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

Yoshinobu Yamamoto faces Cody Poteet in a dynamic pitching matchup Friday night. Photo by Harry How/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. MLB game odds are provided by ESPN BET, and fantasy advice is geared toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

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.

Battle in the Big Apple

The New York spotlight will be shining especially bright on Yankee Stadium beginning Friday, as the New York Yankees play host to their historical -- and former cross-city -- rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for the opener of their three-game series.

It's a matchup of absolute powerhouses. These teams lead their respective divisions. They are their respective leagues' favorites to capture a World Series championship. They are ranked in the top seven in terms of both runs per game on offense and ERA on the pitching side, and they rank second and third respectively in defensive runs saved.

It'll also be only the third time during the regular season that the Dodgers have ever played at Yankee Stadium, after their 2013 and 2016 visits. Not that these teams are unfamiliar opponents, however, having met up 11 times in the World Series.

Friday's series opener is the one that most favors the Dodgers -- though Sunday's projections also grade them a favorite by a hair -- with a pitching matchup of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, himself also a Yankees free agent target during the past winter, and Cody Poteet, the Yankees' injury fill-in for Clarke Schmidt. Between the Yankees' offense having scored five-plus runs in 14 of their past 22 games, the homer-friendly park factor, and Yamamoto's occasional struggles in less pitching-friendly matchups, it'd be understandable if his fantasy managers have their doubts about this assignment.

Yamamoto tends to lean on his splitter and curveball in put-away spots, and the Yankees, thus far, have been one of the most successful teams against those pitches. Their .296 wOBA and 27.5% whiff rate against splitters are second- and third-best, and their .293 and 25.0% numbers against curveballs rank 10th and second. That's further evidence that, in ESPN standard leagues or those with tight starts caps, at least, that it'd be understandable if managers faded him.

I'm keeping him in there, having seen too many instances of Yankees offensive struggles against pitchers they haven't seen before.

I'm also keeping all of my Dodgers hitters in there against Poteet, a changeup-reliant pitcher now facing by far the game's most successful hitting team against changeups. The Dodgers' .363 wOBA, 44.7% hard-hit and 5.3% home run rates against that particular pitch are easily all best in the majors.

What you may have missed on Thursday

By Todd Zola

  • New York Yankees OF Juan Soto didn't finish last night's home affair against the Minnesota Twins. The game went into a rain delay after five innings and Soto did not return to the field after the game resumed. Yankees manager Aaron Boone has revealed that Soto has been experiencing left forearm discomfort for the past week. He indicated it was not affecting his play, but after the rain delay, it was decided to take Soto out and schedule him for imaging today.

  • A hip flexor strain had San Diego Padres 3B Manny Machado on the bench to begin last night's NL West affair with the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, he pinch hit in the eighth inning with the go-ahead runs in scoring position. Machado grounded back to the pitcher and the Diamondbacks went on to win 4-3.

  • Earlier in the day, Padres SP Joe Musgrove was diagnosed with a bone spur and bruise in his throwing elbow. Musgrove and the club hope to avoid surgery, but it remains a possibility. Musgrove is expected to be out for at least another month, with recently promoted SP Adam Mazur a candidate to stay in the Padres rotation.

  • Atlanta Braves OF Jarred Kelenic missed last night's game due to a sore wrist incurred Wednesday night while making a diving grab. Newly signed IF/OF Brian Anderson played right field in Kelenic's absence.

  • With Seattle Mariners RP Andres Munoz unavailable after tweaking his back while covering home plate on Wednesday night, RP Ryne Stanek delivered his fourth save in the Mariners' 3-0 blanking of the Oakland Athletics. Munoz did play catch before last night's game. He will be unavailable tonight, but hopes to return over the weekend.

Everything else you need to know for Friday

  • It's an unusual Friday, in that not all 30 teams are scheduled to play. The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies both have a second straight day off to accommodate their travel to London, England, for their two-game weekend series there.

  • Lance Lynn has scored in double digits in three consecutive starts and has yet to deliver a negative fantasy point total in 2024, after having done so in one-quarter of his 2023 starts (8-of-32), re-establishing himself as a solid matchups type. A home game against the traveling Colorado Rockies certainly qualifies as a plus matchup, as the Rockies have baseball's fourth-worst wOBA (.285) and fifth-worst strikeout rate (25.5%) in road games.

  • Speaking of plus matchups, the Chicago White Sox, baseball's lowest-scoring team (2.97 runs per game), and third-worst during their 13-game losing streak (3.31), stand out as one for Boston Red Sox right-hander Cooper Criswell. Criswell has a 3.86 ERA in his eight starts since entering the rotation, exhibiting a mostly matchups-driven pattern, and he's available in more than 95% of ESPN leagues. He's generally kept on a pitch count, having averaged 81 per start during his past eight, but that could be enough to get him past the five-inning threshold to qualify for a win.

  • Inconsistency on offense has been an issue for the Toronto Blue Jays all season, but a matchup against Oakland Athletics left-hander Hogan Harris, followed by two more hitting-friendly matchups during the weekend, could help get them straightened out. Harris struggles both with control and reining in hard contact, and he has a bloated, 4.1% home run rate against right-handed hitters. Davis Schneider and Danny Jansen have been batting one-two for the Blue Jays in recent weeks, and both warrant spots in your fantasy lineup.

  • Betting tip of the day: The Athletics offense, meanwhile, has run rather cold over the past month, with only a few exceptions. Since May 13, they have averaged 3.14 runs per game, second-worst in the league, with the highest strikeout rate (27.8%). They've been especially awful against right-handers, one of whom (Chris Bassitt) will face them on Friday, batting only .176/.247/.261 with a 26.6% K rate since Memorial Day. Take the Blue Jays to win (-135). Additionally, Bassitt, who broke through with Oakland a few years back, has an outstanding history at the Oakland Coliseum in the form of a 2.39 career ERA and a pair of eight-inning quality starts in his two turns there since leaving the Athletics. This makes the Blue Jays (+125) minus -1.5 runs a strong choice for those seeking a greater payout.

It's never too late to start a free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday. Come and join the fun!

Starting pitcher rankings for Friday

Reliever report

To get the latest information on each team's bullpen hierarchy, as well as which pitchers might be facing a bit of fatigue and who might be the most likely suspects to vulture a save or pick up a surprise hold in their stead, check out the latest Closer Chart, which will be updated every morning.

Hitting report

Plan ahead in fantasy baseball with help from our Forecaster projections. Each day, we will provide an updated preview of the next 10 days for every team, projecting the matchup quality for hitters (overall and by handedness) as well as for base stealers.

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