Even with a doubleheader, Monday is a very light slate. Speaking of doubleheaders, with several coming up over the next few weeks, it's worth refreshing the approach towards choosing pitchers and hitters from the participating teams. There isn't much to it for starting pitchers, other than their win potential increases a bit since there is less chance the bullpen squanders a win with fewer innings to cover. If you need saves or holds, picking up the primary setup man can pay dividends, since many teams don't like using their closer twice in the same day. Hitting is where it gets hairy, since you run the risk of streaming a batter only playing in one seven-inning affair. You want to select someone whose matchup is so enticing you don't care about losing an at-bat or two or a hitter very likely to start one game and at least appear in, if not start, the other.
On a fuller slate, there are ample options, so chancing a hitter receiving just three plate appearances isn't necessary. However, Monday offers only six other games besides the Braves and Mets' twin bill. Complicating matters is that Jacob deGrom is scheduled to work one half for the Mets. The concern he is scratched last minute aside, streaming a Braves batter runs the risk of facing deGrom three times and sitting out the second game. This, along with the fact most of the viable Atlanta hitters are universally rostered is why no Braves hitters make the cut. If deGrom is unable to make the start, anyone in the lineup and available is in play.
With that as a backdrop, here are Monday's players designed to get your week off on a strong note, despite the dearth of choices.
Adbert Alzolay (R), rostered in 28% of ESPN leagues, Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians: Alzolay is expected to be activated from the IL to start Monday's interleague tilt. He's been out with a blister but has been throwing the past week. The injured finger was why he managed only three innings in his last start, when he issued five walks while allowing five hits and four runs, all season highs. Previously, he was pitching well, and he should be able to return to that level against a slightly below-average Cleveland offense which will be without their designated hitter.
Brett Anderson (L), 2%, Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks: One on hand, Anderson has been surprisingly durable, making 11 starts. On the other, he's pitched at least five frames only five times, though he is coming off a seven-inning effort where he fanned nine Reds his last time out. The Diamondbacks headed into Sunday's action with a 16-game losing streak, over which they've averaged a paltry 3.5 runs per game.
Jake Odorizzi (R), 12%, Houston Astros at Baltimore Orioles: This has the makings of a trap game, but with limited options, Odorizzi gets the nod. The veteran righty is pacing towards the second-lowest WHIP of his career but is sporting a bloated 5.58 ERA. However, his ERA estimators all point to a mark between 4.00 and 4.50. The reason the game is a bit squirrely is the Orioles' offense can be dangerous, especially at this time. Houston will still be favored, giving Odorizzi a chance at a win, but if ratios are a concern, it may be better to be patient with six more slates in the head-to-head week to find better options.
Bullpen: With their doubleheader, the spotlight is on the Mets' and Braves' relief corps. Their respective closers, Edwin Diaz and Will Smith are universally rostered, but the Mets Seth Lugo and the Braves Chris Martin are readily available and both are candidates to vulture a save.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- James McCann (R), 39%, New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves (LHP Kyle Muller): There is some risk McCann draws righty Ian Anderson, which isn't nearly as enticing, so it's prudent to check early lineups before settling on McCann. Tomas Nido would be in play, since he would face Muller, but the better pivot is the Brewers' Omar Narvaez squaring off against Merrill Kelly. If McCann does face Muller, the risk of losing an at-bat isn't as worrisome, since he hits high in the Mets order and enjoys the platoon edge over an inexperienced southpaw who has surrendered six homers in 31 1/3 innings while with Triple-A Gwinnett.
First base -- Nate Lowe (L), 47%, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Frankie Montas): This isn't an ideal matchup for Lowe, as Montas is coming off a pair of quality starts, featuring 16 strikeouts with just one walk in 13 1/3 innings. That said, Lowe has been hitting the ball exceptionally hard lately without much to show for it. His average exit velocity since May 30 is 94.5 mph, as compared to 90.7 mph previously.
Second base -- Kolten Wong (L), 42%, Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Merrill Kelly): Wong is still trying to get back in the groove after spending two weeks on the IL. Before missing time with a strained left oblique, Wong was settling in as the Brewers' leadoff man, flashing a bit of power and speed. Kelly has been in a rut, recording a 6.97 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over his last four starts. Aside from the aforementioned Narvaez, Daniel Vogelbach and Jackie Bradley Jr. are also in play for the Brewers.
Third base -- Abraham Toro (S), 1%, Houston Astros at Baltimore Orioles (LHP Keegan Akin): Toro and Robel Garcia are manning the hot corner while Alex Bregman convalesces on the IL. Whichever is in the lineup is a good conduit to having exposure to one of the most potent lineups in the league. Akin is coming off a poor outing in which he allowed eight runs over 5 2/3 innings in Cleveland.
Shortstop -- Freddy Galvis (S), 33%, Baltimore Orioles vs. Houston Astros (RHP Jake Odorizzi): Galvis is quietly pacing towards the most productive campaign of his career, as his 107 wRC+ would be the first time he's recorded a mark in triple digits.
Corner infield -- Bobby Bradley (L), 17%, Cleveland Indians at Chicago Cubs (RHP Adbert Alzolay): After slashing .440/.481/.880 in his first eight games, Bradley slumped to .067/.176/.267 over the next four. This is typical of a young, low-contact, high-power hitter. Bradley would be a batting average drain if he was deployed regularly, but he's an ideal fill-in for those needing some pop, especially facing a righty with 10 homers allowed in 57 2/3 innings.
Middle infield -- Jonathan India (R), 42%, Cincinnati Reds at Minnesota Twins (LHP J.A. Happ): Through Saturday, the Reds were 11-5 in June. It's no coincidence India has been leading off with a .328/.446/.541 line over this stretch, chipping in with a couple of steals.
Outfield -- Tony Kemp (L), 9%, Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers (RHP Kyle Gibson): Normally a reserve, a 140 wRC+ has earned Kemp regular playing time at the keystone. He's a sneaky play in points leagues with the same 15.7% strikeout and walk rate.
Outfield -- Willie Calhoun (L), 12%, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Frankie Montas): Calhoun is a candidate to pick up his production with subtle skills growth not yet showing up in his numbers. Specifically, Calhoun is fanning less while walking more, plus he's hitting the ball with more authority this season.
Outfield -- Joc Pederson (L), 54%, Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Aaron Civale): Please excuse taking a bit of liberty with the 50% cutoff. Pederson has been an extra-base hit machine over the past two weeks, clubbing seven homers and three doubles.