 ERA considering his questionable dominance, but the righty usually dishes out better numbers at Busch Stadium (3.58 home ERA), and the Reds rank in the bottom third with a .304 wOBA versus righties.
Anibal Sanchez (R), 6.6 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Chicago White Sox: Sanchez rolled six shutout innings in his old Atlanta home last Wednesday, stopping a skid of six starts in which he failed to reach that amount of frames. He brought his slider back in that gem, and refocusing on using that pitch could help him rebound from his early-season woes. The White Sox are tied for the second-highest strikeout rate (26.4 percent) against righties and lose their designated hitter in this visit to an NL park.
Pitchers to avoid
Martin Perez (L), 55.5 percent, Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians: Perez had a great run up until his recent six-run disaster outing, but the bad times may continue to roll his ERA upward. Cleveland's overall numbers versus lefties shouldn't alone tell a scary fortune, but they've walked in 10.5 percent of their plate appearances in that split, the league's sixth-best mark, and Perez owns a 4.78 ERA away from Target Field.
Catcher -- Robinson Chirinos (R), 23.3 percent, Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners (RHP Mike Leake): Chirinos has remained in the No. 1 fantasy catcher territory simply through attrition, surviving and playing enough in a solid lineup. His odds of helping catcher churners improve Wednesday should he land on the lineup card. The strikeout-deficient Leake, after all, has allowed the second-highest average exit velocity overall (92.2 mph) and the fourth-highest average exit velocity to righty bats (92.3 mph) in 2019.
First Base -- Tyler Austin (R), 0.4 percent, San Francisco Giants at New York Mets (LHP Jason Vargas): Austin boasts a career .287/.366/.616 versus lefties, which includes a .333/.435/.692 and four homers in just 46 plate appearances staring them down in 2019. Vargas may have a 3.94 home ERA this year, but I'll side with his meager form against righty bats: 5.7 K-BB% and 1.33 HR/9.
Second Base -- Ryan McMahon (L), 5.5 percent, Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs (RHP Yu Darvish): I wouldn't typically emphasize Rockies playing away from Coors Field, but Darvish sits on a 6.32 home ERA and has allowed a .371 wOBA and an .877 OPS to lefty batters.
Third Base -- Renato Nunez (R), 23.6 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers (LHP Mike Minor): I'll have more on Nunez in my feature on May's best hitters tomorrow, but suffice to say his eight-homer month deserves a nod - well, maybe a casual one, because he also hit .217/.265/.522 in that window. At least he's facing a lefty here; the former Athletics prospect feels comfortable against them, with a .300/.355/.629, .403 wOBA and 155 wRC+ in that 2019 split. This particular southpaw has been nails, to be fair, with a 2.74 ERA through 12 starts, but the safer guess is that Minor will start falling victim more often to Texas summer (read: homer-friendly) air.
Shortstop -- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R), 33.1 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (LHP James Paxton): Big Maple's return to Canada will be a tough draw for Toronto, but Gurriel -- or Freddy Galvis (11.5 percent), depending on who hits higher in the order for this one -- at least could sneak out a few hits. After all, each batter prefers taking cuts against southpaws; Gurriel has rattled off a .410 wOBA and a 161 wRC+ against them this year.
Corner Infield -- Kendrys Morales (S), 12.1 percent, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Trent Thornton): With Giancarlo Stanton likely still out for this week, Morales should have more time in the Yankees lineup. The former Jay has a .780 OPS for his career at Rogers Centre, including.281/.336/.496 with 12 homers in 229 at-bats there during his up-and-down 2018. The 35-year-old still may eke out a few more days of fantasy utility, even just by getting a few hits for head-to-head matchups.
Middle Infield -- Logan Forsythe (R), 5.8 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles (LHP John Means): Ah, summer in Arlington, when you can happily stream any bats when the Rangers host a game. OK, not ANY bats, but Forsythe's batted no lower than sixth in his most three recent starts versus lefties and just keeps reaching base against them (.286/.400/.452, 125 wRC+, .369 wOBA across 51 plate appearances). Means has surprised at his hitter-friendly home but has coughed up 1.78 HR/9 elsewhere, and righties give him fits (1.29 HR/9, just a 6.43 K/9). Danny Santana (9.7 percent) is a useful pivot if Forsythe sits.
Outfield -- Alex Verdugo (L), 31.5 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Jon Duplantier): This'll mark only Duplantier's second major-league start, and he should have trouble against this deep Dodgers lineup. Verdugo continues to occupy a spot in the middle of the order (typically fifth or sixth) against righties, and while his .962 OPS against lefties signals his biggest improvement at the plate, he's still a more reliable play against the majority handedness (.291/.336/.473 with three homers this year).
Outfield -- Jackie Bradley Jr. (L), 35.1 percent, Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jakob Junis): Junis sits around the strike zone too much but doesn't have great putaway stuff; lefty batters have taken particular advantage in 2019, pelting him with a .373 wOBA and a .294/.357/.532 slash. Bradley is a near automatic bench versus lefties, but what little success he's generated from his ugly 2019 season at the plate comes from his 0.49 BB/K and four homers against righties.
Outfield -- Oscar Mercado (R), 10.6 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota twins (LHP Martin Perez): Perez's cloudy outlook leads to picking some Cleveland bats to trust. Mercado was recently a popular deep-league pickup for his stolen-base potential, but he's still getting a solid run in Cleveland's lineup of late, especially after the club ditched Carlos Gonzalez. If Mercado doesn't make it to the lineup, slide in Jordan Luplow (1.0 percent), as he'd probably take his place and can crush lefties.