This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.We have a full 15-game slate on Sunday and some interesting ones to look at. We have eight pitchers who are -140 favorites or better, with two more -200 or better according to Vegas. That means we have clear chalk in over two-thirds of the games. We also have five games with a run total of at least eight, so one-third of these matchups are expected to yield a lot of runs. Keep in mind that many of these teams are playing a day game after a night game, which could entail a lot of catchers sitting out and a lot of backups getting a chance to play. Be sure to check the lineups before you make your final roster decisions. We should have most, if not all of them, by the 1:07 EST lineup lock, with the possible exception of the three west coast games and the 8 p.m. ET nightcap. Here are some of the plays I have my eye on for Sunday.
James Paxton ($6,600)
Paxton is a young lefty who has been solid to start the year, striking out 11 in 12.1 innings. He gets to pitch Sunday at home in a pitcher-friendly park with a great match up. So far this season, the Rangers are hitting .190 against left-handed pitching and have the second-most strikeouts against southpaws. Paxton had a great first outing and a rough second one against a really good hitting Dodgers team. He has no wins yet, but if you add one to his average score, then he basically returns you two points for every $1,000 of cost. He has the best chance of reaching three points per thousand of cost for upside and is the best odds for a 16-to-18 point performance that can win you a large field tourney at his price.
Wilson Ramos ($3,200)
Ramos got the day off Saturday, so he is almost a lock to play Sunday. With all the uncertainty surrounding which catchers will get rest, he is a guy you do not have to worry about. He gets to face David Buchanan, who has been one of the worst statistical starting pitchers so far this year. He is giving up over a .300 batting average to right-handed hitters and was at .293 against them last year. Ramos only has one zero and no negative numbers on his game log since April 8, so he is a safe cash game play for a few points and someone with upside against a weak pitcher.
Adrian Gonzalez ($5,200)
If you go cheap at pitcher with a guy like Paxton, you will have cash to spend elsewhere. One of the places that makes sense to me is with Gonzalez, who has been MVP-good early on. He has 22 hits in 40 at-bats with five home runs and eight doubles. He goes up against a pitcher who has allowed 18 baserunners in 11 innings and struggles with bats from the left side. Gonzalez is not cheap, but his production has been elite and has paid off that price tag a few times already.
Devon Travis ($2,800)
Travis has proved his worth near the top of the order with Jose Reyes out. He has put up some monster 8+ point games for under $3,000 in the past week. His price is slow to catch up with his newfound lineup placement, and at only $2,800 he provides a ton of upside. The matchup is not perfect, but he should be able to reach his minimum value again with upside from multiple hits, runs scored and the potential for a stolen base.
Jimmy Rollins ($3,600)
Rollins has been very good lately atop the Dodgers' order. He has some huge bats that hit behind him, and he has relied on getting on base and scoring runs, like all good leadoff hitters should do. As a switch hitter, he will be batting lefty against Eddie Butler of Colorado, who tends to allow a ton of baserunners. If Butler let's Rollins get on base a few times, the big bats behind him will drive him in. The upside of being on base multiple times and possibly scoring a few runs, and the lessened risk of negative events due to the high total of runners allowed by Butler, are the perfect mix for fantasy purposes.
Alex Rodriguez ($3,700)
A-Rod has come back with a chip on his shoulder and American League pitchers better beware. He is batting over .333 so far and is fresh of a two-homer game that included a ball he crushed about 470 feet. He gets to face an overmatched Matt Andriese, who has struggled with batters from both sides of the plate. Rodriguez has been very consistent lately and has flashed the upside we like to see on more than one occasion. While the splits do not favor him directly, his price is right around a bunch of guys I would probably not pay for. A-Rod could have a monster day at low ownership due to price and available substitutes.
Bryce Harper ($4,500)
Harper has been on fire lately, with home runs in his last two while averaging over seven FanDuel points per game in his last four. He gets a weak righty in David Buchanan of the Phillies, who has a WHIP of 4.50 against left-handed batters so far this season. A red-hot hitter against a pitcher who is struggling against the type of hitter he is, makes for a good guy to target.
Nelson Cruz ($4,800)
When Cruz faces a left-handed pitcher, you start him. He had a .314 batting average last season, has been hot in recent games with hits in seven straight and six home runs overall. Ross Detwiler drew the short straw Sunday, and he has been pretty bad against right-handed batters. Over the last two years, he has allowed righties to hit over .320 against him with a home run allowed every seven innings.
Brett Gardner ($3,400)
Gardner is back atop the lineup and picking up right where he left off. He has returned a positive number in nine straight games, which makes him a viable cash option night-in and night-out. He gets a weak right-hander in Matt Andriese on Sunday, so that should continue. We already spoke of his troubles allowing base runners so far this year, and that plays right into Gardner's game. Andriese is also a right hander, so Gardner could be off to the races if he does get on. Some of the Yankees' bats are starting to hit behind him in that order, so if he gets on and steals a base, he could likely be driven home for a run scored. He is also still cheap, so he has enormous upside if he does have a good game.