Now that we're finally beyond the trade deadline frenzy, the focus is mainly on the players who have changed teams. However, those in leagues with liberal pitcher streaming know to take advantage of lineups that have weakened in the aftermath of all those swaps. The best examples are the Cubs, Marlins, Nationals, Twins and Pirates. The Rangers, Diamondbacks, Tigers and Orioles all also remain susceptible, as do the Rockies when they're on the road.
That said, there are indeed several batters with a better chance for playing time over the final two months, though they don't happen to be in spots worth featuring for Sunday. Some examples are Andres Gimenez (Cleveland), Brent Rooker (Minnesota), Carter Kieboom (Washington), Sergio Alcantara (Cubs) and Rodolfo Castro (Pittsburgh). Sunday's pitching slate is underwhelming, with a matchup of AL West rookies being the most intriguing of the bunch. The Angels have promoted Reid Detmers for his debut against Daulton Jefferies and the Athletics.
Here are Sunday's suggestions to help nail down the win for you in head-to-head formats, or to pad your categories in rotisserie scoring.
Erick Fedde (R), rostered in 3% of ESPN leagues, Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs: Fedde is a great example of a mediocre pitcher in a highly favorable matchup as the watered down Cubs lineup is now devoid of its three biggest stars. Fedde's season has been inconsistent as he's logged seven outings allowing no more than one run and six more where he has yielded at least three runs.
Daulton Jefferies (R), 1%, Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels: Of the two rookies, Jefferies gets the nod here even though Detmers has been pitching better on the farm. The main difference is, despite it being a poor two frames, Jefferies got a taste of The Show last season. More importantly, the Oakland rookie faces a weaker lineup than his 22-year old counterpart since both Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon remain sidelined -- as is Jared Walsh, not to mention Shohei Ohtani dealing with a bruised thumb.
Austin Gomber (L), 51%, Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres: Since returning from the IL, Gomber has picked up right where he left off -- pitching well. This is reflected in his roster level tipping just past the usual 50% cutoff, but let's bend this unwritten rule since Sunday ends the scoring period. Plus, Gomber may still be available in shallower leagues. Maybe facing the Padres will scare some off, but note that Fernando Tatis Jr. did hurt his shoulder again on Friday night.
Spenser Watkins (R), 8%, Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers: While it is true that the Tigers led the league in runs per game in July, their offense is still not to be feared. That said, even though Watkins is unproven, Comerica Park is a pitching upgrade over Camden Yards and the right-hander has limited walks and homers -- two crucial elements for success. Since joining the Baltimore rotation, Watkins has posted one quality start (over four outings) as he limited the Rays to one run in six frames, scattering four hits with seven strikeouts.
Bullpen: The staff did a wonderful job updating the closer chart linked below as a bunch of teams have new closers, so be sure to check it out. A few names most interesting to me are Demarcus Evans (Rangers), Anthony Bender (Marlins) and Paul Sewald (Mariners). They're currently listed as the next-in-line, but all have a chance to usurp the current closer over the last stretch of the season.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Reese McGuire (L), 1%, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Brad Keller): Keller has quietly pitched better of late, but he's still an arm against which the Blue Jays should thrive. Most of the Toronto batters are rostered, with catcher being a conduit to a piece of the action. Alejandro Kirk is getting the bulk of the action behind the dish, but with a 1.083 OPS over the past week and the platoon edge, McGuire will likely be in the lineup on Sunday.
First Base -- Rowdy Tellez (L), 13%, Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves (RHP Charlie Morton): Morton is an effective veteran, but Tellez has been crushing the ball. He carried a seven-game hitting streak into Saturday's play, over which he hit .448/.500/.931. Most telling is that Tellez has only fanned four times in 32 plate appearances during this stretch, indicating that he's locked in.
Second Base -- Cesar Hernandez (S), 44%, Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland (RHP Cal Quantrill): I know, Hernandez populates this space so much he should get his mail delivered here. With the trade, it's worth pointing out he may hit lower in the White Sox order, but he's in a more potent lineup in a better hitter's venue, so overall his production should benefit.
Third Base -- Brian Anderson (R), 23%, Miami Marlins vs. New York Yankees (LHP Jordan Montgomery): Through Friday's slate, Anderson has hit safely in all five games since being activated from the IL, posting a .368/.478/.684 line. He may appear to be a reverse-split hitter, but he hasn't amassed enough playing time to ignore when playing with the platoon edge.
Shortstop -- Jonathan Villar (S), 23%, New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Vladimir Gutierrez): It is a bit disconcerting that Villar last stole a base way back on June 16. Even so, he must be considered a SB-threat and the Reds are one of the better matchups for base stealers. Further, Gutierrez's 5.3% K-BB% has fueled a high 1.43 WHIP, facilitating Villar's chances of getting on base.
Corner Infield -- Ji-Man Choi (L), 6%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox (RHP Nick Pivetta): It took a while, but Choi's power stroke has finally manifested as he's slugged three homers and a pair of doubles over the past week. Pivetta has given up 16 homers in 107 2/3 innings, including allowing a longball in three straight games.
Middle Infield -- Shed Long Jr. (L), 1%, Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers (RHP Mike Foltynewicz): Speaking of homer-prone hurlers, Foltynewicz has been the most generous arm this season after authoring 31 dingers in his 106 innings. He's especially susceptible to left-handed swingers and, while Long isn't a slugger, he's swatted four homers in his limited playing time and has the pop to take advantage of Foltynewicz's philanthropy.
Outfield -- Rafael Ortega (L), under 1%, Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals (RHP Erick Fedde): Ortega's playing time had already been on the rise with him playing center field for the struggling Ian Happ, but after the recent house-cleaning, Ortega should play nearly every day. He's in a good spot on Sunday, enjoying the platoon edge in a very hitter-friendly venue.
Outfield -- Ben Gamel (L), 3%, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Kyle Gibson): With Adam Frazier having been dealt to the Padres, Gamel has been leading off with right-handers on the hill. Especially since he's assured of maximum at-bats per game, Gamel and his .325/.413/.550 July line make for a nice points-league addition.
Outfield -- Austin Hays (R), 40%, Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers (LHP Tyler Alexander): To paraphrase Earl Weaver's adage about momentum, slumps are only as good as the next day's starting pitcher. Hays is in a rut, but he's facing one of the docket's lowest-ranked starters. Plus, even though he's been held hitless in the three games leading into Saturday, he only fanned once in 12 plate appearances, a rate which is usually a harbinger of improved outcomes.