Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Sunday's MLB games

Hunter Brown typically thrives when facing weaker offenses, such as his next (1:06)

Hunter Brown typically thrives when facing weaker offenses, such as his next opponent, the Royals. Video by Tristan H. Cockcroft (1:06)

Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. Game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

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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

  • We have bonus baseball on Sunday, with Saturday's postponement in the nation's capital rescheduled as a day-night doubleheader with the Washington Nationals hosting the Atlanta Braves. The day's action begins at 1:05 PM ET with the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the New York Mets. The Sunday night ESPN affair features the Los Angeles Dodgers entertaining the San Francisco Giants.

  • The slate's top ranked streamer is Cristopher Sanchez (10.7% rostered), taking the hill for the Phillies in Sunday's earliest game. It's always beneficial to rely on players in games with something on the line, and the Phillies are close to clinching the top wild card spot in the National League. Sanchez is coming off a pair of starts facing the Atlanta Braves, so facing the Mets will be a welcome relief. That said, the Mets lineup is mid-pack facing left-handers, but it's still a downgrade from the potent Braves offense. Sanchez isn't dominant, but his 23% strikeout rate is a tick above league average while his 4.1% walk rate is less than half of the league mark.

  • Hunter Brown (44.4%) is another streaming candidate checking all the boxes. He'll take the hill in Minute Maid Park for the Houston Astros against the Kansas City Royals. The Astros are embroiled in a three-way race for the AL West championship, along with being in the mix for a wild card berth. The Royals are playing out the string, though their lineup facing righties has been around league average since the All-Star break. Still, with so much on the line for Houston, Brown is one of the day's best streaming options.

  • Lost in the abyss of the Oakland Athletics season is the potential emergence of JP Sears (7.3%) as a mid-rotation starter, with one caveat. The 27-year-old right-hander needs to induce more ground balls, thus lower his 1.76 HR/9 mark. Sears' 29.0% ground ball mark is the lowest in the league. His 14.6% K-BB% is a tick better than league average, so if Sears can keep the ball in the yard, he can serve an innings-eater type, and be a fantasy asset. On Sunday, Sears and the Athletics host the Detroit Tigers and one of the least powerful offenses versus righty pitching, putting Sears in play as a streamer.

  • Normally, a doubleheader avails a prime spot to target hitters with a good chance of playing in both ends, but Sunday's twin bill doesn't line up to be as generous. The Braves have the NL East clinched, so they're likely to give their reserves some playing time, while the Nationals draw Spencer Strider in one of the games, lessening their chance to pad stats. The Atlanta hitter with the best chance of playing two games is Eddie Rosario (13.8%) while Washington's CJ Abrams (31.7%), Dominic Smith (1.4%), Luis Garcia (6.3%) and Jake Alu (.1%) are in play, especially if the Braves start Kyle Wright in the second game.

  • Boston Red Sox rookie Ceddanne Rafaela (2.4%) has stolen just one base in two tries since being promoted two weeks ago. However, he swiped a combined 37 bases in Double-A and Triple-A before being called up. On Sunday, Mike Clevinger will toe the rubber for the Chicago White Sox in Fenway Park. No team has yielded as many stolen bases as the White Sox, with Mike Clevinger responsible for 24, the sixth most surrendered among hurlers.

Starting pitcher rankings for Sunday

Bullpen usage watch for Sunday

By Todd Zola

  • The Toronto Blue Jays came back from a five-run deficit to hold a 6-5 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, with only a clean inning from closer Jordan Romano necessary to solidify the American League's second wild-card spot. Unfortunately, Romano blew his fourth save of the season, throwing 19 pitches in the process as the Rays walked it off 6-5. He had appeared on Friday, tossing 24 pitches while recording his 36th save. The safe play is benching Romano today, despite a slight chance he's asked to pitch on three consecutive days with Toronto off on Monday. Jordan Hicks is the top option to fill in for Romano.

  • Ryan Helsley entered yesterday's game with saves in his previous five appearances, fanning seven in those 5 1/3 scoreless frames. However, he last pitched on Monday, so the five days of rest could explain why Helsley's control was off as he blew a save, though the St. Louis Cardinals recovered to defeat the San Diego Padres 5-2 in 11 innings. Helsley allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings, but he walked three. He totaled 30 pitches, which is enough to bench him today, despite working on extended rest. With JoJo Romero on the IL, and the rest of the Cardinals bullpen appearing in yesterday's extra-inning affair, it's best to look at another bullpen to substitute for Helsley.

  • Alexis Diaz struggled for the second time this week, collecting a pair of losses which could ultimately cost the Cincinnati Reds a wild-card berth though, to be fair, they wouldn't be in the race if it weren't for Diaz's season-long exploits. Still, he was brought into the top of the eighth with the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates tied at nine. Diaz only recorded two outs while surrendering four runs on five hits. The Reds rallied for two runs, but came up short, losing 13-12 to drop their fourth in a row and fall 2.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the third wild-card in the National League. DIaz only threw 17 pitches, so despite giving up seven earned runs since Wednesday, he'll likely be asked to seal the deal today if the situation arises.

  • A doubleheader in the nation's capital provides the ideal place to look for bullpen help. Raisel Iglesias is available for the visiting Atlanta Braves, but there is no reason for him to appear in both games. Kirby Yates is well-rested and the one to target for at least a save today. For the Washington Nationals, closer Kyle Finnegan (18.9% rostered) is also well-rested, but he's been experiencing recent control issues. Still, he remains the Nationals ninth-inning favorite.

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.

Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Sunday

Prop of the Day

Eduardo Rodriguez, Tigers, 5.5 strikeouts (+120/-160)


THE BAT X sees Rodriguez putting up 6.2 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 59.7% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $31.27.

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.


  • THE BAT X projects Rodriguez to throw 102 pitches in this game (most on the day), taking into account both his underlying tendencies and the matchup.

  • Oakland has four bats in today's projected lineup with a high (i.e. over 27%) underlying K% (Kevin Smith, Shea Langeliers, Brent Rooker, Zack Gelof).

  • THE BAT X ranks Oakland Coliseum as the ninth-best stadium in the league for strikeouts.

  • In terms of temperature and humidity, the weather forecast calls for the fourth-most favorable pitching conditions of all games on today's slate.


  • Brian Knight, scheduled to be behind the plate today, is a hitter's umpire.

  • The Athletics have nine batters in the projected lineup that will receive the benefit of the platoon advantage against Rodriguez in this matchup.