Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Friday

Hunter Renfroe is in a groove at the plate during the past three weeks. AP Photo/John Bazemore

Friday offers a typically full slate with all 30 teams playing evening affairs. The top end of the pitching ranks features Corbin Burnes and the Brewers hopping into Coors Field to roll with the Rockies along with Trevor Bauer and the Dodgers spinning into the desert to sweat it out with the Diamondbacks.

The streaming inventory isn't great, but there are options for those needing a lineup boost heading into the weekend. Here are Friday's picks, with a bonus batter. As is the custom, everyone thumbnailed is available in at least half of all ESPN leagues.


Alex Cobb (R), rostered in 16% of ESPN leagues, Los Angeles Angels vs. Detroit Tigers: Albeit interrupted by an IL visit due to a blister, Cobb allowed only one earned run in 17 May innings, fanning 20 along the way. June has not been as kind as Cobb has surrendered 10 earned runs in 10 frames, though he has punched out a respectable nine with just one free pass. A visit from the Tigers is just what Cobb needs to get back on track.

Joey Lucchesi (L), 3%, New York Mets at Washington Nationals: With three doubleheaders coming up in the next 10 days, Lucchesi will need to step up, especially if Jacob deGrom is forced to miss time with his sore shoulder. Since entering the rotation in late May, Lucchesi has posted a 1.56 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with 19 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings as he's been slowly ramping up to handle a regular workload. Last time out, the lefty tossed a season high 72 pitches, completing five innings for the first time this season. Nationals Park is a big downgrade from Citi Field, but Lucchesi has displayed the skills to handle it.

James Kaprielian (R), 39%, Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees: Comfortably streaking a rookie in Yankee Stadium is par for the course that is the bizarre 2021 campaign. Other than a hiccup against the Mariners, Kaprielian has pitched well in his other five outings, which include visits to Fenway Park, Angels Stadium and Coors Field. Sixteen walks in 32 1/3 frames are high, but the 27-year-old righty has whiffed 35 while allowing just three homers. They'll likely move up the ladder, but to date the Yankees have score the sixth fewest runs per game in the league.

Vince Velasquez (R), 7%, Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants: Velasquez is better suited for points leagues where the scoring favors strikeouts and innings while not crushing baserunner and run prevention. Those chasing strikeouts in roto-scoring should also consider the righty. Velasquez has whiffed 48 in 44 2/3 stanzas while the Giants sport the ninth highest strikeout rate in the league. However, San Francisco is also 10th best in runs per game.


Ian Kennedy is back and should immediately return to closing duties for the Rangers. The veteran had collected a dozen saves before his short IL visit. Neither Josh Sborz nor DeMarcus Evans excelled in his absence. This is relevant since Kennedy is a candidate to be dealt to a contender, paving the way for someone else to take over the ninth inning gig for Texas.

For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.


Catcher -- Omar Narvaez (L), 44%, Milwaukee Brewers at Colorado Rockies (RHP Antonio Senzatela): On paper, it doesn't get any better. Narvaez is a fly ball hitter, batting fifth with the platoon advantage against the lowest ranked starter on Friday's card. Oh yeah, all of this is in a warm Coors Field.

First Base -- Joey Votto (L), 12%, Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres (RHP Chris Paddack): Before heading to the IL after fracturing his thumb in early May, Votto was exhibiting a more aggressive approach which was beginning to pay dividend. After shaking the rust off in his first two games after returning, the veteran has slashed .296/.367/.630 in seven games.

Second Base -- Josh Harrison (R), 27%, Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets (LHP Joey Lucchesi): After a prolonged slump, a recent heater has elevated Harrison back to the five-hole with four solid hitters in front of him. As he has done most of his career, Harrison is handling lefty pitcher batter than righties.

Third Base -- Jeimer Candelario (S), 27%, Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Alex Cobb): Fantasy managers have different philosophies when it comes to streaming hitters, though sometimes it is a matter of context. Those preferring the safe route gravitate towards someone like Candelaria. He's not likely to explode with a multi-home or steal effort, but he'll put the ball in play, usually with authority.

Shortstop -- J.P. Crawford (L), 21%, Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Michael Wacha): Riding streaks is dangerous but there are a couple of underlying metrics useful when deciding whether to go back to the well. They are strikeout rate and average exit velocity during the hot spell. Since May 29, Crawford has posted a .361/.415/.583 line. His strikeout rate is the same as it was from April 1 to when the streak began, but he's picked up 3 mph of average exit velocity. This, along with enjoying the platoon edge from the leadoff spot is reason enough to let it ride.

Corner Infield -- Brandon Belt (L), 10%, San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Vince Velasquez): For the season, Belt is doing what he usually does and that is smoke the ball but be victimized by his home park. The only difference from previous years is he's fanning at an elevated clip. However, since coming off the IL, Belt has whiffed just 24% of the time, well down from his 31% season-long mark. This may seem like faint praise, but Belt has also put up a .323/.447/.645 line over this nine-game stretch.

Middle Infield -- Paul Dejong (R), 40%, St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves (LHP Max Fried): DeJong has had an awful first half but there is hope for a rebound. His overall average exit velocity is way down but his average exit velocity on fly balls is a career best. This is relevant since power is driven by fly ball exit velocity while BABIP is much less correlated to ground ball velocity. DeJong is due better luck even with an improved exit velocity on grounders. That said, his history should be more telling than two-plus month so expect water to find its level and his average to ascent while his power continues to subsist.

Outfield -- Odubel Herrera (L), 26%, Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants (RHP Johnny Cueto): While he's not demonstrating the level of power and speed teased early in his career, Herrera is pacing towards low teens totals in homers and steals.

Outfield -- Hunter Renfroe (R), 29%, Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jackson Kowar): It took Renfroe a bit of time to adjust, but he's finally settled in offensively and defensively, showing off his strong arm on multiple occasions. At the dish, Renfroe has slashed .354/.440/.615 over his last 19 games, punctuated by a stingy 19% strikeout rate in that span, well below his career 27% mark.

Outfield -- Leury Garcia (S), 4%, Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros (RHP Luis Garcia): Runs are often overlooked in rotisserie scoring. Garcia continues to be an under-the-radar contributor to the category, crossing the plate eight time in 11 June games.

Utility -- Bobby Bradley (L), 12%, Cleveland Indians at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Chad Kuhl): Bradley has responded to his recent promotion, pounding a .375/.429/.813 line in 10 games. Please note, he's played eight games at first base so he's still just eligible at utility. ESPN standard rules require 10 games in season to qualify at a new position, so Bradley could add first base by the end of the weekend.