Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. MLB game odds are provided by ESPN BET, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

Note: This file will be updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

It’s been a rocky few years for Toronto Blue Jays SP Alek Manoah. He endeared himself to MLB fans after fanning three while being mic’d up during the 2022 All-Star game. Manoah finished third in the Cy Young voting that season.

Entering last year, Manoah was ranked among the top starting pitchers, though some expressed concern over a low strikeout rate relative to other aces. Many also wondered if Manoah, who is a notoriously slow worker, would be affected by the newly instituted pitch clock.

Of course, 2023 was an unmitigated disaster. Be it regression or having to adjust to the pitch clock, Manoah couldn’t get in a groove. He was twice demoted, the first time to the Florida Complex League, where he was shelled by the New York Yankees rookie affiliate in his first outing. The right-hander received several injections in September, designed to reduce pain and shoulder inflammation. He initiated the procedure, despite no evidence of structural damage.

Manoah and the Blue Jays didn’t see eye-to-eye over the manner he was handled last season, but the parties mended fences and the burly 26-year-old was slated for a spot in the Opening Day rotation. He showed up in spring training after losing weight in the offseason. However, he developed shoulder soreness and began the season on the injured list.

Manoah threw 18 rehab innings with Triple-A Buffalo, posting a 6.50 ERA and 1.67 WHIP, albeit with an encouraging 26 strikeouts in 18 innings. However, he walked seven and served up four homers in that span.

Manoah made his first 2024 start for the Blue Jays on May 5. He was lit up by the Washington Nationals, yielding six earned runs on seven hits in four frames.

A week later, Manoah stymied a solid Minnesota Twins lineup, allowing three runs (but zero earned) on just four hits. He punched out six while issuing only one free pass. Is this enough to signify Manoah has turned the corner?

His pitch mix and usage are like that of 2022: four-seam fastball, sinker, slider and changeup. However, the velocity on his four-seamer and sinker are up a tick, which is encouraging especially since this could generate more strikeouts.

If Manoah’s stuff is back, it comes down to command and control. Control-wise, Manoah’s strike rate was only 56.5% in his first start of the season, but it spiked to 70.5% in his last outing.

Is this enough to wipe away two years of disappointment? No, not even close. However, Manoah should at least be back on the fantasy radar. Focus on maintaining velocity and keeping strike percentage around 65%. If Manoah can do both, results should follow.

As for Sunday, Manoah (5.5% rostered in ESPN leagues) checks in seventh overall among probable starters and as the top-ranked steaming option. The lofty rank reflects the early success he enjoyed, while the low rostership is due to the struggles experienced last season and so far this year. Manoah and the Toronto Blue Jays wrap up a home series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

In head-to-head leagues, deployment is based on needs. In other formats, my lean is waiting at least one more outing, and keep on eye on strikeouts. The positive aspect is, at minimum, Manoah has entered the chat.

Everything else you need to know for Sunday

• Chicago Cubs SP Jameson Taillon (21.8% rostered) is listed just below Manoah. After four starts, Taillon posted a 1.13 ERA and .88, with three outings at home in Wrigley Field. The Atlanta Braves hit him hard the last time out, scoring seven runs (just two earned) on seven hits in four innings. On Sunday, Taillon draws the Pittsburgh Pirates, who sport the second least productive lineup in the league while fanning the fifth most facing righties, rendering Taillon as one of the ledger’s top spot starters.

• New York Mets southpaw Sean Manaea has opened May with a pair of quality starts. He’s in a favorable spot to keep the streak alive with a road date in South Beach against the Miami Marlins. The hosts offense has the second lowest wOBA in MLB with a lefty on the mound.

JP Sears has pitched into some good luck as his ERA is 3.96 while the expected level is almost a run higher. A low .238 BABIP and 77.4% left on base mark are the chief reasons. Even with a ratio earnings correction coming, Sears is in play on Sunday when the Oakland Athletics wrap up a series in Kauffman Stadium with the Kansas City Royals. The host’s offense is the 10th least productive against lefties.

It’s not too late to start a free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday. Come and join the fun!

Starting pitcher rankings for Sunday


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