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
Only 28 teams are in action on Friday, with the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs having an off day following their Thursday night Field of Dreams matchup. The schedule begins at 6:40 PM ET with the Miami Marlins entertaining the Atlanta Braves. Jorge Lopez will pitch for the hosts. He is showing signs of fatigue as he's already accrued over 20 IP more than last season. Now could be a good time to deal Lopez, especially in head-to-head formats. In terms of Miami bats, they are fanning at a league high 27.9% clip against southpaws. Most of those whiffs came before JJ Bleday, Peyton Burdick and sometimes Billy Hamilton played versus lefties -- and all three strike out more than 28% of the time, setting the stage for even more futile at-bats going forward.
Friday's top streaming candidate is George Kirby (28% rostered in ESPN leagues). Once Kirby reitres two more batters, his 21.0% K-BB% will rank 17th among pitchers with at least 80 innings. On Friday, Kirby and the Seattle Mariners open a series in Arlington against a Texas Rangers lineup sitting with the fifth-lowest wOBA against right-handers. To be fair, they've been more productive over the past month, but their strikeouts have increased over that time frame.
The next best spot starters square off in what is, surprisingly, a key matchup of a pair of AL wild-card contenders. Corey Kluber (48%) and the Tampa Bay Rays welcome Austin Voth (2%) and the Baltimore Orioles to Tropicana Field for a weekend set. Kluber is clearly the more experienced pitcher, but it can be argued that Voth is currently pitching better than the two-time AL Cy Young award winner. Further, the Orioles offense against right-handers has produced at a higher clip than the Rays, although neither lineup is daunting. Kluber may be the brand name, but Voth is the better DFS play, especially in GPP action.
The only other series featuring two teams with playoff aspirations takes place in the Rogers Centre with the Cleveland Guardians heading north to challenge the Toronto Blue Jays. The home team will be shorthanded with George Springer on the IL, but at least Whit Merrifield is now able to cross the border. Plus, Toronto has added Jackie Bradley Jr. to shore up their defense. Jose Berrios will be working on a full week's rest after his scheduled start on Wednesday was postponed. Berrios' last outing was a poor effort against the Twins, but he has turned his season around, posting a 3.00 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP with 42 strikeouts in his last 36 innings prior that dud. Even so, the Guardians are a pesky bunch. So, while Berrios should be used in traditional fantasy formats, his strikeouts will likely be insufficient to deploy in DFS.
As usual, there are a bunch of batters available to help supplement a fantasy offense or to serve as cost-savers in DFS play. Vaughn Grissom (12%) opened his MLB career with a combo meal on Wednesday night, clearing the Green Monster for his first homer, then getting a great jump and swiping his first base. Grissom lacks the platoon edge on Friday, but his skill set is very fantasy friendly. Other hitters to target include Jake McCarthy (1%) and Seth Beer (1%) drawing Antonio Senzatela in Coors Field. MJ Melendez (27%) and Vinnie Pasquantino (7%) will face Tony Gonsolin, whose underlying metrics portend some regression. Paul DeJong (7%) has hit well since returning to the bigs. On Friday, he'll enjoy the platoon edge on Eric Lauer. Lastly, Jose Miranda (42%) has been scorching the ball, with a chance to continue the trend against left-hander Patrick Sandoval.
It's never too late to start another free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday.
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.
Carson Kelly (ARI, C -- 14%) at Senzatela
Alek Thomas (ARI, CF -- 9%) at Senzatela
Elehuris Montero (COL, 3B -- 2%) vs. Davies
Sam Hilliard (COL, CF -- 0%) vs. Davies
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Friday
Nick Castellanos (PHI, RF -- 96%) at Scherzer
J.T. Realmuto (PHI, C -- 99%) at Scherzer
Jean Segura (PHI, 2B -- 69%) at Scherzer
Michael Harris II (ATL, CF -- 62%) at Lopez
Marcell Ozuna (ATL, LF -- 86%) at Lopez
Ke'Bryan Hayes (PIT, 3B -- 75%) at Rodon
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Friday
Prop of the Day
Luis Garcia pitching outs: Over/Under 18.5 (+135/-190)
THE BAT X sees Garcia putting up 18.7 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 51.1% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $20.12.
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.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
The Minute Maid Park roof projects to be closed today, making conditions in this matchup six degrees colder than the average outdoor game on the slate today - favorable for pitching.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER