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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
There have been afternoon games each day this week and Friday keeps the streak going, albeit with only one matinee as the Chicago Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers at 2:20 PM ET in Wrigley Field. Aaron Ashby takes the hill for Milwaukee while Keegan Thompson gets the ball for the home team. Ashby (12% rostered in ESPN leagues) profiles as the better pitcher and has a weaker offense to handle, so he gets the nod as a streamer, having fanned 25 hitters over his prior 22 1/3 innings. Thompson was pitching well heading into August, but a 7.30 ERA and 1.78 WHIP this month are too risky to trust, especially with a plethora of other options.
Marco Gonzales (48%) tops the list of steaming candidates as the Seattle Mariners continue to vie for a playoff berth, opening a series in Oakland. Gonzales has struggled over his last six outings, but facing the woeful Athletics lineup should be the elixir. Another good option is Patrick Sandoval (49%), on a road date with Detroit. The Tigers hit lefties better than righties, but they still register as a favorable foe for Sandoval. Meanwhile, Brady Singer (44%) has quietly taken the next step, even though his roster percentage has been slow to reflect his success. Recent stellar efforts against the Yankees and Dodgers, have made him far more interesting against his Friday opponent, the Rays. Since June 25, Singer has recorded a 2.47 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP with 63 strikeouts and only 16 walks over those 58 1/3 innings.
It gets a bit riskier with Graham Ashcraft (9%) taking the hill for the Cincinnati Reds in PNC Park. Pittsburgh's offense is among the weakest in the league, but Ashcraft has been inconsistent. Still, the reward outweighs the risk. Kutter Crawford (5%) gets the start in the first of 10 games down the stretch between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. Boston is currently looking up at Baltimore in the standings but has a chance to do something about it. Crawford has been a second-half revelation, with a 3.20 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in eight starts since July 4. Over that span, he's managed a palatable 41 strikeouts in 45 frames, while issuing just 11 free passes.
The final two streaming candidates are Dylan Bundy (19%) and Matt Manning (4%). Both make the cut by virtue of their having home matchups against weak offenses. To be fair, Bundy is pitching better lately, but he's not going deep into games. That said, with the Rangers on the docket, Bundy is in play. Manning hopes to salvage what has been a lost season as he missed most of the first half. Even with Mike Trout back for the visiting Angels, Manning should be able to generate strikeouts against a lineup with the most overall strikeouts against right-handers.
A few enticing bats to recommend includes some names with a relatively high roster percentage. Still, Joc Pederson (55%), and Mike Yastrzemski (52%) are both in a great spot, playing in Coors Field with the platoon edge on Jose Urena. On the other side of the field, Randal Grichuk (54%) enjoys the advantage on Alex Wood.
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.
Brandon Belt (SF, 1B -- 32%) at Urena
Brandon Crawford (SF, SS -- 37%) at Urena
LaMonte Wade Jr. (SF, RF -- 2%) at Urena
Tyrone Taylor (MIL, LF -- 2%) at Thompson
Connor Joe (COL, LF -- 35%) vs. Wood
J.D. Davis (SF, 3B -- 1%) at Urena
Mike Moustakas (CIN, 3B -- 7%) at Wilson
Jose Iglesias (COL, SS -- 22%) vs. Wood
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Friday
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC, SS -- 96%) at McClanahan
Jeff McNeil (NYM, 2B -- 91%) at Nola
Randy Arozarena (TB, LF -- 93%) vs. Singer
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Friday
Prop of the Day
Tommy Henry pitching outs: Over/Under 15.5 (+120/-155)
THE BAT X sees Henry putting up 16.4 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 56.5% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $24.30.
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 Cardinals have been the third-luckiest offense in baseball this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to negatively regress the rest of the season
Chase Field profiles as the No. 29 park in MLB for home runs, via THE BAT X projection system.
Chase Field has the third-deepest centerfield dimensions among all parks.
Chase Field has the 10th-tallest average fence height in baseball.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The weather report calls for the best hitting weather of all games on today's slate, as it relates to temperature and humidity.
The Cardinals have eight hitters in the projected batting order that will have the handedness advantage against Henry in this matchup.