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 toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.
Note: This file has been updated with overnight pitching changes and weather-related 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
By Todd Zola
Amid reports that using the humidor in all 30 parks has unwittingly contributed to suppressed scoring, offense has actually picked up this week as the wonky schedule has forced many teams to use lesser pitchers with batters taking advantage. That said, Friday features several aces on the hill, so runs could be less frequent than prior slates. As has been mentioned in the betting section of this space frequently over the first month of the season, backing the under on a pitcher's strikeout prop has been a profitable endeavor. However, in some instances, taking the over is in play -- not to mention more fun to root for while watching the games. Kevin Gausman is in a great spot to rack up bountiful punchouts on Friday as he's fanned 32 over his previous four outings, spanning 27 1/3 innings. He'll face a Tampa Bay Rays lineup surprisingly leading the league with a 26% strikeout rate facing right-handers.
Jordan Lyles (4%) is a potential streaming candidate as he'll take the ball for the visiting Baltimore Orioles in the Motor City, against a Detroit Tigers offense that was averaging well under two runs per game over their last eight games heading into Thursday's action.
One of the chief filters for streaming batters is position in the batting order, with a top-five spot being optimal. The three-hole scores the most points, with leadoff and cleanup next, followed by second and fifth. With less credence being given to traditional lineups, the difference between the average points-per-spot is lessening. For example, Juan Soto, Paul Goldschmidt, Mike Trout and Freddie Freeman are routinely batting second, which used to be dedicated to someone capable of bunting the leadoff hitter over. Here are some widely available batters slotted at (or near) the top of the order, all of which are in consideration as streamers to fill a hole. TJ Friedl (less than 1%), Brandon Drury (38%), Robbie Grossman (44%), Jesus Aguilar (39%), Aaron Hicks (6%), Sheldon Neuse (18%), Alec Bohm (40%) and Adam Frazier (57%).
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Now that we're over a month into the season, some actionable trends have surfaced. For example, the Angels and Reds are by far the easiest teams to target for opposition stolen bases. Oakland hitters in a favorable position to take advantage of Angels' batteries are Ramon Laureano (12%), Tony Kemp (5%) and Kevin Smith (2%). The Pirates have pilfered only 11 bags through Wednesday, but Ben Gamel (2%) and Diego Castillo (1%) are best set up to pad their steals this weekend.
It's not 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.
Elias Diaz (COL, C -- 17%) vs. Lynch
Michael Taylor (KC, CF -- 1%) at Freeland
Emmanuel Rivera (KC, 3B -- 0%) at Freeland
Garrett Hampson (COL, CF -- 1%) vs. Lynch
Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Friday
Julio Rodriguez (SEA, RF -- 66%) at Scherzer
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA, 2B -- 94%) vs. Burnes
Ty France (SEA, 1B -- 97%) at Scherzer
Eric Hosmer (SD, 1B -- 81%) at Fried
Randy Arozarena (TB, LF -- 85%) vs. Gausman
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Friday
Kansas City Royals at Freeland
Prop of the Day
Joc Pederson hits: Over/Under 0.5 (-260/+185)
THE BAT X sees Pederson putting up 0.7 hits for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 55.6% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $26.55.
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 BAT X projects Pederson in the 87th percentile as it relates to his overall offensive skill.
Pederson is projected to hit fourth in the batting order today.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
Pederson has been pinch hit for 41% of the time when facing a northpaw this year.
Busch Stadium grades out as the No. 24 stadium in Major League Baseball for left-handed batting average, per THE BAT X projection system.
The Cardinals infield defense profiles as the second-best on the slate today.