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

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

After seven doubleheaders in two days, Sunday is back to a regular day with each team playing a matinee, except the Cardinals and Cubs in the prime-time affair on ESPN and an unusual late game featuring the Rockies and Angels.

After Sunday, there's just three weeks left in the 2020 regular season. It's crunch time with every lineup spot essential to be filled. Here's some players to consider in the event your regular starters have the day off, with all the choices available in over half of all ESPN leagues.


Dakota Hudson (R), rostered in 40% of ESPN leagues, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs: Hudson was pushed to Sunday after Kwang-Hyun Kim was rushed to the hospital for what was diagnosed as a kidney infarction. Hudson was recommended on Saturday by Mike Sheets so let's tag my colleague in for those who missed his comments:

Hudson, who sports a 2.77 ERA over five starts, is doing the same things that brought him success in 2019, mainly relying on an elite ground ball rate (58.8%) and the Cardinals' elite infield defense. That said, he has actually been better in 2020. After handing out way too many free passes in 2019 (4.4 BB/9), Hudson has done a good job limiting walks this season (2.4 BB/9). He's also missing more bats, due in part to the fact that he has more than doubled his slider usage from last season, according to Brooks Baseball. While the Cubs present a tough test, they've been merely average offensively over the last two weeks, ranking 18th in MLB with a 99 wRC+. -- Mike Sheets

Johnny Cueto (R), 43%, San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: The deceptive veteran has had an uneven season, posting two quality starts along with some clunkers. The last time out, Cueto stymied the Diamondbacks for 6 ⅓ innings, allowing just one run on three hits while fanning six in the desert. The two clubs meet up again, this time in Oracle Park where the visitors enter with the sixth lowest weighted on base average (wOBA) in the league versus righties.

Rich Hill (L), 33%, Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers: The Twins are slowly ramping Hill up, readying him for a playoff run. When he's sharp, Hill has the ability to shut down anyone in the league. Sunday will be a good test as the Tigers have been surprisingly productive against southpaws, tallying the third highest wOBA in the league with a lefthander toeing the rubber.

Chad Kuhl (R), 8%, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds: Judging by Kuhl's 3.10 ERA, some may surmise he's taken a step forward. However, a closer look reveals the soon-to-be 28-year-old right-hander has been fortunate, most notable a .213 BABIP and 90.2% Lefty on base mark. This has masked a high 11.1% walk rate and surrendering six homers in 29 frames. The Reds have some pop facing righties, but they also fan at an above average clip in you're in need of some extra punchouts.

Bullpen: With more leagues scoring holds, it's good to check in on the category leaderboard to see if there's any surprise names available in most leagues. Tanner Rainey of the Nationals stands out as he's third in the league with eight holds but has also fanned 27 in 17 ⅓ innings.

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


Catcher -- Yan Gomes (R), 4%, Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves (RHP Josh Tomlin): Gomes or Kurt Suzuki, it doesn't matter. Both are readily available and equally effective against a middling righty, prone to giving up the long ball.

First Base -- Miguel Cabrera (R), 17%, Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins (LHP Rich Hill): Earlier, the Tigers' success against lefties was noted. Much of it is fueled by Cabrera's .385/.500/.577 performance against southpaw pitching.

Second Base -- Jon Berti (R), 30%, Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Tyler Glasnow): Not only is Berti one of the leaders in steals, he's not shy about racking up multiple pilfers in one game. He's in a great spot to do it against the Rays as Tampa is one of the worst clubs when it comes to defending the opponent's running game.

Third Base -- Maikel Franco (R), 24%, Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox (LHP Dallas Keuchel): After giving up a generous 16 homers in 112 ⅔ IP last season, Keuchel has surrendered just two in 48 ⅓ frames so far this season. Even so, Franco has been heating up and has hit lefties hard all season, posting a .400/.423/.520 triple-slash line.

Shortstop -- Andrelton Simmons (R), 8%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros (LHP Framber Valdez): Simmons brought a modest eight game hitting streak into Saturday's contest. He has multi-hit games in his last four and five out of his last six.

Corner Infield -- Austin Riley (R), 33%, Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals (LHP Patrick Corbin): Riley has been homer-prone this season, serving up six long balls in 40 ⅓ innings. Over his short career, Riley is slugging a robust .560 with the platoon advantage.

Middle Infield -- Ty France (R), 4%, Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Jordan Lyles): Platoon advantages are important, but not necessary when facing a weaker hurler. Lyles has yet to get on track, registering a 8.59 ERA and 1.77 WHIP for the season. Meanwhile, look for the Mariners to give France a three-week audition after acquiring him from the Padres in the Austin Nola deal.

Outfield -- Ryan Mountcastle (R), 30%, Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka): Mountcastle continues to impress, fanning a reasonable 10 times in 50 plate appearances while drawing five free passes. When he swings, he's recorded a lofty 1.020 OPS.

Outfield -- Kevin Pillar (R), 30%, Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers (LHP Julio Urias): It didn't take long for Pillar to endear himself to Rockies fans with a grand slam on Friday night. Hitting homers versus lefties isn't anything new for Pillar as he's clubbed 18 of his 41 homers since 2018 with the platoon edge. Sure, that may be under half, but only 30% of his plate appearances have come with a lefty on the hill.

Outfield -- Manuel Margot (R), 4%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Trevor Rogers): Margot has worked himself into an everyday role, including batting leadoff against lefty pitching. His power hasn't manifested this season, but he is perfect on five stolen base attempts.

Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past 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.