While the oppressive temperatures lessen a bit this weekend, the fantasy action remains red hot. Rotisserie leagues are just past the 13-mile mark of the marathon-like season. However, those toiling in the popular head-to-head format are running out of weeks to secure a playoff berth. There's still time to make up ground, so keep grinding -- all you need is a ticket to the dance.
Friday's slate offers a quintet of arms and the usual array of bats to fortify your lineups heading into the weekend. Here's hoping you stay cool while your teams stay hot.
Here's a look at the day's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Nick Pivetta (R), rostered in 38 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates: It seems odd a pitcher with a 10.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 over halfway through the season qualifies for our recommendations. They happened, thus they can't be ignored, but take away two starts against the Nationals in which Pivetta worked a combined 2 2/3 innings and allowed 13 totals runs and his season would look much rosier. Friday's draw is a Pirates lineup sitting 23rd in terms of weighted on base average (wOBA) versus righties.
Trevor Williams (R), 25 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Philadelphia Phillies: For the season, Williams is fanning a tempered 6.7 per nine innings. However, in his past three starts he's punched out 17 in 17 2/3 frames. Williams has a chance to continue his newfound dominance, facing a Phillies lineup toting the league's highest strikeout rate versus righties (26 percent) into pitcher-friendly PNC Park.
Lance Lynn (R), 23 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Baltimore Orioles: This could be a hard sell with Lynn coming off a shellacking by the Cubs the last time out at a hot and humid Wrigley Field. However, this contest will be at the more temperate Target Field, against the weakest offense in the league with a righty on the hill.
Mike Montgomery (L), 20 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds: Montgomery has given the Cubs just what they needed in Yu Darvish's absence, providing innings while their offense and bullpen can do their thing. The southpaw has pitched to a tidy 2.43 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over seven starts, five of which being six innings long. This matchup won't be easy, as the Reds hit lefties well, but with the platoon edge on Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett, look for Montgomery to turn in another solid effort.
Dereck Rodriguez (R), 15 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Like Montgomery, Rodriguez has comported himself nicely in a fill-in role with four quality starts in his past six efforts. Supported by one of the best pitching venues in the league, Rodriguez will entertain a Cardinals squad toting an average lineup versus right-handers into AT&T Park.
With Ryan Yarbrough graduating to full-blown starter, the need for a bullpen game has waned, but it has not disappeared. Ryne Stanek is slated to open Friday's affair, though the follow-up arms aren't clear. Yarbrough is a possibility since he only threw three frames against the Marlins on Tuesday night. Matt Andriese worked only a pair of stanzas on Wednesday, so he could be brought back on Friday with Andrew Kittredge also in the mix. If it's clear Yarbrough will pitch, he's an option facing the Mets and their anemic offense with a lefty on the hill.
Projected game scores
John Ryan Murphy (R), 3 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Joey Lucchesi): Not only is Murphy hitting southpaws to the tune of a .907 OPS, he's one of the league's best pitch framers, cementing his spot in the Diamondbacks' lineup, save for when Zack Greinke is handled by his personal catcher, Jeff Mathis.
Yonder Alonso (L), 35 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Paul Blackburn): A few teams have a multitude of options facing a weak arm on Friday's docket, beginning with Alonso and his teammates Jason Kipnis and Tyler Naquin. Blackburn does a good job keeping the ball in the yard, though keep in mind Progressive Field is a sneaky good venue for lefty power.
Brock Holt (L), 2 percent, Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jason Hammel): Holt and Eduardo Nunez continue to play keystone cops while Dustin Pedroia recovers from knee soreness. Whichever manager Alex Cora writes in his lineup at second base is in play to face Hammel, one of the lowest-ranked pitchers on the schedule.
Colin Moran (L), 8 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Nick Pivetta): After facing three straight tough southpaws followed by an off day, Moran will be chomping at the bit to face a right-hander. After all, he's smacked all eight of his homers with the platoon advantage.
Jorge Polanco (B), 6 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Dylan Bundy): Coming off an 80-game suspension, it's understandable why Polanco is available in so many leagues. That said, this is a player totaling double-digit homers and steals last season, with goodly runs and RBIs. After going hitless his first game back, Polanco went 3-for-8 in his past two, including a two-bagger and a steal.
Neil Walker (B), 1 percent, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Sam Gaviglio): Walker and Brandon Drury are in line for more playing time while Gleyber Torres is sidelined. Walker isn't used to hitting from the 9-hole, but if there's one lineup where hitting last is acceptable, it's the Yankees.
Nate Orf (R), under 1 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Mike Foltynewicz): Who? After slashing .320/.397/.507 last season and .309/.416/.468 so far this year for Triple-A Colorado Springs, Orf is getting a look at the big league level. Keeping in mind the Sky Sox hitting environment is quite favorable, Orf earned the promotion in light of Orlando Arcia's continued struggles and Jonathan Villar's shoddy defense. Foltynewicz is a tough draw, though Orf did take Jose Berrios deep for his first major league hit.
Teoscar Hernandez (R), 43 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (RHP Sonny Gray): Toronto is another team with a plethora of options with Hernandez getting the nod by emerging from a rut with a four-game hitting streak heading into Friday's action. Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk are also in play, as is Kevin Pillar. The Jays don't run much, but Pillar has the ability to take advantage of the fact the Yankees have yet to catch a would-be base stealer since Gary Sanchez was placed on the disabled list.
Carlos Gonzalez (L), 22 percent, Colorado Rockies at Seattle Mariners (RHP Felix Hernandez): Admittedly, Gerardo Parra is a safer matchup. However, the gut says don't forget Gonzalez, likely serving as designed hitter in this interleague affair.
Mikie Mahtook (R), under 1 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Bartolo Colon): The final team with a few options is the Tigers taking on Colon. Injuries have resulted in the recall of Mahtook, who has been hitting leadoff. Other Tigers in play include Niko Goodrum and John Hicks.
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.