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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 underway at 12:05 PM ET with the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox wrapping up a weekend series in Fenway Park. The game marks Eduardo Rodriguez's first visit to his old stomping grounds since signing with the Tigers. Rodriguez faced his old team once in Comerica Park, with the Red Sox knocking him out after 2 2/3 innings. Rodriguez will be opposed by Kutter Crawford (8.4% rostered in ESPN leagues). Crawford doesn't land high on the day's pitching rankings, but he's in play as a streamer, facing a vulnerable lineup sporting one of the highest strikeout rates facing right-handers. Since the break, Crawford has posted a 3.00 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with an impressive 29 whiffs in 24 frames.
ESPN's Sunday night affair at Citi Field caps off the action, with the Atlanta Braves continuing their quest for the NL East title against the New York Mets. When the Tampa Bay Rays give up on a pitcher, it's usually for a reason. The Braves picked up Yonny Chirinos after he was released by the Rays, but his struggles have continued with an 8.56 ERA over three starts. That said, desperate times call for desperate measures, so those behind in their head-to-head matchups heading into Sunday may want to stash Chirinos. He has a reasonable chance at a win and has fanned 13 over 13 2/3 frames with Atlanta. Homers have been his main issue, and the Mets are league average in terms of power.
The top-ranked streamer on the card is Tanner Bibee (41.0%), though he'll be challenged on the road by a Tampa Bay offense showing signs of breaking out of an extended malaise. Bibee's high ranking is driven by a 1.68 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP over his last eight starts spanning 48 1/3 innings. He's fanned 50 in this stretch, though a .262 BABIP and 91.3% left on base rate indicate that luck has been on his side during this run. Even so, a 4.10 xFIP is still about half a run lower than the league average over this timeframe.
In previous years, Kyle Bradish (44.1%) would be rostered in more than half of ESPN leagues, but with the format introduced this season, he's on the fringe. Even though Bradish is ranked just within the top-30 healthy starters on the Player Rater, he hasn't quite escaped being considered a streamer. Sunday's road date in T-Mobile Park is juicy, considering the Seattle Mariners fan at a 26% clip against right-handers, the second-most in MLB.
There are a lot of reasons to target the Oakland Athletics offense on Sunday. Normally, the odds of picking up a batter in a prime lineup spot aren't good. The most frequently rostered Oakland hitter is Esteury Ruiz (26%). Ruiz is the chief target for team managers needing steals. Even after missing a month, Ruiz is still second in the league with 46 pilfers. On Sunday, he draws the defense yielding the second most bags in the league. The rest of the A's lineup is also in a favorable spot facing Trevor Williams. The righty sports a 9.20 ERA and 1.98 ERA over his last three starts with five homers surrendered in those 14 2/3 frames. Lawrence Butler (0.9%) is another candidate for steals, with Zack Gelof (6.2%), Seth Brown (3.5%), Tyler Soderstrom (1.1%) and Jordan Diaz (0.9%) all lined up for a productive afternoon.
Yesterday's postponement in The Steel City will be made up today, so Pittsburgh Pirates and particularly Cincinnati Red hitters have twice the chance to contribute. Reds batters take priority since they have a better chance to play both ends of the doubleheader. Cincinnati is starting a lefty and a righty, so the Pirates will probably leverage platoons and get everyone on the field today. The Pirates are starting two righties, and the Reds can't afford to play a lesser lineup. Plus, the club has Monday off. The hitters to consider are Matt McLain (47.3%), Tyler Stephenson (39.2%), TJ Friedl (23.7%), Christian Encarnacion-Strand (11.3%), Joey Votto (11.3%), Will Benson (3.1%) and Kevin Newman (.2%).
Starting pitcher rankings for Sunday
Bullpen Usage for Sunday
By Todd Zola
For the third time since the break, Felix Bautista was tasked with recording more than three outs. He preserved a scoreless game in the bottom of the ninth, then after the Baltimore Orioles pushed across the ghost runner in the top of the 10th, Bautista struck out the side to cap off the 1-0 win. Two innings of work elevated Bautista's pitch count to 28, coming just two days after hurling 23. The combined 51 likely has Bautista on the sidelines for the rubber game in the Pacific Northwest. Yennier Cano is the usual substitute, but he's also pitched on two of the prior three days, although he's totaled only 25 tosses, so he could be asked for an inning. No one else in the Orioles bullpen warrants fantasy trust on the last day of the scoring period.
Devin Williams followed up garnering a win on Friday by collecting a save yesterday. Normally, racking up 29 combined pitches in back-to-back fashion signals a day off, but Williams has pitched on three straight days earlier in the season and the Milwaukee Brewers have Monday off, so their closer should be available when the club goes for a sweep of the Chicago White Sox.
After a couple of well-deserved days on the bullpen bench, Raisel Iglesias finished off the Atlanta Braves doubleheader sweep of the New York Mets with a scoreless ninth in a 6-0 shutout victory. Even with hurling 18 pitches, Iglesias should be ready if needed today when the Braves aim to sweep the four-game set.
For the second time in a week, Emmanuel Clase was tagged with three runs and a loss as he recorded his ninth blown save. This time it was the Tampa Bay Rays staging a ninth inning comeback with a 6-5 walkoff win. Clase's 20 pitches put today's availability in jeopardy, though it's not a no-brainer to reserve him with primary setup men Trevor Stephan and Enyel De Los Santos equally taxed.
Paul Sewald finally secured his first save with the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday. The dozen pitches he threw is enough to trip the usage alarm, but not enough to keep him from action today since he was appearing for the first time since last 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.
Josh Palacios (PIT, RF -- 0%) vs. Weaver and Williamson
Henry Davis (PIT, C -- 14%) vs. Weaver and Williamson
Matt McLain (CIN, SS -- 48%) at Jackson and Keller
Joey Votto (CIN, 1B -- 11%) at Jackson and Keller
Alika Williams (PIT, SS -- 0%) vs. Weaver and Williamson
Tyler Stephenson (CIN, C -- 39%) at Jackson and Keller
Andrew McCutchen (PIT, LF -- 17%) vs. Williamson
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Sunday
Nathaniel Lowe (TEX, 1B -- 89%) at Webb
Ian Happ (CHC, LF -- 60%) at Hyun-Jin Ryu
Steven Kwan (CLE, LF -- 93%) at Eflin
Eloy Jimenez (CHW, LF -- 65%) vs. Peralta
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today
Prop of the Day
Kyle Freeland's strikeouts prop is set at 3.5 strikeouts (-165/+135).
THE BAT sees Freeland putting up 3.3 Strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 40.6% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $39.52.
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 leading projection system (THE BAT) profiles Dodger Stadium as the 7th-best ballpark in MLB for strikeouts.
Over his previous 3 games started, Freeland has generated a significant spike in his fastball velocity: from 88.1 mph over the whole season to 89.6 mph lately.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The Los Angeles Dodgers (20.2 K% (via the leading projection system, THE BAT X) are projected to have the least strikeout-heavy team of batters of all teams on the slate.
In terms of temperature and humidity, the weather report expects for the 5th-most suitable hitting conditions on the slate.
The wind projects to be blowing out to RF at 8.1-mph in this game, the 3rd-strongest of the day for hitters.
Freeland's fastball velocity has dropped 1.7 mph this year (88.1 mph) below where it was last year (89.8 mph).