There is only one day game in baseball Friday, leaving a loaded night slate for DFS. It’s a good night for aces with Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg, Chris Sale and Jacob deGrom all scheduled to pitch. Some teams are throwing out their back of the rotation starters, though, providing some great stacking options. Consider using the picks below and plugging them into our MLB Lineup Optimizer to help round out the rest of your lineup.
Justin Verlander, at Rangers (FD: $11,600, DK: $12,400)
After facing Gerrit Cole on Thursday, things don’t get any easier for the Rangers against Verlander. He didn’t exactly pitch poorly in his last few seasons with the Tigers, but he’s taken his game to another level since joining the Astros. His 1.24 ERA is likely to increase over the course of the season, but his 2.20 FIP indicates he could still finish with a stellar mark. Not only has he shown excellent control with a 1.8 BB/9, but his 31.9% strikeout rate is the highest of his career. He has already faced the Rangers three times this season, allowing two runs to go along with 23 strikeouts across 20 innings.
Frankie Montas, vs. Royals (FD: $8,500, DK: $7,900)
Montas made 23 appearances out of the bullpen for the Athletics last year and was terrible with a 7.03 ERA, 7.13 FIP and a 1.84 WHIP. He showed strikeout upside, though, with a 10.1 K/9. He had a 9.2 career K/9 in the minor leagues, so that lofty mark wasn’t exactly an anomaly. The Athletics have been hit hard by injuries, forcing Montas to join the starting rotation. He’s made two starts so far, allowing one run in 14 innings. His last start came against these same Royals and he threw eight shutout innings, striking out two. The lack of strikeouts was disappointing, but the Royals do have the fewest strikeouts (454) in baseball. They are in the bottom-third in runs scored, however, leaving Montas as a viable DFS option in the rematch.
Caleb Smith, vs. Padres (FD: $8,000, DK: $9,100)
A lot of things have gone wrong for the Marlins this year, but Smith has been one of their few bright spots. He’s getting his first extended look as a starting pitcher in the majors and has performed well with a 4.03 ERA, 3.61 FIP and a 1.19 WHIP. He’s had control issues with a 4.2 BB/9, but he’s made up for it with an 11.0 K/9. He faced the Padres earlier this year, allowing one run and striking out four in seven innings. The Padres are not only in the bottom-third of the league in runs scored, but they also have the second-lowest road OPS (.641) in baseball.
Boston Red Sox vs. Dylan Covey, Chicago White Sox
Stadium – Fenway Park
At first glance, Covey’s 2.82 ERA and 2.58 FIP in his first four starts would indicate that he is pitching well. However, he’s allowed a lot of base runners with a 1.43 WHIP. He had a similar problem last year when he posted a 1.67 WHIP across 18 games, 12 of which were starts. He’s walking four batters per nine innings, a dangerous trait against an offense like Boston’s. The Red Sox also have the league’s highest OPS against right-handed pitchers (.833) by a wide margin.
Houston Astros vs. Doug Fister, Texas Rangers
Stadium – Globe Life Park in Arlington
Fister has a respectable 4.13 ERA this season, but don’t let that fool you. He’s not pitching nearly that well, inidcated a 5.13 FIP and a 1.38 WHIP. Opponents have a 39.6% hard-hit rate against him ,and his 5.2% swinging-strike rate has resulted in a paltry 5.6 K/9. He has held the Astros to four runs in 11 1/3 innings in two starts against them this season, but he flirted with danger by allowing eight hits and seven walks. The Astros may be missing Carlos Correa (side) on Friday, but they still have a potent lineup that has scored the third-most runs (314) in baseball.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Matt Harvey, Cincinnati Reds
Stadium – Great American Ball Park
“Harvey Day” used to mean a daunting task was ahead for the opposition. Now, it just means a great stacking opportunity in DFS. Harvey has been better since joining the Reds, but his 4.44 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with his new squad aren’t exactly great. He has allowed four home runs across 24 1/3 innings with the Reds and has a 1.8 HR/9 overall this year, while his K/9 has plummeted to 6.8. The Cardinals offense isn’t lethal, but they still have some strong hitters in Jose Martinez, Marcell Ozuna and Tommy Pham. Of note, Harvey has allowed a .410 wOBA against left-handed hitters this year, which also leaves Matt Carpenter as a viable option.
Los Angeles Angels vs. Lance Lynn, Minnesota Twins
Stadium – Target Field
Lynn was an absolute disaster in his first five starts with the Twins, allowing 22 runs in 18 2/3 innings. He had major control issues over that stretch, issuing 23 walks. He’s pitching better of late, allowing three runs in 18 2/3 innings in his last three outings. Two of those games came against the Tigers and Royals, so don’t get too excited just yet. He struggled in his first start of the year against the Angels, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings. The Angels have the fourth-highest OPS in the league against righties (.758), so don’t be surprised if Lynn’s hot streak ends Friday.