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
Friday brings a typical 15-game slate, all evening affairs. Action gets started at 6:40 p.m. ET with a pair of games in the Sunshine State, before culminating with a 10:15 p.m. ET start in San Francisco. There are four closely-ranked streaming candidates for those wanting a boost in pitching as we head into the weekend.
Cristopher Sanchez (10.9% rostered in ESPN leagues) tops the list for a home date with the Minnesota Twins. Sanchez is somehow still seeking his first win despite posting a 3.44 ERA over 10 starts. He's coming off his only subpar effort of the season where he allowed six earned runs in five innings to the Kansas City Royals. Take away that outing and his ERA is 2.66 for the season. Sanchez will encounter a Twins lineup with the fifth-lowest wOBA and sixth-highest strikeout rate facing southpaw pitching.
Ranked just after Sanchez is Kyle Gibson (31.4% rostered) as the Baltimore Orioles open a weekend series in the Pacific Northwest against the Seattle Mariners. Gibson isn't known for missing bats, but he has been on a strikeout role lately, fanning 39 over his last 37 1/3 innings, spanning six starts. The veteran righty has a chance to continue to rack up punch-outs against an offense with a 26% strikeout rate, the second-highest in MLB with a right-hander on the hill.
Next up is Aaron Civale (49.5%) in a proverbial revenge game, though Civale ended up in an improved scenario after the Cleveland Guardians dealt him to the Tampa Bay Rays at the trade deadline. That said, Civale struggled in his first outing with his new team, yielding nine hits and three earned runs to the Detroit Tigers in four frames. Civale's former team averages the fifth-fewest runs per game in MLB since the break.
Johan Oviedo (18.9%) is the last of the four consecutively ranked streaming candidates. Oviedo's first full season as a starter has been rocky, with eight starts where he allowed at least four runs, but most of those were early. Oviedo yielded no more than three runs in his other 15 outings, 12 of which registered as quality starts. Oviedo faces a seemingly dangerous Cincinnati Reds offense, but the NL Central affair is at PNC Park, so the Reds incur a steep park downgrade. Furthermore, since the break, Cincinnati's .304 wOBA is the sixth-worst facing right-handers, in large part due to a bloated 29.1% strikeout clip in this time frame, the second-highest mark over this span.
Johan Rojas (.9%) has emerged as the Philadelphia Philles' everyday center fielder. He's filling in for Brandon Marsh, who is on the IL with a bruised knee. There is a chance Marsh and Rojas form a platoon when Marsh returns, but for now Rojas is a regular. Rojas has a bit of pop, but speed is his game. The righty swinger is still seeking his first MLB homer, but he's 6 for 6 in steals after 20 games. On Friday, Rojas enjoys the platoon edge on Dallas Keuchel, one of the lowest-ranked hurlers on the ledger.
Starting pitcher rankings for Friday
Bullpen usage watch for Friday
By Todd Zola
After blowing a save and taking the loss by yielding a grand slam to Kyle Tucker on Tuesday, Felix Bautista successfully collected his 31st save last night. Bautista showed residual effects from hurling 30 pitches just two days ago as he walked two and gave up two hits and a run, but the Baltimore Orioles hung on to beat the Houston Astros 5-4, avoiding a series sweep. Now with 53 pitches over the prior three days, the Orioles closer is due a day to recover, with Yennier Cano as the likely replacement. Cano threw 10 pitches last night, but has only accrued 28 over the last three days.
For the second day in a row, a closer was seemingly earmarked for a day off, but was summoned and collected a save. Perhaps this signals that teams will be less conservative with under two months remaining, though it clearly involves team context and the significance of the win. The Boston Red Sox are trying to claw their way back into the wild card chase, so on the day before Chris Sale makes his return, Kenley Jansen was called upon for the second straight game -- and he delivered again as the club took three out of four from the Kansas City Royals. However, with 35 pitches over the last two days, Jansen will probably be unavailable tonight for the opener of a series with the Tigers. Sale will reportedly be limited to four innings. The problem is Chris Martin, John Schreiber and Josh Winckowski have also pitched the last two days, so it's unclear who will handle the remaining frames.
The Cleveland Guardians took Game 4 of a series with the Toronto Blue Jays to earn a split, with Emmanuel Clase saving both wins. Last night was an efficient 11-pitch effort with a pair of strikeouts. Clase needed 16 tosses on Tuesday, so his availability for tonight isn't obvious either way. Like Boston, Cleveland is grinding to make the playoffs, thus every win is critical. Reserving Clase when the Guardians open a road series with the Tampa Bay Rays is a risk.
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.
Michael Massey (KC, 2B -- 1%) vs. Wainwright
Maikel Garcia (KC, SS -- 8%) vs. Wainwright
Ke'Bryan Hayes (PIT, 3B -- 11%) vs. Abbott
Lars Nootbaar (STL, RF -- 34%) at Zerpa
Edward Olivares (KC, RF -- 1%) vs. Wainwright
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Friday
C.J. Cron (LAA, 1B -- 54%) at Verlander
Gunnar Henderson (BAL, 3B -- 79%) at Castillo
Teoscar Hernandez (SEA, RF -- 56%) vs. Gibson
Jonathan India (CIN, 2B -- 75%) at Oviedo
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today
Prop of the Day
Reid Detmers, Angels, 16.5 pitching outs (-130/-110)
THE BAT X sees Detmers putting up 14.6 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 29.8% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $37.34.
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
Minute Maid Park's roof projects to be closed today, making conditions in this matchup six degrees colder than the average outdoor game on the slate, which is favorable for pitching.
Detmers' fastball velocity has jumped 1.6 mph this season (94.1 mph) over where it was last season (92.5 mph).
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The projected lineup for the Astros profiles as the third-best of all teams on the slate in terms of overall batting ability.
It may be best to expect better numbers for the Astros offense over the rest of the season, given that THE BAT X sees them as them as the sixth-unluckiest offense in the game this year.
Minute Maid Park projects as the No. 7 stadium in the majors for walks.
The Astros have seven batters in their projected lineup that will hold the platoon advantage over Detmers today.