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 towards ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

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Note: This file has been updated with overnight pitching changes and 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

  • All 30 teams return to action Friday, beginning at 6:05 p.m. ET in the City of Brotherly Love with the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the San Diego Padres. The final two teams taking the field after the break are the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners, who commence action at 10:10 p.m. ET in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Getting a jump on the competition is always suggested, but tougher to pull off with many teams waiting until the last minute to announce their second-half pitching plans. However, there are a couple of stream-worthy starters already reported to begin the post-break festivities, beginning with Brayan Bello (37% rostered) who will take the hill for the Boston Red Sox in a rare Friday night game in Wrigley Field. In a year where the average start is a tick over five innings, four of Bello's past five starts have been seven frames, with the fifth falling one out short. His ERA is 1.82 in that span, with a .87 WHIP. The right-hander's strikeouts are a bit light with 24 over these 34 2/3 innings, but he's not walking hitters and he's keeping the ball in the yard. As Bello continues to refine his repertoire, his strikeout rate should benefit. The Chicago Cubs' offense facing right-handers checks in well below average with a generous strikeout rate.

  • One of the plot lines of the first half was the plethora of rookie pitchers making their debut. The results varied, but there's nothing like the possibility of a young hurler boosting a fantasy team. One of the repercussions is pitchers like Bello and Cristopher Sanchez (2.7%) don't get the attention they deserve. Sanchez, in particular, has gone unnoticed in the season of the shiny, new toy. The Phillies righty got his feet wet in 2021, then appeared in 15 games last season, working as a swingman. The 26-year-old southpaw has started five games this season, sporting a sparkling 2.84 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Granted, he has been helped by Lady Luck, but 22 punchouts with only four walks and three homers allowed in 25 1/3 stanzas indicate there has been some solid pitching as well. On Friday, Sanchez toes the rubber in Citizens Bank Park against the disappointing Padres lineup.

  • Two pitchers with the ability to move the fantasy needle are back in action Friday night, but they're burdened with risky matchups. Those patiently waiting for Carlos Rodon (91.6%) to make his New York Yankees debut are likely cautiously optimistic after he limited the Cubs to two runs in 5 1/3 innings, albeit with just two strikeouts. However, Rodon's follow-up is slated for Coors Field, normally an automatic avoid. On the other hand, the Rockies' home wOBA facing left-handers is ranked just 23rd in MLB, with the fifth-highest strikeout rate. Considering the Yankees' bullpen is one of the best and of course well rested, Rodon won't be hung out to dry, so the reward outweighs the risk.

  • From mid-May through mid-June, Michael Kopech (25.5%) was one of the best starters in the league. Over a five-game stretch, he registered a 1.72 ERA and .67 WHIP, with 44 strikeouts to only five walks over that 31 1/3 inning span. Kopech then went into a tailspin, walking an eye-popping 16 over his next 12 innings, encompassing three starts. He was subsequently placed on the IL with shoulder inflammation. Kopech is back, but he opens the second half with a road start in Atlanta. Here, it's best to take the wait-and-see route, but if his velocity is close to normal and his control looks good, Kopech could be a post-break fantasy difference-maker.

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 Today