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What you need to know for Sunday's MLB Games
By Todd Zola
The first Sunday slate of the season features all 30 teams in action. It commences at 1:10 PM ET with the Tigers visiting the Rays and ends at 7:00 PM ET with the Phillies visiting the Rangers in the inaugural ESPN Sunday Night Baseball contest of the year. In between are 13 games with some intriguing pitching matchups as teams are into the back end of their rotations. This is the more interesting group for fantasy purposes as their rostership levels tend to be lower.
Based on Starting pitcher rankings for Sunday, Trevor Rogers is a solid pickup as he's the sixth ranked starter on the slate, yet his rostership is only 12.2 % in ESPN leagues. It's so low because he's coming off a disappointing season, but Rogers showed signs of coming around late last season, and then followed up with a strong spring. The Mets clearly have a solid lineup, but they're better against righties and LoadDepot Park is a great place to pitch. We have the Marlins as favorites over the Mets in Kodai Senga's first MLB start.
Cal Quantrill and Guardians are also favorites as they wrap up a series in Seattle. This is a bit riskier than Rogers since it is always better to focus on home pitchers for fantasy streaming. Quantrill isn't dominant with a 16.6% strikeout rate last season, but he limits walks and homers while working deep into games.
Next up is Eric Lauer, the 27-yeal-old southpaw coming off a rough spring. That said, Lauer has been one of the better back-end starters in baseball over the past couple of seasons, sporting a 3.45 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over a combined 277 1/3 innings. Lauer draws an improving, but still vulnerable offense in Wrigley Field.
Following the plight of the Royals could be interesting. New manager Matt Quatraro comes from the Tampa Bay organization while first-year pitching coach is the former bullpen coach of the Cleveland Guardians. If you're going to put together a new coaching staff, that's solid lineage. Last season, the Royals pitching was the worst in terms of K-BB%. Granted, it was only spring training, but the Royals pitching finished with the eighth best mark. Brad Keller is the second lowest ranked pitcher on the slate, but that's based on data before the new regime. If you're looking for an under the radar option for streaming, DFS or betting purposes, Keller at home facing Joe Ryan and the Twins is in play.
Seth Lugo, Jameson Taillon and Jhony Brito round out a deep supply of pitching streamers. Brito is almost universally available and draws a San Francisco lineup devoid of the platoon punch to which we've grown accustomed.
Some of the questionable bullpens are gaining clarity, with AJ Puk getting the first save for the Marlins and Andrew Chafin doing the same for the Diamondbacks. It also appears Kendall Graveman will be setting up Reynaldo Lopez for the White Sox while Pierce Johnson picked up the first Rockies save following Daniel Bard being put on the IL for anxiety. As a reminder, beginning Monday, we'll update this section with a note on the bullpens to target and avoid, based on matchups and recent usage.
Ryan Pressly is unavailable today for the Astros as he's dealing with an illness. Rafael Montero collected a save on Friday with Hector Neris logging a save on Saturday. With Neris working 1 1/3 frames, Montero will likely get the call if Houston needs to protect a lead today in the series finale against the White Sox.
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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.
Jesse Winker (MIL, LF -- 30%) at Jameson Taillon
Max Kepler (MIN, RF -- 6%) at Brad Keller
Nico Hoerner (CHC, SS -- 50%) vs. Eric Lauer
Josh Rojas (ARI, 3B -- 25%) at Noah Syndergaard
TJ Friedl (CIN, LF -- 2%) vs. Vince Velasquez
Jorge Soler (MIA, LF -- 5%) vs. Kodai Senga
Isaac Paredes (TB, 3B -- 14%) vs. Joey Wentz
Jake Fraley (CIN, LF -- 4%) vs. Velasquez
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (ARI, LF -- 16%) at Syndergaard
Andrew McCutchen (PIT, LF -- 15%) at Graham Ashcraft
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Sunday
Jordan Walker (STL, 3B -- 52%) vs. Chris Bassitt
Daulton Varsho (TOR, C -- 98%) at Jordan Montgomery
Matt Chapman (TOR, 3B -- 83%) at Montgomery
Brandon Drury (LAA, 3B -- 55%) at Ken Waldichuk
Tommy Edman (STL, 2B -- 95%) vs. Bassitt
Anthony Volpe (NYY, SS -- 56%) vs. Ross Stripling
Ryan Mountcastle (BAL, 1B -- 67%) at Tanner Houck
Tyler O'Neill (STL, LF -- 50%) vs. Bassitt
Tim Anderson (CHW, SS -- 75%) at Luis Garcia
C.J. Cron (COL, 1B -- 88%) at Seth Lugo
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Sunday
Arizona Diamondbacks at Noah Syndergaard
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Zach Davies
Milwaukee Brewers at Jameson Taillon
Prop of the Day
Jeffrey Springs Strikeouts: Over/Under 5.5 (-120/-110)
THE BAT sees Springs putting up 7.3 Strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 74.0% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the over with an expected value of $42.91