Friday offers its standard full slate with every contest under the lights. The National League dominates the top pitching, including the league's best with Max Scherzer finally getting to take the mound after a couple of postponements and an off-day.
As is often the case with the full allotment of games, there's a plethora of pitching and hitting available to get your weekend off on the right foot. After poring over the numbers, here are some favorable options.
Pitchers to stream
Kyle Gibson (R), rostered in 30 percent of ESPN leagues, Minnesota Twins vs. Milwaukee Brewers: For some, this could be a matter of overcoming perception or bias. Gibson has evolved into a decent hurler while the Brewers' offense isn't as productive as many thought it would be with the addition of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. There's obviously still time for the Crew to get it going, but for now there's no reason to avoid them, especially since they whiff at a 24 percent clip against righties. Speaking of which, ESPN research associate Kyle Soppe notes that Gibson's balanced repertoire has resulted in an increased swinging strike rate and thus more punch-outs. He also thinks Gibson has a cool first name.
Tyson Ross (R), 37 percent, San Diego Padres at Pittsburgh Pirates: Granted, Ross pitches for a team with a weaker offense so wins will be hard to come by, but everything else warrants being picked up in more leagues. Ross is carrying a 10.0 K/9, rendered more useful since he's pitched at least six frames in all but one of his seven starts. As a point of reference, the average innings per start is 5.46, an all-time low in the history of the game. The Pirates began the season crushing right-handers, however for the last month they've been in the lower half of the league in that department.
Drew Pomeranz (L), 33 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles: While the Orioles' bats have had a couple of productive games in the past week or so, they're not the daunting attack of years' past. Pomeranz is still looking to find a groove after missing the early part of the season, but he has fanned 12 in his last 10 frames, albeit with seven walks. On paper, this is a favorable matchup for strikeouts and a possible win, but it carries the danger of damaging your ratios too.
Kyle Freeland (L), 22 percent, Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants: It's #KyleDay! After a couple of hiccups in mid-April, Freeland has spun four straight nice outings, registering a tidy 1.65 ERA and .91 WHIP spanning 27.1 innings, whiffing 27 along the way. Friday, he gets a huge park upgrade, facing a Giants lineup carrying a weak weighted on-base average along with a high strikeout clip with a lefty on the hill.
Nick Tropeano (R), 2 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays: With no pitchers to avoid, here's a bonus streamer. This is the second start back from a trip to the disabled list for the Tommy John recoveree. He benefits from a stellar defense and favorable home park, not to mention facing a middling offense.
One of the sneaky means of getting an edge in leagues with daily moves is picking up players a day in advance. The Cubs and Reds play a doubleheader on Saturday. Their respective closers, Brandon Morrow and Raisel Iglesias, are likely already on a roster in your league. However, if either is extended in the opener, someone else may need to work the nightcap. The most likely candidates are Carl Edwards Jr. for the Cubs and Jared Hughes for the Reds. If you play in a league scoring holds, definitely check out both teams' available relievers, doubling your chances to add some points.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The "*" symbol means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating. These are the author's ratings.
Mitch Garver (R), under 1 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Milwaukee Brewers (LHP Brent Suter): Assuming the Twins don't bring in another backstop or turn more to veteran Bobby Wilson, Garver will see the lion's share of playing time behind the dish in the Twin Cities. He may not be worthy of a permanent roster spot in one-catcher leagues, but he warrants a look in two-catcher formats. On Friday, he enjoys the platoon edge on a hittable lefty, likely batting out of the productive 5-hole.
Mitch Moreland (L), 22 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Alex Cobb): It's not a sure thing Moreland is in the lineup, even against a righty. He's played more frequently lately as the club has given Jackie Bradley Jr. a few days off to work on his swing. Hopefully, Moreland (and his 1.062 OPS versus righties) is playing. If not, chances are Bradley Jr. is and is worth a shot in deeper leagues.
Rougned Odor (L), 22 percent, Texas Rangers at Chicago White Sox (RHP Carson Fulmer): Odor was activated off the disabled list a little over a week ago, looking to erase his early struggles with solid production from here on out. His bat looks to be waking up. Last season's counting stats were fine, his average was lower than it should have been based on the underlying metrics. This could be the time to get in on Odor. He's better than he's demonstrated to open the season.
Yolmer Sanchez (B), 23 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Texas Rangers (Undecided): With Cole Hamels scratched from Thursday's scheduled start, Doug Fister was moved up a day with Friday's starter unclear as of this writing. Recommending a switch-hitter situated at the top of the order in this scenario has two benefits. First, it doesn't matter which way the pitcher throws. Second, he'll be a Ranger, so he won't be very good.
Freddy Galvis (B), 5 percent, San Diego Padres at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Ivan Nova): Because not much was expected from Galvis, his sluggish start to the 2018 campaign has gone mostly unnoticed. However, the Padres are aware and have dropped him in their order. Still, he's a better hitter than he's shown to date and worth a pickup at a position without many other options.
Mark Reynolds (R), 8 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (RHP Ross Stripling): First Matt Adams, now Reynolds. What is it with these power-hitting first basemen becoming rejuvenated in the nation's capital? Reynolds has been playing first in Ryan Zimmerman's absence, with Adams grabbing his outfielder's mitt. Stripling isn't likely to work deep in the contest, giving Reynolds and his mates some cracks at an underperforming bullpen, devoid of one of their better arms in Stripling himself.
Ben Zobrist (B), 22 percent, Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): This feels like picking low-hanging fruit as Bailey continues to be one of the worst pitchers in the league, allowing homers in six straight outings, including four with multiple long balls.
Dustin Fowler (L), 4 percent, Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Marco Estrada): After playing musical chairs in center field, Oakland hopes Fowler holds onto the final seat. He has the power-speed combo yearned for in fantasy. Facing Estrada, Fowler is in a good spot to show them both off.
Noel Cuevas (R), under 1 percent, Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants (LHP Derek Holland): Cuevas would be more attractive at home, though to be fair he hasn't hit there either. This is for deeper leagues and is more anti-Holland than pro-Cuevas. The Giants lefty has posted a weak 4.1 BB/9 and 1.5 HR/9 in his eight efforts.
Hunter Dozier (R), under 1 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. New York Yankees (LHP CC Sabathia): With Lucas Duda on the disabled list, Dozier was summoned to get a look at first base. His prospect star has dimmed, but he wouldn't be the first post-hype success story. Sabathia has struggled versus right-handers, Dozier has the patience and pop to take advantage.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth), as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.