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What you need to know for Sunday's MLB games
By Todd Zola
It's another packed Sunday slate with an extra-early start with the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at 11:30 AM ET. Veteran Rich Hill will take the hill for the hosts, to be opposed by Miles Mikolas. Both hurlers have rostership levels in the streaming range, though Mikolas (39.2% rostered) is ranked much higher. The righty is coming off his best game of the season as he fanned 10 Kansas City Royals in eight scoreless frames, walking just one. Mikolas is averaging 7 1/3 innings over his last three outings, walking just one in those 22 stanzas.
The card wraps in Chavez Ravine with the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the New York Yankees in the ESPN Sunday night affair. Domingo German (17.4%) will take the ball for the visitors with rookie Bobby Miller (34.1%) toeing the rubber for the home team. Miller is the better streaming option, even with the Yankees lineup fortified with the recent returns of Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson. Miller has fanned only none in his first 11 innings, but he's exhibited solid poise with just two walks and no homers allowed. His minor league pedigree portends more punch outs and although Donaldson and Stanton provide power, they both strike out at an above average clip.
Michael Kopech (40.1%) is by far the best streaming option. It's best to act quickly since Kopech is likely to be picked up once everyone notes his juicy home matchup against the Tigers. Kopech was hit hard his last time out, but he still whiffed 10 with just two walks in 4 1/3 innings. Over his last three outings, spanning 19 1/3 innings, Kopech has 29 strikeouts with just three free passes. The Tigers sport the fourth lowest wOBA facing right-handers, with an above average strikeout rate.
J.P. France is a sneaky source for strikeouts as he's fanned eight in each of his last two efforts. To be fair, the Twins got to France for four runs in six frames in his last outing, so there is risk. The opposing Angels' offense league average, though they fan a tick above average.
Those needing a last-minute boost in deeper leagues should check out Ben Lively (7.5%). Before being called up in May, Lively last worked in the majors back in 2019. He spent 2020 and 2021 in the KBO before toiling in the Reds minor league system last year. Lively began the year with Triple-A Louisville, pitching to a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings. He was promoted to help fill the void left from nick Lodolo's injury. In three starts, Lively has punched out 20 with five walks in 17 1/3 stanzas, all against formidable lineups (Yankees, Cardinals and Red Sox). On Sunday, Lively draws a Brewers offense with a lower wOBA and higher strikeout rate than the trio of foes Lively has faced.
Depending on your league rules, you may need to add these players before the early game, but having some bats in a favorable spot on Sunday can help fortify a lineup on a day some players getting the day off, especially behind the plate. After sitting Saturday, the Mets' Francisco Alvarez (23%) will almost assuredly be back in the lineup on Sunday, enjoying the platoon edge on Yusei Kikuchi. Nathan Eovaldi has surrendered only three homes in 74 1/3 innings, but he's shown to be homer-prone in past seasons. Cal Raleigh (29.6%) has eight homers and possesses the power to take Eovaldi deep. The last backstop in a good spot is Keibert Ruiz (50.8%) who faces the inconsistent Ranger Suarez.
Starting pitcher rankings for Sunday
Bullpen usage for Saturday
-By Todd Zola
It was an adventure, but Devin Williams logged his 10th save yesterday, requiring 26 pitches in the process. He fanned three, but also walked two, the second of which forced in an inherited runner. Williams also pitched in Friday's extra inning affair with the Reds, so the combined 40 pitches likely will signal Williams to get Sunday off. Peter Strzelecki did not work yesterday, so he'll likely fill in for a save today if needed.
Curiously, Kenley Jansen pitched in both ends of yesterday's doubleheader split with the Rays. Jansen locked down the opener, then was brought into a tie game in the ninth inning of the nightcap. Jansen yielded a pair of runs. All told, Jansen threw 43 pitches yesterday, which was on top of 13 on Thursday. The 56 pitches over three days certainly will sideline Jansen today, perhaps even for tomorrow's makeup game with Tampa. Chris Martin and Josh Winckowski each pitched in just one game yesterday, so they'll be in the late-inning mix, as will Nick Pivetta, who has fanned seven in his last five frames since being transferred to the bullpen.
After waiting until May 30 to notch his only save last month, Bednar has already doubled that in June closing both Friday and Saturday's wins, tossing 32 combined pitches in the process. There is no precedent for Bednar pitching on three straight days, and main setup man Colin Holderman has also pitched for two consecutive days. There isn't a clear-cut option to serve as the Pirates closer today, so it's best to look elsewhere to find a replacement for Bednar.
After striking out Alejandro Kirk in the eighth inning yesterday to preserve a 1-1 tie, Robertson surrendered the eventual winning run to the Blue Jays in the top of the ninth. Robertson required 28 pitches to record four outs, so he's probably unavailable today. Co-closer Adam Ottavino also pitched yesterday, but he threw only 16 pitches so he could come back today. Drew Smith and Jeff Brigham are also in the late inning mix and are well-rested.
Four more closers pitched yesterday and three enough pitches to be flagged for questionable availability, but there is precedent for each to pitch on consecutive days with a similar previous game's pitch count. If you're still worried, Bryan Abreu is the best hedge for Ryan Pressly, Trevor Stephan could step in for Emmanuel Clase, Nick Anderson or A.J. Minter may fill in for Raisel Iglesias while Tyler Rogers and Taylor Rogers are next in line for Camilo Doval.
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.
William Contreras (MIL, C -- 38%) at Lively
Jurickson Profar (COL, LF -- 11%) at Singer
Ryan McMahon (COL, 3B -- 28%) at Singer
Matt McLain (CIN, SS -- 23%) vs. Houser
Worst over-50%-rostered hitters for Sunday
Starling Marte (NYM, RF -- 63%) vs. Kikuchi
Brandon Nimmo (NYM, CF -- 90%) vs. Kikuchi
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Sunday
Prop of the Day
Domingo German, New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: Pitching outs prop is set at 15.5 pitching outs (-110/-120)
THE BAT sees German putting up 12.8 Pitching Outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 31.8% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $29.96.
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 forecasts Domingo German in the 75th percentile when assessing his overall pitching skills.
Ryan Blakney grades out as a Extreme Pitchers Umpire and is expected to be calling pitches today.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
THE BAT X projects Domingo German to throw 74 pitches in this matchup (least of all pitchers today), considering both his underlying tendencies and the matchup.
The Los Angeles Dodgers projected lineup grades out as the 2nd-best of all teams today.
Dodger Stadium profiles as the No. 4 venue in the game for home runs, according to THE BAT projection system.
The wind projects to be blowing out to RF at 8.8-mph in this game, the 2nd-most-favorable of the day for bats.