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

It's been tough facing the New York Mets offense away from Citi Field. AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

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 has been 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.

Road warriors

Pop quiz: What team totes the most potent offense away from home? Believe it or not, it's the New York Mets. Through Friday, the Mets are averaging 5.88 runs in road game. Their .342 wOBA in away games leads the league. It makes sense for the Mets to be better on the road than at Citi Field since their home venue suppresses offense more than anywhere else in the game. Even so, their road prowess has been eye-opening.

Home-field advantage exists in baseball, although the effect is dwindling, likely due to increased umpire scrutiny. For many years, pitchers' strikeout and walk rates were 5% better at home. Over the past two seasons, though, it has dropped to 2.6%. To put this in perspective, the home ERA for the entire league used to be around 0.33 runs lower at home, now it's 0.22 runs.

While the overall benefit might be lessening, it's still better to populate your fantasy lineup with pitchers working at home... well, unless they're facing the Mets. At least that what the current numbers are telling us.

Any time a player (or club) is leading the league in a category, there is usually a combination of skill and luck involved. The Mets have the third-highest wOBA and third-best batting average with runners in scoring position on the road. There is an element of luck involved with both of those stats. However, they Mets are fanning at only a 19.4% clip away from Citi Field, the fifth-lowest level in the league. By putting the ball in play more, the Mets have taken better advantage of their good fortune.

Regression to the mean in both BABIP and batting average with runners in scoring position should make using a home pitcher facing the Mets less risky going forward. However, strikeouts are integral to fantasy scoring, regardless of the format -- and a pitcher's projected strikeouts when facing the Mets should be adjusted down, rendering the choice to stream them less palatable.

On Sunday, Chicago Cubs SP Javier Assad (44.6% rostered in ESPN leagues) will face the Mets in the final game of a three-game weekend series. Often, Sunday roster moves are driven by needs in head-to-head leagues. If the decision is solely based on whether Assad will post solid numbers, it gets tricky.

Strikeouts are the key. For the season, Assad has 79 punchouts in his 78⅔ innings. However, spanning his past five starts, Assad has rung up 33 batters over 25⅔ innings. It's an aggressive call, but in season-long formats, I'm starting Assad.

What you may have missed on Saturday

  • New York Yankees OF Giancarlo Stanton injured his hamstring scoring from second base in the fourth inning of yesterday's 8-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in the Bronx. Trent Grisham pinch-hit the next time Stanton was due up. The Yankees and Braves play the rubber game of their interleague set this afternoon, but Stanton is scheduled for imaging and will miss the contest and likely a handful more, though the club is hopeful the injury isn't serious.

  • The Miami Marlins' rotation woes continue. Yesterday, SP Jesus Luzardo was placed on the 15-day injured list with a lumbar stress reaction. He's expected to be sidelined for at least a month. In addition, SP Braxton Garrett was scratched from today's start with left elbow soreness and will undergo testing today. The club has called up Kyle Tyler to make his first MLB start. The 27-year-old right-hander posted a nifty 2.80 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 45 innings for Triple-A Jacksonville, but he only fanned 35. The low ERA was partially due to surrendering only two homers.

  • The Los Angeles Angels are also having trouble cobbling together a rotation. Earlier in the week the club placed SP Jose Soriano on the 15-day injured list. On Saturday, he was joined by Patrick Sandoval. The southpaw was lifted from Friday's contest in the third inning with forearm tightness, but after further evaluation, Sandoval was diagnosed with a left elbow strain. The Angels have a rare off day today. Zach Plesac has been called up to take one of the open spots, with SP Chase Silseth slated to be activated off the IL early next week.

  • Tampa Bay Rays 2B Brandon Lowe was diagnosed with a broken right pinky toe after being hit in the foot by a pitch yesterday. Lowe isn't expected to require an IL visit, though his availability for today's rubber game in the Steel City against SP Paul Skenes and the Pittsburgh Pirates is in jeopardy. Luckily, Rays utility man Amed Rosario has seemingly escaped a major injury after being hit in the face by a 99-mph Jared Jones fastball. Rosario is nursing facial lacerations, but initial evaluation shows no broken bones. Rosario's status is unclear, though he'll probably miss at least a few games.

  • The Toronto Blue Jays announced that OF Daulton Varsho will be on the bench today when the club tries to avoid being swept by the Cleveland Guardians in Progressive Field. Varsho's back tightened up while swinging in his final at-bat yesterday. He was unable to run out the grounder in the 6-3 loss. The Guardians are optimistic the injury isn't serious, but Varsho will still get today off.

  • The San Diego Padres were without OF Fernando Tatis, OF Jurickson Profar and C Luis Campusano for yesterday's 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Tatis is nursing a sore triceps after being hit by a pitch on Friday night and is considered day-to-day. Profar missed the game with a sore knee, though he vows to play today when the Padres try to complete a four-game sweep over the Brewers. Campusano was placed on the 10-day IL with a sore left thumb. The Padres are anticipating a minimum stay for their regular backstop.

Everything else you need to know for Sunday

  • Beware, Sunday's action begins 11:35 a.m. ET with the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks. Keep in mind that for standard ESPN leagues you'll be able to make roster moves until the start of each player's game, but waivers and free agent pickups lock before the first game of the slate.

  • The Phillies will send SP Cristopher Sanchez (21.4% rostered) to the hill. On Saturday, Sanchez agreed to a four-year contract extension, buying out his arbitration years along with adding options through 2030. Sanchez sports a 2.91 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP this season. The associated 3.48 SIERA and 3.13 xFIP indicate that Sanchez has been a bit fortunate, mostly with a low 2.4% HR/FB rate. That said, a 59.4% GB rate has also helped him yield only one homer in 77⅓ innings. On the other hand, his .342 BABIP is high, even for an extreme ground-ball pitcher. On Sunday, Sanchez is in play as a streamer, facing a league-average lineup with a league-average strikeout rate.

  • Detroit Tigers SP Reese Olson (12.2% rostered) is coming off one of his best efforts of the season. Earlier in the week, Olson hurled six scoreless innings on the road against the Atlanta Braves, fanning eight while issuing no free passes. On Sunday, Olson draws a sputtering Chicago White Sox lineup in Comerica Park. The visitors are averaging the second-fewest runs on the road, fueled by the seventh-highest strikeout rate away from home.

  • Opposing Olson will be White Sox SP Jonathan Cannon (5.4% rostered). Olson is the preferred choice, but Cannon is an option in deeper formats. Since moving to the rotation, Cannon has started twice, recording seven strikeouts in seven frames against the Seattle Mariners, then falling one out shy of a complete-game shutout in his last time out, against the Houston Astros. The Tigers are also one of the lowest-scoring teams in MLB, buoyed by an above-average strikeout rate.

  • If you need to make up ground in strikeouts, consider Tampa Bay Rays SP Aaron Civale (13.6% rostered) for his road date with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Civale has maintained the strikeout prowess he displayed after the Rays acquired him at last season's trade deadline. He should pad his total, facing the offense with the fourth-highest strikeout rate.

  • Betting tip of the day: Washington Nationals OF Lane Thomas already has six RBIs hitting out of the leadoff spot in the first two games of a three-game visit to Coors Field. Today, the Colorado Rockies will give the ball to lefty SP Kyle Freeland, rendering Thomas with the platoon edge. I'll gladly take the over with Thomas on .5 RBIs (Even).

It's never 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 today