If you're a fan of one of the Bay Area teams, you can spend your Friday night doing other things as the Giants and Athletics both have the day off in advance of their brief two-game interleague set in Oakland this weekend. The other 28 clubs are in action, starting with a matinee in Wrigley Field with the Washington Nationals visiting the Chicago Cubs in an important series as both are battling for a playoff berth.
Fantasy-wise, it's another mediocre slate for pitching streamers, even when adjusting for the lowered expectation based on the current run-scoring landscape. Choose wisely, especially if you're in a tight ratio battle. Here's some suggestion to start your weekend off in the right direction.
Jordan Lyles (R), rostered in 15% of ESPN leagues, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: Lyles is to dangerous if you're concerned about your ratios, however he should be able to challenge for a win with some whiffs along the way. Though, it would be better if the Brewers bullpen were clicking on all cylinders, but even so their offense should provide run support facing Merrill Kelly. Since the break, the Diamondbacks have been the 20th most productive offense facing righthanded pitching.
Anthony DeSclafani (R), 13%, Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates: All told, DeSclafani is the best option to churn and burn. He's facing a weak offense in a good pitcher's park while his mates draw Mitch Keller, a promising but still raw rookie. DeSclafani isn't safe for ratios as he's surrendered at least one homer for the past four games. However, the Bucs don't possess the firepower, especially from the left side to best take advantage.
Dylan Cease (R), 6%, Chicago White Sox vs. Texas Rangers: Like Keller, Cease is a promising but still green rookie, struggling in his initial trek through MLB lineups. On Friday, Cease has a chance to desist from another rough outing as he faces a Rangers club with the 27th ranked wOBA (weighted in base average) versus righties over the second half, fanning 28% of the time in that scenario.
Justus Sheffield (L), 2%, Seattle Mariners vs. Toronto Blue Jays: The jury is still out concerning Sheffield's long-term role as some see him faring batter as a reliever. Seattle wants to see if Sheffield can start and could get an audition down the stretch - or he could work out of the bullpen. He's pitched well for Triple-A Tacoma as a starter, sporting a 2.19 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 85 strikeouts in his past 78 innings. Despite adding some exciting youngsters, the Blue Jays offense is still one of the weakest facing southpaws.
Sticking with the Mariners, Matt Magill appears to have earned ninth inning duties, notching a pair of saves the past week, they he did blow one Wednesday night. Still, nine punchouts with only one walk in seven August frames is solid.
Catcher -- Robinson Chirinos (R), 19%, Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Jose Suarez): While Chirinos hasn't joined the brigade of break out AL backstops, he's had a solid year, especially facing lefthanded pitching. Plus, he offers a way to get a piece of a potentially productive lineup with most of his teammates already on a fantasy roster.
First Base -- Jesus Aguilar (R), 47%, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles (LHP Ty Blach): Aguilar has continued to flounder since being acquired by the Rays. However, he historically hits lefties well and Blach is one of the weakest hurlers on the card. Add in the park upgrade to Camden Yards and Aguilar is in a good spot to get it going.
Second Base -- Joe Panik (L), 18%, New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Mike Foltynewicz): Panik is in process of forcing the Mets into a difficult decision when Jeff McNeil returns, batting a robust .343 since signing with the club. The former San Francisco Giants second baseman is batting in the two-hole against righthanders, which is a nice place to be considering Foltynewicz's issues facing lefty swingers.
Third Base -- Kyle Seager (L), 33%, Seattle Mariners vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Trent Thornton): Seager is staking his claim for August Player-of-the-Month, recording a 1.158 OPS featuring eight homers. He's particularly effective with the platoon edge. Thornton has served up a healthy 20 homers in 120 frames.
Shortstop -- Hanser Alberto (R), 9%, Baltimore Orioles vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Undecided): Leading the Orioles in batting average won't thrust Alberto to MVP consideration, but his .317 is nonetheless impressive and helpful for those in a tight batting average race. Alberto is also eligible at second and third so you can fit him in without giving up too much elsewhere.
Corner Infield -- Miguel Sano (R), 38%, Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Drew VerHagen): Matthew Boyd's trip to the paternity list caused some shuffling in the Tigers rotation, with VerHagen and his 6.67 ERA and 1.82 WHIP grabbing a spot start on Friday. As you likely imagine, homers have been an issue. Sano may not be hitting for average, but he's blasted 23 homers in what amounts to half a season.
Middle Infield -- Tommy Edman (S), 21%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Peter Lambert): While focusing on categories in need is paramount down the stretch, there's still a place for steady production. Edman offers across the board help with the ability for a big night like the combo meal (HR and SB in the same game) he put up earlier this week.
Outfield -- Willie Calhoun (L), 17%, Texas Rangers at Chicago White Sox (RHP Dylan Cease): Calhoun's defense is still a work in progress, but his bat is MLB ready. Despite spending much of the season riding the Triple-A express or hurt, Calhoun has blasted 13 homers in only 50 games with the Rangers.
Outfield -- Josh VanMeter (L), 22%, Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Mitch Keller): VanMeter batted leadoff on Wednesday night. It's unclear if that's a permanent move, but his .383 OBP warrants top of the order consideration. VanMeter's knack for getting on base with the dual power-speed threat plays well in points leagues.
Outfield -- Greg Allen (S), 1%, Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Jakob Junis): The Indians have been one of the top offenses since the trading deadline but there aren't many options available for pickup. Allen has been platooning with Tyler Naquin, offering one pathway to get a part of a potent attack.