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

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Why fantasy managers should continue to rely on Chris Sale (0:59)

Chris Sale has looked much better in May and while he might not make every start his numbers should encourage fantasy managers. (0:59)

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.

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

  • The Friday slate commences in Wrigley Field with a 2:20 PM ET matinee between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs. The game features one of the better pitching matchups on the schedule with Hunter Greene taking the hill for the visitors, to be opposed by Justin Steele. The busy night's last game starts at 10:10 PM ET with another marquee matchup as Mitch Keller gets the nod for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of an interleague set in Seattle, with George Kirby on the hill for the Mariners. All four starters have high rosterships, and using opposing batters is risky, so there isn't much allure in terms of traditional fantasy. However, Seattle fans at a 25% clip against righthanders, and Keller has punched out 47 over his last 33 frames, so using Keller in DFS and in prop bets could be profitable.

  • The day's top streamer is southpaw Reid Detmers (31% rostered) as the Los Angeles Angels entertain the Miami Marlins in a weekend interleague series. After an offseason visit to Driveline, Detmers stuff is better, but he still struggles with control as evidenced by 10 walks over his prior 19 stanzas. However, he also fanned 28 in that span. The Marlins don't fan excessively with a lefty on the hill, but they are one of the least patient teams, so Detmers should pitch deep into the game, aiding his strikeouts.

  • Next up is rookie Jared Schuster, which is a testament to the dearth of quality candidates to spot start. Schuster is coming off the best effort of his young career where he limited the Mariners to one hit and one earned run over six frames, fanning seven with just one walk along the way. On Friday, Schuster will face the Phillies in Truist Park. Chances are they'll get better, but so far, the Philadelphia offense is one of MLB's weakest with a lefty on the hill, walking only 5.5% of the time, while whiffing at a 25.6% clip.

  • On the surface, Alex Wood (4.6%) should make the streaming cut, but he's yet to work five full innings this season. That said, the opposing Brewers sport the least potent lineup with a lefty on the hill, while striking out at a league-high 30.1% level facing left-handers. Wood isn't risky in the sense of potentially getting hit hard, but expectations for a win should be tempered.

  • Last year, streaming against the Guardians was not recommended as their grinding, high-contact approach was both potent and a poor source of pitcher's strikeouts. The latter remains true, but Cleveland's ability to manufacture runs has vanished as they're last in the league in runs per game. Matthew Liberatore (7.3%) hopes to keep it that way when he takes the Progressive Field Hill for the Cardinals. He'll be opposed by fellow rookie Tanner Bibee (19.3%). Bibee is also in play, and in fact ranks higher, but he faces a tougher offense than Liberatore.

  • Assuming the Marlins can convince Jorge Soler to board the plane and leave Colorado, he remains a solid hitting option with two of the next three games slated to be against a left-hander. The Rays Taylor Walls (46.9%), Manuel Margot (3.2%) and Jose Siri (2.7%) all have a chance to pad their stolen base totals with Noah Syndergaard taking the hill for the Dodgers in Tropicana Field. So far this season, Syndergaard has permitted 12 steals in 41 1/3 innings.



Starting pitcher rankings for Friday

Bullpen usage watch for Friday

by Todd Zola

• After throwing 21 pitches when securing his first win on Wednesday, Iglesias followed up with an efficient eight-pitch outing yesterday, earning his fourth save. It's unlikely Iglesias would get the nod for the third straight day, though it's unclear who would step in for ninth-inning duties. A.J. Minter has been hit hard lately. Nick Anderson has also worked the last two days, totaling 36 pitches. Joe Jimenez has been shielded from high-leverage scenarios as he hasn't logged a hold since April 11. Collin McHugh is intriguing since he can go multiple innings which is something the Braves could use with the bullpen covering four innings yesterday. McHugh has two wins and four holds, so he's accustomed to pitching in close games.

• Lately, the Orioles have been alternating save chances between Feliz Bautista and Yennier Cano. Perhaps it's by design, but the trend has matched up perfectly with the recent usage of each. That is, one of the dynamic duo secures a save, but is unavailable the next day, so the other steps in and is then unavailable the next day. Last night, it was Cano's turn to seal the deal as he notched his fourth save, but needed 17 pitches in the process as the Yankees prevented being blanked with a run in the ninth. Tonight should be Bautista's turn. It will be interesting to see what happens when neither Cano nor Bautista are used, so they can both work on the same day. Chances are, the recent pattern is happenstance and Bautista is still the main guy, but Cano's support stats are better.

Paul Sewald collected his 11th save last night, just two days over logging his 10th. The combined 28 pitches has him on the watch list, but Sewald has worked on back-to-back days three times already this season, so it's not a foregone conclusion he'll rest tonight. On the other hand, the rest of the deep Mariners bullpen is well-rested after Logan Gilbert gave the club eight innings before Sewald was asked to lock down the 3-2 win over Oakland. With holds and strikeouts being integral to scoring, Matt Brash, Justin Topa and Trevor Gott are all in play, even if Sewald gets the call tonight.

• Like Sewald, Josh Hader notched a save yesterday and Tuesday, needing an efficient 23 total pitches. Hader has also pitched two days in a row a few times this season, so it's not a no-brainer to avoid him. Steven Wilson is an intriguing pickup since he hasn't pitched since last Saturday so he could get some work, and his last two outings have been more than an inning.

• The Astros are the far-and=away leader of the team most likely to rack up wins over the weekend as they are in Oakland and enjoy a decided edge with each pitching matchup. Ryan Pressly is well rested, so there isn't a chance to sneak in someone for a save at least not tonight or even tomorrow. However, Bryan Abreu and Hector Neris are strong candidates for a hold, and both have chipped in with a pair of saves.


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

Patrick Corbin, Washington Nationals, 17.5 pitching outs (-155/+115)

PREDICTION:

  • THE BAT sees Corbin putting up 16.5 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 43.3% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $21.93.

FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER:

  • The MLB ranks Kauffman Stadium's right field fences as the deepest.

  • The wind projects to be blowing in from RF at 9.9-mph in this match-up, the 3rd-most-favorable of the day for hurlers.

FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER:

  • The Kansas City Royals have been the fifth-unluckiest offense in the game this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to hit better the rest of the season

  • Kauffman Stadium ranks as the No. 3 venue in the league for batting average, according to THE BAT projection system.

  • In terms of temperature and humidity, the weather report calls for the fourth-most suitable hitting conditions on the schedule today.

  • Compared to last year's 92.3 mph, Patrick Corbin's fastball velocity this season is at 91.3 mph, marking a decline of 1 mph.