For the second straight season, Major League Baseball has made a point to schedule more day games than previous years, extending deeper into the season. That said, Friday remains dedicated to evening affairs, except when the Chicago Cubs are at home for the traditional Friday matinee at Wrigley Field. With the Cincinnati Reds in town to begin a weekend set, their National League Central clash is the only contest not under the lights.
The headline matchup features a pair of southpaws, with the only commonality being their throwing hands, as Chris Sale leads the 2018 world champion Boston Red Sox into Houston to take on the team they dethroned, Wade Miley and the Astros. The undercard is highlighted by two exciting youngsters, with 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell and the Tampa Bay Rays visiting Progressive Field for a weekend series against Shane Bieber and the Cleveland Indians.
The inventory of mound-streaming options is suspect, but as always, the top options will be discussed, along with a favorable bat at each position. Here's what you need to get Memorial Day weekend off in the right direction.
Joey Lucchesi (L), rostered in 49 percent of ESPN leagues, San Diego Padres at Toronto Blue Jays: Lucchesi's heater sits around 90 mph, a tick or so below league average. However, his deceptive motion gives the impression it's faster. Considering the Blue Jays are one of the weakest lineups versus lefties and they've never faced Lucchesi, the lefty lines up for a solid start, despite having to deal with a designated hitter.
Griffin Canning (R), 10 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers: There's risk here, as the Rangers have hit right-handers well, even on the road. However, Angel Stadium is one of the best pitching venues in the game, and Canning has comported himself well in his inaugural season. The rookie has fanned an impressive 24 in 21 1/3 frames, while the Rangers whiff at a 26 percent clip with a righty on the hill.
Kyle McGowin (R), fewer than 1 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins: Hopefully, the rest of the weekend is better for streaming options, as Friday night's card is downright brutal. With Anibal Sanchez still sidelined, the Nationals plan to call up McGowin. The 27-year-old righty started eight games for Triple-A Fresno, so he should be stretched out enough to work five frames, though he's tossed only three frames since May 12. He's not dominant, but he limits walks and keeps the ball in the yard. The Marlins tote the league's poorest offense into the nation's capital, as they're the only club to average fewer than three runs per game.
The Colorado Rockies placed Wade Davis on the injured list with what is being termed a mild oblique strain. Still, the best-case scenario is for an early-June return with Scott Oberg taking over as primary closer. Carlos Estevez and Seunghwan Oh are secondary candidates.
With James Paxton still not ready to return, the Yankees will deploy a bullpen game in Kansas City, opened by Chad Green and with Luis Cessa and Nestor Cortes Jr. in line to follow. If you're chasing wins, taking a shot on Cessa could pay dividends as New York should be able to put up some runs against Jakob Junis.
Catcher -- Christian Vazquez (R), 19 percent, Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros (LHP Wade Miley): Last year, Sandy Leon did most of the squatting when Chris Sale toed the rubber. Since his recall, Leon has assumed a more traditional reserve role, regardless who is pitching. As such, Vazquez gets the nod, but check to see if Leon is in the lineup. Vazquez is the preferred fantasy option, as he continues hitting the ball with more authority than ever, plus he enjoys the platoon edge on Miley. If Leon is playing, he's also an option, just not as favorable as Vazquez.
First Base -- Chris Davis (L), 1 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Colorado Rockies (RHP Jeff Hoffman): Davis has been playing first base, so it's highly probable he'll be in the lineup, as he holds the platoon advantage on the pedestrian Hoffman. While he picked up the pace after his historic early-season woes, Davis has slid back into a swoon, posting a .579 OPS the past three weeks through Wednesday's action. However, Coors Field has a habit of getting hitters back in track.
Second Base -- David Fletcher (R), 26 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Drew Smyly): May has been kind to Fletcher, as he has posted a tidy .795 OPS, chipping in with a couple of homers and a steal. The production has propelled Fletcher to the leadoff spot, a nice place to be facing Smyly, one of the weakest arms on the slate.
Third Base -- Neil Walker (S), 2 percent, Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals (RHP Kyle McGowin): Walker has been playing first base but retains eligibility at second and third from last season. He has recorded four multihit efforts in his past nine starts.
Shortstop -- Brendan Rodgers (R), 13 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Baltimore Orioles (LHP John Means): After sitting for a couple of games, Rodgers has started the past two, including a three-hit effort Wednesday night. The rookie should be in the lineup again, benefiting from the platoon edge on a southpaw.
Corner Infield -- Christian Walker (R), 31 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants (LHP Drew Pomeranz): Walker needs to revert to early-season form if he wants to continue playing regularly with Jake Lamb nearing a return. He's been sluggish lately, as evidenced by a 3-for-21 week. History shows slumps can be snapped at any time with Pomeranz and his 1.60 WHIP the perfect panacea.
Middle Infield -- Greg Garcia (L), under 1 percent, San Diego Padres at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Trent Thornton): With Fernando Tatis Jr. not returning this weekend as hoped, Garcia should continue to see more playing time, sharing second base with Ian Kinsler. When Garcia gets the nod, it's often been at the top of the Padres' order. Especially since the lineup will include a designated hitter, the upper half of the Friars' lineup can be productive, setting Garcia up to cross the dish.
Outfield -- Jason Heyward (L), 6 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Anthony DeSclafani): DeSclafani is nails against righty swingers, allowing a low .289 wOBA (weighted on base average) in that scenario. However, he still can't solve left-handers, as they've posted a .371 wOBA on DeSclafani, including a bloated .438 mark this season. At 36.5 percent, Heyward's fly ball mark is the highest since 2012.
Outfield -- Mark Canha (R), 1 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Wade LeBlanc): Canha has the power stroke going, slugging five out of the yard since being reinserted into the lineup on May 13. Since joining the Mariners to begin 2018, Leblanc has authored 30 homers in 180 1/3 innings, including six in just 18 1/3 this season.
Outfield -- -- J.D. Davis (R), 2 percent, New York Mets vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Gregory Soto): Davis holds the distinction of being one of the few Mets batters both healthy and productive recently. He has been playing a lot of outfield lately, but he also qualifies at the hot corner. Davis has left the yard twice the past week and possesses the platoon advantage on Soto.