Friday’s 14-game main slate offers a ton of offensive options up and down the price tiers at each position. When that’s the case though, we have very few reliable starting pitching options, and tonight is no different. Questions about the slate or why I left your favorite sleeper of the day off the list? Find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan. Let’s dig in.
Corey Kluber – Indians vs. Phillies – $12,500 – Corey Kluber hasn’t had the smoothest of Aprils, but he’s the highest priced pitcher on the slate for a reason. Kluber’s matchup against the Phillies is appealing, and his 14% swinging-strike rate is the highest of any pitcher on Friday. Cleveland is posted as a large favorite (-175), and the Phillies implied-team total of 3.2 runs is one of the lowest on the night. He’s a solid cash game option if you’re spending up.
Felix Hernandez – Mariners vs. Royals – $10,100 – Walks have been a bit of an issue for Felix Hernandez so far this season, something we’ve rarely seen from him in years past. He’s also benefited from a .188 BABIP which is driving down his ERA despite not passing the eye test of a sub 2.00 ERA pitcher. I do tend to favor him at home though, and the King’s Court should be active on Friday night. I don’t love the matchups and prices for the top tier tonight, but out of the $10K+ arms, I prefer Felix.
Adam Conley – Marlins vs. Brewers – $6,600 – I wish this game were taking place in Miami and not in Milwaukee because there’s a lot of risk involved when taking a fly ball pitcher in Miller Park. The appeal here is Conley’s sneaky strikeout upside combined with the Brewers struggles versus left-handed pitching. Their 76 wRC+ and 26.7% strikeout rate against southpaws are exploitable, and Conley won’t break the bank at $6,600.
Juan Nicasio – Pirates vs. Reds – $5,800 – Pitching in Pittsburgh’s PNC Park is just about as good as it gets these days. No only do the Pirates’ starters get to work with pitching guru Ray Searage, but they also get to toe the rubber in one of the most run-suppressing parks in the game. The Reds enter play with a 66 wRC+ against right-handed pitching so far in 2016, and they have an extremely low implied-team total of just 3.4 runs.
Bryce Harper (OF) – Nationals vs. Cardinals – $5,200 – You can lock Bryce Harper into this spot all season long. Against an average or below average right-handed pitcher with fly ball tendencies? There’s no need for more analysis here.
Jose Altuve (2B) – Astros vs. A’s – $5,100 – There aren’t many better cash game plays than Jose Altuve against a left-handed pitcher. The Astros are in Oakland against Sean Manaea, and while that’s a negative park shift for Altuve and company, I like the platoon advantage for him and the assurance of nine innings worth of at-bats since they’re on the road.
Ryan Braun (OF) – Brewers vs. Marlins – $5,000 – I wrote up Adam Conley as a play, but his viability is hinging on his ability to handle Ryan Braun in the middle of Milwaukee’s lineup. I feel like Braun homers on Friday, but let’s see if anyone will be able to get on base ahead of him or not. Braun’s on a heater right now and has feasted against left-handed fly ball pitchers over his career.
Josh Donaldson (3B) – Blue Jays vs. Rays – $4,900 – Josh Donaldson against a lefty, y’all. It’s a bit more interesting on Friday though because it’s an exceptional left-handed pitcher, Drew Smyly, and not some run of the mill John Danks-esque meatballer. I think the combination of the high salary and Smyly’s skill set might keep Donaldson’s ownership down slighty, but not much. He’ll still be quite popular on Friday.
“. . . he’s a noted reverse splits hitter, meaning he fares better against right-handed pitching than he does against lefties.”
Yoenis Cespedes (OF) – Mets vs. Giants – $4,500 – I like Cespedes quite a bit in tournaments today. With some similarly priced studs on tap with better matchups at first glance, I think Cespedes flies under the radar a bit here against Jake Peavy, and he’s a noted reverse splits hitter, meaning he fares better against right-handed pitching than he does against lefties. Peavy is giving up a ton of hard contact so far this season as well, with a hard-hit contact rate of 32.5% entering play on Friday.
Miguel Cabrera (1B) – Tigers vs. Twins – $4,300 – We knew that Miguel Cabrera is too good to stay down for long, and he’s ‘back’ after his double-home run Tuesday night against the A’s. Friday brings a familiar foe in Phil Hughes, and my guess is Miggy will be the chalk at first base for this slate. Someone who’s constantly in and around the zone like Hughes will struggle with an elite, plate disciplined hitter like Miggy. Bombs away on Friday.
Matt Kemp (OF) – Padres vs. Dodgers – $4,500 – As bad as the Padres offense has been, they’ve been solid against left-handed pitching with a 122 wRC+ so far in 2016, and Matt Kemp is in the middle of it. Alex Wood has been a bit of a hot mess this season, and while he’s often able to keep the ball on the ground, I think he’ll find a bit of trouble with Matt Kemp and company.
Adrian Beltre (3B) – Rangers vs. Angels – $4,600 – I love Adrian Beltre in tournaments. He’s a bit overpriced in relation to his peers at the position, and I expect people to either pay up for Josh Donaldson, or save a bit by dropping down to Manny Machado or Nolan Arenado instead of landing on Beltre in the middle of them all. He’s at home against a fly ball pitcher in lefty Hector Santiago, and he’s fared well in these situations throughout his career.
Ryan Raburn (OF) – Rockies vs. Diamondbacks – $3,000 – Ryan Raburn has been a popular outfield play over the past few days, facing multiple left-handed pitchers at home in Coors Field. He’s facing another lefty, Robbie Ray, on Friday, and while this game is on the road instead of in Denver, Arizona has been an extremely offensive-friendly park over the years. Raburn in cash makes a lot of sense.
Michael Conforto (OF) – Mets vs. Giants – $3,500
We had one day of Michael Conforto at $4,000, and now he’s back down at his criminally underpriced spot of the mid$3,000’s. He’s always in play against an average or worse right-handed pitcher since he’s locked into the 3-hole on those days, and Jake Peavy fits the bill on Friday.
Corey Dickerson (OF) – Rays vs. Blue Jays – $3,400 – Corey Dickerson is essentially the left-handed Michael Conforto here. He’s underpriced week after week, and he presents an excellent value on Friday if you’re looking to save money in the outfield.
“He’ll likely hit near the top of the order and will benefit from facing a righty . . .”
Chris Coghlan (2B/3B) – A’s vs. Astros – $3,000 – Chris Coghlan’s positional flexibility is appealing but not quite as appealing as his price is. He’ll likely hit near the top of the order and will benefit from facing a righty who gives up a ton of fly balls. I’d prefer him on the road in Houston instead of playing at home in Oakland, but he’s viable at just $3,000.
Eduardo Nunez (3B/SS) – Twins vs. Tigers – $3,300 – The Indians have a solid implied-team total for Friday so getting some exposure to their cheap leadoff middle infielder isn’t a bad way to go in cash games. Nunez doesn’t have much power upside here, but he’s definitely on the short list for cash games.
Mark Reynolds (1B) – Rockies vs. Diamondbacks – $3,200 – Mark Reynolds checks all the same boxes that his teammate Ryan Raburn does. Reynolds has big-time power upside against left-handed pitching, and the Rockies bats will likely be a tad under-owned since they’re on the road.