After a Thursday slate filled with afternoon affairs as teams got an early start before traveling to their next series, Friday is a typical evening docket with only the Cardinals and Cubs not played under the lights. The schedule features Clayton Kershaw looking for his sixth win without a loss while Gerrit Cole also seeks victory number six, which would push him a game over .500.
In terms of fantasy, there are several familiar arms worthy of a look along with the usual mix of veteran and obscure bats. Good luck, this weekend. Here's what you need to start things off on the right foot.
Zach Eflin (R), 43 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds: Eflin is set to come off the injured list after missing just one start with back stiffness. Save for the outing preceding being placed on the IL, Eflin was cruising with a 2.76 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. However, a pedestrian 18.7 percent strikeout rate warns of a significant correction toward his 4.81 xFIP and 4.59 SIERA. While they've been better the past month, the Reds are still a mid-pack offense with a righty on the hill.
Lance Lynn (R), 27 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics: By far the riskiest of the highlighted starts, Lynn has done a good job keeping the ball in the yard, issuing just six long balls in 74 frames. Oakland is perceived as a power-hitting club, though they sport an average home run rate with a right-hander on the hill. That said, they enjoy a park upgrade.
Jose Urena (R), 7 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves: In an age where the average length of starts is dwindling, Urena has impressively worked at least six innings in nine straight outings -- including four seven-inning stints. This helps make up for a pedestrian strikeout rate, especially in points leagues. Atlanta's offense versus RHP on the road is slightly below-average, but Marlins Park suppresses production more than most venues in the league.
In the spirit of being ahead of the curve, the Red Sox and Rays play a twin bill on Saturday. The good news is that gives both clubs an extra chance to notch a save. The bad news is there isn't a clear pickup from either side. Brandon Workman, Marcus Walden and Matt Barnes are all in play for Boston, with Diego Castillo and Emilio Pagan in the mix for Tampa. With Jose Alvarado away from the team, Castillo may be the best bet of everyone to garner at last one save.
Projected game scores
Catcher -- Jonathan Lucroy (R), 48 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): Those fairly new to fantasy baseball would never guess it wasn't that long ago Lucroy was one of the top fantasy backstops. Though, to be fair, he's having a renaissance campaign, albeit a far cry from his salad days. Lucroy's productivity, along with the injuries of several teammates, have landed Lucroy in the 5-hole against lefty pitching.
First Base -- Logan Forsythe (R), 6 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics (LHP Brett Anderson): Forsythe is no longer playing every day, but he should be in the lineup with a left-hander on the hill. He's not seeing the same results as usual with the platoon advantage, but for his career Forsythe hits lefties well.
Second Base -- Brock Holt (L), 1 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Yonny Chirinos): The Rays have been known to change last-minute, but currently, Chirinos is listed as Friday's starter. Even if Tampa opts to go with an opener, Chirinos will be the bulk pitcher. As such, Holt lines up to get the call at the keystone. Since missing close to seven weeks with a scratched cornea, Holt has posted a .982 OPS, albeit in just 26 plate appearances.
Third Base -- Cheslor Cuthbert (R), under 1 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Ivan Nova): Cuthbert has been afforded chances to carve out a regular role previously, only to come up short. With Hunter Dozier on the IL, Cuthbert will get another look and appears intent on impressing. On Thursday, Cuthbert launched his third homer since being inserted into the lineup on May 31.
Shortstop -- Orlando Arcia (R), 6 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Rookie Davis): Two of the usual criteria when identifying hitters to stream are a high spot in the batting order and the platoon edge. Arcia is devoid of both, but he's been productive out of the 8-hole while Davis is equally magnanimous to both sides of the dish.
Corner Infield -- Yonder Alonso (L), 6 percent, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (RHP Homer Bailey): Bailey is again displaying the unfortunate nature of his first name, allowing eight long balls in 55 frames. Since 2017, 46 of Alonso's 58 big flies have come with a right-hander on the mound.
Middle Infield -- Howie Kendrick (R), 27 percent, Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres (LHP Nick Margevicius): Hendrick quietly picked up third base eligibility earlier in the season for those needing a boost at the hot corner. While Kendrick has been hitting everyone well, he's crushing southpaws with a 1.043 OPS.
Outfield -- Franmil Reyes (R), 46 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Erick Fedde): Reyes' 19 homers are fourth most in the National League, with 17 coming off righty throwers. In 90 1/3 innings in the majors, Fedde as watched 15 balls leave the yard.
Outfield -- Jay Bruce (L), 35 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Tyler Mahle): Research shows hot streaks can smolder at any time. Still, with four homers in his last 14 trips to the plate, including three with the Phillies, Bruce is in a great spot against Mahle. The Reds right-hander is missing bats with 67 punch-outs in 61 1/3 frames, but he's also administered 11 homers.
Outfield -- Teoscar Hernandez (R), 1 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Merrill Kelly): Hernandez has received extended playing time before, failing to establish himself as a regular. After a stint in Triple-A playing mostly center field, Hernandez is getting another chance to earn a regular role with the Blue Jays, this time patrolling center. Kelly's return to the majors has been a mixed bag as he's had trouble with righty swingers who are sporting a .351 wOBA against the former KBO standout.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible).