Friday’s main slate is 14-games and chalk full of high implied-team totals, so bats shouldn’t be a problem. Oh, and it’s a Coors Field slate, so there’s that. Pitching, on the other hand, is slightly less clear on Friday with one elite option and a mixed bag of second tier options. Let’s dig in.
Chris Sale – White Sox vs. Yankees – $12,300 – There’s no doubt that Chris Sale is the big man on campus today, with a plus matchup against the Yankees in New York. Sale’s strike out numbers are down a bit this season compared to season’s past, but he’s still elite and the Yankees have really struggled against left-handed pitching this season. Their .114 ISO vs. lefties is 26th in the league this season and while we typically look to Yankee Stadium for offense and not pitching, it’s much friendlier to left-handed pitchers because the short porch in left isn’t in play as much.
Rich Hill – A’s vs. Rays – $9,700 – If you’re not sure if Rich Hill is for real or not, well, he is. His strikeout upside is undeniable, and that’ll come in handy on Friday against Tampa and their 24% strikeout rate against southpaws. If you aren’t familiar with cFIP and DRA, you need to be. They’re the best pitching stats out there in my opinion, and both validate Hill’s exceptional start to 2016. DRA, or Deserved Run Average, contextualizes everything better than ERA and eliminates any of the strange batted balls that flaw the stat we’re all so used to. Think of DRA in the same sense and rate that you think of ERA, and know that Hill’s DRA is just 2.42.
Nathan Karns – Rays vs. Angels – $8,200 – Nathan Karns has pitched well to start the season and feels like a pretty safe cash game play on Friday. The Angels offense, outside of Mike Trout, shouldn’t scare us in the slightest right now, as they enter play with an 83 wRC+ and a league-worst .108 isolated power against right-handed pitching. The only issue here is despite their lack of pop, they aren’t striking out much and that limits Karns upside if that’s the case.
Edinson Volquez – Royals vs. Braves – $8,000 – No one gets excited about rostering Edinson Volquez but we should all be excited about rostering a pitcher against the Braves. The catch here is that the Braves can go very left-handed heavy against righties, and that actually bodes well for Edinson Volquez and his reverse splits. He’s limited left-handed hitters to a .299 wOBA over the past season-plus, a sample of 121 1/3 innings.
Bryce Harper (OF) – Nationals vs. Marlins – $5,100 – On a night with Coors Field in play, there’s a chance that Bryce Harper is owned by fewer players than he should be. That’s a mistake. He’s embarrassed Marlins starter Tom Koehler throughout his career, and the only downside here is the possibility that Miami just walks him every time he steps in the box.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF) – Marlins vs. Nationals – $5,300 – I think Stanton is owned in even fewer spots than Bryce Harper is on Friday, and that’s on a night where he’s facing a lefty. Oh boy. In this price tier I think we’ll see most players will either spend up to get Yoenis Cespedes in Coors, or spend down to get Harper, putting Stanton in prime position to deliver in tournaments.
“$5,600 is quite a chunk of your salary, but it might just be worth it”
Yoenis Cespedes (OF) – Mets vs. Rockies – $5,600 – This is just about as good as it gets for a hitter. ‘Yo and the Mets have an implied-team total of 5.7 runs on Friday, and Cespedes has crushed right-handed pitching throughout his career. Queue up Jon Gray and his .364 wOBA against right-handed bats dating back to 2015 and you have the perfect blend of reverse splits for Cespedes. $5,600 is quite a chunk of your salary, but it might just be worth it.
Manny Machado (3B/SS) – Orioles vs. Tigers – $5,100 – Third base is absolutely loaded on Friday and with Nolan Arenado ($5,100) in Coors and Josh Donaldson ($5,400) up against a lefty, I think Manny Machado goes under-owned. He’s a noted reverse split hitter, and Justin Verlander’s 47% fly ball rate won’t play well in Camden Yards.
Brandon Belt (1B) – Giants vs. Diamondbacks – $4,600 – Playing in Arizona is an outstanding park shift for Brandon Belt and the Giants this weekend, and even better, they face Shelby Miller on Friday night. Miller’s early season struggles are evident when looking at the aforementioned DRA (6.72) and his 37.1% hard-hit contact rate is one of the highest on the slate. He’s not fooling anyone right now.
Robinson Cano (2B) – Mariners vs. Angels – $5,100 – Robinson Cano is raking right now. His average fly ball distance is 232 ft. over the past two weeks, with an average exit velocity of 92 mph. Average. Over two weeks. Yeah, those are exceptional numbers. His opponent, Nick Tropeano, has allowed a .343 wOBA against left-handed pitching, so while Cano is expensive, he’s likely to put up a crooked number on Friday night.
Michael Conforto (OF) – Mets vs. Rockies – $4,200 – Michael Conforto isn’t really seeing much of a ‘Coors Tax’ here, and that’s unfortunate if you’re on Team Fade Coors. This is what Conforto’s price should be on a regular night against a below average righty, so fire him up in cash games and spend the savings elsewhere.
Jake Lamb (3B) – Diamondbacks vs. Giants – $3,300 – Pitching in Arizona is a negative park shift for Jeff Samardzija, a pitcher that has a tendency to give up the big fly quite often. He’s inducing more ground balls this season than last year, but the park shift is enough to put all the Diamondbacks on the radar tonight. Lamb will likely hit cleanup behind Paul Goldschmidt which increases the likelihood that he’ll hit with runners-on tonight.
Joe Panik (2B) – Giants vs. Diamondbacks – $4,000 – I told you earlier, Shelby Miller is terrible. So terrible that he’s in serious jeopardy of losing his rotation spot just 5 weeks into his first season in Arizona. The Giants get a bump up due to the park shift here, but Panik didn’t seem to see the price hike that his teammates did. Fire him up.
“. . . that’s the perfect recipe for Maikel Franco on Friday”
Maikel Franco (3B) – Phillies vs. Reds – $3,900 – Homeruns have been an issue for Reds starter Brandon Finnegan so far in 2016, and that’s the perfect recipe for Maikel Franco on Friday. Franco sees a significant 88-point jump in isolated power upside when facing a lefty, and you’ll have a shot at him and his home run potential at less than 10% in tournaments due to the nature of the position today.
Domingo Santana (OF) – Brewers vs. Padres – $3,300 – With all the awesome outfield options on Friday night it’s going to be difficult to use someone like Domingo Santana, but if you find yourself paying up for Chris Sale and some of the other top infielders, than you’ll need someone like Santana to round out your lineup. For just $3,300 against a lefty and a high probability that he’ll hit leadoff? You could do a lot worse.
Zack Cozart (SS) – Reds vs. Phillies – $3,300 – Shortstop isn’t a fun position on Friday, but I like this price for Reds lead off man Zack Cozart. Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson has allowed right-handed bats ring up a .333 wOBA against him over the past season-plus, dating back to the start of 2015.