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

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 toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

For an in-depth look at what to expect in this daily article and for how to best utilize the information contained within, check out our handy primer here.

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

  • Friday's action begins at Wrigley Field with a 2:20 p.m. ET matinee. The Baltimore Orioles fly into the Windy City for a three-game weekend set with the Chicago Cubs. The interleague affair marks Kyle Hendricks' (4.2% rostered in ESPN leagues) first start since his dalliance with a no-hitter in San Francisco. It may be tempting to pick up Hendricks based on name recognition, but despite eight shutout innings of one-hit ball his last time out, Hendricks is still a risk to get hit hard any time he takes the hill. He fanned only three in his no-hit bid, bringing his total to only 15 punchouts in 23⅓ innings. Keep in mind, using pitchers with a low strikeout rate hinders potential in leagues with a weekly innings or games started limit.

  • Rich Hill (9.2% rostered) isn't dominant, but his 21.5% strikeout rate is palatable for streaming, especially when facing a Milwaukee Brewers team that is fanning at a league-high 28.5% facing southpaws. The Pittsburgh Pirates are in Milwaukee, so Hill will incur a park downgrade, but the Brewers' home run rate against left-handers is below league average.

  • Stream a pitcher against the hottest team in MLB? A couple of weeks ago, using Taijuan Walker (12.7%) in Oakland would have been Pavlovian. You know what? Nothing has changed, except the Athletics no longer have the worst record in the league, passing that dubious distinction to the Kansas City Royals. The Oakland offense is on a heater, but streaks can cease at any time. Maybe Walker is better suited for DFS deployment since some may be scared off, but he's in play for a spot start in traditional fantasy.

  • Jared Shuster (3.5%) is yet another low strikeout pitcher with a favorable matchup, as the Atlanta Braves host the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies traditionally struggle on the road with a lefty on the hill, and this season is more of the same. Colorado totes the second-lowest wOBA and fourth-highest strikeout rate on the road versus left-handers into Truist Park.

  • For those preferring more strikeout upside in their spot starters, J.P. France (10.4%) is the best option on a card devoid of the usual number of candidates. The Houston Astros entertain the Cincinnati Reds for a weekend interleague series. Rookie Elly De La Cruz has gobs of potential, but he's fanning at a 37.5% clip, which is one of the reasons the Reds' offense strikes out at an above average rate facing righties. France has whiffed 25 over his previous 25⅓ stanzas.

  • The Miami Marlins are a sneaky source of offense on the Friday docket as they open a series in the nation's capital. Nationals Park is a hitting upgrade, and the Marlins draw Trevor Williams, one of the lowest ranked hurlers on the card. Williams fans more righties, but overall, right-handed batters are just as productive as lefty swingers. Bryan De La Cruz (33.7%) is the prime target, followed by Jesus Sanchez (2.7%), and Garrett Cooper (2.3%).

  • The Cubs are also in a favorable spot facing Orioles lefty Cole Irvin. Seiya Suzuki (49.7%), Christopher Morel (20.7%), Patrick Wisdom (16.3%) and Trey Mancini (5.5%) will also enjoy the platoon bump on a southpaw with a history of gopheritis.

  • The Dodgers are calling up Emmet Sheehan (1,4%) for tonight's home date with the San Francisco Giants. Sheehan opened the season with Double-A Tulsa, where he posted a sparkling 1.85 ERA and .89 WHIP, with 88 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings. Sheehan walked a slightly high 23 hitters, which will be key to his MLB success since his fastball/changeup combo is capable of missing major league bats. He last pitched on June 9, working four frames. He was then promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City, but he'll make his MLB debut before his Pacific Coast League debut. After an 11-inning affair last night, the Dodgers could use some length from Sheehan, but they'll be thrilled with five frames. It's unclear how long Sheehan will be in The Show, as he's the placeholder for Julio Urias who could be back next week, and since the Dodgers only have five games next week, they may not need Sheehan. That said, Michael Grove has struggled, so if Sheehan pitches well, he could take Grove's spot. As for tonight, pitching at home is a boon, and the Giants fan at a generous 25.1% clip against right-handers, but they're also patient, which could be an issue for Sheehan if he can't throw strikes.


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Starting pitcher rankings for Friday


Bullpen usage for Friday

By Todd Zola

  • One day after blowing a three-run lead, but picking up the win as his teammates bailed him out, Ryan Pressly was brought into a 0-0 game in the top of the ninth. The Washington Nationals broke the tie with a run, but the Houston Astros tied it in the bottom of the frame before Washington scored three in the top of the 10th to win. Pressly threw 20 pitches, so he's tossed 37 in the last 48 hours, which should keep him out of tonight's opener with the Cincinnati Reds. The rest of the bullpen is also taxed, with Bryan Abreu and the shaky Rafael Montero best equipped for late-inning duty.

  • Emmanuel Clase was asked for four outs last night, and he delivered, collecting his 21st save in 26 chances. The Cleveland Guardians closer needed 24 pitches, but he was working with three days rest. Clase pitched in back-to-back fashion under identical conditions, but it was the first week of the season when he was fresher. While manager Terry Francona probably hopes to avoid Clase tonight when the club opens a weekend series in the desert against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's not a no-brainer to take him out of a fantasy lineup. With James Karinchak optioned to Triple-A, Trevor Stephan is next in line, but he threw 25 pitches yesterday.

  • Carlos Estevez entered last night 18-for-18 when asked to nail down an Angels win. He was brought in to preserve a three-run lead, but walked three Rangers to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Jacob Webb replaced Estevez on the hill and escaped with just one run scoring. Estevez wasn't charged with a blown save, thanks to Webb's effort. Estevez threw 20 pitches, after throwing just seven two days ago. Some managers like to let their closer right the ship as soon as possible, so Estevez can't be ruled out for tonight when the Angels open a series in Kansas City.

  • Be it by design to give him a break or just happenstance, the last time Felix Bautista pitched before yesterday was the previous Friday. Working with five days of rest, he garnered four outs to gather his 18th save. Bautista threw 18 pitches, but considering his limited recent workload, he's fine for this afternoon's matinee in Wrigley Field.


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 Today


Prop of the Day

Patrick Sandoval 17.5 pitching outs

PREDICTION

THE BAT sees Sandoval putting up 16.2 Pitching Outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 41.2% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $38.20.

FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER

  • The Kansas City Royals projected batting order ranks as the fifth worst on the slate.

  • Kauffman Stadium has the deepest right field fences in the majors.

FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER

  • The Royals have been the seventh-unluckiest offense in the game this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to positively regress in the future

  • Kauffman Stadium profiles as the No. 3 field in MLB for batting average, via THE BAT projection system.

  • Hot weather is strongly correlated with more offense (and fewer strikeouts), and the weather forecast predicts the hottest temperature on the slate today at 88°F.

  • The Royals have seven hitters in the projected lineup that will have the handedness advantage over Patrick Sandoval today, which is especially troublesome given his large platoon split.