There are a lot of great pitching options available across baseball Friday, with a couple of Cy Young front-runners in Chris Sale and Jacob deGrom scheduled to take the mound. The result could be several low scoring games, but there are a few key stacks that can still provide value. Consider using the picks below and plugging them into our MLB Lineup Optimizer to help complete the rest of your lineup.
Chris Sale, at Royals (FD: $12,500, DK: $14,000)
Sale is on a dominant stretch right now, allowing four runs and striking out 54 in 35 innings across his last five starts. Two of those starts came against the Mariners and the Yankees, in which he didn’t allow a run in 14 combined innings. He has a 2.41 ERA, 2.38 FIP and a 0.89 WHIP in what could be the season in which he finally gets himself a Cy Young. Not only does he have a 12.7 K/9, but his 0.8 HR/9 would be his lowest mark since 2014. The Royals have scored the fewest runs (297) in baseball. Don’t worry about the price tag here.
Kenta Maeda, at Angels (FD: $9,000, DK: $10,000)
Maeda finished with a 1.15 WHIP last year, but he still had a 4.22 ERA in large part because of his 1.5 HR/9. He’s rectified that issue this year by allowing only six home runs in 75 innings, resulting in a 3.36 ERA and 3.01 FIP despite his WHIP actually being higher at 1.28. He’s usually a reliable source for strikeouts, and he’s been even better this season with a 10.7 K/9. Maeda has allowed three runs or fewer in seven straight starts and is a viable option again on Friday.
Dereck Rodriguez, vs. Cardinals (FD: $8,600, DK: $7,700)
Rodriguez had never pitched above Double-A heading into 2018, but he pitched well in his first taste of action at Triple-A by posting a 3.40 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a 9.5 K/9 prior to getting the call. He owns a respectable 3.16 ERA and a 3.34 FIP in seven appearances, including six starts, with the Giants. It took him a few starts to settle in, but he has allowed six runs across 25 innings in his last four starts. Three of those starts came against the Marlins and Padres, so he will be faced with a tougher task against the Cardinals on Friday. That being said, he’s still priced low enough to warrant consideration in tournament play.
Boston Red Sox vs. Jason Hammel, Kansas City Royals
Stadium – Kauffman Stadium
This game screams blowout. Not only will the Red Sox have Sale on the mound, but they also get to face Hammel and his 5.56 ERA. His FIP is better at 4.20, but he has very little margin for error with a 1.55 WHIP. He doesn’t strike out many hitters, either, with an 8.7% swinging-strike rate and a 5.9 K/9. The Red Sox have scored the most runs (457) in baseball and have the highest OPS against right-handed pitching (.808). You likely can’t afford too many Boston bats alongside Sale, but try to find a way to get some into your lineups.
Cleveland Indians vs. Paul Blackburn, Oakland Athletics
Stadium – Progressive Field
Blackburn has had mixed results in his first five starts this season, allowing two runs or fewer in three of those outings, but 14 over 6 1/3 innings in the other two. After recording only a 3.4 K/9 in 10 starts last year, he’s still having problems missing bats with a 6.1 K/9. He did shut out the Indians in 6 1/3 innings last week, but that game was in Oakland. The Indians only have a .696 OPS on the road, but they have an .842 OPS at home. The Indians are the better bet in the return matchup.
Houston Astros vs. Reynaldo Lopez, Chicago White Sox
Stadium – Minute Maid Park
Lopez’s 3.68 ERA looks nice, but his 4.51 FIP and .261 opponents BABIP indicates he has had a bit of luck on his side. Hitters are only swinging at 24.5% of the pitches that he has thrown outside of the strike zone, which is down significantly from 30.9% last year. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher and is issuing 3.8 BB/9, which is not exactly a recipe for success. He’s also had a tough time on the road this season with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP compared with a 2.72 ERA and 1.04 WHIP at home. He held the Astros to one run in their first meeting this season, but he allowed eight baserunners and only lasted five innings. The Astros are down a significant bat in Carlos Correa (back), but they still have plenty of excellent hitters to stack against Lopez.
Washington Nationals vs. Dan Straily, Miami Marlins
Stadium – Nationals Park
The Nationals broke out to score 14 runs in a wild game Thursday after having scored three runs or fewer in four of their previous five games. However, they also scored 17 runs in a game last week against the Phillies. Consistency has been a problem for them this season, but they have a lot of hitters with the ability to put up big numbers. Straily’s 5.86 FIP is worse than his 4.70 ERA and he allows plenty of baserunners with a 1.38 WHIP. He has posted a 1.5 HR/9 in the last two seasons and has allowed 2.0 HR/9 this year, so this could end up being another offensive outburst for the Nationals.