Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Sunday's games

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History will be made Sunday as the first of many seven-inning doubleheaders will take place after Saturday's rainout between the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers. Comerica Park will host the first of Major League Baseball's truncated twin bills.

It's also Shohei Ohtani day as the versatile Angels phenom will reportedly take the hill every Sunday. The righty thrower will look to improve on his lackluster opener where he failed to record an out, allowing five earned runs on three hits and three walks.

Clayton Kershaw is slated to make his 2020 debut after tweaking his back lifting weights before the season opener. Anthony DeSclafani will also launch his campaign after being sidelined with a right teres major strain.

Sunday marks the end of a long first scoring period in head to head leagues, thus is the last chance to make up ground. Here are some recommendations for those with lineup holes, all available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues.


Yonny Chirinos (R), rostered in 36% of ESPN leagues, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles: Chirinos's availability is augmented by usage questions and a late start to summer camp. Once he's up to speed, Chirinos should be rostered in well more than half of ESPN leagues as he's similarly skilled to teammate Ryan Yarbrough -- who is rostered in 69% of ESPN leagues. This won't be a cake walk as early on, the Orioles are averaging a surprising eighth best runs per game total, largely buoyed by opening against the weak Red Sox rotation. Still, Chirinos is in a great spot, though only likely to work five frames.

Josh James (R), 35%, Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels: James and the Astros catch a break with Mike Trout on paternity leave. The fire-balling right-hander's opener was a mixed bag as he fanned five Mariners in three innings, but also issued the same number of free passes.

Dylan Cease (R), 11%, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals: A popular late-round pick, Cease demonstrated he's still a work in progress, serving up a pair of long balls to the Cleveland Indians in his inaugural 2020 effort, lasting just 2 ⅓ innings, also allowing seven hits with just one strikeout. His row to hoe should be more favorable facing a lesser Royals lineup.

Jeff Samardzija (R), 11%, San Francisco Giants vs. Texas Rangers: The veteran Samardzija will aim to take advantage of a Rangers lineup struggling to get going. Texas batters are averaging a league's low 2.5 runs a game through Friday's action, sporting the fourth worst wOBA (weighted on base average) in that span.

Bullpen: With Raisel Iglesias off to a shaky start and a doubleheader on tap, a speculative grab of another Reds' reliever could pay dividends. The top options to vulture a save (or maybe a win) are Pedro Strop, Michael Lorenzen and Amir Garrett.

The Reds play the Tigers on Sunday, and Detroit has earmarked bullpen games in both ends of the pair. The contests will be started by Rony Garcia and Daniel Norris, neither of whom are likely to last long enough to qualify for the win if leading. The Reds will start Anthony DeSclafani in one game then perhaps resort to a bullpen affair in the other, depending on how Trevor Bauer feels after warming up for Saturday's game before it was called off.

Two other clubs will rely on an opener and bulk reliever combo, with the Twins pairing righty Tyler Clippard with Devin Smeltzer, and the Red Sox deploying the duo of right-hander Austin Brice and lefty Matt Hall. The Twins play the Indians while the Red Sox square off with the Yankees, making Smeltzer the better option to capture a win, though facing the Cleveland lineup is a risk.

For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.


Catcher -- Francisco Mejia (S), 6%, San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies (RHP Antonio Senzatela): The Padres haven't yet established a pattern behind the plate in their use of Mejia and the more defensively adept Austin Hedges. Both are in play with Hedges possessing more power while Mejia makes more contact, just as important as Coors Field is better for average than power. Regardless, both receivers are options facing Senzatela.

First Base -- Daniel Murphy (L), 40%, Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Zach Davies): Davies can be effective, but he's usually around the plate and doesn't miss many bats. This feeds directly into Murphy's strength, giving the veteran lefty at least four, likely five cracks total in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field.

Second Base -- Nick Madrigal (R), 25%, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jake Junis): Madrigal was called up after the rookie spend the expected week in the alternate camp. His glove is Gold Glove-caliber while his bat profiles to be of the high-contact, low (if any) power variety. For fantasy purposes, he should chip in with some valuable stolen bases, and even though he's hitting low in the order, his runs scored should be beneficial.

Third Base -- Austin Riley (R), 26%, Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets (LHP David Peterson): It's unclear how Riley's playing time will be affected once Nick Markakis returns, but he has a good chance to stay in the lineup with a solid day against an unproven lefty. Last season, Riley displayed a lot more power facing southpaw pitching.

Shortstop -- Jose Peraza (R), 18%, Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees (LHP James Paxton): True to form, Peraza only fanned five times in his first 33 trips to the dish for the Red Sox, but he also didn't draw any walks. Paxton was given a full week's rest after a sluggish opener where his velocity was just 92 mph, three ticks lower than normal.

Corner Infield -- Yandy Diaz (R), 38%, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles (LHP Tommy Milone): It's been an odd start for Diaz as evidenced by a curious .095/.367/.095 slash to begin the season. Diaz has drawn at least one walk in all seven of his starts. After posting 90% average exit velocity and 82% hard-hit rate marks last season, it shouldn't be long before Diaz gets untracked.

Middle Infield -- Kevin Newman (R), 40%, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs (LHP Jon Lester): Newman is also off to a slow start, victimized by a .063 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) through Friday's action. The hits should start falling, allowing Newman to utilize his 84th percentile spring speed. If the hits commence on Sunday, look for Newman to take advantage of Lester's difficulty holding base runners.

Outfield -- Shogo Akiyama (L), 25%, Cincinnati Reds at Detroit Tigers (Bullen Games): Even in shortened doubleheaders, hitters are still desirable since they could get more chances than usual. Akiyama may not start against Daniel Norris, but he should be in there against Rony Garcia with a chance to come in after Norris is lifted. Akiyama has been slow adjusting to major league pitching, but when he finds himself, expect a fantasy-friendly combination of power and speed.

Outfield -- Brian Goodwin (L), 5%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros (RHP Josh James): While there's a good chance Goodwin would have been in the lineup anyway, he's hitting higher up in Mike Trout's paternity leave absence. To his credit, Goodwin has earned the high spot by slugging .950 in the early going.

Outfield -- Victor Reyes (S), 3%, Detroit Tigers vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Anthony DeSclafani): Continuing the theme of players in a strong position to notch a steal or two on the last day of this scoring period, Reyes already has a pair of pilfers. Meanwhile, DeSclafani allows more than his fair share of steals when he's on the hill.