It's Friday and we have a full slate of games with a bunch of studs on the mound. There are five guys on FanDuel priced over 10K and four over 11K on DraftKings (What I consider the "high-dollar" range on those respective sites).
On nights like tonight when we have top-tier guys like Sale, Scherzer, Greinke, Bumgarner, Kershaw, Carrasco, Archer, etc, guys that have 50 point upside on FD and 30 point upside on DK, I have a tough time not rostering a top-tier arm on FD and at least one on DK.
For that reason, I'll keep it simple and as always give you guys the info as if I were doing the analysis for myself. There will be two sections; Top Tier and SP2 plays on DK. I've sorted through everything you need to know and narrowed down the options to my preferred plays rather than listing all 30 pitchers on the slate and wishing you luck like some of these other sites out there. So, without further ado, here we go.
*I'm comfortable with these four guys on both sites in any format.
Chris Sale (BOS)
The narrative of Sale struggling against the Twins was one that was real before he became a member of the Red Sox and even reared its ugly head a couple of times once he arrived in Boston. All of that has seemingly vanished as Sale continues to be one of the best in baseball and has figured out the Twins. Over his last three starts against them he's thrown 19.1 innings, allowed 11 hits, seven earned runs and struck out 30 batters. The Twins, a very helter-skelter offense all year long have had serious issues with lefties. As a team, they strike out 23.5 percent of the time against southpaws which is the fifth-most in the league. To go along with that, they have just a .120 ISO and .298 wOBA; both of near the bottom of the league. Sale is close to a slam dunk play tonight with the only factor working against him being Joe West, known for being a hitter-friendly umpire, penciled in behind the plate.
Chris Archer (TB)
*Rain could be an issue here
Archer's numbers in Camden Yards are fucking horrific, this much I know. However, this Orioles team has been awful all season, they've traded their best player in Manny Machado because they couldn't afford him after giving Chris Davis all of the money that should've come Manny's way, they traded Britton, they're talking about trading Adam Jones and others, and their manager is in the last year of his contract (thank god), as is their GM. Otherwise, all is well in Baltimore. The Orioles strikeout 24.4 percent of the time against righties have a team ISO of .161 (16th), and a team wOBA of .283 (27th), while walking just seven percent of the time. Archer, who is being talked up as trade bait himself, is coming off his best start of the season after going six innings with 13 strikeouts against a pesky Marlins team. On the surface, Archer hasn't had a good year but once you dig in a bit more you'll see that he's actually been good but dealt with a lot of bad luck. His BABIP against is .347 which is astronomically high. While his ERA sits at 4.30, his FIP is actually at 3.51 which shows a big discrepancy. His K rate is 26 percent which is very solid, his swinging strike rate is 13.5 percent which is the best of his career and his O-swing percentage is 32.1 which is also the highest it's ever been. Archer is due to regress back to the norm and he's should produce against a Baltimore team that has basically quit. I love Archer tonight.
Zack Greinke (ARI)
Greinke has seen a lot of PETCO Park in his career and he's dominated while visiting there. In 11 starts in San Diego, he's thrown 74.1 innings, allowed just 49 hits, thrown two complete games, allowed just four home runs, and has a 1.82 ERA. Over his last three starts there, his numbers have stayed true with 21 innings pitched, 21 strikeouts, and just five earned runs. The veteran comes into this start after two dominant outings against the Rockies and Braves. Over those two starts, Greinke totaled 15.2 innings, 20 strikeouts, and one earned run which came on a home run. The Padres offense has obviously struggled most of the season ranking in the bottom third in most offensive categories against right-handed pitching including sporting the highest strikeout rate at 25.8 percent. Greinke will also have the luxury of pitching in one of the better pitchers parks in baseball.
Madison Bumgarner (SF)
Bumgarner is coming off of a rocky outing against the Athletics who have been beating the piss out of everyone of late. Even with allowing four earned runs in his last outing, he simply wasn't himself as he walked six batters and last just four innings. Bumgarner gets a major park shift in his favor playing at home in a night game with cooler temperatures dipping into the high 50's. While the Brewers offense is good, Bumgarner being a lefty should be able to handle them well as they have just a .300 wOBA and .150 ISO against southpaws.
Top Tier Fade
Max Scherzer (WAS)
It's simple here for me. I like Sale and Greinke more in terms of expected production and salary. I don't like targeting the Marlins, I don't care who the pitcher is. Max has been bad in his last two starts against the Marlins, one of which came in Miami. I mean, really bad. Over 13 innings during that stretch he struck out just seven batters and allowed four home runs. The Nats seems like a flat team overall, last night aside, and this game smells like a trap to me after they threw up 10 runs last night.
SP2 Plays on DK
Marcus Stroman (TOR)
The White Sox hit a few home runs yesterday but don't let that deceive you. They're a pretty putrid offense with a 25.3 K rate (fifth-worst), 6.7 percent walk rate (worst), .160 ISO, and .306 wOBA against right-handed pitching. Stroman has been really good in two of his last three starts against the Braves and Orioles. He was textbook Stroman in those two starts with a 25 percent and 18 percent K rate, 2.45 and 2.59 FIP, and 64 percent and 75 percent ground ball rate. Stro dealt with a ton of bad luck early in the season and had control and in-zone command issues. He seems to have gotten that together and shapes up as a top SP2 play for me tonight.
C.C. Sabathia (NYY)
*Slight chance of rain here.
At this point in his career, you should know what to expect from Sabathia. He's not going to wow you with strikeout numbers but more often than not he's going to get enough run support to win and he's not going to get bombed (he's allowed four or more earned runs four times this season, twice to the Red Sox). He's the "solid" sp2 play at 6.9K against a piss poor Royals team. The Royals owns the fifth-worst wOBA (.296) and fourth-worst ISO (.126) against lefties while striking out nearly 24 percent of the time.
Mike Fiers (DET)
Fiers has faced the Indians twice at home this season and has literally shut them down. In those two innings, Fiers totaled 13 innings, 14 strikeouts, and two earned runs. He's coming off of a good start against the Red Sox his last time out when he went 6.1 innings with six strikeouts and no earned runs allowed. Furthermore, Fiers has been great over his last five starts. Over that span, he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any one start (has had four starts with one, one, one, and no runs allowed respectively). He also had five or more strikeouts in four of five of those starts while going at least six innings in all.
Pablo Lopez (MIA) - This is risky business for sure, but Lopez is worth a look against an overrated Nats lineup that goes nuts once in a while (last night) and otherwise is pretty mediocre. At 6.1K, five innings with two earned and five strikeouts is a line that you'll take and I think that's what we get.
Ivan Nova (PIT) - He's as mediocre as it gets. Outside of Kyle Hendricks (HE'S THE WORST), he may be the most BORING pitcher I've ever watched in my life. The Mets bats have been too hot recently. So hot that they're about ready for a three-week tailspin. Nova pitches well tonight and gets a win.