Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Friday's MLB games

Alex Cobb of the San Francisco Giants has a 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings rate, the second highest of his career. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. MLB game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared towards ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

Note: This file has been updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.

What you need to know for Friday's MLB Games

By Todd Zola

  • The first Friday of September fashions 15 games, with everything played under the lights. The slate begins with a pair of games starting just after 6:30 PM ET with Alek Manoah, the day's top ranked starter taking the spotlight when the Blue Jays visit Pittsburgh in an interleague affair. Manoah is enjoying a Cy Young-caliber season, albeit with a lower strikeout rate than normal. However, his swinging strikeout mark portends a level slightly higher than his current 23.3%. Given, the Pirates proclivity to fan will be factored into Manoah's expectation as the Pirates whiff at a 25% clip against righties but backing a Manoah strikeout prop on an evening he should provide depth could be profitable.

  • Nick Pivetta sports a 4.40 ERA and 1.32 WHIP while Alex Cobb checks in at 3.81 and 1.30. Cobb's strikeout rate is higher than Pivetta's, though Cobb has thrown 30 fewer innings. One would expect Cobb to be rostered in around the same number of leagues as Pivetta, but Cobb's rostership is just 24%, less than half of Pivetta's 53% level. Both are in play as streamers with Cobb and the San Francisco Giants hosting the Philadelphia Phillies and Pivetta and the Boston Red Sox entertaining the Texas Rangers.

  • The Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers get together for an AL Central affair with Daniel Lynch (2%) taking the hill for the visiting Royals while Drew Hutchison (1%) gets the nod for the host Tigers. Both lineups are prime to pick on, but Hutchison has been quietly pitching well, so he's a slightly better choice than Lynch if you need some innings heading into the weekend. Over his prior six outings, Hutchison has posted a 2.84 ERA, albeit with a 1.42 WHIP and only 19 strikeouts in those 31 2/3 frames. However, the Royals have the fourth lowest wOBA facing righties.

  • Dean Kremer (13%) posted a 2.25 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in August. He whiffed only 21 in 32 frames, but he issued only four free passes while yielding just one homer. Kremer is in a great spot to pick up where he left off with his first September start coming at home against an anemic Oakland Athletics club. Not only is Kremer a solid spot starter, but he also checks all the boxes for DFS action.

  • While three or four batter stacks are more popular (and effective), sometimes using a tandem of players from the same team is fruitful, both in DFS and traditional fantasy. Here are three pairs of hitters in favorable spots on Friday. Jose Miranda (34%) and Nick Gordon (3%) face Davis Martin, with Gordon enjoying the platoon edge. Lars Nootbaar (29%) and Corey Dickerson (3%) each benefit from the platoon bump over Adrian Sampson, as do Enrique Hernandez (50%) and Bobby Dalbec (7%) over southpaw Dallas Keuchel.

Starting pitcher rankings for Friday

Best Sub-50% Rostered Hitters for Friday

Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing, and lots more.

Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Friday

THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Friday

Prop of the Day

Dustin May strikeouts: Over/Under 5.5 (+120/-152)


THE BAT sees May putting up 3.9 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 21.3% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $46.20.

Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.


  • THE BAT projects May in the 86th percentile as it relates to his strikeout talent.

  • Dodger Stadium profiles as the No. 9 park in the league for strikeouts, according to THE BAT projection system.


  • THE BAT X projects May to throw 76 pitches in this matchup (least of all pitchers on the slate), considering both his underlying tendencies and the matchup.

  • The San Diego Padres (18.8 K%, via THE BAT X) project to have the least strikeout-heavy lineup today.

  • High temperatures are strongly correlated with more offense (and fewer Ks), and the weather report calls for the second-hottest temperature of all games on the slate today at 84 degrees.

  • May has been lucky with his strikeouts since the start of last season, posting a 12.71 K/9 despite THE BAT estimating his true talent level to be 8.87 -- a 3.84 K/9 gap.