The focus is again on the AL East as the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays continue jostling for the division lead while the third-place Boston Red Sox wrap up a set with the Houston Astros, a series described as having a playoff atmosphere by players on both sides. It's also the last day of the fantasy scoring period so it's time for head-to-head combatants to pull out all the stops.
Here's the selection of players chosen to fortify Sunday lineups, all available in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Tyler Skaggs (L), rostered in 46 percent of ESPN leagues, Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals: It's getting more difficult to make a case for Skaggs as a pitcher on the verge of putting it together. By the numbers, his skills are better than his outcomes, which usually is a harbinger for better outcomes. Sometimes, the opposite occurs and skills decline. We're not there yet with Skaggs, but he needs to reverse recent trends quickly. In his favor on Sunday is squaring off with one of the league's weakest offenses with a lefty on the hill.
Jerad Eickhoff (R), 34 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies: The Rockies always display wider home-away splits than most teams, however this season the disparity is even greater as Colorado sports the second best home wOBA (weighted on base average) as compared to the third worst on the road. Even with a rough outing last time out against the Milwaukee Brewers, Eickhoff has provided the Phillies' rotation a much-needed lift, especially with Aaron Nola in a rut.
Reynaldo Lopez (R), 15 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays: On the surface, Lopez's bloated 5.58 ERA is within shouting distance of the various estimators so it's not a matter of bad luck, there's bad pitching involved. However, there's also some good pitching, particularly pertaining to strikeouts. That said, Lopez has been victimized by a high BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and HR/FB (home run per fly ball) rate. The misfortune is embellished by a high walk rate, the primary driving force of the bad pitching. If you're desperate for some pitching help, the Blue Jays are one of the least patient offenses while fanning among the most, so on paper this is a favorable spot for Lopez.
Trent Thornton (R), 3 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox: Lopez will be opposed by Thornton, but beware, this comes with a caution as the White Sox offense isn't as weak as many perceive. To date, the Pale Hose check in 18th in runs per game. Obviously, this isn't great, but it's several spots higher than most expected coming into the season. Like most rookies, Thornton has been inconsistent, but with 46 punchouts in 43 innings he can help those needing strikeouts or playing in points leagues.
Cal Quantrill (R), 1 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Padres are sticking with their plan a six-man rotation, recalling Quantrill for Sunday's contest. With off-days, a sixth starter wasn't needed for a bit, so the Friars took advantage of Quantrill having options to send him to Triple-A El Paso for a turn. He's back in a good spot, drawing a sluggish Pirates offense at home in Petco Park.
Bullpen: Looking ahead, the Chicago Cubs are home for seven games next week so there will likely be a few save chances. Steve Cishek has recorded two saves so far this week as he's Joe Maddon's current go-to guy in the ninth. Cishek won't rack up many whiffs, but he's available in 90 percent of ESPN leagues if saves are a need.
Catcher -- Christian Vazquez (R), 13 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros (LHP Wade Miley): Sandy Leon usually handles Chris Sale but he's on paternity leave and Boston isn't likely to trust temporary backup Oscar Hernandez behind the plate in an important, albeit early affair between the American League rivals. Vazquez is amid a scorching May, slashing .484/.515/.677 this month.
First Base -- C.J. Cron (R), 36 percent, Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners (LHP Yusei Kikuchi): With 40 homers since the beginning of the 2018 season, Cron has quietly smacked the 22nd most in that span. Overall, Kikuchi has pitched well but his one Achilles heel has been the long ball, surrendering eight in just 54 ⅓ frames.
Second Base -- Chad Pinder (R), 8 percent, Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers (LHP Gregory Soto): Pinder's playing time is lessening, though he's still active with a lefty on the bump. With an OPS of .888 in that scenario, it's easy to understand why.
Third Base -- Daniel Descalso (L), 3 percent, Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals (RHP Jeremy Hellickson): Especially on a Sunday, it's hard to discern what Joe Maddon has up his sleeve, but the bottom line is having as many Cubs active against Hellickson is a good thing. The playing time split with Descalso and Addison Russell at second base is a work in progress but with Descalso enjoying the platoon bump, he gets the nod.
Shortstop -- Ronny Rodriguez (R), 9 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Mike Fiers): Rodriguez continues to take advantage of the playing time afforded with Jordy Mercer sidelined, though his numbers have dipped lately. Still, five of his six homers this season have come off a righty and when Fiers isn't spinning a no-hitter, he's usually generous with the long ball. Including the gem against the Reds, Fiers has allowed nine dingers in just 51 frames.
Corner Infield -- David Fletcher (R), 21 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy): Fletcher has been enjoying a nice month with seven two-hit games since May 5. He's facing a pitcher in Duffy who has allowed 185 hits in his last 177 ⅔ innings, dating back to last season.
Middle Infield -- Wilmer Flores (R), 13 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants (LHP Drew Pomeranz): While Flores isn't having a bad season, he's not hitting for power, resulting in less playing time than initially expected. Perhaps facing Pomeranz and his eight homers authored in just 30 ⅓ IP this season will give Flores' power stroke an assist.
Outfield -- Franmil Reyes (R), 41 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Joe Musgrove): After slugging 16 homers in 285 plate appearances last season, Reyes totaled 16 in his first 154 trips to the dish in 2019. He's fanning at a reasonable 26 percent clip so the Padres are dealing with his subpar defense in right field.
Outfield -- Bryan Reynolds (S), 1 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres (RHP Cal Quantrill): In the wake of so many name-brand prospects hitting the scene, Reynolds lays in the weeds, hitting safely in three of his past four games, yielding a .929 OPS in that span.
Outfield -- Carlos Gomez (R), under 1 percent, New York Mets at Miami Marlins (RHP Sandy Alcantara): More a public service announcement than a hearty recommendation, yes, this is that Carlos Gomez. Last seen toiling for the Tampa Bay Rays, Gomez has spent 2019 with Triple-A Syracuse, biding his time. With Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto on the shelf, Gomez has been summoned. Consider him an emergency fill-in if one of your regular outfielders has the day off.