Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Friday's MLB games (2024)

  • Mike Sheets

Jun 28, 2024, 11:53 AM ET

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.

Phillies' Sanchez is a must-add

The Philadelphia Phillies entered Thursday's action with the second-best record in the National League and, while their offense has certainly played a big part, putting up a 113 wRC+ that ranks fourth-best in baseball, it's their pitching that's been the real standout. Philadelphia's rotation sports an MLB-best 2.96 ERA, with a collective 10.2 fWAR that's significantly higher than the next-best team (the Detroit Tigers at 8.6).

With Zack Wheeler as the clear-cut ace, Aaron Nola being the team's longest-tenured starter and Ranger Suarez emerging as the top starter in fantasy so far this season, it's little surprise that Cristopher Sanchez has more or less flown under the fantasy radar. Despite owning a 2.67 ERA that's second-best in the NL (behind only Suarez at 2.01), Sanchez is currently rostered in only 33% of ESPN leagues.

Sanchez certainly has his limitations as a fantasy asset, as he doesn't miss a ton of bats (7.5 K/9), but he has solid control (2.5 BB/9), keeps the ball on the ground (60% GB), and has held batters to a 5.1% Barrel rate, which ranks sixth-best in baseball. The left-hander has also been "lights out" of late, spinning a 1.91 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP across his last seven starts.

Best of all, Sanchez is set to take the mound on Friday versus the Miami Marlins, who have been the worst in baseball versus left-handed pitching this season, ranking dead last with a 68 wRC+. Sanchez is a no-brainer streaming option in this matchup.

What you may have missed on Thursday

By Todd Zola

  • Philadelphia Phillies 1B Bryce Harper hurt his hamstring while hustling out last night's game-ending groundout. He appeared to hurt himself when he crossed the bag. Harper hobbled around for a bit before leaving the field. The severity of the injury and Harper's status should be clarified today. The Phillies gave Kyle Schwarber a rare start in left field, but had to replace him with Brandon Marsh in the ninth inning after Schwarber experienced groin tightness. His status is also unclear. Earlier in the day, SP Spencer Turnbull was placed on the 15-day IL with a right lat strain. He's expected to be on the shelf for 6-to-8 weeks.

  • Baltimore Orioles C Adley Rutschman was hit in the hand by a foul tip but continued to play, later clocking his 15th home run. Rutschman's right hand was wrapped after the game. Manager Brandon Hyde expressed concern that Rutschman's hand could swell overnight, jeopardizing his availability for tonight's home date with SP Max Scherzer and the Texas Rangers. Rutschman often serves as the Orioles DH if the club is worried about him playing behind the plate.

  • The Cincinnati Reds were shorthanded, but still beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-4. They were without C Tyler Stephenson, OF Jake Fraley and 1B Jeimer Candelario. Stephenson was a late scratch so that he could attend the birth of his child. He'll likely be placed on the paternity list today. Fraley missed his second straight game due to a calf injury. The results of an MRI taken yesterday should be revealed today. Candelario was also sidelined for a second consecutive game as he's nursing a sore hamstring. He's considered day-to-day. The return of 3B Noelvi Marte helped fill the void. On the first game back after serving his 80-game suspension, Marte was 3-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI.

  • The Cleveland Guardians put OF Will Brennan on the 10-day IL as a result of rib cage inflammation. He currently is without a timetable to return. In the interim, Daniel Schneemann and Jhonkensy Noel are both expected to see an increase in playing time. Meanwhile, down on the farm, SP Gavin Williams posted an encouraging rehab outing with Triple-A Columbus. He completed four frames, fanning six with two walks and yielded only one earned run on three hits before getting removed after tossing 82 pitches. Williams had been sidelined all season thanks to a right elbow issue he incurred while working with a weighted ball in spring training.

  • Minnesota Twins SS Carlos Correa was forced from yesterday's contest in the seventh inning after being hit in the wrist with a 94-mph fastball. Post-game X-rays were negative, and the club hopes that Correa will be in the lineup tonight for the opener of a weekend road set against the Seattle Mariners. Before leaving, Correa had been 1-for-1 with a run and RBI. He also walked twice along with the HBP, helping the Twins to a 13-6 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The game featured the debut of SP David Festa, who earned the win despite yielding five earned runs over five frames.

Everything else you need to know for Friday

  • Max Scherzer is still in line to start Friday against the Baltimore Orioles despite experiencing some right thumb soreness following his season debut Sunday. The veteran righty reportedly threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday and, although he was still dealing with some lingering soreness, the Texas Rangers plan to keep him on schedule. Against a dangerous Orioles lineup that leads the league in both home runs and runs scored, it's not a bad idea to leave Scherzer on your bench for this one and wait to ensure he's truly healthy.

  • Even with a slight hiccup at Coors Field last week, Mitchell Parker of the Washington Nationals (13% rostered in ESPN leagues) holds a 3.30 ERA over his first 13 MLB starts. That Coors start aside, the 24-year-old lefty has held opponents to three-or-fewer earned runs in each of his other 12 outings. Parker should stay the course on Friday against a middle-of-the-road Tampa Bay Rays offense, putting him firmly on the streaming radar.

  • Jameson Taillon (13%) of the Chicago Cubs fits the profile of the type of hurler that's often overlooked in fantasy. Despite holding a 2.90 ERA through 12 starts with strong control (2.1 BB/9), he just doesn't miss enough bats (7.0 K/9) to generate a ton of interest. Those type of pitchers do make for solid streaming options, though. Consider streaming Taillon on Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers, who sport a below-average 93 wRC+ in June.

  • If you're looking for offense, take a look at some Los Angeles Angels bats against Kenta Maeda of the Detroit Tigers. The right-hander has had a rough go of it this season. His season-long ERA sits at 6.00, with a 7.11 mark over his past six starts. He has also surrendered a bloated .390 wOBA to right-handed batters. Luis Rengifo (67%), Taylor Ward (60%), Logan O'Hoppe (50%), Zach Neto (7%) and Nolan Schanuel (2%) are all in the streaming conversation against Maeda.

  • Betting tip of the day: Jonathan India of the Cincinnati Reds has been on fire of late and he gets a nice matchup on Friday against the struggling Andre Pallante of the St. Louis Cardinals, who has a 4.76 ERA as a starter this season. Take India for OVER 1.5 hits + runs + RBI a mark he's eclipsed in seven straight games at -135.

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.

  • Matt Vierling (DET, RF -- 11%) at Zach Plesac

  • Andrew Benintendi (CHW, LF -- 10%) vs. Dakota Hudson

  • Andrew Vaughn (CHW, 1B -- 14%) vs. Hudson

  • Tommy Pham (CHW, LF -- 4%) vs. Hudson

  • Mark Canha (DET, LF -- 13%) at Plesac

  • Colt Keith (DET, 3B -- 5%) at Plesac

  • Eloy Jimenez (CHW, DH -- 22%) vs. Hudson

  • JJ Bleday (OAK, LF -- 27%) at Slade Cecconi

  • Jarred Kelenic (ATL, LF -- 12%) vs. Martin Perez

  • Rhys Hoskins (MIL, 1B -- 29%) vs. Jameson Taillon

Worst Over-50% rostered hitters for Friday

  • Teoscar Hernandez (LAD, RF -- 93%) at Logan Webb

  • Cal Raleigh (SEA, C -- 71%) vs. Bailey Ober

  • Anthony Volpe (NYY, SS -- 86%) at Yusei Kikuchi

  • Lane Thomas (WSH, RF -- 60%) at Zach Eflin

  • Jordan Westburg (BAL, 2B -- 88%) vs. Max Scherzer

  • Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA, CF -- 77%) at Cristopher Sanchez

  • Alex Verdugo (NYY, RF -- 65%) at Kikuchi

  • Julio Rodriguez (SEA, CF -- 96%) vs. Ober

  • Cedric Mullins (BAL, CF -- 58%) vs. Scherzer

  • Ha-Seong Kim (SD, 2B -- 94%) at Nick Pivetta

THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Friday

  • Cleveland Guardians at Alec Marsh

  • Atlanta Braves vs. Perez

  • Milwaukee Brewers vs. Taillon

Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Friday's MLB games (2024)
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