If you love pitching, then Friday is your kind of day in the majors. Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Noah Syndergaard and Justin Verlander all take the mound, with the first two facing off in Los Angeles. Offense might be hard to come by in those games, but there are still plenty of great offensive stacks to take advantage of in other spots. Consider using the picks below, and then plug them into our MLB Lineup Optimizer to help fill out the rest of your lineups.
Justin Verlander, at White Sox (FD: $11,100, DK: $12,000)
Verlander was dominant after joining the Astros down the stretch last year and has carried that success into 2018, posting a 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 11.5 K/9 through four starts. In addition to his elite swing-and-miss stuff, Verlander isn’t getting himself in trouble, issuing just 1.7 walks per nine innings. He’s done a great job inducing weak contact, holding opponents to a 25% hard-hit rate this season, which is in line with his career mark of 27.2% either. The White Sox are in the bottom 10 in baseball in runs scored this season, making Verlander an excellent option for your entry Friday.
Trevor Bauer, at Orioles (FD: $9,000, DK: $9,400)
Bauer has a 4.30 ERA for his career, but is off to a great start this season with a 2.25 ERA and 3.01 FIP. The main reason for his success has been his 1.10 WHIP, which is significantly below his career mark of 1.35. He has been attacking the strike zone early, throwing a first pitch strike 69.4% of the time this year, which is up significantly from 56.9% last season. The Orioles lead the league in strikeouts and have the fourth-lowest team batting average (.223), setting up Bauer nicely to have a productive outing.
Felix Hernandez, at Rangers (FD: $6,200, DK: $6,800)
Hernandez’s 5.48 ERA and 6.15 FIP are undeniably ugly, he has just a 6.3 K/9, which would be the lowest mark of his career. A lot of his ERA woes, however, can be attributed to his second start of the season where he allowed eight runs in four innings against the Giants. In his other three outings, he allowed a total of five runs across 17 1/3 innings. The Rangers are not a great offensive team, currently in the bottom-third of the league in OPS. Hernandez might not have a high strikeout upside, but he at least has the potential to quiet this lineup.
Boston Red Sox vs. Kendall Graveman, Oakland Athletics
Stadium – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
This game immediately jumps off the page as a great stacking opportunity Friday. The Red Sox lineup is firing on all cylinders right now, leading the league in runs scored, batting average and OPS. On the other side of the diamond, Graveman is off to a horrid start with a 9.87 ERA and 2.02 WHIP. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff with a 5.2 K/9 this season, which is close to his career mark of 5.6 K/9. He has given up at least one home run in all four of his starts. Make sure you take advantage of this matchup.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Brandon Finnegan, Cincinnati Reds
Stadium – Busch Stadium
Finnegan’s last significant Major League action came in 2016 when he finished with a 3.98 ERA in 172 innings. He was more than a bit fortunate, though, evidenced by a 5.19 FIP. He was limited to only 13 innings last year due to injury, and his first start this season didn’t go well, as he surrendered dfive runs in 4 1/3 innings to these same Cardinals. The Cardinals have several right-handed hitters who mash lefties, including Jose Martinez who led the majors with a 240 wRC+ against them in 2017.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres
Stadium – Chase Field
Ross has certainly shown signs of improvement in his first three starts this season, recording a 3.50 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He’s done a good job limiting his walks and has only allowed two home runs after allowing seven in just 49 innings last year. Before you get too excited, though, take into consideration that his numbers have been buoyed by his last start against the Giants when he allowed one unearned run in six innings. The Giants have scored the second-fewest runs in baseball, so he didn’t exactly overpower a great lineup. He’ll face a much tougher group in Arizona on Friday, so don’t expect him to have the same results.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Ben Lively, Philadelphia Phillies
Stadium – Citizens Bank Park
Lively hasn’t been as bad as his 5.87 ERA indicates, but his 1.63 WHIP makes it hard to say he has been unlucky. He’s been done in by an abnormally high .435 BABIP, though that’s not totally unearned considering he also has a 33.3% hard-hit rate. The Pirates have been surprisingly excellent offensively this year, scoring the sixth-most runs to go along with the fifth-highest batting average in baseball. Two of the three teams Lively has faced this season have been the Reds and Rays, so the Pirates will be one of his toughest opponents in the early going.