If strikeouts are your thing, Friday is your day. The top five pitchers on the slate are all fanning batters at a double-digit rate. It's a good day to take advantage of the elite's dominance, as there isn't a ton of value in the middle tier. The back-end of the pitching is stronger than normal, which makes finding hitting a challenge. Don't worry. We've crunched the numbers and unearthed some gems on Friday's intriguing docket.
Do you think Noah Syndergaard has a clause in his contract for holds? The New York Mets now know they can slide Syndergaard into middle relief if this starting thing doesn't work out. Thor's first start since the infamous Chase Utley incident occurs at Marlins Park, as the Metropolitans head south for a weekend set against the Miami Marlins. As a club, the Fish fan at a below-average pace. This doesn't mean Thor and his 11.5 K/9 won't result in plenty of punchouts, but it tempers the bang for the buck aspect of using Syndergaard in a GPP tournament.
This is Vince Velasquez's first time visiting the elite -- but not the last. He gets the nod based on an appealing matchup with the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, who lend Velasquez and his 10.6 K/9 even more upside. The Philadelphia Phillies right-hander is enjoying an outstanding sophomore campaign, though he has been knocked out in the fifth inning his past two outings. Look for the 23-year-old fire-baller to get back on track at Citizens Bank Park, as he checks in as one of the better GPP options on the docket.
Kicking off the solid tier is our third double-digit whiff machine. Drew Pomeranz boasts an impressive 10.7 K/9. The San Diego Padres welcome the Colorado Rockies to Petco Park for the opener of a National League West battle. Historically, Rockies hitters struggle their first game after a home stand, as they get reacquainted to the normal movement on breaking pitches. This adds to Pomeranz's allure as a DFS option, especially in GPP action.
Upon first glance, David Price and his 10.4 K/9 falling short of the elite seems odd. Upon further review, he has only fanned more than six once in his past six outings, despite correcting a mechanical flaw to increase his velocity. Part of the reason could be that the Boston Red Sox's offense is raking, and they're providing the lanky lefty plenty of run support. Still, lately Price isn't fanning a number commensurate with the elite. Next up, the Toronto Blue Jays fly to Fenway Park for a weekend series against the American League East leaders. The visitors fan at a 22 percent clip versus southpaws, which is a bit above average but not sufficient to call Price anything more than a contrarian GPP option on a slate loaded with strikeout potential.
Cleveland Indians right-hander Danny Salazar is the last of our dominant quintet, as he totes an impressive 10.7 K/9 to the Progressive Field hill to face the injury-riddled but suddenly productive Kansas City Royals offense. Salazar is on the cusp of elite consideration; he needs only to be more consistent with his control. Despite missing Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez, the defending World Series Champions are averaging a healthy seven runs in their past nine contests. Like Price, Salazar makes a better contrarian DFS option for those playing multiple lineups.
Gio Gonzalez looks to rebound from a pair of rough outings when the Washington Nationals visit the Great American Ballpark for a series against the Cincinnati Reds. Gonzalez holds the platoon edge over Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, but at home, the hosts are dangerous, and that renders Gonzalez another contrarian option with a less-than-desirable matchup.
Kenta Maeda and his seasonal owners caught a break, as he was scratched from a start at Wrigley Field to instead open a series at Dodger Stadium against the Atlanta Braves. DFS gamers can also take advantage, especially in cash action, assuming Maeda's sore hand isn't an issue. Normally, Maeda isn't a favorable cash game option, as he failed to toss more than five frames in his past four starts. However, facing the Braves and their 0.280 weighted on base average against righties, the Los Angeles Dodgers rookie right-hander is in play.
Jake Odorizzi has 13 strikeouts in his past two outings, a span of 12 frames. This came on the heels of a three-game stint in which the righty fanned only eight in 15 innings. The Minnesota Twins, sans Miguel Sano but with Byron Buxton and Max Kepler, welcome Tampa Bay Rays to Target Field for a weekend visit, which gives Odorizzi a chance to keep rolling.
Consistency isn't directly accounted for in projected Game Score, which is why Lackey's original 52 was bumped to 54 to take him out of the streaming range and land him in auto-start range. The Chicago Cubs veteran righty is also in play for DFS cash games, but only on slates that include the afternoon delight with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field.
Jordan Zimmermann closes out the solid tier while making his first start since May 22 (he has been nursing a sore groin). Assuming Zimmermann is good to go with no restrictions, he has a juicy matchup against the scuffling Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. To be fair, the White Sox snapped a six-game losing streak with a pair of victories over the New York Mets. Still, facing a club with a pedestrian 0.305 wOBA against right-handers, Zimmermann is in play for DFS cash play.
Technically, Yu Darvish's game score falls in the auto-range, but that is drawing a lot from his pre-surgery history. This isn't to suggest not to start him, but note that the visiting Seattle Mariners pound right-handers to the tune of a 0.351 wOBA. The Texas Rangers righty debuted against the tough Pittsburgh Pirates and whiffed seven Bucs with one walk in five frames.
Taijuan Walker opposes Darvish in the Globe Life Park affair. Walker's 1.7 HR/9 is a concern but not a show-stopper, as the Rangers are in the middle of the pack with respect to home runs versus righties. It's a risk, but if you need an extra start heading into the weekend, Walker is in play.
The Baltimore Orioles entertain the New York Yankees at Camden Yards with Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Tillman taking the ball for their respective clubs. A 3-2 pitcherss duel is as likely as a 10-9 slugfest. Of the pair, Tillman is the better choice, with home-field advantage, though the higher strikeout upside avails Eovaldi in the mix if you need punchouts or even as a contrarian DFS option.
Jimmy Nelson hasn't pitched as well as his 2.88 ERA suggests, but he has allowed more than two earned runs only twice in 11 outings. The Milwaukee Brewers righty is set up for another quality effort against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
As alluded to in the opening, the lower end of the pitching slate is devoid of any real dumpster fires. To be honest, a case can be made to use just about everyone on the ledger. If you have a question on anyone not discussed, please post your question in the comments or hit me up on Twitter at @ToddZola, and I'll do my best to reply.
If there were ever a day to find individual hitters and not rely on a typical stack, this is it. The only true all-in blitz is the Boston Red Sox facing Dickey, but even that's perilous because if the Toronto Blue Jays knuckler is on, he can shut down any offense.
If the Chicago Cubs were facing Archie Bradley and the Arizona Diamondbacks under the lights, they'd be in play. But the contest won't be available for the majority of DFS tournaments because the game is a standard Friday afternoon affair at Wrigley Field.
The Detroit Tigers face the talented but inconsistent Carlos Rodon at Comerica Park. The righty-heavy Tigers lineup featuring Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Nick Castellanos and even Justin Upton is a viable stack against the Chicago White Sox's 23-year-old southpaw.
Let's highlight a few mini-stacks, starting with the lefty-swinging John Jaso and Gregory Polanco squaring off with Jered Weaver as the Los Angeles Angels visit the Steel City. Truth be told, Weaver is equally hospitable to righties as well, so Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang are in the mix.
Here's an under-the-radar duo that should be sparsely owned. Lefties Odubel Herrera and the recently activated Cody Asche have the platoon edge over Jimmy Nelson, with Herrera being especially intriguing as -- spoiler alert -- Nelson has big issues controlling the running game.
Most likely to go deep: Assuming Gregory Polanco is in the lineup after not starting the past two games because of a sore foot, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder is in a great spot against Jeff Weaver and his 1.9 HR/9 mark.
Most likely to swipe a bag: OBP machine Odubel Herrera will have his running shoes on with Jimmy Nelson toeing the Citizens Bank Park rubber.