Chris Sale and Gerrit Cole face off in the best game of the day Friday.
CS: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images, GC: Norm Hall / Getty Images

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  • Should you back Chris Sale or Gerrit Cole in Friday's DFS contests?
By Mike Barner
June 01, 2018

Friday is scheduled to bring one of the best starting pitching matchups in baseball this season with Chris Sale taking on Gerrit Cole. Considering both the Red Sox and Astros have great lineups, as well, it should be a fun game to watch. There is also a full slate of 15 night games, leaving plenty of other starting pitchers and offensive stacks to target in DFS. Consider using the picks below and plugging them into our MLB Lineup Optimizer to help round out the rest of your lineup.

Starting Pitchers

Chris Sale, at Astros (FD: $11,000, DK: $11,000)

Sale is coming off of his worst start of the season after allowing six runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Braves. It wasn’t exactly an easy matchup considering the Braves have the highest OPS against left-handed pitching (.827) in baseball. Even with that blowup, he still has a 2.76 ERA, 2.94 FIP and a 0.96 WHIP this year. He has continued to be one of the best sources for strikeouts with a 12.5 K/9, while also posting a career-high 15.9% swinging-strike rate. Houston’s strikeout rate is 22.1%, while Boston’s is 19.7%, which helps tilt the DFS scales in Sale’s favor.

Nick Pivetta, at Giants (FD: $8,200, DK: $10,000)

Pivetta has been dominant in his last four outings, allowing three runs and striking out 32 batters in 24 innings. He only issued four walks and gave up just one home run during that stretch. After struggling mightily in 26 starts last year, Pivetta has made significant improvement overall this season, resulting in a 3.26 ERA and a 2.75 FIP. He has been working ahead in the count, throwing a first-pitch strike to 65.7% of the batters that he has faced. Add that to his 11.3% swinging-strike rate and a much improved 2.2 BB/9, and Pivetta has a sparkling 1.09 WHIP. This will be his second start of the season against the Giants after he held them scoreless while recording seven strikeouts in five innings during their first matchup. The Giants have the sixth-highest strikeout rate (24.5%) in baseball, so look for Pivetta to have another strong showing.

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Clay Buchholz, vs. Marlins (FD: $5,700, DK: $7,000)

Buchholz only made two starts with the Phillies last year, so his last significant action in the majors came as a member of the Red Sox in 2016. He appeared in 37 games that year, 21 of which were starts, finishing with a 4.78 ERA and a 5.06 FIP. He has worked his way into the Diamondbacks starting rotation with Robbie Ray (oblique) still on the DL, and has a chance to stick there with Ray just starting to throw off a mound again this week. Buchholz faced the Mets and the Athletics in his first two starts, allowing two runs and striking out five in 11 innings combined. The Marlins have scored the fewest runs (192) in baseball, making Buchholz a viable option in tournament play based on the salary relief he provides.

Offensive Stacks

Chicago Cubs vs. Zack Wheeler, New York Mets
Stadium – Citi Field

Wheeler has been able to stay healthy this year, which is saying something considering his history and all the players going down around him. He has not performed well, although his 4.02 FIP indicates he has not pitched as poorly as his 5.40 ERA would lead you to believe. The problem, however, is that he doesn’t have the stuff to pitch around a 1.48 WHIP with consistency. He only has four starts this season where he has allowed two or fewer earned runs, three of which came against bad lineups in the Marlins and Padres. The Cubs have scored the sixth-most runs (277) in baseball and could give Wheeler all sorts of trouble Friday.

New York Mets vs. Tyler Chatwood, Chicago Cubs
Stadium – Citi Field

This could be a high-scoring game on both sides with Chatwood taking the mound for the Cubs. Chatwood finally escaped Coors Field by joining the Cubs in the offseason and while his 4.10 ERA isn’t terrible, he has a 1.76 WHIP. He has battled a lack of command, issuing more walks (45) than he has recorded strikeouts (44). If it wasn’t for a 0.4 HR/9 and 8.2 K/9, his ERA would be much worse. The Mets don’t exactly have a potent offense, but their .749 OPS against right-handed pitching is seventh-highest in baseball. A lot of their players don’t cost much, either, making them an unlikely stack worth considering.

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Milwaukee Brewers vs. Hector Santiago, Chicago White Sox
Stadium – Guaranteed Rate Field

Whenever Santiago takes the mound, the opposing offense is in play. He has made 15 appearances for the White Sox this season, only five of which have been starts. He has a 4.87 ERA and 1.51 WHIP overall and has been even worse as a starter, posting a 6.38 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. The Brewers have struggled against lefties this year, but with Santiago pitching so poorly and the added benefit of the designated hitter, they could have a big performance.

Oakland Athletics vs. Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals
Stadium – Kauffman Stadium

The Royals have an unsightly 5.14 team ERA, which is the fourth-highest in baseball. Kennedy hasn’t been able to stand out above the crowd with a 5.15 ERA across 11 starts. His FIP is a little better at 4.31, but his 1.54 WHIP certainly isn’t helping his cause. He’s allowing a lot of solid contact with a 40.3% hard-hit rate after allowing a career-high 41.7% hard-hit rate in 2017. The Athletics have struggled offensively of late, but were able to get an important part of their lineup back Thursday with the return of Khris Davis from a groin injury. They also have the fourth-highest OPS on the road (.786) in baseball.

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