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Note: This file has been updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game 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's MLB games
By Todd Zola
Sunday's action gets an early 12:05 p.m. ET start with the Detroit Tigers hosting the San Diego Padres. The slate finishes with the Boston Red Sox entertaining the New York Mets in the ESPN Sunday night affair. In between there are 13 afternoon contests. Unfortunately, it's not ideal for those looking to make up points via streaming pitchers. The hurlers are available, but the matchups aren't especially favorable.
For example, the top-ranked probable pitcher available in more than half of ESPN leagues is Bryan Woo (16.8% rostered). Woo entered the break with a 3.63 ERA and 1.07 WHIP to begin his career, but he struggled in his first start since teams returned, allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings to the Minnesota Twins. Woo will be at home, but he'll face the Toronto Blue Jays. On paper, it's not a terrible matchup facing a just above league average lineup on the road facing righties, but it's tough to trust winning or losing a head-to-head matchup hoping a rookie can navigate a lineup featuring Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer and friends.
Next on the list is Taj Bradley (16.4%) who has also pitched well at times but faces a challenging lineup as the Tampa Bat Rays continue to battle the Baltimore Orioles for supremacy in the AL East. Bradley opened the second half by limiting the Texas Rangers to two runs over five frames, fanning nine. For the season, the rookie's 30.6% strikeout rate and 7.2% walk rate are excellent, but 12 homers allowed in 66 1/3 innings has inflated his ERA. Working in Bradley's favor is the game will be at home in Tropicana Field, a venue known to suppress power. Plus, the Orioles are just a tick above league average with respect to home run rate facing right-handers.
Continuing the theme of rookie pitchers tasked with a tough opponent, Los Angeles Dodgers freshman Emmet Sheehan (10.2%) is next on the list, despite drawing a Rangers lineup averaging the most runs per game in MLB. That said, regression is beginning to set in as the Rangers batting average with runners in scoring position was unsustainably high. For the last month, Texas is down to the 10th most runs per game, which is still well above average. Sheehan and the Dodgers will be at home, and the Rangers will be without Corey Seager who was placed on the IL Saturday after spraining his thumb on a slide Friday night. Consider this a "break glass in case of emergency" option.
Luis Severino (49.9%) isn't racking up strikeouts, but given the manner in which he has opened the second half, more could be on the way. Severino's velocity and spin rate were as high as they've been all season during his last outing, a six-inning effort against the Angels. However, he only fanned three. Next up is a weak Kansas City Royals lineup, so even if Severino's whiffs don't manifest today, he's still a solid option for run prevention and a possible win.
Some batters boosted by the platoon edge on Sunday include Jonny Deluca (0.1%) facing Martin Perez, Eddie Rosario (10.9%) facing Julio Teheran along with both Wilmer Flores (18.8%) and Austin Slater (0.2%) stepping in against MacKenzie Gore.
Starting pitcher rankings for Sunday
Bullpen usage watch for Sunday
By Todd Zola
It was a bit of an adventure, but Devin Williams escaped with his 25th save after nailing down the Milwaukee Brewers' 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves. Williams fanned three but he loaded the bases with two walks and a hit, driving his pitch count to 29. Williams was working on two days of rest, so it's not a no-brainer to assume he won't come back today. Adding Joel Payamps is a viable hedge since even if he doesn't collect a save today, Payamps already has 20 holds to go along with three saves.
Alexis Diaz surrendered a ninth-inning homer to Corbin Carroll, but he and the Cincinnati Reds held on to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2. Diaz used 19 pitches one day after he threw 10. He's been busy lately, working in five games over the past week, but he has yet to pitch on three straight days, so the safe play is to look elsewhere for points today. Lucas Sims and Buck Farmer are next in line for the Reds, but neither are reliable enough to trust, especially on the last day of the fantasy week.
David Bednar navigated around two walks to collect his 19th save last night, protecting the Pittsburgh Pirates' 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels. He needed 19 pitches, but since he last pitched on Wednesday, Bednar should be in play today for the series finale.
Yesterday, Emmanuel Clase collected his second save in two days. He's yet to appear on three straight days, but since he threw just seven pitches yesterday (after a reasonable 14 the prior day), there's a chance he might be used today. Trevor Stephan is the best hedge since he's likely to get a hold in the event of a close game.
Felix Bautista has stepped up for the Baltimore Orioles in their big series against the Tampa Bay Rays, working two innings on Thursday to capture the win, then recording a save yesterday, He used 15 pitches each time, which is enough to signal a day off for many relievers -- but not necessarily Bautista.
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.
Triston Casas (BOS, 1B -- 29%) vs. Carrasco
Adam Duvall (BOS, CF -- 24%) vs. Carrasco
Franchy Cordero (NYY, 1B -- 0%) vs. Lyles
Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Sunday
Brandon Lowe (TB, 2B -- 51%) vs. Wells
Matt Chapman (TOR, 3B -- 83%) at Woo
Kris Bryant (COL, LF -- 62%) at Luzardo
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Sunday
Prop of the Day
Bailey Ober, Twins, 17.5 pitching outs (-135/+105).
THE BAT X sees Ober putting up 16.1 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 38.7% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $25.73.
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
Target Field has the fifth-highest average fence height in the league.
Ober is an extreme flyball pitcher (41. FB% according to THE BAT X) and is fortunate enough to be pitching today in the No. 22 HR venue in the majors.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
It may be smart to expect stronger performances for the White Sox offense in future games, considering that THE BAT X views them as them as the unluckiest offense in the majors this year.
John Libka, expected to be behind the plate in this game, profiles as a hitter's umpire.
Target Field projects as the No. 10 stadium in the league for walks, per THE BAT X.
High temperatures are strongly correlated with more offense (and fewer strikeouts), and the weather report projects the hottest weather of all games on the slate at 87 degrees.