Normally, the sage approach is targeting batters in doubleheaders since you have the chance for more than one game's worth of stats. The conundrum this season is if the player only appears once, you run the risk of getting only six innings if the home team is leading.
As such, the players featured all have one game on the docket. Along with the Tigers and Twins, hitters from the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates are avoided. If you have a strong feeling someone from one of these clubs will play two, click them in.
On the other hand, pitchers in a seven-inning doubleheader have an advantage as there's less of a risk weaker relievers give up a lead. In some cases, the starter passes the baton directly to the closer. Other times, the top setup man is called upon as a bridge. Unfortunately, Friday's card isn't cooperating with only one pitcher below working in a doubleheader. However, with so many twin bills coming up, there will be opportunities to take advantage.
Dane Dunning (R), rostered in 16% of ESPN leagues, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals: Casey Mize and Sixto Sanchez have received many plaudits, and deservedly so. However, don't overlook Dunning and his impressive foray into The Show. Last time out, the rookie stifled the Royals over five innings, fanning seven with just one walk. The rematch is in Kauffman Stadium where the Royals are more comfortable, but they're still a second-division lineup.
Josh Fleming (L), 12%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Miami Marlins: Fleming doesn't come with the pedigree of the aforementioned rookies, but he's matched them in performance, providing the deplted Rays staff with a needed shot in the arm. The freshman southpaw has fanned nine in 10 ½ innings, issuing just one walk. As is the case a lot this season, this is another return match as Fleming shut out the Marlins over 5 1/3 in his last outing, punching out six with no walks.
Steven Brault (L), 1%, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds: Brault is not only the only non-rookie to be featured, he's the only starter working in a doubleheader. The Reds offense has been a disappointment, though Jesse Winker has been scorching lately. Winker has been hitting southpaw pitching this season, but it still helps to have a lefty on the hill to help slow him down.
Kyle Cody (R), fewer than 1%, Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners: It's Pavlovian to dismiss unknown Rangers pitching as pitching in the old Globe Life Park was a challenge. It's a different story this season, not to mention this contest is in T-Mobile Park. The pick comes with a warning as Cody may not pitch the requisite five innings for a possible win. However, the Mariners lineup is soft and not very patient, so if you're looking for a shot in the dark in deep leagues, Cody is in the mix.
Bullpen: How to approach starters and sticks in a doubleheader has been discussed. As we've harped on all season, grabbing closers on team's playing two is a great ploy, as is securing the next-in-line.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Projected game scores
Catcher -- Carson Kelly (R), 22%, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants (LHP Tyler Anderson): Of all positions, catcher is least likely to play both ends of a pair, though some teams slot their slugging backstop at designated hitter in the nightcap. With a lefty on the hill, Kelly should play and while he's been struggling at the dish this season, he's better with the platoon, socking both his homers in that scenario.
First Base -- Garrett Cooper (R), 6%, Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Josh Fleming): Since being activated off the IL, Cooper is slashing a tidy 320 /.346/.680 in six games.
Second Base -- Nick Madrigal (R), 28%, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (RHP Brady Singer): Since coming off the IL, Nick Madrigal is slashing .474/.474/.474, which effectively sums up his game. Madrigal is all about putting the bat on the ball with limited patience and even less power. However, he has good speed and can help your batting average while scoring sum runs in a prolific White Sox lineup.
Third Base -- Alec Bohm (R), 26%, Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets (RHP Rick Porcello): Bohm continues to demonstrate he's not overmatched, fanning just nine times in 67 plate appearances, drawing seven walks. He also has good pop with a pair of homers and five doubles. Porcello has only surrendered two home runs in 33 frames but he's given up a whopping 44 hits.
Shortstop -- Willy Adames (R), 30%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Pablo Lopez): I've been very complimentary to ESPN leagues as this is the sharpest I've seen %ROST levels. That said, despite the strength of the position, Adames is a miss. The guy is slashing .322/.398/.585 for the season. Sure, a lot of the damage has come recently, but there are far less productive shortstops still on a roster in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Corner Infield -- Jose Marmolejos (L), 32%, Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Kyle Cody): As they've done the past couple of seasons, the Mariners latch onto a hot bat and ride the streak as long as they can. Marmolejos is doing what the club hoped Daniel Vogelbach would do, slashing .421/.500/1.000 with three homers over the last week.
Middle Infield -- Jurickson Profar (S), 16%, San Diego Padres at Oakland Athletics (LHP Jesus Luzardo): Overall Profar's bat is below par, but his numbers against lefties are passable. He's also carrying a six-game hitting streak into Thursday's action, posting a Coors-inflated yet still robust 1.563 OPS in that span.
Outfield -- Alex Dickerson (L), 15%, San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Taylor Clarke): Speaking of Coors-inflated, Dickerson returns home after going 7-for-16 with three homers and three double in the short two-game set. Obviously, Oracle Park is a huge step down for batters, but Dickerson's confidence is no doubt high and he enjoys the platoon edge on a weak arm. This all assumes the club was able to convince Dickerson to board the plan and head back to San Francisco.
Outfield -- Tyler Naquin (L), 4%, Cleveland Indians vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Corbin Burnes): It's often noted when a player in on a hitting streak. Well, Naquin has an RBI in seven of his past eight starts, punctuated by driving home five teammates in his last game.
Outfield -- Leody Taveras (S), 1%, Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners (LHP Yusei Kikuchi): Though it wasn't an all-out fire sale, the Rangers appear to be waving the surrender flag. One of the goals the rest of the season is auditioning Taveras, their newly installed leadoff hitter. The 21-year old outfielder has good speed with developing power. Like many raw hitters, he needs to work on his plate skills, but he has the tools to be a good one.
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) 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 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, 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. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author's ratings.