Sunday features a 12-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.
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Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs ($9,400) – Woodruff has gotten off to a fantastic start this season, pitching to a 1.96 ERA and 1.75 FIP through his first four starts. He’s definitely gotten a bit lucky – opposing batters have managed a batting average on balls in play of just .204 – but batted-ball luck isn’t a huge factor when you strike out more than 10 batters per nine innings. Woodruff has done that in each of the past three seasons.
He’s in a solid spot Sunday vs. the Cubs. They rank just 19th in wRC+ vs. right-handed pitchers, and they’ve also posted the seventh-highest strikeout rate. There’s currently no over/under for this contest because the weather conditions at Wrigley Field have a huge impact on scoring, but as long as the forecast is favorable, Woodruff should be one of the strongest options on the slate.
Other Options – Jack Flaherty ($8,400), Eduardo Rodriguez ($8,200)
Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox vs. Texas Rangers ($6,900) – Kopech is still largely unproven at the big-league level, but he has the stuff to be an ace-caliber pitcher. He entered the year as the No. 33 overall prospect in baseball according to FanGraphs, and he’s posted an elite 14.34 strikeouts per nine innings through his first 10 2⁄3 innings this season. Walks can be an issue for Kopech, but he has the ability to make batters swing and miss when he’s on his game.
He was capped at just three innings in his first start this season, but hopefully, he can go a bit deeper Sunday vs. the Rangers. If he does, he has immense upside in this matchup. The Rangers’ implied team total of 3.0 runs is the lowest mark on the slate, and Kopech is also the largest favorite at -225. Those are excellent marks for any pitcher, let alone one that costs just $6,900. The Rangers also own the highest strikeout rate against right-handers to start the year.
Other Options – Dylan Bundy ($8,100), Luis Castillo ($7,600)
Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($4,400) – d’Arnaud was a massive bust during his time with the Mets, but he has blossomed into one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. He’s gotten off to a slow start this season, but he posted a 144 wRC+ with the Braves last year. He was even better vs. right-handed pitchers, increasing that figure to 172. It’s possible that his production last year was fluky – his Statcast data is significantly worse to start the new season – but he should still be able to improve upon his current marks. He’s expected to occupy the cleanup spot Sunday vs. Zac Gallen ($8,600), and the Braves’ implied team total of 4.8 runs ranks second on the slate. This is a nice buy-low spot.
EDITOR’S NOTE: d’Arnaud is not in the lineup for today’s game vs. the Diamondbacks.
Other Options – Christian Vazquez ($5,100), Yasmani Grandal ($4,800)
Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics @ Baltimore Orioles ($4,100) – Murphy is set up a matchup vs. left-hander John Means ($8,900), and Murphy has excellent marks for a catcher in those matchups. He’s posted a .338 wOBA and a .267 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Murphy is not in the lineup for today’s game vs. the Orioles.
Other Options – Kurt Suzuki ($2,900), Danny Jansen ($2,000)
Pete Alonso, New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals ($5,100) – Alonso’s traditional numbers are down a bit to start the year, but he’s still tearing the absolute cover off the ball. He’s posted a hard-hit rate of 61.5% through his first 62 plate appearances and 20.5% of his batted-ball events have resulted in “barrels.” All that hard contact is bound to lead to positive things moving forward, and he’ll be on the positive side of his splits Sunday vs. Patrick Corbin ($7,400). Alonso has displayed slightly more power against southpaws throughout his career, owning an ISO of .308. Corbin has also been dreadful in two of his three starts this season, resulting in a 7.72 FIP.
Other Options – Shohei Ohtani ($5,000), Carlos Santana ($4,900)
Yandy Díaz, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($3,000) – I’m a sucker for a cheap leadoff hitter, and Díaz will likely fit that description vs. the Jays. Toronto is sending Hyun-Jin Ryu (9,000) to the mound, and Díaz typically bats leadoff against southpaws. He’s feasted in those matchups throughout his career, and he’s posted a 173 wRC+ vs. left-handers to start the 2021 season. Ryu is a quality pitcher, but this is simply too cheap for a hitter of Díaz’s caliber.
Other Options – Pavin Smith ($3,600), Rowdy Tellez ($2,700)
D.J. LeMahieu, New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians ($4,600) – LeMahieu is another player who has been priced down after a subpar start to the season but should bounce back moving forward. He’s posted a .351 expected wOBA, which is significantly higher than his actual mark of .324. I’m always interested in buying low on talented players like LeMahieu when the opportunity presents itself.
EDITOR’S NOTE: LeMahieu is not in the lineup for today’s game vs. Cleveland.
Other Options – Jed Lowrie ($4,500), Luis Arráez ($4,100)
Kolten Wong, Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs ($3,200) – Wong also fits the description of a cheap option who is expected to bat leadoff. He also has a favorable matchup against Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta ($7,900). Arrieta was at one point one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, but those days are well in the past. He pitched to a 5.08 ERA last season, and he owns a 5.17 expected ERA through his first four starts of 2021.
Other Options – Marwin González ($3,700), David Fletcher ($3,400)
Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox vs. Texas Rangers ($4,900) – The White Sox are in one of the most interesting spots of the day vs. right-hander Kohei Arihara ($7,000). This is his first season in the MLB, and he’s pitched to a 2.21 ERA through his first four starts. That said, he’s been extremely lucky considering his pedestrian 5.75 strikeouts per nine innings. His expected ERA of 6.06 is significantly worse, so he’s a prime regression candidate moving forward.
Moncada and the White Sox are the type of offense that can make regression happen quickly. Moncada is a switch-hitter who has historically fared better against right-handers than left-handers, so I like his chances in this matchup.
Other Options – Alex Bregman ($5,000), Matt Chapman ($4,600)
Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays @ Tampa Bay Rays ($3,300) – Another cheap leadoff hitter? Why not! Biggio will be on the positive side of his batting splits against Luis Patino, who will be making his first appearance of the year for the Rays. He got his first taste of big-league action last season and pitched to a 5.13 ERA. He has reportedly been stretched out to pitch at least four innings, so it’s possible that Biggio sees two or three at-bats against Patino before Josh Fleming takes over out of the bullpen.
Other Options – Gio Urshela ($3,400), Austin Riley ($3,000)
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox vs. Seattle Mariners ($5,800) – The Red Sox own the top implied team total on the slate, and I think we’ve waited long enough to address them. They’ll be facing Mariners left-hander Nick Margevicius ($5,800), who is arguably the least-talented pitcher on today’s slate. He’s pitched to 5.80 ERA over 110 career innings, and he’s surrendered an average of 1.64 home runs per nine innings.
The Red Sox have plenty of guys in their lineup who can do damage against left-handed pitchers, and Bogaerts is near the top of the list. He’s posted a .422 wOBA and .228 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months, so he should be able to find success in this matchup.
Other Options – Tim Anderson ($5,400), Francisco Lindor ($4,800)
Niko Goodrum, Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals ($4,000) – Shortstop seems like a good position to pay up on Sunday. Goodrum is about as low as I’m willing to go. He’ll be facing left-hander Danny Duffy ($8,000), and Goodrum has absolutely crushed southpaws over the past 12 months. He’s posted a .407 wOBA and .314 ISO in those matchups over the past 12 months, and those marks rank second and first at the position among today’s shortstops.
Other Options – Gleyber Torres ($4,300)
J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox vs. Seattle Mariners ($5,700) – Martinez is another right-handed batter who has massive appeal vs. Margevicius. Martinez has historically crushed against southpaws, and he went yard against a left-handed pitcher on Friday. I think he does it again vs. a very mediocre left-hander on Sunday.
Other Options – Mike Trout ($6,100; questionable), Michael Brantley ($5,100)
Myles Straw, Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels ($2,400) – Straw is expected to bat leadoff for the Astros on Sunday, which makes him too cheap at $2,400. He’s not a huge threat with the bat, but he’s definitely a threat on the bases. He’s racked up four steals so far this season, which is tied for the sixth-highest mark in the league.
Other Options – Enrique Hernández ($4,200), Kole Calhoun ($3,000)
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