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

Bryan Woo has been the Mariners' most reliable starter as of late. Jim McIsaac/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.

To the rescue

It's only Memorial Day weekend, but if the season ended today, the Tampa Bay Rays would miss the playoffs. They're averaging only 3.96 runs per game, the seventh lowest in MLB. Just as concerning is a 4.45 ERA, the eighth worst in the league. Injuries have contributed to both, but the pitching is especially hurting.

To that end, Taj Bradley has been a welcome addition to the Rays rotation. The right-hander was shut down in mid-March after being diagnosed with a pectoral strain. His 2024 debut was delayed until May 10. Bradley has made three starts, the first against the New York Yankees, then two against the Boston Red Sox. He was solid in the first two, though the Red Sox got to Bradley his last time out. He began the game fanning eight of the first nine hitters, but then he was bit by the long ball. Even so, Bradley has fanned 23 with only three free passes in 18 innings, all against AL East foes.

Reinforcements should soon be joining Bradley. Shane Baz completed a rehab assignment then was assigned to Triple-A Durham to continue recovering from Tommy John surgery and a subsequent oblique issue. Opening day starter Zach Eflin is out with a lower back injury, with an early June return date. In the meantime, the Rays are counting on Bradley to keep the club afloat.

On Sunday, Bradley has a home date with the Kansas City Royals. It's not the easy game some may perceive as the Royals are averaging the seventh most runs per game in the league, fueled by the eighth best wOBA. Even so, Tropicana Field is a hitting downgrade so look for Bradley to rebound from his last start and keep the Royals offense in check, justifying his No. 3 overall ranking among today's probable starters.

What you may have missed on Saturday

By Todd Zola

Boston Red Sox OF Tyler O'Neill left yesterday's game after the seventh inning with a sore knee and he's not in today's lineup. O'Neill has been playing through lingering soreness which helps explain why he's 0-for-15 with 10 strikeouts over his last four games.

• The Colorado Rockies outfield is down another player with OF Jordan Beck ticketed for the 10-day IL with a broken hand. He incurred the injury after making a diving catch in the first inning of yesterday's contest. The club is already without OF Nolan Jones who still has not swung a bat while being out with a sore back for almost a month. The Rockies recalled OF Sean Bouchard to help fill the void.

Washington Nationals OF Jesse Winker had to leave Saturday's game in the seventh innings with cramps. Winker started the season strong, peaking with a 1.067 OPS on April 17. It fell to .705 on May 18, but since, Winker has posted a .278/.409/.667 line. His availability for today is unclear.

• The New York Yankees put INF Jon Berti on the IL with a strained left calf. He sustained the injury Friday night while running to first base. The club called up 3B Kevin Smith to help man the hot corner until INF DJ LeMahieu is ready to make his 2024 debut. LeMahieu has been out all season with a fractured foot. He was recently moved to the 60-day IL, but it was procedural and won't affect his return, which could be early this week.

Kansas City Royals OF Kyle Isbel left yesterday's game after getting hit in the face by a foul tip. He's not in today's lineup with OF Garrett Hampson filling in as the centerfielder.

Everything else you need to know for Sunday

  • Set your alarms, there is an early 11:35 a.m. ET first pitch in the Motor City with the Detroit Tigers hosting the Toronto Blue Jays. Casey Mize gets the node for the Tigers with Yusei Kikuchi (62.1% rostered in ESPN leagues) getting the early wakeup call for the Blue Jays. Kikuchi's rostership is a bit north of the typical 50% cutoff, but it's low enough to be worth checking availability, especially on the last day of the head-to-head scoring period. Kikuchi has recorded six quality starts in 10 outings, fueled by 61 punchouts in 58 frames. The southpaw has surrendered four homers all season. The Tigers sport the third lowest wOBA facing left-handed pitching.

  • The Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers game initially scheduled for 1:40 p.m. ET in The Great American Ballpark has been moved up to 12:10 p.m. ET. There are storms forecast later in the afternoon, triggering the earlier start.

  • The vaunted Seattle Mariners rotation is still solid, but it hasn't performed up to its lofty expectations. Recently, SP Bryan Woo (37.2% rostered) has provided a spark. His debut wasn't until May 10 as the sophomore right-hander was nursing elbow inflammation. In three starts since his return, Woo has yielded just one run in 15⅔ innings. He has fanned 15 while issuing only two free passes. Next up is a road affair in the nation's capital with the Mariners visiting the Washington Nationals. Over the first two months, the hosts check in with the 10th lowest wOBA with a righty on the hill, landing Woo as one of the top streaming options on the docket.

  • The Cleveland Guardians lead the American League Central and are doing so without ace SP Shane Bieber. A surprisingly productive offense is partly responsible, as is the performance of their makeshift rotation, including Ben Lively (7.5% rostered). Lively will take the hill in Anaheim to face a Los Angeles Angels lineup with a below average wOBA and above average strikeout rate facing right-handed pitchers. Lively has fanned a respectable 38 in 38 frames since joining the rotation in mid-April.

  • Betting Tip of the Day: The Milwaukee Brewers have taken the first two games of their three game set with the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park. Today, the home team will send their best pitcher, Tanner Houck, to the hill to try to salvage the final game. My money says Houck gets it done, so I'm backing Houck over 5.5 strikeouts (+115) plus Red Sox and the Run Line -1.5 (+135).

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.

Hitting report

Plan ahead in fantasy baseball with help from our Forecaster projections. Each day, we will provide an updated preview of the next 10 days for every team, projecting the matchup quality for hitters (overall and by handedness) as well as for base stealers.

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

The BAT X's Best Stacks for Sunday