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

Joe Ryan faces the White Sox at home. David Berding/Getty Images

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. Game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

For an in-depth look at what to expect in this daily article and how to best use the information, 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's action commences at 2:20 PM ET in Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs hosting the St. Louis Cardinals. The last time the clubs met was for the London Series with each team winning a game. Right after, the Cardinals went into a tailspin, winning only four of their next 11 contests. However, they took a modest two-game winning streak into the break and have won five of six coming out of the hiatus. St. Louis is still well out of playoff contention so it will be interesting to see if their recent solid play alters plans at the trade deadline.

  • As for Friday's tilt, Justin Steele will take the hill for the home team, to be opposed by Jack Flaherty (25.7% rostered). Flaherty has won his last four starts, and he's posted a quality start in his last three. Over that stretch, the right has recorded a 1.45 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, with 16 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. Flaherty isn't the ace the Cardinals hoped he would become, but he's emerged as a useful fantasy streamer, and is in play for those needing to make up ground heading into the weekend.

  • The slate's top-ranked streamer is Braxton Garrett (44.3%) who will take the hill is South Beach when the Miami Marlins host the Colorado Rockies. Garrett has posted a solid 3.90 ERA, but a 3.04 xFIP and 3.28 SIERA suggest it could be even lower. A regression correction occurs independent of the opponent. However, on Friday, Garrett can lower his ERA on his own with a date against the offense registering the league's lowest road wOBA facing southpaw pitching along with the fourth highest strikeout rate.

  • After opening the season with a 5.95 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in his first five appearances, Kyle Bradish (37.3%) has posted a 2.26 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over the ensuing dozen outings. He's punched out a respectable 69 while walking just 15 in those 71 2/3 frames. Bradish will start the second game of a four-game set in Tropicana Field with first place on the line as the Baltimore Orioles have taken over the lead in the AL East. The Rays are countering with Zach Eflin in what should be a low-scoring affair. Tampa Bay's once juggernaut offense has been merely average for the last month, which is sufficient to use Bradish in a streaming capacity.

  • Identifying when to use when to avoid Yusei Kikuchi (26.8%) is a frustrating endeavor. As a believe in the process over the outcome, Friday checks in as a game to let him loose. The Toronto Blue Jays southpaw will toe the rubber in T-Mobile in the second game of a four-game series with the Seattle Mariners. The hosts sport the fifth poorest wOBA and second most generous strikeout rate with a lefty on the hill.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Tommy Henry has pitched well lately, so considering the Cincinnati Reds right-handed contingent is more of a nod to the quantity and quality of the batters than a strike against Henry. Christian Encarnacion-Strand (20.7%), Matt McLain (41.4%) and Tyler Stephenson (44.6%) all enjoy the platoon bump in their hitter-friendly home venue, the Great American Ballpark.

Starting pitcher rankings for Friday

Bullpen usage watch for Friday

By Todd Zola

  • Ryan Pressly earned his 22nd save last night, needing to use only 11 pitches in the process. However, he was pitching on the second straight day, having tossed 17 pitches on Wednesday. Pressly has yet to work on three straight days, so chances are good that manager Dusty Baker will look elsewhere if the Houston Astros hold a late lead tonight on the road against the Athletics. Bryan Abreu also appeared yesterday, but he was working with a day of rest while Hector Neris hasn't appeared since Tuesday. Abreu and Neris are the best candidates to handle the late-inning duties.

  • Felix Bautista was brought in to pitch the ninth inning with the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays tied at two. He retired the side on nine pitches, fanning two. The Orioles failed to score in the bottom of the frame, so Bautista came out for the 10th and again kept the Rays off the scoreboard. Baltimore walked it off in the bottom of the 10th, earning Bautista his fifth win to go along with 26 saves. Even though the righty used an efficient 15 pitches to get through two frames, he was working in back-to-back fashion, so his 27 tosses over the past two days leaves him questionable for tonight. However, considering the importance of this series, it's not a no-brainer that Bautista will get the night off. Yennier Cano is the usual fill-in for Bautista, but he also pitched on both Thursday and Friday.

  • Raisel Iglesias logged his 17th save as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-5. Iglesias needed a rather high 22 pitches, which came on top of the 13 he tossed on Tuesday. The combined 35 throws puts his availability for tonight's road date with the Milwaukee Brewers in jeopardy. With A.J. Minter on the IL, Joe Jimenez is the best bet for late-inning duties as he hasn't appeared since Tuesday.

  • Paul Sewald makes the list by virtue of having throwing 15 pitches yesterday in a non-save situation as he nailed down a 5-0 Seattle Mariners shutout win over the Minnesota Twins. Sewald hadn't worked since Monday when he tossed only five pitches, so he should be fine to go tonight if needed.

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

Michael Soroka, Braves, 15.5 pitching outs (-127/-103)


THE BAT X sees Soroka putting up 13.8 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 28.9% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $41.37.

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.


  • This game is forecasted to have the fifth-most suitable conditions for pitching among all the games scheduled today.

  • Soroka is an extreme groundball pitcher (49.6 GB% per THE BAT X), which should make him somewhat immune to the dangers of pitching in American Family Field -- the No. 8 HR venue in the league -- in today's game.


  • THE BAT X expects Soroka to be on a pitch count in this game, projecting a maximum of 83 pitches.

  • It may be smart to expect improved performance for the Milwaukee offense in the future, given that THE BAT X sees them as them as the third-unluckiest offense in the majors this year.

  • The No. 4 field in the majors for boosting walks, via THE BAT X, is American Family Field.

  • American Family Field has the fourth-lowest average fence height in the league.