<
>

Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Sunday's games

Jim Mone/AP Photo

Sunday's MLB card features solid pitching as six starters with a projected game score of at least 60 check in, with another half-dozen over 55 on the slate as well. There are just six with scores below 50. As such, finding hitters in solid matchups is tougher than usual, although there are some decent arms to slide into your fantasy baseball lineups on the last day of this scoring period.

Good luck as you try to make up ground or solidify a lead. Here are some suggestions to fortify your active roster:

Pitching

Nathan Eovaldi (R), rostered in 58% of ESPN leagues, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Mea culpa, Eovaldi is a bit over the 50% threshold normally used for eligibility in this space, but being the last day of the scoring period, his availability is such that it's worth taking a peek in your league in case he's on the wire there. The veteran right-hander has been solid thus far, though the Rays got to him for four runs last time out. Still, 14 strikeouts with only three walks in 16 frames is worth a start against the Blue Jays.

Cristian Javier (R), 45%, Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics: Javier has provided the injury-riddled Astros rotation a much-needed boost, allowing just two runs in his two starts, spanning 11⅔ innings. The 23-year-old rookie relies on a 93 mph fastball along with a slider, occasionally mixing in a curve and changeup. Oakland can bust out of its malaise at any time, but through Friday's action, the club was sporting a below-average .292 wOBA (weighted on base average) along with a generous 27% strikeout rate.

Spencer Turnbull (R), 36%, Detroit Tigers at Pittsburgh Pirates: The Tigers have several promising arms in their system and one currently in their rotation. Turnbull might not have the upside of Casey Mize or Matt Manning, but he's solid with an above-average fastball and his arsenal features a very good spin rate on his heater and curve ball. He's in a good spot, as the Pirates check in with the lowest wOBA in the league.

Spencer Howard (R), 19%, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves: Fantasy managers love their shiny new toys, and it doesn't get much brighter than Howard, slated to debut in the nightcap of Sunday's double dip with the Braves. Howard is ranked No. 21 on ESPN Insider Kiley McDaniel's top 100 prospects for 2020. The intimidating 6-foot-3, 210-pounder sits 95-97 mph with his fastball, with the ability to reach back for triple digits when needed.

Bullpen: As mentioned, the Phillies and Braves play a Sunday doubleheader. Strangely, even though Mark Melancon has two saves and a win in four outings, he's rostered in only about two-thirds of ESPN leagues, fewer than teammate Will Smith. Granted, Melancon doesn't rack up the whiffs, thus is vulnerable to a blowup, but he has the confidence of manager Brian Snitker and that's what matters when it comes to trawling for saves.

For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.

Hitting

Catcher -- Isiah Kiner-Falefa (R), 24%, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney): Not only is Kiner-Falefa contributing offensively, he's flashing some leather when he lines up at the hot corner. The converted catcher is getting on base at a 41% clip, swiping a surprising four bags in five tries.

First base -- Dominic Smith (L), 6%, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Pablo Lopez): Smith is one of the beneficiaries of Yasiel Puig opting out of the rest of the season, as he'll be in the lineup against all right-handers. After starting out slow, Smith's bat is getting in gear, with a double and homer in his past two games.

Second base -- Chris Owings (R), 1%, Colorado Rockies at Seattle Mariners (LHP Justus Sheffield): Coming off the worst season of his career (.443 OPS), Owings was thought to be a depth piece for the Rockies. However, he has taken advantage of early opportunities and has played a lot of left field lately. He should get another chance against Sheffield, a raw lefty still trying to establish himself in the Mariners' rotation.

Third base -- Yandy Diaz (R), 37%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees (LHP James Paxton): For a few years, the book on Diaz was that he makes hard contact but doesn't loft the ball enough. He showed signs last year of beginning to increase his launch angle, but so far this season, he has taken a step back in both exit velocity and launch angle. However, Diaz carries a modest six-game hitting streak into Sunday's affair with the underlying metrics showing a much-needed increase in hard hit rate.

Shortstop -- Kevin Newman (R), 39%, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Spencer Turnbull): Newman hasn't been running, primarily because he hasn't been getting on base. Turnbull is showing signs of developing into a good pitcher, but control is still a work in progress, as evidenced by five walks in 11 frames. If he gets on, Newman has the chance to get off the schneid on the basepaths, as the Tigers' catchers have trouble catching would-be base stealers.

Corner infield -- Marwin Gonzalez (S), 16%, Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals (RHP Brady Singer): Lather, rinse, repeat. Gonzalez has been a mainstay in this space as he checks all the boxes -- he's a switch-hitter, eligible at several positions, hits in a prolific lineup and, most importantly, he's producing.

Middle infield -- Scott Kingery (R), 50%, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves (LHP Max Fried): Normally, targeting players in a doubleheader is wise since they can play more than someone who plays just one game. However, this season it's a risk, because if the player appears in only one game, he might lose an at-bat or two in a truncated, seven-inning affair. Due to his ability to play everywhere, Kingery's chances of seeing action in both games increases.

Outfield -- David Peralta (L), 27%, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres (RHP Dinelson Lamet): Those adept at playing the streaming game have a list of batters to check each day. If Peralta lines up to face a righty, he's an auto click into your lineup.

Outfield -- Jackie Bradley Jr. (L), 17%, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Matt Shoemaker): After a scorching start, Bradley is mired in a slump. He may be known for his streaks, but a closer look at the past few games shows Bradley has been hitting the ball hard, but on the ground. The hits will start falling once he gets some loft back.

Outfield -- Victor Reyes (S), 4%, Detroit Tigers at Pittsburgh Pirates (LHP Steven Brault): Reyes is taking advantage of the opportunity presented to him with Cameron Maybin on the shelf. The switch-hitter has fanned only twice this year, though he has drawn only a pair of walks as well. He has swiped three bags without being caught and has a smattering of power.

Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author's ratings.