Charlie Morton and the Cubs offense could be at the center of a lot of successful DFS lineups on Friday.
CM: Jennifer Stewart / Getty Images, Cubs: Stacy Revere / Getty Images

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  • Pitchers to target and offenses to stack in Friday's DFS contests.
By Mike Barner
May 18, 2018

Friday brings a full slate of night games in the majors, leaving plenty of options to wade through in DFS. Max Scherzer highlights the starting pitchers scheduled to take the mound, but weather concerns could put that game in jeopardy. There are still a lot of viable pitchers to choose from, though, as well as some offensive stacks that could lead to a few crooked numbers. Consider using the picks below and plugging them into our MLB Lineup Optimizer to help fill out the rest of your lineup.

Starting Pitchers

Charlie Morton, vs. Indians (FD: $9,700, DK: $12,200)

If it wasn’t for the potential for rain, Scherzer facing the Dodgers would be the top choice for the evening. However, Morton makes for an excellent fallback option. He continues to be a strikeout machine since joining the Astros, posting an 11.5 K/9 this season. His average fastball velocity sits at 97.2 mph, which would be the highest of his career. His 13.8% swinging-strike rate is also more than five percentage points better than his career average. The Indians offense is no pushover, but Morton has enough strikeout upside to warrant his price tag.

Jake Arrieta, at Cardinals (FD: $8,200, DK: $7,700)

Arrieta is off to a strange start. His ERA is a sparkling 2.59, and while his FIP is higher at 3.48, it’s still very strong. He has a 1.06 WHIP and has allowed only two home runs in 41 2/3 innings. The stat that sticks out, however, is his 5.8 K/9, well below his career mark of 8.2. His velocity is consistent with last season, but his 6.3% whiff rate could become a problem. The good news is that he has allowed three runs or fewer in all but one start this season and will face a Cardinals squad that is in the bottom-third of baseball in runs scored.

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Tyson Ross, at Pirates (FD: $7,900, DK: $9,500)

It’s been a long road back for Ross since having surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, but he has shown signs this season of being a valuable pitcher once again. He had significant control issues with the Rangers last year, posting a 6.8 BB/9 and throwing a first-pitch strike to only 46.2% of the hitters he faced. He’s had no such issues this season, with a 3.4 BB/9 and first-pitch strike rate of 62.3%. Hitters have been chasing more pitchers out of the strike zone, as well, with the end result being a 3.40 ERA, 3.27 FIP and 1.15 WHIP across eight starts. The Pirates have a .835 OPS against left-handers this season, but have not been as successful against righties with a .743 OPS.

Offensive Stacks

Oakland Athletics vs. Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays
Stadium – Rogers Centre

Estrada has never exactly been a lights-out pitcher, but he was excellent in his first two seasons with the Blue Jays, even making the All-Star team in 2016. The wheels have fallen off since, following up his 4.98 ERA and 4.61 FIP last year with a 5.32 ERA and 5.58 FIP across his first eight starts of 2018. His struggles have come from his inability to keep runners off base, resulting in a 1.43 WHIP this year. He’s not really fooling anyone with just a 7.0 K/9 and 9.7% swinging-strike rate. Home runs have also been a problem for Estrada throughout his career, which is bad news Friday considering the Athletics are tied for the fifth-most roundtrippers (58) in baseball.

Chicago Cubs vs. Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds
Stadium – Great American Ball Park

Bailey should always be on your stacking radar. Injuries have completely derailed his career, limiting him to just 125 1/3 innings over the last three seasons. He’s managed to stay healthy this year, but has ugly numbers with a 5.59 ERA, 6.16 FIP and 1.45 WHIP. He’s not striking many batters out with a 5.4 K/9 and has already allowed a staggering 12 home runs. His opponents BABIP isn’t even that high, either, at .270, which is more than 30 percentage points lower than his career mark. Some of the Cubs hitters are expensive, but if there was ever a time to pay up for them, it’s against Bailey.

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Boston Red Sox vs. Alex Cobb, Baltimore Orioles
Stadium – Fenway Park

Cobb showed plenty of rust in his first three starts after signing late in spring training, allowing at least five earned runs and pitching fewer than five innings in each of them. He’s settled down to allow eight runs—six earned—across 17 2/3 innings in his last three outings. He’s still not striking many batters out, though, which is not a surprise considering his 6.4 K/9 last year. The Red Sox hammered Cobb in their first meeting this season, scoring eight runs—seven earned—over 3 2/3 innings. The Red Sox have the third-highest home OPS (.827) in baseball, which could mean another bad outing for Cobb on Friday.

Atlanta Braves vs. Dan Straily, Miami Marlins
Stadium – SunTrust Park

Straily has made three starts for the Marlins this season and has had control issues, walking 11 batters in 13 innings. Throw in the fact that he gave up at least one home run in each start, and the result has been a 5.54 ERA that should actually be much worse considering his 8.68 FIP. With a 50% hard-hit rate allowed, things certainly aren’t looking up for Straily against a Braves team that has scored the third-most runs (225) in baseball. Straily faced them in his last start and wasn’t horrible, allowing three runs—two earned—in five innings, but the potential is there for an offensive explosion from one of the best offenses in baseball.

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