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Note: This file has been updated with overnight pitching changes and 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
The first Sunday following the break features the standard 15 games with the festivities commencing at 12:05 PM ET in the Steel City with the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the San Francisco Giants. The initial ESPN Sunday night game is an AL West affair with the Los Angeles Angels entertaining the Houston Astros.
In standard ESPN leagues, Sunday marks the final day of the extended scoring period. Unfortunately, inventory for those needing to make up ground isn't especially appealing.
Pay close attention to the weather forecast, with rain and scattered thunderstorms threatening most of the games in the eastern half of the country. Late start times are possible.
The top ranked option is Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Bobby Miller (36.1%) taking the hill in Citi Field. His ranking is driven more by his overall numbers as he was much better in his first four starts than the latest quartet. The New York Mets will counter with Max Scherzer, who is dealing with neck issues which helps explain a 5.62 ERA over his prior 40 innings. Miller went into the break in a rut with an 8.57 ERA over his previous 21 frames. There is risk, but there is also the chance Miller used to break to recharge and he will revert to earlier form. In regards to the weather, as mentioned above, first pitch has been moved back to 5:10 p.m.
Kyle Bradish has been quietly pitching well for the Baltimore Orioles, posting a 1.74 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in his last five starts heading into the break. He whiffed 28 in those 31 frames, while issuing only seven free passes. The Orioles host the Miami Marlins in the final game of an interleague set, giving Bradish a chance to pick up where he left off as he'll face the offense with the 10th lowest wOBA with a righty on the hill.
When looking for a spot starter, the usual protocol involved targeting the Oakland Athletics batters. On Sunday, the script is flipped as starter JP Sears 11.9% is in a good spot at home against the Minnesota Twins. Sears has recorded a crisp 3.03 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over his last 62 1/3 innings. Only 55 punch outs in that span are low, but just 15 walks have helped compensate. The Twins sport the second-worst wOBA facing left-handers while fanning 25.8% of the time, the fourth most in MLB.
Deciding whether to use a pitcher in Coors Field can be tough, especially for aces like Gerrit Cole. The venue increases runs by 40%, turning a 3.50 ERA into 4.90 mark. The Colorado Rockies have struggled against southpaws, even at home, but they boast the fifth-highest wOBA at home facing right-handed pitching. Those in tight ratio battles in head-to-head category leagues may want to play it safe and bench Cole, but even with the potent Colorado lineup against righties, the Yankees ace merits being active otherwise.
While Rockies batters face a tough task with Cole on the hill, the Yankees lineup is in a great spot facing Chase Anderson. Giancarlo Stanton (50.6%) can put up points in a hurry, as can Anthony Volpe (40.5%) and Harrison Bader (17.2%)
Starting pitcher rankings for Sunday
Bullpen usage watch for Sunday
By Todd Zola
While it's always beneficial to maximize opportunities to score points, Sundays take on added importance since they're the last day of the scoring period. If your closer has questionable availability today, the wise move could be putting him on reserve and using a scheduled starter or a fresher reliever in his stead. A quartet of top closers have appeared on both the Friday and Saturday coming out of the break.
After opening the second half collecting his 21st save by striking out the side Friday night, Ryan Pressly not only lost a three-run lead yesterday, the Los Angeles Angels scored five runs in the ninth to take down the Houston Astros to even their series. With 32 pitches yesterday and 43 over two days, Pressly is doubtful for the rubber game. Both Bryan Abreu and Hector Neris have also appeared twice this weekend, but with far fewer pitches than Pressly. This is a risky bullpen to trust, so it's best to look elsewhere for a hurler more likely to take the hill.
With two saves already this weekend, Camilo Doval extended his league-leading total to 28. He did it efficiently, needing only eight pitches on Friday and 17 yesterday. The San Francisco Giants have yet to deploy Doval on three straight days, but he was heavily used over the first half and 25 pitches to open the second half may not be enough to keep him on the sideline. Taylor Rogers and Tyler Rogers each pitched just once so far this weekend, so both are in play for a hold and possible save.
Like Doval, Felix Bautista logged a save on Friday and Saturday, but the Baltimore Orioles closer needed only 21 combined pitches. Bautista has yet to appear three days in a row, but it's still a risk to assume he won't do so today. Fellow All-Star Yennier Cano recorded a hold on Friday and Saturday, so he's not the clear alternative if manager Brandon Hyde prefers to avoid Bautista working three straight days.
Add Devin Williams to the list of those registering a pair of saves this weekend while needing a low number of pitches as he hurled a total of 22, with only eight required yesterday. Williams has also been spared from appearing on three consecutive days, but today could be the first time with the Milwaukee Brewers trying to sweep the Cincinnati Reds in a tight NL Central race.
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.
DJ LeMahieu (NYY, 3B -- 43%) at Chase Anderson
Anthony Volpe (NYY, SS -- 40%) at Chase Anderson
TJ Friedl (CIN, LF -- 24%) vs. Adrian Houser
William Contreras (MIL, C -- 46%) at Ben Lively
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Sunday
Xander Bogaerts (SD, SS -- 94%) at Zack Wheeler
Jeff McNeil (NYM, 2B -- 68%) vs. Bobby Miller
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today
Prop of the Day
Gerrit ColeO/U 17.5 pitching outs (-150/+120)
THE BAT sees Cole putting up 15.9 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 36.9% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $38.78.
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
Vic Carapazza grades out as a "pitchers umpire" and is scheduled to be calling pitches today.
The wind projects to be blowing in from right field at 9.2-mph in this match-up, the most-favorable of the day for pitchers.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
It may be smart to expect better results for the Colorado Rockies offense going forward, considering that THE BAT X projection system believes they are them as the sixth-unluckiest offense in the league this year.
Coors Field ranks as the No. 1 stadium in the league for batting average, via THE BAT.
The weather report temperatures in this game to reach the third-highest level of all games on the slate today at 91 degrees, which is highly linked to an increase in offense (and a reduction in strikeouts).
Gerrit Cole's 96.2-mph velocity on his fastball this season is a big 1-mph decrease from last season's 97.2-mph figure.