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What you need to know for Friday's MLB Games
By Todd Zola
As is usually the custom for the second day of the season, action is restricted to warm-weather cities and teams with domes. This way, fans of teams whose opener is more likely to be postponed can still attend their home team's first game of the year. Finding pitchers at this point of the season can be tricky since teams usually roll out their top hurlers to open the campaign. Beyond that, there are only five games on the docket, all being contested under the lights. Three names do, however, stand out for Friday. Read on...
One is Dustin May, whose Los Angeles Dodgers host the Arizona Diamondbacks. May is available in just under 50% of ESPN leagues and the home team is favored to win. May is projected to pitch just under five frames, but if this is thought of as a weighted average of all plausible outcomes, there's still a decent chance May will go deep enough to qualify for the win. Something to keep in mind is that Arizona has a young, but potentially dangerous set of lefty-swinging outfielders, so deploying the right-handed May is a risk. Even so, the numbers say he's in play as a streamer.
Next up is David Peterson, taking the hill for the New York Mets as they visit the Miami Marlins. With Justin Verlander having been placed on the IL to begin the season, the Mets need Peterson to step up. The Marlins are favored to win, but that's more due to home-field advantage and Jesus Luzardo being on the hill for Miami. Peterson should do a good job limiting base traffic and scoring. His strikeout rate has been on the upswing, the extent of which may not be fully captured by his projection.
Lastly, Nick Martinez and the San Diego Padres are not only favored to beat the Colorado Rockies in Petco Park, but Martinez is expected to pitch into the fifth inning. Last season, Martinez pitched in a swingman capacity, and he was effective as both a reliever and a starter. At least to begin the 2023 season, he'll be a member of the San Diego rotation.
With two-thirds of the league having an off day, backfilling pitching spots with relievers is a solid strategy. As we discussed in the our Daily Notes primer, this section will eventually be updated in the mornings with "tired" and "overworked" bullpens, but clearly that isn't yet an issue so early in the season. Friday is a day to load up on relievers pitching for teams favored to win as indicated in the pitching rankings below.
Not only are the Mariners tabbed with the highest W%, but they also have a bevy of bullpen arms from which to choose for a possible win or save. Andres Munoz is only available in 35% of ESPN leagues, but Paul Sewald is there for the taking in 52%. Matt Brash, Diego Castillo and Matt Festa are all available in most ESPN leagues.
With lefty Kyle Freeland starting for the Rockies, Ha-Seong Kim (11% rostered) is likely to serve as the leadoff hitter in what should be a productive game for San Diego. Kim qualifies at both shortstop and third base.
With Triston McKenzie starting out on the IL, Hunter Gaddis gets the start in Game 2 of the Cleveland Guardians season. While Jarred Kelenic will probably start out hitting low in the Mariners order, he's showing signs of putting his prior struggles in the rear-view mirror. Spring numbers can be misleading, but if you have room to stream an outfielder, Kelenic is capable of turning in a productive game.
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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.
Andrew Benintendi (CHW, LF -- 28%) at Cristian Javier
Miguel Vargas (LAD, 1B -- 25%) vs. Merrill Kelly
Jean Segura (MIA, 2B -- 19%) vs. David Peterson
Yuli Gurriel (MIA, 1B -- 2%) vs. Peterson
Ha-Seong Kim (SD, SS -- 10%) vs. Kyle Freeland
David Peralta (LAD, LF -- 1%) vs. Kelly
Kolten Wong (SEA, 2B -- 8%) vs. Hunter Gaddis
Nelson Cruz (SD, DH -- 4%) vs. Freeland
Jon Berti (MIA, 2B -- 5%) vs. Peterson
Charlie Blackmon (COL, RF -- 17%) at Nick Martinez
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Friday
Andres Gimenez (CLE, 2B -- 80%) at Robbie Ray
Corbin Carroll (ARI, LF -- 90%) at Dustin May
Tim Anderson (CHW, SS -- 70%) at Javier
Andrew Vaughn (CHW, RF -- 78%) at Javier
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA, 2B -- 89%) vs. Peterson
Josh Bell (CLE, 1B -- 92%) at Ray
Steven Kwan (CLE, LF -- 97%) at Ray
Eloy Jimenez (CHW, LF -- 90%) at Javier
Luis Robert Jr. (CHW, CF -- 93%) at Javier
Amed Rosario (CLE, SS -- 80%) at Ray
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Kelly
Miami Marlins vs. Peterson
Prop of the Day
Will Smith home runs: Over/Under 0.5 (+550/-1200)
THE BAT X sees Smith putting up 0.22 home runs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 20.3% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $31.80.
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
Low temperatures are strongly correlated with less offense (and more strikeouts), and this game projects for the coldest temperature of all games today at 58 degrees.
Smith hits a lot of his flyballs to center field (39.7% - 96th percentile) and is fortunate to face the game's ninth-shallowest CF fences today.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
Smith's maximum exit velocity has been 109 mph over the past year, checking in at the 17th percentile.