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.
Note: This file will be 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 features an unusual 14-game slate with the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox having a rare Friday off day. Everything will be played under the lights. There are a handful of streaming options, but the quality isn't great so don't wait all day to choose your streamers. Jon Gray (50% rostered in ESPN leagues) tops the list when the Texas Rangers continue a weekend set on the road against the Oakland Athletics. Thus far, Gray has not thrived as many expected after getting away from Coors Field for half his starts. Friday is an ideal spot to get started in that direction against an Athletics lineup sporting the league's worst wOBA facing right-handers, while fanning a generous 25% of the time in that scenario.
Gray will be opposed by Cole Irvin (10% rostered). The soft-throwing lefty only fans hitters at a 16% clip and the Athletics punch out at a below average rate against southpaws, but Irvin is still in play as a spot starter. Innings and run prevention are integral to fantasy point scoring while Irvin doesn't rack up strikeouts, he has posted three quality starts in his six outings, a boon to points scoring. The Rangers offense has performed a bit below average on the road against lefties.
Next up on the streamer list is the Tampa Bay Rays' latest success story converting relievers to starters as Jeffrey Springs (5%) has made the transition. Last time out, Springs earned his first win as a starter, tossing 5⅔ innings against the Baltimore Orioles, fanning seven along the way. Starting Springs against the Yankees could be your play, as they have been in a rut for the past week and without Giancarlo Stanton, sidelined with ankle inflammation. If starting Springs against the Yankees is too daunting, Austin Gomber (7%) has a winnable road date against a Washington Nationals club recording the fourth worst wOBA against lefthanders.
The San Francisco Giants' batters are ideal targets for streaming hitters against the Cincinnati Reds. Not only do they enjoy a huge park upgrade, chances are they won't be facing a prohibitive arm. The left-handers to deploy against a right-hander are Mike Yastrzemski (66%), Brandon Crawford (55%), Joc Pederson (45%) and Luis Gonzalez (4%). Righty swingers Wilmer Flores (60%), Thairo Estrada (55%), Darin Ruf (9%) and Evan Longoria (1%) are in play with a southpaw on the hill.
Back in drafting season, there were two approaches with respect to Justin Verlander. Some were leery as no one had ever come back and dominated after having Tommy John so late in their career. Then there were those contending if anyone can do it, it's Verlander. Thus far, the latter group has been rewarded. However, everyone can take advantage of Verlander's prowess with some action like strikeout props. As has been mentioned frequently in this space, betting the under on punch outs has been a wise play through the first quarter of the season. Friday is a great time to flip the script and take the over on the odds-defying veteran. Verlander's 26% strikeout rate is fine, but it's 10 points below his pre-Tommy John mark. That said, his slider has always been his wipeout pitch, and it wasn't effective early on. Over his last two outings, Verlander is back to getting a plethora of swinging strikes on his slider and he looks primed to go on one of his usual double-digit strikeout games streaks.
It's not 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.
Josh Naylor (CLE, RF -- 50%) at Faedo
Avisail Garcia (MIA, RF -- 44%) at Anderson
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Friday
Joey Votto (CIN, 1B -- 62%) vs. Rodon
Adam Frazier (SEA, 2B -- 64%) vs. Verlander
Brandon Drury (CIN, LF -- 50%) vs. Rodon
Prop of the Day
Eli White Total Bases: Over/Under 0.5 (-195/+145)
THE BAT sees White putting up 0.6 Total Bases for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 49.0% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $24.96.
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 wind projects to be blowing out to RF at 9.3-mph in this game, the 5th-best of the day for batters.
Eli White will hold the platoon advantage against Cole Irvin today.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER:
Eli White has been pinch-hit for 45% of the time when facing a left-handed pitcher this year.
Oakland Coliseum ranks as the No. 29 park in Major League Baseball for batting average, according to THE BAT projection system.
Low temperatures are strongly correlated with less offense (and more whiffs), and the weatherman calls for the coldest temperature of all games on the slate at 58 degrees.
Eli White's average exit velocity has declined recently; his 84.8-mph seasonal average has fallen off to 67.3-mph over the last 7 days.