Per usual, Friday's slate is the full 15 games, all under the lights. Nine of the contests have playoff implications, though none of the teams in contention are playing each other. The marquee series features the Diamondbacks visiting the Astros opening an interleague set. The top fantasy pitcher, Max Scherzer, takes the hill in Atlanta as the Braves look to move one step closer to capturing the NL East.
It's an important time in ESPN leagues as this is the final weekend of the two-week matchup in standard head-to-head formats. To that end, there's a nice array of pitchers to pick up as well as hitters, all available in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to Stream
Zach Eflin (R), rostered in 27 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins: While Elin's second-half swoon isn't the only reason for the Phillies losing ground to the Braves, it's a major contributor. Still, with the Marlins in town, Eflin and his ability to miss bats is in play. Since the break, the righty has posted a bloated 6.35 ERA, largely a result of serving up nine homers in those 45.1 innings. Miami has hit the fewest home runs in the league.
Matt Shoemaker (R), 14 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Seattle Mariners: Without anything to play for, the Angels are being careful with Shoemaker, pushing his original Thursday start to Friday. In his two outings since returning from the disabled after missing most of the season, Shoemaker has tossed ten frames, allowing three runs with seven whiffs and two walks. Don't expect a lengthy effort, however Shoemaker should be able to keep the Mariners in check as Seattle carries a below average against right-handers into pitcher-friendly Angels Stadium.
Chris Stratton (R), 8 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies: There isn't a bigger park differential than AT&T Park and Coors Field. This exasperates the differential between the Rockies' home and away production as they're already near the bottom of the league in terms of wRC+ on the road versus right-handers, including a generous 25 percent strikeout clip. Since rejoining the Giants' rotation, Stratton has recorded a 2.84 ERA and .83 WHIP, albeit it with a light 18 punch outs in those 25.1 innings.
Jorge Lopez (R), 6 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins: Last time out, Lopez carried a perfect game into the into the ninth versus Friday's foe, the Twins. However, that's not the sole reason for highlighting the former Brewers prospect. In his start before that masterpiece, he tossed seven innings of one-run ball against the Orioles, fanning eight. Before dismissing the effort since it was against one of the worst teams in the league, the Baltimore offense is a respectable 14th overall versus righties since the break.
Robbie Erlin (L), 1 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Texas Rangers: Here's another example of taking advantage of a team's significant home/road splits, especially since the visiting Rangers will be devoid of their designated hitter in this interleague affair. Admittedly, Erlin is going through a rough patch, punctuated by coming his worst effort of the season, absorbing a seven-spot at the hand of the Reds. However, for the season, his 3.40 FIP and 3.47 xFIP indicate he's pitched better than his 4.42 ERA suggests.
Any time Ryan Yarbrough lines up to come out of the bullpen and work the bulk of the middle innings for Tampa Bay, he's worthy of consideration. Not having pitched since September 8, there's a strong chance Yarbrough will do just that, entering Friday's tilt after Diego Castillo opens. That said, with the largely right-handed Oakland Athletics visiting Tropicana Field, this is a tough draw for the Ray's lefty.
Projected game scores
Austin Hedges (R), 16 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Yohander Mendez): Assuming you can wait until game time to make your decision, Hedges or Francisco Mejia are great options against the promising, but still raw left arm of Mendez, who is expected to come on after "opener" RHP Connor Sadzeck. Hedges' calling card is power while Mejia makes excellent contact, especially for a backstop. Mendez has only allowed two runs in 10 frames being inserted into the Rangers' rotation this month. However, he's whiffed a scant five with four free passes during that span.
Rowdy Tellez (L), 3 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka): It will take the Jays sitting either Justin Smoak or Kendrys Morales, but Toronto has been inclined to do just that lately to get a look at Tellez. The 23-year old prospect didn't exactly crush it at Triple-A Buffalo, swatting 13 homers in 112 games for the Bisons. That said, Tanaka remains susceptible to lefty power, especially with the short porch in right field.
Jonathan Villar (B), 47 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): Shields has actually flashed signs of mediocrity lately. Still, he's not only homer-prone, he does a poor job controlling the running game. This makes Villar the ideal batter to target as he has the power and speed combo necessary to take advantage.
Joey Wendle (L), 45 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Edwin Jackson): He won't win it, but Wendle should garner some American League Rookie of the Year votes, buoyed by a .309/.352/.473 line since the break, including a half-dozen steals. The wheels could finally be falling off Jackson's out-of-nowhere campaign as he's posted a 5.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP with only 13 strikeouts to eight walks in those 18 innings.
Kevin Newman (R), under 1 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers (LHP Gio Gonzalez): Jordy Mercer is an impending free agent, so the Pirates are giving Newman an audition down the stretch. Newman doesn't offer much by way of power, but he can steal a base as evidenced by the 28 pilfers for the Triple-A Indians this season.
Daniel Palka (L), 3 percent, Chicago White Sox at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Luis Ortiz): Ortiz was acquired by the Orioles from the Brewers in the Jonathan Schoop deal. He had a combined 3.81 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP split between Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Norfolk, with just 86 strikeouts in the 99 innings. Palka has issues making contact but that shouldn't be as problematic facing Ortiz. When Palka does hit the ball, there's a good chance it will leave the yard with 19 of his 21 homers coming with a righty on the mound.
Ian Kinsler (R), 40 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. New York Mets (RHP Noah Syndergaard): When a team has won 100 games at this point of the season, a lot has gone right. An under-the-radar aspect of the Red Sox is their stolen base acumen as they sit third in overall steals, fueled by the game's best steal success rate. The trick against Syndergaard is getting on. After that, he's one of the easiest to run on in the majors.
Kole Calhoun (L), 44 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Seattle Mariners (Bullpen game): It's been a curious season for Calhoun. After a terrible first half where he was dropped to the bottom of the order, often sitting against southpaws, he's back in the everyday leadoff spot, regardless who's on the hill. A .264/.362/.478 line since the break isn't crushing it, but it's certainly playable against a suspect Mariners staff, who are expected to kick off a bullpen game with Roenis Elias.
Christin Stewart (L), 1 percent, Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians (RHP Josh Tomlin): With a playoff berth all but wrapped up with no chance of improving their seed, the Indians have the luxury of lining up their pitching for the American League Division Series. The first step is getting Corey Kluber on pace for the opener, hence giving Tomlin a spot start. Despite working only 55 innings, Tomlin has surrendered a whopping 22 long balls this season. Stewart recently received his long-awaited call-up and will play the bulk of the games in left field for Detroit down the stretch. His primary asset is power, which comes in handy, especially in Progressive Field as the venue is sneaky generous to lefty swingers.
Brandon Guyer (R), under 1 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): Boyd has quietly picked it up since the break, spinning a 3.18 ERA and .92 WHIP in 56.2 innings, including 55 strikeouts and just nine free passes. Navigating through the Indians' lineup will be a challenge, in part due to Guyer's prowess versus southpaw pitching.
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.