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

Atlanta Braves pitcher Darius Vines is one of the more appealing options for pitching on Sunday's MLB slate. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

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. MLB game odds are provided by ESPN BET, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

Note: This file will be 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.

Rocky Mountain High

Sunday's slate features 16 games, with a doubleheader at Coors Field between the Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners. The rule of thumb is reserving all starters in Coors Field. Granted, in head-to-head leagues, need is the deciding factor, especially on Sunday. If you have a comfortable lead, you're sitting George Kirby. If you're behind and are not going to win without a few more points, you're starting Emerson Hancock.

What if the decision isn't based on need. You play in a weekly league, and it's the middle of the season. One of your top pitchers has just one start, and it's a road date with the Rockies. Do you start him?

Let's crunch some numbers. Over the years, Coors Field has elevated runs by 40%. A pitcher with a neutral environment 4.00 ERA would sport a 5.60 mark if he pitched every game in Coors Field.

Putting this in fantasy perspective, a 3.30 ERA would land a fantasy team at or near the top of the category in mixed league rotisserie standings. Sure, it depends on the number of teams, but an ERA in that range is solid, regardless of format. If all those innings were recorded in Coors Field, the ERA bloats to 4.62, which places a team near the bottom of the category.

This only encompasses earned runs. Coors Field also inflates hits and walks, so a fantasy team's WHIP also suffers.

Of course, we're only considering one pitcher and the above example assumes all your pitchers work only in Coors Field.

There has been some chatter this season that the Rockies' offense is so bad, it isn't as detrimental to use a hurler in Colorado. Keeping in mind that wRC+ is park neutral while wOBA is the actual, non-corrected production, both are good proxies for run-scoring potential. The Rockies wRC+ is 81, the fourth lowest in MLB. Their wOBA is .312, the 16th highest. At home, their wRC+ is 94, the 11th lowest, but their wOBA is .354, the best in MLB. Colorado averages 5.00 runs per game at home, the 10th most.

On paper, through the first three-plus weeks of the season, the Rockies have one of the weakest lineups in the league, but when they're at home, they're a top-10 unit. That's the extent Coors Field influences production.

My approach remains the same in weekly rotisserie scoring. Unless it's late in the season and I'm chasing wins and/or strikeouts, I'm sitting all my one-start pitchers, but I'll deploy my better two-start arms with one of the outings in Coors Field.

What you may have missed on Saturday

  • Add Triston Casas to the list of ailing Boston Red Sox. The first baseman hurt his ribs while swinging in yesterday's contest with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Casas left the game and after undergoing tests, he was placed on the 10-day IL. Bobby Dalbec will handle first base while Casas is out. There is a chance Vaughn Grissom will make his Red Sox debut early this week.

  • The Texas Rangers placed Jonah Heim on the bereavement list after yesterday's game. By rule, Heim must miss at least three days, but no more than seven. Andrew Knizner will handle catching duties with Heim away. Sam Huff was recalled to serve as the backup behind the plate.

  • After struggling for his fourth straight start on Friday, A.J. Puk was put on the 15-day IL with shoulder fatigue. There is a good chance Braxton Garrett will be ready to come off rehab and slide into Puk's rotation spot next week. With Edward Cabrera and Garrett healthy, and Ryan Weathers holding his in the Miami Marlins rotation, Puk may be moved to the bullpen when he returns in early May.

  • The New York Mets placed Francisco Alvarez on the 10-day IL with a torn UCL in his thumb. Alvarez is slated for surgery with an estimated recovery time of 6-to-8 weeks. Omar Narvaez and Tomas Nido will likely form a catcher platoon while Alvarez recovers.

  • Circling back to the Rangers for some positive news, first baseman Nathaniel Lowe made his 2024 debut yesterday. Lowe hurt his oblique early in spring training. Jared Walsh was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 26-man roster.

What you need to know for Sunday

• Action gets underway at 1:35 p.m. ET with four games, then another pair get started a few minutes later. The 7 p.m. ET ESPN Sunday night game has the Texas Rangers visiting the Atlanta Braves. However, the nightcap of the Mariners-Rockies twin bill is the final game on the docket with first pitch at 8:10 p.m. ET.

• One of the ploys in head-to-head leagues is having players from the late game, or in this case games, on reserve if needed to make up points. Of the pair, while neither is especially appealing, Rangers starter Michael Lorenzen (4.8% rostered in ESPN leagues) or Braves starter Darius Vines (.9%) are both better options than Rockies starter Peter Lambert or the aforementioned Hancock for the Mariners. Vines is ranked higher, so let's dub him the "break glass in case of emergency" selection.

• On the other hand, all four starters in the doubleheader are right-handed, giving the left-handed contingent of both clubs a shot at playing two games. The Mariners have the more alluring candidates with J.P. Crawford (56.0% rostered) and Jorge Polanco (8.7%) leading the way. The Rockies will have to contend with George Kirby in the opener, but veterans Charlie Blackmon (10.6%) and Ryan McMahon (58.9%) enjoy the platoon edge.

• Unfortunately, it's a terrible card for streaming with the top-ranked option being Nick Nastrini (0.6% rostered). Nastrini pitched well enough for the Chicago White Sox in his MLB debut to merit another start. He's the fifth-highest listed pitcher on the docket, a rank driven by a high minor league strikeout rate. Nastrini will pitch the finale of a road series against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies sport a potent lineup as evidenced by knocking Garrett Crochet around on Friday night, but there is also elevated strikeout potential. Nastrini is a ratio risk in rotisserie formats, but he's in play for those wanting strikeouts or in points formats.

Martin Perez (16.9%) follows Nastrini in terms of streamers, with the Pittsburgh Pirates entertaining the Boston Red Sox. Splits facing left-handers are always sketchy because the sample size takes longer to become significant, so don't trust Perez solely because he's facing a lineup fanning at a 29.6% clip against lefties. The source of the confidence should be Boston's depleted offense with Rafael Devers and Tyler O'Neill sidelined, and the bulk of the Red Sox better bats are left-handed, such as Jarren Duran, Triston Casas and Masataka Yoshida.

Betting Tip of the Day: Martin Perez is not known for his strikeout prowess. However, as stated, today the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Boston Red Sox in the finale of an interleague set. The Red Sox have fanned the sixth most in MLB and will be without O'Neill, Devers and probably Casas (see above). I'll take the over on 4.5 strikeouts (+105).

It's not too late to start a free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday. Come and join the fun!

Starting pitcher rankings for Sunday

Reliever report

To get the latest information on each team's bullpen hierarchy, as well as which pitchers might be facing a bit of fatigue and who might be the most likely suspects to vulture a save or pick up a surprise hold in their stead, check out the latest Closer Chart, which will be updated every morning.

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 Saturday

THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today