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 toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.
Note: This file has been updated with overnight pitching changes and weather-related postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.
What you need to know for Sunday
By Todd Zola
Hopefully by now, in leagues where lineups lock with the first game of the day, you're accustomed to the 11:30 AM ET deadline. This week's early game is the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the Pittsburgh Pirates. It also features the slate's top streamer, but trusting a pitcher with a 6.03 ERA on the last day of the head-to-head scoring period is a tall order. However, that's exactly what you should do as Steven Matz (36% rostered in ESPN leagues) is pitching much better than his surface stats indicate. To wit, his 22% K-BB% mark is a respectable 17th-best among pitchers with at least 30 innings. His main issue has been his allowing eight homers over just 37 1/3 innings, along with being a bit snake-bit with a .350 BABIP and a 67% LOB mark. On Sunday, Matz faces a Pirates lineup sporting the eighth-lowest HR rate in baseball.
Our rule of thumb for fantasy roster management is focusing on players rostered in under 50% of ESPN leagues, to maximize the chances they're available. That said, it is always worth investigating the status of non-elite arms. This is especially true for Sunday's slate, since there are more hurlers landing in the 50%-75% level than usual. If you need a boost on the pitching side of the ledger, make a moment to look up Yusei Kikuchi (51%), Bailey Ober (61%), Patrick Sandoval (69%), Joe Kelly (71%), Tony Gonsolin (72%) and Alex Wood (75%).
The Sunday docket is highlighted by a doubleheader in the Bronx between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. The two clubs have had a couple of recent dustups involving Tim Anderson and Josh Donaldson, adding even more tension between two of the finest teams in the junior circuit. Double-dips are a great opportunity to pad saves since the primary closers aren't likely to be used in both ends. The chief targets are Kendall Graveman (9%) for the guests and Clay Holmes (34%) for the hosts.
The last time Nathan Eovaldi pitched, he surrendered a record-tying five homers in the second inning to the Houston Astros, a team with the second-highest HR rate in the league. Next up is a Seattle Mariners lineup with league-average HR production. It may be tempting to keep Eovaldi on the bench, but the aggressive play is to assume he'll pitch with a chip on his shoulder and rebound in a big way. He's safe to use in traditional fantasy formats as well as DFS. One reason is because he's backed by an offense averaging 6.6 runs per game over the past week, only bettered by a Rockies team that was playing at home all week. Most of the prominent Boston hitters are already rostered, but those needing a hitting boost should check the status of Enrique Hernandez (66%), Jackie Bradley Jr. (15%) and Christian Vazquez (41%).
An even better spot for sticks is American Family Field as the Milwaukee Brewers entertain the Washington Nationals who will send Aaron Sanchez to the hill. Sanchez has fanned only 12 batters in 22 2/3 frames, serving up four homers in that span. If Rowdy Tellez (63%) is available, he's a must-add. Andrew McCutchen (33%), Omar Narvaez (31%) and Jace Peterson (3%) are also in play.
It's not too late to start another free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday.
Starting pitcher rankings for Sunday
Best sub-50%-rostered hitters for Sunday
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.
Andrew Vaughn (CHW, LF -- 37%) at Severino and Taillon
Josh Harrison (CHW, 2B -- 4%) at Severino and Taillon
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (NYY, SS -- 13%) vs. Kopech and Cueto
Mike Zunino (TB, C -- 5%) at Watkins
Harold Ramirez (TB, LF -- 1%) at Watkins
Ji-Man Choi (TB, 1B -- 9%) at Watkins
Worst over-50%-rostered hitters for Sunday
Dansby Swanson (ATL, SS -- 76%) at Alcantara
Javier Baez (DET, SS -- 80%) at Bieber
Jeimer Candelario (DET, 3B -- 50%) at Bieber
Thairo Estrada (SF, SS -- 52%) vs. Gore
Mike Yastrzemski (SF, RF -- 58%) vs. Gore
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today
Prop of the Day
Logan Gilbert Strikeouts: OVER/UNDER 5.5 (+100/-135)
THE BAT sees Gilbert putting up 4.5 Strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 30.3% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $28.76.
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.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
THE BAT projects Gilbert in the 88th percentile when estimating his strikeout ability.
Gilbert will hold the platoon advantage against 6 opposing bats today.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
THE BAT X projects Gilbert to throw 81 pitches today (8th-least of the day), considering both his underlying tendencies and the matchup.
Fenway Park projects as the #22 park in the league for strikeouts, via THE BAT projection system.
Contrary to popular belief, fastballs are generally a pitcher's least effective pitch. Gilbert has utilized his fastball a lot this year, though: 57.7% of the time, grading out in the 83rd percentile.
Gilbert has been lucky with his strikeouts this year, putting up a 10.20 K/9 despite THE BAT estimating his true talent level to be 9.87 -- a 0.33 K/9 difference.