Gerrit Cole/Max Scherzer (SP1 candidates)- Without deep diving into the analytics, we know that these are two of the top overall DFS pitchers in the MLB. Both of them strike out over 30% of the batters they face, both generate over 15% swinging strikes, and both have massive upside even when factoring in their expensive price tags. With them being so closely priced, it comes down to matchup, and Cole gets the edge there with the Blue Jays ranking fourth-worst in the majors in wRC+ against righties (78), with the 6th-highest strikeout rate at nearly 25%. I wouldn’t argue with anyone taking Max (who’s due for positive regression) in cash games, but for now I am treating Cole as my cash game anchor and Max as my top overall tournament pivot.
Eduardo Rodriguez- It’s not often that I’m looking to spend $8,000 for my SP2 on a big slate like this when we need offense, but I just can’t seem to get past Rodriguez’s price tag in this matchup with the Baltimore Orioles. Rodriguez has been much better than his 5.00 ERA represents this season, sporting a 3.89 SIERA with 26% strikeouts. He has been victimized by a .347 BABIP, and positive regression is certainly on the horizon, especially when you factor in that he’s kept his hard hit rate under 30%. The matchup with the Orioles is the perfect set-up for him, they don’t walk a lot, and they strike out at a top-ten rate in the MLB against left-handed pitchers. Overall, at his price tag, I think he is cash game viable on all sites tonight.
Andrew Heaney- Heaney comes in priced more than Rodriguez — $8,800 on DraftKings — and is one of my favorite tournament plays on this slate at his price. Heaney has been unreal since coming off the injured list, pitching to a 2.35 SIERA and a whopping 41% strikeouts through 16.2 innings. The Rays are a good offense, but they come into tonight striking out the most in the league against southpaws — 28.3% of the time. His Achilles heel thus far has been the long ball, but the Rays play to his strength as they combine their high strikeouts with the 23rd ISO in the MLB against LHP. I would rather have the savings of Rodriguez in cash games, but I will be overweight to the field on Heaney in GPPs.
Tournament Pool: Blake Snell, Lucas Giolito, Andrew Heaney
Padres/Rockies- We have a somewhat tricky slate today where we are going to end up prioritizing high-end pitching, which is going to leave us searching for value when it comes to our bats. We still should have room to spend up at one-two spots, and they are most likely going to be players in the Coors Field game over expensive Red Sox for cash games. Given the pitchers on the mound, I will be targeting the righties from the Padres, and the lefties from the Rockies. Obviously Charlie Blackmon is a fantastic play coming off a double dong on Thursday night, but it’s not realistic that we can just jam him in if going with a Cole/Rodriguez build. That leaves me with Manny Machado ($4,300), Ryan McMahon ($4,200) and Eric Hosmer ($4,700) as the most likely cash game/single entry building blocks from this game.
Nick Castellanos- Castellanos and his Tigers teammates present strong value tonight against fly-baller and strike throwing machine Adam Plutko. Plutko is someone that I think is absolutely horrible, and the Tigers never end up as a popular stack given that they just aren’t a good offense. Castellanos, however, does not play into how bad the Tigers are as a whole, and while he is much better against lefties, a .178 ISO with 39% hard hits and 41% fly balls will get it done against Plutko for his price. Plutko mainly throws fastball/slider (over 75% of the time he uses these pitches) and they are both pitches that Casty owns a .400+ xwOBA against this season.
Matt Chapman- Keeping with the value train, we have an under-priced Matt Chapman against the left-handed Marco Gonzales. Chapman has been one of the best hitters in the league against lefties the last two seasons, and he’s continued that trend this season boasting a 127 wRC+ and a .350 ISO in the split through just under 70 games. Those numbers increase even further at home, where the wRC+ jumps up to .227 and the ISO spikes to over .600. At only $4,200 on DraftKings, Chapman sticks out as an optimal play in all formats on Friday night.
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)