Sunday features a nine-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET.
Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know to set your lineups.
Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($10,400) – Today’s slate is loaded with ace pitchers, but it’s hard to argue against Cole as the top option. He’s taking on the Rays, who are currently implied for a slate-low 3.1 runs, and he’s also the largest favorite of the day at -242.
Cole has also been absolutely dominant through his first three starts, as he’s pitched to a 1.47 ERA and 1.20 FIP. He’s also averaged a whopping 14.24 strikeouts per nine innings. His average fastball velocity has also been 97.4 miles per hour, which would be the top mark of his career. He should have no problem piling up strikeouts vs. the Rays, who had the third-highest strikeout rate vs. right-handed pitchers last season.
Other Options – Shane Bieber ($10,000), Freddy Peralta ($9,500)
Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays @ Kansas City Royals ($6,400) – Ray is coming off a pedestrian first start of the season, but that was against a very good Yankees offense. He was absolutely dominant in spring training, pitching to a 1.98 ERA and an 11.85 K/9, so I like his chances of bouncing back vs. the Royals. The Royals ranked just 21st in wRC+ vs. southpaws in 2020, and their projected lineup owns a 25.8% strikeout rate vs. left-handers over the past 12 months. Ray is always a risky proposition for cash games, but he has plenty of upside at this price tag for tournaments.
Other Options – Aaron Nola ($8,800), Pablo Lopez ($6,200)
Yan Gomes, Washington Nations vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($4,100) – Gomes absolutely rakes against left-handed pitchers, and he’s posted a .398 wOBA and .290 ISO in those matchups over the past 12 months. He’s taking on a pedestrian left-hander on Sunday in Madison Bumgarner ($7,700), who has been nothing short of a disaster with the Diamondbacks. He pitched to a 6.48 ERA and 7.18 FIP in nine starts last season, and he’s posted an 11.20 ERA and 6.23 FIP through his first three appearances this year. Right-handed batters posted a .404 wOBA against Bumgarner last season, and they also averaged 3.3 home runs per nine innings.
Other Options – J.T. Realmuto ($5,000), Salvador Perez ($4,800)
Omar Narvaez, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($3,700) – Narvaez is expected to bat fifth for the Brewers, which is a solid lineup spot for a catcher. He’s off to a great start at the plate this season, posting a 167 wRC+ vs. right-handed pitchers. That gives him a nice advantage against Chad Kuhl ($7,500), who has surrendered a .505 wOBA against left-handed batters through his first three starts.
Other Options – Roberto Perez ($3,600), Jorge Alfaro ($2,500)
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($5,000) – LeMahieu is just a professional hitter. Well, technically all of these guys are professional hitters, but you know what I mean. He’s actually gotten better since leaving Coors Field, and he’s coming off a career-best 176 wRC+ last season. He’s off to a solid start again in 2021, and the Yankees’ implied team total of 5.0 runs is tied for the top mark on today’s slate. He’ll start the day by facing right-hander Andrew Kittredge ($4,000), but the majority of his at-bats are expected to come against left-hander Ryan Yarbrough ($7,600). That said, LeMahieu’s numbers were excellent against both southpaws and traditional pitchers last season, so it doesn’t really matter who he’s facing.
Other Options – Vlad Guerrero Jr. ($5,300), Tommy La Stella ($4,500)
Jesus Aguilar, Miami Marlins vs. San Francisco Giants ($3,400) – Aguilar is simply way too cheap considering his matchup vs. Alex Wood ($7,200) on Sunday. He’s posted a 120 wRC+ vs. southpaws for his career, and he increased that number to 160 in those matchups last season. Aguilar is known for his ability to hit the long ball, and he also displayed significantly more power vs. left-handers last season.
Other Options – Josh Bell ($3,800), Brandon Belt ($3,700)
Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($4,400) – Hiura entered the league with big expectations, ranking as the No. 13 overall prospect in 2019. He burst onto the scene, posting a 140 wRC+ over 348 plate appearances as a rookie, but he has struggled to replicate that success since the start of the 2020 season. He’s off to a dreadful start in 2021, posting a 54 wRC+ through his first 12 games.
That said, I am not deterred by his struggles to start the year. If Hiura was good enough to succeed as a 22-year-old, he should only get better as he enters his prime. The Brewers’ implied team total of 4.7 runs is tied for the third-highest mark on the slate, and I expect Hiura to be a big part of their offense.
Other Options – Whit Merrifield ($5,400), Marcus Semien ($5,200)
Josh Harrison, Washington Nationals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($4,100) – Let’s continue to pick on Bumgarner. Harrison is more known for his ability to provide excellent defense at multiple positions than for his bat, but he’s actually posted a .426 wOBA and .258 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months. That’ll play against Bumgarner, and the Nationals’ implied team total of 5.0 runs is tied with the Yankees for the top mark on the slate.
Other Options – Cesar Hernandez ($3,900), Josh VanMeter ($2,600)
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians @ Cincinnati Reds ($5,200) – It doesn’t get much better than Ramirez’s numbers vs. southpaws last season. He posted an obscene 265 wRC+ in those matchups thanks to a 1.407 OPS. He also clubbed eight homers in just 57 at-bats vs. left-handers last season.
Not only will he be facing a left-hander on Sunday, but he’ll get to do it in one of the most hitter-friendly venues in all of baseball. The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati was the fourth-most generous stadium for runs according to ESPN’s Park Factors in 2020, and it was the best park in the league in terms of homers. Ramirez is the clear choice if you’re paying up at the position.
Other Options – None
Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($3,400) – Bohm can flat-out hit. He’s gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season, but he was very impressive in his first taste of MLB action in 2020. He was particularly effective against right-handed pitchers, posting a 143 wRC+. The Phillies are also expected to find success today against John Gant ($5,200) given their implied team total of 4.7 runs.
Other Options – Maikel Franco ($4,200), Yandy Diaz ($3,600)
Trea Turner, Washington Nationals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($5,700) – Turner is among the most expensive batters on Sunday’s slate, but it’s hard not to love him against Bumgarner. Turner has absolutely mashed against southpaws over the past 12 months, posting a .498 wOBA and .380 ISO, so he can do significant damage with his bat. Add in his ability to do damage with his legs – he’s stolen three bases through his first 12 games this season – and he has arguably the highest ceiling on today’s slate.
Other Options – Bo Bichette ($5,900), Gleyber Torres ($4,500)
Amed Rosario, Cleveland Indians @ Cincinnati Reds ($3,500) – Rosario has failed to live up to his lofty expectations after being ranked as baseball’s No. 3 overall prospect back in 2017, but he has developed into a solid hitter against left-handed pitchers. He posted a 114 wRC+ in those matchups last season, and he benefits from the same ballpark factors as Ramirez on Sunday.
Other Options – Isiah Kiner-Falefa ($4,800), Ha-Seong Kim ($2,700)
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($5,400) – Harper was out of the lineup for the Phillies on Saturday due to back tightness, but he’s back in the lineup on Sunday. His traditional numbers haven’t been great to start the season, but he is tearing the absolute cover off the ball from a Statcast perspective. He’s posted a 50% hard-hit rate through his first 30 batted-ball events this season, and his average exit velocity of 94.1 miles per hour would be a new career-high. Good things are going to happen if he continues to make that kind of contact, so I like his chances vs. Gant.
Other Options – Juan Soto ($6,000), Giancarlo Stanton ($4,700)
Jackie Bradley Jr., Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($3,300) – A price tag of $3,300 is cheap for a leadoff hitter, especially one for a team with an implied team total as high as the Brewers’ total. JBJ is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, but he’s also coming off a career-best season with his bat in 2020. He went 3-for-4 with a triple and a steal yesterday vs. the Pirates, so he has nice upside for his price tag.
Other Options – Andrew McCutchen ($3,900), Clint Frazier ($3,300)
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