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

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 typical full Friday slate is short one game with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals heading across the pond for the London Series. The remaining 14 games are all evening affairs, with a quartet beginning at 6:40 PM. The streaming pitching pool is replete with promising young arms, plus the return of a veteran.

  • Brayan Bello (17.2%) has emerged as a solid starter who should be rostered in far more leagues. After a rough two efforts to open the season, Bello cruised with a 2.60 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with a solid 49 strikeouts to only 17 walks in nine starts, spanning 52 innings. He's recorded five quality starts in his last seven outings, including his last three. On Friday, Bello is in a great spot to keep rolling with a road date against a Chicago White Sox offense with the second lowest wOBA and an above average strikeout rate facing right-handers.

  • Friday presents a good test for a couple of rookie hurlers, beginning with Emmet Sheehan (10.0%) and the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the Houston Astros. Sheehan debuted a week ago, blanking the San Francisco Giants over six frames while allowing just two hits and two walks. He only fanned three, but Sheehan did exhibit strikeout potential in the minors by punching out 88 in 53 1/3 innings for Double-A Tulsa prior to his callup. The Astros lineup isn't nearly as imposing with Yordan Alvarez. Even with him in the lineup most of the first half, Houston ranks just 15th in road wOBA facing right-handers, with an above average strikeout rate. It's understandable if Sheehan feels too risky for traditional fantasy, though that renders him an intriguing DFS GPP option.

  • First-year starter AJ Smith-Shawver (18.2%) was slated to pitch earlier this week, but Wednesday's rainout pushed his start to Friday on the road against the Cincinnati Reds. After pitching in relief for his MLB debut, Smith-Shawver has started a pair of games, He surrendered the first runs of his career in his last outing as the Colorado Rockies clubbed a pair of homers, resulting in three runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings. All told, Smith-Shawver has whiffed only nine in 11 frames, but like Sheehan, Smith-Shawver's minor league history indicates more strikeouts are on the way. For the season, the Reds lineup is below average at home, but their June number in the Great American Ballpark have improved. Some of that is personnel changes, but they've also hit into some good luck at home this month. Again, like Sheehan, this may make Smith-Shawver more apropos for DFS than traditional fantasy deployment.

  • The Minnesota Twins rotation gets a boost with the arrival of Kenta Maeda (3.0%). The veteran righty mustered only four starts before heading to the IL with a triceps strain. He made four rehab starts with Triple-A St. Paul in advance of his return. Maeda posted a 2.03 ERA and 1.15 while on rehab, but it was over just 13 1/3 innings. Even so, he should be stretched out enough to work at least five stanzas on Friday, landing him in streaming territory for a road date with the Detroit Tigers, and the offense averaging the third fewest runs per game in MLB.

  • While all eyes will be on Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout for a rare Los Angeles Angels visit to Coors Field, righty swingers Taylor Ward (63.3%), Hunter Renfroe (61.9%), Brandon Drury (34.0%), Luis Rengifo (1.3%) and Michael Stefanic (0.0%) are all in a favorable spot facing Colorado Rockies southpaw Kyle Freeland. There are a few standalone batters with the platoon edge in potential productive positions on the Friday slate. Eddie Rosario (22.3%) in Cincinnati facing Luke Weaver heads the list. Royce Lewis (8.1%) facing Joey Wentz and Kerry Carpenter (1.1%) drawing Maeda are also merit consideration.

Starting pitcher rankings for Friday

Bullpen usage watch for Friday

By Todd Zola

  • Thursday's light schedule provided a day for many tired bullpens to reset, so there is only one closer flagged with questionable availability for tonight's action. As such, this is a good opportunity to focus on teams with softer weekend schedules, along with those clubs compiling the most holds to date and highlighting the contributing setup men.

  • Raisel Iglesias preserved a 0-0 tie by pitching a clean ninth inning in Philadelphia yesterday. He was rewarded for his 14-pitch effort with a win as the Braves put up a five-spot in the top of the 10th. Iglesias now has amassed 36 pitches over the last three days. He's only pitched three times in four days once this season, and that was with just 26 pitches tossed over the prior three days. It's not a no-brainer to reserve Iglesias, especially since A.J. Minter and Nick Anderson both pitched yesterday and Tuesday. Joe Jimenez, Kirby Yates and Collin McHugh are all well-rested, in the event Atlanta manager Brian Snitker wants to avoid using Iglesias, Minter or Anderson.

  • The Tampa Bay Rays remain the team with the best chance to rack up wins this weekend as they host the Kansas City Royals. Pete Fairbanks' rostership level is ticking up, but is still at only 22.3%. Jason Adam's 27.4% rostership is declining, but he's still very much in the mix for holds and occasional saves.

  • The San Diego Padres are favored to win three games over the weekend as they host the Washington Nationals. Josh Hader is the clear closer, but Steven Wilson is a stealth source of holds as he's compiled 16, along with a hefty 40 strikeouts in 36 innings, which are both components of ESPN scoring in points league.

  • The Baltimore Orioles lead MLB with 62 holds. Yennier Cano has 17, with Danny Coulombe chipping in with 12 while Bryan Baker has 10. Next up may be surprising as the Los Angeles Angels check in with 56 holds. They play in Colorado this weekend, so taking advantage right away is a risk. Not to mention, they tend to spread around the late-inning work, in part because club holds leader Matt Moore (12) has been on the IL since May 23, but he's due back early next week. Chris Devenski is next with nine holds.

  • Erik Swanson leads the league with 19 holds, followed by Cano and WIlson. Tyler Rogers is next with 15 while Hector Neris and Peter Strzelecki have 14.

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 Sandoval, Angels, 16.5 pitching outs (-115/-110)


THE BAT X sees Sandoval putting up 14.8 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 32.5% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $31.86.

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.


  • The projected batting order for the Rockies ranks as the weakest of all teams on the slate today in terms of overall batting skill.

  • Sandoval is an extreme groundball pitcher (50% GB% via THE BAT X projections), which should make him somewhat immune to the dangers of pitching in Coors Field -- the No. 3 HR venue in MLB on today's slate.


  • The Rockies have been the ninth-unluckiest offense in the game this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to perform better in the future

  • Coors Field projects as the No. 1 stadium in the majors for batting average, via THE BAT X projection system.

  • High temperatures are strongly correlated with more offense (and fewer strikeouts), and the weather forecast forecasts the highest temperatures on the schedule today at 81 degrees.

  • Colorado Rockies have eight bats in their projected lineup that will have the handedness advantage against Sandoval today, which is especially problematic given his large platoon split.