Welcome to the end of the week and welcome to a slate without pitching. Well, that’s not entirely true. There are certainly some notable names sitting atop the player pool for tonight’s 13-game featured MLB slate, yet depth doesn’t appear to be a strength on Friday, as several teams have implied totals of at least five runs.
How should that impact your lineups? Let’s go position-by-position and break it all down.
Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Mets, $10,900 - The big question at the start of tonight’s slate is Glasnow or Max Scherzer ($10,700)? Both pitchers have been amazing to begin 2021, each bringing almost unmatched strikeout potential to the equation. Heck, Scherzer’s managed to exceed 30.0 DKFP in four of his last five starts. That’s how high the ceiling with this duo really is. Still, I find myself drawn to Glasnow. The right-hander has struck out a whopping 39.5% of the batter’s he’s faced through 49.1 innings, while is lone flaw appears to match up well with the Mets. Glasnow’s surrendered multiple home runs in three of his past four outings, yet New York’s mustered a microscopic .099 ISO over the last 14 days. If you can’t hit for power against Glasnow, you might not hit at all.
Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs at Detroit Tigers, $6,400 - I don’t like using Arrieta, especially in an American League ball park against a lineup with so many left-handed hitters. However, this is a particularly weak pitching slate — I’m scared by how much I like David Peterson ($7,400) — and Detroit’s overall offensive struggles are enough to make Arrieta viable. The veteran was pitching well prior to getting hurt. To wit, in the RHP’s first five starts of 2021, he paired a 2.57 ERA with an opposing wOBA of just .277. However, let’s not beat around the bush. This is only about Arrieta’s price and his matchup. The Tigers have the lowest wRC+ in baseball (82) and the highest strikeout rate (29.3%). They are a fantasy goldmine.
Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs at Detroit Tigers, $5,500 - Few have hit left-handed pitching as well as Contreras so far in 2021, as the backstop comes into Friday’s slate in possession of a .382 ISO and a 179 wRC+ in 38 plate appearances within the split. Tarik Skubal ($5,200) isn’t just any lefty, either. Skubal is the league-leader in barrels allowed (17), as an insane 20.7% of the rookie’s batted ball events have been barrelled up.
Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds at Colorado Rockies, $4,000 - This is a blanket statement about all Reds catchers’ and their viability, so feel free to use Tyler Stephenson ($4,600) if he’s named the starter. Anyway, aside from the Coors aspect of this, Barnhart’s just been hitting extremely well so far this season. The veteran basically has career-highs across the board, including his .202 ISO and his 130 wRC+. The fact that Barnhart hit sixth in Thursday’s lineup is enticing, too.
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Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox, $4,700 - Though I’m not suggesting a huge stack against Nick Pivetta ($8,500), I am expecting some regression to the mean at some point soon. The right-hander’s 3.19 ERA is almost a run-and-a-half lower than his 4.66 xFIP, while Pivetta’s 5.9% HR/FB ratio doesn’t really track for a pitcher that surrendered more than 2.00 home runs per nine across 2019 and 2020. For his part, Walsh is also destroying RHPs so far in 2021. The 27-year-old comes into tonight’s slate with a 1.109 OPS and a 208 wRC+ within the split.
Mitch Moreland, Oakland Athletics at Minnesota Twins, $3,300 - Moreland hit second in Oakland’s loss to Boston on Thursday, and if that happens again this evening, he’s be one of the best dollar-for-dollar plays on the slate. The 35-year-old hasn’t been able to completely re-find his stunning form from 2020, but all that matters in a matchup with Matt Shoemaker ($6,700) is your handedness. The RHP has been unable to get lefties out all season, as he’s currently surrendering a .432 wOBA within the split. Moreland can do some serious damage.
Jean Segura, Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays, $4,400 - Since being activated off of the IL, Segura has been primarily hitting second for the Phillies, with Rhys Hoskins ($4,100) moved down the order to accommodate the infielder. Both are actually viable in tonight’s matchup against the left-handed Steven Matz ($7,900), as both have great numbers within the split. In fact, going back to the beginning of 2017, Segura is hitting .302 with a 122 wRC+ versus southpaws. That success should continue on Friday with Matz having struggled across his past three starts.
Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins vs. Oakland Athletics, $3,100 - I just don’t understand this price tag. Sure, Arraez doesn’t have any extra-base pop in his bat, but for his career, he’s hitting .351 against right-handed pitching. You read that right: .351 in 438 plate appearances. He’ll also be hitting leadoff this evening for the Twins against Frankie Montas ($7,000) and his 5.50 ERA. Maybe there isn’t a lot of ceiling here, but Arraez is almost a must-play in cash games.
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers, $5,700 - It’s unclear how deep Wes Benjamin ($5,000) will be able to work in this game, but even if a told you he could throw as many as 100 pitches, do you really think he’d survive that long? The Astros have a 122 wRC+ against LHPs and Bregman is a huge part of that equation. This is a pretty established trait, too. For his career, Bregman is slashing .325/.407/.599 with a .417 wOBA within the split.
Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Philadelphia Phillies, $3,400 - Somewhat surprisingly, on a slate with a game at Coors Field, it’s the Jays that own the night’s highest implied run total. Actually, at almost six runs, they’re the highest by quite a wide margin. Biggio probably isn’t the main reason for that distinction; however, the 26-year-old has been quietly getting hot at the plate since an awful start to 2021. Dating back to Apr. 24, Biggio is the owner of a .400 OBP and a 127 wRC+. He’s hitting in the middle of Toronto’s order and he gets a nice opposite-hand matchup with Vince Velasquez ($6,800) this evening.
Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs at Detroit Tigers, $6,100 - For as much as this is about Skubal and the Tigers’ anemic bullpen, can we focus on how good Baez has been at the plate in recent weeks? Like a few names I’ve mentioned today, the shortstop got off to a rough start this season, but he has certainly turned things around. Going back to Apr. 17, Baez is slashing .294/.306/.574 with a .279 ISO. Yes, he still rarely gets on base via the walk, but that’s actually an archetype that meshes well with DFS. I’d rather roster a hyper-aggressive player than a passive one, especially in a matchup like this.
Miguel Rojas, Miami Marlins at Los Angeles Dodgers, $4,400 - Though Clayton Kershaw ($10,000) isn’t your everyday average left-hander, Rojas has been hitting southpaws so well this season that I have to consider the Marlins’ leadoff man on this slate. Rojas has a .421 wOBA and a 172 wRC+ across his first 49 plate appearances within the split and, in his last 10 games overall, the shortstop owns a 1.133 OPS and is averaging 11.6 DKFP.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, $4,900 - While Dean Kremer ($5,400) has had most of his issues with LHBs in 2021, he’s still a pitcher allowing 2.08 home runs per nine across his first six starts. That’s no way to survive a contest against the Yankees. Sure, Judge is struggling in May, striking out in nearly 35% of his plate appearances, but it doesn’t take long for the slugger to heat up. Priced below $5K, Judge still brings the same massive ceiling he always does.
Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Philadelphia Phillies, $3,800 - What does Hernandez have to do to get a salary bump? Since returning from the IL on Apr. 30, the Jays’ clean-up hitter is slashing .360/.429/.620 with a .260 ISO and a 194 wRC+. It’s not like this is coming out of nowhere, either, as Hernandez won a Silver Slugger award in 2020. The man can hit and he’s in the middle of one of baseball’s best lineups, yet he’s consistently priced below $4K. I’m certainly not complaining, but it’s getting weird.
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