Friday features 14 games under the lights with the sole matinee, as usual, in the Windy City. However, this time it is the Chicago White Sox with the honors, hosting the Oakland Athletics. Nine of the contests are divisional battles, headed by the Washington Nationals visiting the New York Mets and the Minnesota Twins entertaining the Cleveland Indians.
In terms of fantasy, there's a slew of starting pitchers in the 60% to 80% rostership range. Those in very shallow leagues in need of a pitching boost should check out Caleb Smith, Marco Gonzales, Julio Teheran and Mike Fiers.
Here are Friday's hitting and pitching options falling under the 50% cutoff.
Brad Keller (R), rostered in 25% of ESPN leagues, Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers: There will be occasional games there the Tigers do damage with their bats, but by and large, streaming pitchers against the men from Motown will be a successful ploy down the stretch. Keller is a good example as his skills are pedestrian, but he benefits from facing the third-easiest team for right-handers to strike out.
Dakota Hudson (R), 23%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: After a two-month stretch where Hudson pitched to a 2.56 ERA, he's in a rut, walking 19 in his last 30 frames. The Pirates are one of the least patient offenses in the league, giving Hudson a good chance to flip the script.
Drew Smyly (L), 9%, Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants: After a pair of solid outings with the Phillies, Smyly surrendered five runs in five frames to the White Sox last time out. However, four tallies came on a two-out grand slam in the second inning. Yes, it happened, so it matters, but for the game Smyly fanned seven with just one walk, boding well for a rebound. Plus, he squares off with the third-weakest team with a lefty on the hill, working in a great pitching venue.
Cal Quantrill (R), 6%, San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies: While it makes sense for the Rockies to exhibit exaggerated home/road splits, it's surprising they're the league's worst away team with a righty on the hill, checking in with a league low .272 wOBA (weighted on base average) and league-high .296 K% in this scenario. Quantrill's ERA estimators are about a run higher than his actual 3.57 mark, however in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, he's in a position to succeed.
With the manner MLB teams are handling bullpens, there are just as many saves as normal, but they're distributed among more relievers. As such, there are fewer aggregate saves contributing to the category in rotisserie leagues. This is the point of the season many are looking to acquire saves to move up in the category. Before investing valuable trade assets in one of the top closers, consider over the past month Kenley Jansen has notched just three saves with Kirby Yates logging only a pair and Felipe Vazquez snaring just one. Especially if you need to deal for help in other categories, be prudent when assuming a top closer will narrow the gap in saves.
Catcher -- Danny Jansen (R), 31%, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (LHP J.A. Happ): What goes up must come down and sure enough, Jansen has cooled considerably from his torrid stretch about a month ago. However, he's still dangerous with a southpaw toeing the rubber. Also, as a public service announcement, Jansen's teammate Bo Bichette has narrowly eclipsed the 50% cutoff but could be available to help at shortstop.
First base -- Mitch Moreland (L), 9%, Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP Jaime Barria): The Red Sox may be reeling and on the outside, looking in with respect to a playoff berth, but it isn't the fault of the offense. The defending champs average the third most runs scored, behind only the Yankees and Twins. Injuries have derailed Moreland's 2019 campaign but when healthy, he's a threat against righties.
Second base -- Keston Hiura (R), 47%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Kolby Allard): Fast-forward to next spring. Where would a second baseman projected to hit over .300 with 40-something homers and 20-something steals be ranked? This isn't to say that's where Hiura will be projected, but in about one-third of a season, that's his prorated line. At minimum, Hiura deserves to be on the other side of the 50% plateau.
Third base -- J.D. Davis (R), 10%, New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Stephen Strasburg): Granted, facing Strasburg isn't the ideal draw, but Davis has been an under-the-radar key in the Mets' second-half surge, registering a 1.139 OPS the last three weeks. For his career, Strasburg isn't more effective with the platoon edge, so Davis isn't at a disadvantage.
Shortstop -- Leury Garcia (S), 13%, Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Mike Fiers): Shortstop is the toughest spot to fill on Friday's card, so hopefully you're set with one of the many productive options. One of the stories of the 2019 campaign will be how it's a renaissance era for shortstops. Even though the White Sox are a second division team, Garcia is pacing for over 100 runs.
Corner infield -- Gio Urshela (R), 21%, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Sean Reid-Foley): Aaron Boone's batters remain savages in the box. Granted, they're no longer taking batting practice against the Orioles staff at Camden Yards, but Rogers Centre is a good place to hit and Reid-Foly was walked 14 in 21 2/3 innings.
Middle infield -- Kolten Wong (L), 31%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Chris Archer): While it hasn't resulted in as much production as the numbers portend, Wong is slashing .373/.449/.492 the previous three weeks. All he can do is continue to get on and hope there are teammates already on the pond or able to drive him home.
Outfield -- Franmil Reyes (R), 35%, Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins (LHP Devin Smeltzer): Reyes has been quiet since being acquired by the Indians at the trade deadline. He has also pounded 24 of his 27 homers off righty pitching. However, results in such small samples aren't telling; it's best to assume he benefits from a platoon advantage. Further, Smeltzer is a fly ball pitcher with a fastball sitting in the low 80s, profiling perfect for Reyes to get off the schneid with is new club.
Outfield -- Manuel Margot (R), 8%, San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): Freeland's Coors 9.50 ERA is obviously terrible, but it's not like his 4.91 road mark is something to write home about. Righty batters have blasted Freeland for a .391 wOBA (weighted on base average). This is a desirable setup for Margot, sitting with the platoon edge atop an improving lineup.
Outfield -- Delino DeShields (R), 2%, Texas Rangers at Milwaukee Brewers (LHP Gio Gonzalez): With the steals category in rotisserie leagues so hotly contested this season, it has been a common practice to identify a spot starter with a good chance to swipe a bag. Despite facing a southpaw, DeShields gets the nod as the Rangers check in with a 7/10 with respect to steals in Friday's Hitting Forecaster.