The first quarter of the season draws to a close with a standard Sunday slate featuring the usual array of matinees, capped off by St. Louis wrapping up a series in San Diego in the ESPN game. Shane Bieber heads a list of 11 starters with an ERA under 3.00, barely making the cut with a 2.98 mark. That said, with three-quarters of the season left, he may be the only one still under that threshold by season's end.
Good luck as the fantasy week closes! Here are Sunday's suggestions to end the week on a high note, with everyone accessible in at least 50% of all ESPN leagues.
Jordan Montgomery (L), rostered in 52.1% of ESPN leagues, New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles: Please allow me to bend the rules so that I can include Montgomery, even though he edges slightly over the typical 50% cutoff. Pitching in Camden Yards can be tricky, but it's far less so when you're used to dealing with Yankee Stadium. Montgomery is coming off two six-inning quality efforts, fanning 13 with only one walk in those 12 frames.
Robbie Ray (L), 43.1%, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Philadelphia Phillies: After issuing nine free passes in his first two starts spanning 10 frames, Ray has not walked any hitters in his subsequent four efforts, covering 24 2/3 innings. In that stretch, the left-hander has fanned 33, but he's also yielded a generous seven homers. On paper, the Phillies are a great matchup for Ray as Philadelphia hits the sixth-fewest homers (per PA) against left-handers, while striking out the third-most and walking the ninth-least against southpaws.
Brady Singer (R), 24.6%, Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox: After starting out the season in impressive fashion, Singer has been flat lately -- to the tune of a unmelodious 6.55 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP over his last 11 innings. The White Sox are banding together without a couple of their top hitters, so a rebound won't be easy. Consider this the "break glass in case of emergency" option.
Kwang Hyun Kim (L), 19.9%, St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres: Kim takes the hill under the spotlight of a national audience, facing a lineup that has been surprisingly deficient when facing lefties. The Padres' wOBA is eighth-lowest versus southpaws. With 24 strikeouts in 23 frames, Kim is displaying more dominance than in his debut 2020 season.
Bullpen: Being aware of the upcoming weekly schedule is beneficial -- even in daily leagues -- as you can beat the rush and take advantage of closers with a chance to collect multiple saves over the next several games. The Minnesota Twins play eight games next week, including Thursday's twin-bill with the Angels. With Alex Colome demoted to low-leverage work, Taylor Rogers has taken over closing duties, but the underperforming Twins have not given him too many opportunities to shut the door. Now could be a good time to pick up Rogers, with a good chance for his club to right the ship this week.
Two clubs will be deploying a bullpen game, as both are waiting for injured starters to return. The Dodgers' Tony Gonsolin will eventually take the spot vacated by Dustin May. In the interim, they'll send former starter Jimmy Nelson to the hill to open Sunday's contest, followed by the bullpen brigade. The Mariners are still waiting on the return of Marco Gonzales and they also want to maintain their six-man rotation. As such, today their sixth spot will be filled with Robert Dugger to begin Sunday's contest before giving way to his bullpen brethren. There isn't anyone obvious in either game to pick up, although speculating on Dodgers relievers is never a bad idea.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Tyler Stephenson (R), 2%, Cincinnati Reds at Colorado Rockies (RHP Antonio Senzatela): Consider this a recommendation for either Stephenson or Tucker Barnhart, whichever backstop does the squatting for the Reds in Coors Field. Senzatela is the lowest-ranked hurler on the Sunday card, putting Kyle Farmer and Jonathan India also in play for the Reds.
First Base -- Pavin Smith (L), 37%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Erick Fedde): Fedde could be pitching for his rotation spot as Stephen Strasburg is earmarked to return next week, and Fedde is the likely "odd man out." He'll have to contend with Smith, who has been batting leadoff against right-handers. After posting a .385 OPS through his first five games, Smith has hit a very useful .281/.323/.455.
Second Base -- Josh Harrison (R), 34%, Washington Nationals at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Luke Weaver): This is not the first time a veteran Nationals infielder who is eligible at second and third has made this space. After all, Starlin Castro has been a mainstay here through the first quarter of the campaign. Castro remains a solid option, but it's worth pointing out that Harrison has been quietly productive -- especially in points leagues, where he's built upon last season's increased patience, getting on base at a nifty 35% clip.
Third Base -- Josh Fuentes (R), 4%, Colorado Rockies vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Jeff Hoffman): When Hoffman was traded to the Reds, he was probably relieved to be out of Coors Field, even though the Great American Ballpark is itself no picnic. On Sunday, Hoffman returns to his old haunts with Fuentes and the Rockies backstop (Dom Nunez or Elias Diaz) being readily available for fantasy streamers. Heading into Saturday's action, Fuentes was 7-for-13 in his last three games, with a pair of homers and a double.
Shortstop -- Elvis Andrus (R), 12%, Oakland Athletics at Minnesota Twins (RHP Kenta Maeda): Last season, streaming against Maeda was mostly fruitless, but thus far he hasn't been nearly as sharp. Andrus has quietly turned his season around, carrying a modest seven-game hitting streak into Saturday's slate, slashing .348/.375/.522 over that stretch.
Corner Infield -- Michael Chavis (R), 2%, Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Jose Quintana): With Enrique Hernandez and Christian Arroyo both nearing their returns, Chavis may be demoted back to Triple-A Worcester. He has a great opportunity to change those plans facing a homer-prone lefty, likely from the leadoff spot.
Middle Infield -- Kolten Wong (L), 44%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Huascar Ynoa): Despite cooling off since coming off the IL, Wong has still established himself as the Brewers' leadoff hitter. With Christian Yelich on a rehab assignment, it won't be long before Wong and friends get their talented All-Star back. Now is the time to get back in on Wong, as he could prosper with a healthy Yelich hitting behind him in the order.
Outfield -- Andrew Vaughn (R), 47%, Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Brady Singer): After being reluctant to let Vaughn work out of his rookie doldrums early on, injuries forced the White Sox hand and the freshman has subsequently responded with a .265/.372/.500 May (through Friday), including his first two round-trippers.
Outfield -- Robbie Grossman (S), 38%, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago Cubs (RHP Kyle Hendricks): Grossman's .377 OBP is on pace to be his best of any season since 2016. He's also taking advantage of being on base with seven steals in seven tries.
Outfield -- Harrison Bader (R), 19%, St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres (LHP Ryan Weathers): A forearm strain incurred (and aggravated) in the spring delayed Bader's 2021 debut until April 30. Since returning, he has stabilized the Cardinals outfield, hitting .261/.340/.478 with a couple of steals also in the mix.