Fantasy baseball daily notes -- Pitcher and hitter rankings for Friday

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26.07.2019 12:42

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Get ready for another weekend of "the sport's greatest rivalry" narrative as the New York Yankees visit Fenway Park for a three-game set against the Boston Red Sox. Don't worry, several other notable series will be played this weekend, with the Nationals entertaining the Dodgers, the Phillies hosting the Braves, the Cubs visiting the Brewers and the Cardinals welcoming the Astros for an interleague set.

Buckle up for some fun hardball. Here are some suggestions to fortify your fantasy lineups, all available in at least half of ESPN leagues:

Pitching

Zach Plesac (R), rostered in 31% of ESPN leagues, Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals: Plesac rebounded from a couple of subpar outings with a quality start last time out at home against the Royals. The return matchup is in Kauffman Stadium, but Plesac still profiles to be in a good spot, as the home team sports an average offense with a righty on the hill. If nothing else, Plesac will be favored for a win for the surging Tribe.

Ryan Yarbrough (L), 20%, Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays: In part because normal opener Ryne Stanek is hurt, but also because he has earned it, Yarbrough is slated to get the ball to begin the bottom of the first in Friday's contest. Yarbrough is sporting a 0.99 ERA and 0.66 WHIP over his past six outings, fanning 24 with just two walks in those 27⅓ innings. Home or away, the Blue Jays are one of the league's poorest offenses with a southpaw on the hill.

Jeff Samardzija (R), 17%, San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres: Samardzija remains a tough nut to crack. He'll stifle a top offense while sitting on your bench, then get blasted by a second-division club while in your starting lineup. Friday's divisional tilt with the Padres is favorable, as the improving but strikeout-happy San Diego offense syncs up nicely with Samardzija's recent performances. The Shark has whiffed 16 over his past 11⅓ innings.

Jose Urquidy (R), 15%, Houston Astros at St. Louis Cardinals: After a couple of rough outings before the break, Urquidy rebounded with a stellar effort last time out, holding the Rangers to one run on two hits in seven stanzas, punching out nine without issuing a free pass. The Cardinals are in the thick of the playoff race in the Senior Circuit despite a below-average lineup with a righty on the hill.

Griffin Canning (R), 13%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Baltimore Orioles: Canning was initially scheduled to work Thursday's series opener before being pushed to Friday. Here's what my colleague Mike Sheets wrote for Thursday's daily notes before Canning was scratched: "After a couple of rocky outings against the Astros and Rangers, Canning righted the ship his last time out, tossing five innings of two-run ball against Seattle. At 23 years old, the young righty has some more speed bumps in his future, but the pieces are there. He's missing plenty of bats (9.7 K/9) and could be a reliable fantasy starter with slightly better command and some better luck in the home run department. Canning draws an enticing matchup against the Orioles, who rank 28th in baseball with a.300 wOBA and 84 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching."

Bullpen: We've covered speculative save candidates ad nauseam, so let's take a break and offer a not-so-fun fact that isn't getting enough attention in fantasy circles. Currently, starter and reliever ERAs are nearly identical, with relievers' being slightly worse. If this holds, it will be the first time since 1973 that starters post a better aggregate ERA than relievers. No one is immune from the effect of the juiced ball. The repercussion being as tricky as it is to traverse the starting pitching mine field, finding a safe reliever to use instead is just as challenging.

Hitting

Catcher -- Matt Wieters (S), 1%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Houston Astros (RHP Jose Urquidy): Wieters has filled in swimmingly while Yadier Molina convalesces on the injured list. Over the past three weeks, Wieters has posted a .912 OPS featuring four homers.

First Base -- Sam Travis (R), 1%, Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (LHP James Paxton): This is the card's deep-league special, as Travis may not play. If he doesn't, it's likely because Michael Chavis is back. Either batter is in play, enjoying the platoon edge on Paxton, in what looks to be a warm night in Fenway Park. Paxton's fly ball proclivity could be an issue, though as a team, Boston hasn't hit southpaws well all season.

Second Base -- Jason Kipnis (L), 7%, Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jakob Junis): While all baseball players are streaky, some seem more so than others with Kipnis a prime example. Kipnis has hit safely in eight of his past nine games at a .294 clip. Junis will be working with an extra day's rest, though it's questionable how much rest he received coming off paternity leave.

Third Base -- Niko Goodrum (S), 10%, Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners (LHP Yusei Kikuchi): When looking for steals, Goodrum likely doesn't come to mind. That said, he's 11-for-13 on the season with three coming in his past 10 games. The Tigers check in with a "10" in the steals category in Friday's Hitting Forecaster, giving Goodrum a good opportunity to continue his thieving ways.

Shortstop -- Andrelton Simmons (R), 49%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Asher Wojciechowski): Simmons is getting in gear after a long layoff; it shouldn't be much longer before he's picked up and eclipses the 50% threshold. Wojciechowski is coming off perhaps the best outing of his career, fanning 10 while allowing one hit in 7⅓ scoreless innings against the Red Sox. The righty has pitched well in general, but Simmons is one of the best bat-to-ball guys in the game.

Corner Infield -- Gio Urshela (R), 9%, New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox (RHP Andrew Cashner): While Urshela doesn't have ample career plate appearances to definitely claim he's a reverse split batter, he's comfortable without the platoon edge, as evidenced by a .912 OPS versus righty pitching, including eight of his 10 homers. Not only is Cashner the lowest-ranked arm on Friday's docket, 13 of the 15 homers he has surrendered have come courtesy of righty swingers.

Middle Infield -- Danny Santana (S), 40%, Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics (RHP Daniel Mengden): Sorry if this is low-hanging fruit, but Santana continues to hit as well as be available in a majority of ESPN leagues. With Joey Gallo (hand) out for an extended stint, Santana should continue to play all over the diamond.

Outfield -- Anthony Santander (S), 6%, Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Griffin Canning): The Orioles are extending Santander a long look as they weed through their prospects and work toward rebuilding their roster. Santander is showing he wants to be part of the Orioles' future, clubbing four out of the yard in the past week.

Outfield -- Manuel Margot (R), 10%, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Jeff Samardzija): Margot seems to have earned full-time play in center field, in large part due to defense and speed. It's the speed aspect on display here, as Samardzija is one of the easiest pitchers in the game to run on.

Outfield -- Marwin Gonzalez (S), 38%, Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox (RHP Dylan Cease): Cease is one of the top pitching prospects in the game, but it appears he's still raw, especially with respect to control and command. The Twins possess one of the top offenses in baseball and thus have very few options to pick up. Gonzalez remains one of the few Twins readily available, and he's been batting second against righties lately.

Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) 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 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author's ratings.

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