While it was tough finding pitchers for a spot start on Thursday, Friday has a plethora of options -- in fact, a six-pack's worth. Hitting is also plush with strong options, mostly established hitters having a down year but in a great spot to turn things around.
Here's what you need for a strong start this weekend, with Friday's pitchers and hitters all available in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Marco Gonzales (L), rostered in 46 percent of ESPN leagues, Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays: Gonzales has worked into the seventh in his past three outings, including last time out for the Mariners. In that 20 1/3-inning span, he's fanned 16 with eight walks, both rather pedestrian. Still, taking on a mid-pack offense versus southpaws, Gonzales is in play. Just realize long term, he's outpitching his peripherals, thus is due an ERA correction.
Caleb Smith (L), 31 percent, Miami Marlins vs. San Diego Padres: Smith is a nice example of why inducing grounders shouldn't be considered a skill but rather a trait. Fly ball pitchers in big parks, especially those with high strikeouts and low walk rates, can be quite successful. They tend to spot low WHIPs with slightly inflated ERAs. Smith is a fly ball pitcher in one of the worst parks for homers in the league. His 4.03 ERA and 1.19 WHIP profile perfectly. Though, it should be pointed out Smith's walk rate is higher than desired. Friday, he entertains a Padres club that has sneaky pop versus lefties but has the luxury of Marlins Park at his back.
Frankie Montas (R), 29 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals: Montas had his start pushed from Thursday to Friday. Here's what my colleague Mike Sheets had to say before the change was announced: "Montas has made two big league starts this season, and he's allowed just one run in 16 frames. Not too shabby. In fact, his last outing came against these very Royals, a start in which he tossed eight shutout frames. While he's certainly not this good, he throws hard and has showcased more strikeout potential in the minors than we've seen thus far (5.8 K/9), suggesting there may be some upside here. Be careful about overvaluing him based on that 0.64 ERA, but this is a quality matchup with streaming appeal."
Jhoulys Chacin (R), 20 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies: After taking a few starts to get his sea legs, Chacin has been exactly what the Brewer hoped, a mid-rotation innings-eater, keeping them in the game while their potent offense does their thing. In his past nine efforts, Chacin has posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. A 6.8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in that span are both worse than league average, so a correction is coming. Even so, Chacin is in play against a Phillies squad with a below-average offense versus righties, featuring the league's highest strikeout rate in that scenario.
Lance Lynn (R), 18 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels: There's risk here as the Angels are a potent club versus right-handers, but there also are signs Lynn is returning to form. Most notable, he's tossed at least six frames in each of his past three starts. More importantly, he's allowed only one long ball since April 30.
Mike Montgomery (L), 4 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: It won't be easy as the Pirates are hitting lefties well, but based on his first two outings since entering the rotation, Montgomery deserves a spot start in Wrigley Field for the slate's only matinee affair. In those pair of games, the lefty has worked 11 2/3 frames, so he's stretched out, fanning nine with only one free pass.
Newly acquired Wilmer Font will get the ball for Tampa to begin Friday's contest against the Mariners in Seattle. Matt Andriese hopes Font gets through an inning or two without much damage as he's slated to follow. Andriese isn't stretched out as much as fellow followers Ryan Yarbrough and Austin Pruitt. However, facing a Seattle offense sitting mid-pack versus righties, Andriese is in play, especially if your league has separate designations for starters and relievers.
Projected game scores
Tucker Barnhart (B), 20 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Luke Weaver): There are available catchers facing weaker pitchers but they're all nestled at the bottom of the order, mostly because that's what their production dictates. Give me a decent hitter out of the 2-hole, even if Weaver is an above-average hurler. Barnhart is riding a modest five-game hitting streak. He's gotten on base at a 34 percent clip for the season, making him a stealth option in points leagues.
Yonder Alonso (L), 43 percent, Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers (RHP Michael Fulmer): Alonso is mired in a rut, fanning in nine of his past 27 at bats. However, he'll step in against Fulmer and his below-average strikeout rate. Further, the Tigers righty has struggled with command and control this season, registering home run and walk rates above his usual levels.
Daniel Descalso (L), 19 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): With the Diamondbacks getting Jake Lamb back, Descalso's playing time has taken a hit. Even so, he's a nice player in daily leagues since he's eligible at corner, middle and in the outfield. With a Coors affair on the docket, check to see if Snakes skipper Torey Luvullo has Descalso in the lineup, generally from the productive 5-hole.
Brian Anderson (R), 32 percent, Miami Marlins vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer): The human brain works in mysterious ways, usually putting more weight on first impressions. Last season, Anderson came to the bigs with some aplomb but was overmatched. Some remember this and thus have unfairly dismissed Anderson this season, especially since he's playing in Miami. That's unfortunate since the 25-year old is sporting a respectable .790 OPS. On Friday, Anderson draws Lauer, a promising southpaw, but like Anderson last season, he doesn't appear ready for The Show as evidenced by a 6.82 ERA and 1.98 WHIP so far in his rookie campaign.
Daniel Robertson (R), 21 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): Robertson has filled in nicely for the injured Adeiny Hechavarria. He's been in a tailspin but has showed signs of turning things around the past few games. For the season, Robertson has recorded a .926 OPS versus left-handers. As noted earlier, Gonzales' underlying metrics are suspect.
Todd Frazier (R), 24 percent, New York Mets vs. New York Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka): Fresh off the disabled list, Frazier is back to manning the hot corner. He remains a liability in average but capable of going deep, with no preference for lefty or righty tossers. Tanaka has surrendered a whopping eight homers over his past four outings.
Ian Kinsler (R), 40 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Minnesota Twins (RHP Lance Lynn): It's getting there. If Kinsler continues his current surge, it won't be long before he's on more than 50 percent of ESPN rosters. Until then, he's fair game so here's another reminder the former fantasy stud is rekindling old times. OK, not exactly his salad days, but he still has the ability to be fruitful with an .871 OPS the past two weeks.
Teoscar Hernandez (R), 37 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): The Blue Jays have faced a string of southpaws so it's unclear if Hernandez will be in the lineup against a righty, but the last time the Jays were in this scenario, Hernandez occupied the juicy 3-hole. As most righty swingers are, he's better against southpaws, but he's more than held his own against right-handers. Cashner, on the other hand, is equally generous to both sides of the batter's box.
Dexter Fowler (B), 21 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Matt Harvey): Fowler has been dropped from the top to fifth in the order, but that's OK for fantasy purposes since he no longer runs and he's in a better spot to drive in runs. After a couple of decent efforts with the Reds, Harvey has reverted to previous form, giving up excessive runners and runs.
Jackie Bradley Jr. (L), 16 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Dylan Covey): Working with more velocity, Covey may not be the gas can many surmised coming onto the season, but he's still charitable with free passes. Look for Bradley to take advantage on the base paths. The White Sox are one of he easiest teams to run on, while Bradley has been successful on 88 percent of his attempts to steal, including all six this season.
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); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.