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

Cole Ragans has done well since being traded to the Kansas City Royals. Vaughn Ridley/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 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 gets started at 2:20 PM ET with a matinee in Wrigley Field, featuring the Chicago Cubs hosting the Colorado Rockies. The remaining 14 games are all evening affairs.

  • Andrew Abbott (41.5%) checks in as the slate's top-ranked pitching streamer, but it comes with a word of warning. The ranking is based on his season-long body of work; his recent efforts have been subpar. In most cases, it's best to avoid recency bias, but sometimes young pitchers experience a drop in performance once they've reached an uncharted number of innings. Last season, Abbott tossed a combined 118 innings in the minor leagues. So far this year, the 24-year-old lefty has compiled 156 2/3 frames between the minors and majors. Over his past five starts, Abbott has posted a 6.33 ERA and 1.83 WHIP in 21 1/3 innings. He's still piling up strikeouts with 24 in that span, but 15 walks have increased traffic and runs, not to mention driving up his pitch count. In Abbott's favor is facing a Pittsburgh Pirates lineup walking at an extremely low 6.4% clip against southpaws over the last month while fanning at a generous 27.1% rate in that span.

  • Next up is another rookie with Sawyer Gipson-Long (8.6%) getting the ball for a road date with the Oakland Athletics. Gipson-Long was promoted in early September and he's made two impressive starts, albeit facing second division lineups with games against the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels. He punched out 16 in 10 total innings, with 11 coming over five stanzas in Anaheim last time out. The 25-year-old right-hander is in a great spot to open his career with three straight solid outings facing an Oakland offense with the third worst wOBA facing righties over the past month, buoyed by striking out 25% of the time in that stretch.

  • Friday night is going to be an intriguing start for Cole Ragans (44.7%). The two-time Tommy John surgery recoveree is enjoying a breakout season. He began the year in the Texas Rangers bullpen, but after posting a lackluster 5.92 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 17 appearances as a reliever, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals who optioned him to Triple-A to stretch out as a starter. The move proved prescient as Ragans has registered a sparkling 2.28 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 10 starts, fanning a hefty 76 batters in 59 1/3 innings. In his last outing, Ragans fanned seven with two walks in six innings at home against the Houston Astros. This usually portends a solid outing, but the potent Houston lineup scored five runs. Ragans and the Astros run it back Friday in Minute Maid Park. Ragans' performance in the rotation warrants a spot in a fantasy lineup, but there is clear risk facing Houston in their yard. His high strikeouts and low walks in the prior meeting are encouraging, and enough to keep Ragans active, unless you are in a close ratio battle or are in a league where picking up an alternative is an option.

  • Switching to hitting, Atlanta Braves catcher Sean Murphy (90.8%) continues to be rostered in almost every ESPN leagues, despite posting a dismal .172/.318/.279 line since the All-Star break. His playing time has been cut back in September, in part due to performance, but also to have him fresh for the playoffs since he's solid defensively. That said, it's best to wait a day before looking elsewhere for a fantasy backstop since he'll be enjoying the platoon edge on Patrick Corbin on Friday. With most of the Atlanta hitters already rostered, Orlando Arcia (30.6%) is the best means of getting some exposure to a potent lineup in a great spot.

  • Some other hitters in a favorable position to fortify a fantasy lineup include St. Louis Cardinals' Lars Nootbaar (25%) facing San Diego Padres starter Matt Waldron, Pittsburgh Pirates leadoff hitter Ke'Bryan Hayes (22.9%) stepping in the box against the Reds' Abbott and the Reds Jake Fraley (15.1%) drawing Pirates righty Luis Ortiz.

Starting pitcher rankings for Friday

Bullpen usage watch 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

Right now, Ken Waldichuk, Athletics, 5.5 strikeouts (+125/-165)


THE BAT X sees Waldichuk putting up 5.9 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 54.6% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $22.94.

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 X projects Waldichuk to throw 101 pitches in this matchup (fourth-most on today's slate), considering both his underlying tendencies and the matchup.

  • The Tigers have three bats in today's projected batting order with a high (i.e. over 27%) underlying K% (Jake Rogers, Zack Short, Parker Meadows).

  • In terms of temperature and humidity, the weather forecast projects the fourth-most suitable pitching conditions on today's slate.

  • Home-field advantage typically bolsters pitcher stats across the board, and Waldichuk will hold that advantage in today's matchup.


  • Todd Tichenor, projected to be a huge hitter's umpire, is scheduled to be behind the plate in today's game.

  • With seven hitters who bat from the opposite side in the opposing team's projected lineup, Waldichuk faces a tough challenge while lacking the platoon advantage in most plate appearances in this outing.