There’s a lot of quality pitching to parse through Friday, but there are also some very favorable matchups for hitters on this 12-game main slate.
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Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers ($10,900) - There are three pitchers priced above $10K on Friday’s main slate, and there’s no question one has a far superior match than the others. Unfortunately, he also happens to be the most expensive pitcher of the bunch.
But getting Cole against a Tigers lineup that ranks sixth in strikeout rate against right-handed pitching (24.2%) is too good to pass up. Not to mention, they’re among the bottom two in ISO, wOBA and OPS against right-handed pitching.
Also, there’s a bit of an intangible going for Cole in this one. When he struggled to start the season, he bottomed out with a 1 2/3-inning start on April 19. That brutal, five-walk outing came against his Friday night opponent.
Yusei Kikuchi, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Minnesota Twins ($6,500) – Kikuchi ended a strong May with a nine-hit performance vs. the Angels. Not exactly a great way to cap off a good month, but he still only gave up two runs over five innings. But even with that four-punchout start, he finished May with a 28.7% strikeout rate.
The Twins don’t strike out much against left-handed pitching (20.7%), but they are otherwise middling against lefties. With Carlos Correa on the COVID-IL, Byron Buxton ($4,800) is the one hitter who could cause a problem, but pitchers seem to have him figured out at the moment.
C.J. Cron, Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves ($5,000) – Cron may not have a sky-high hard-contact rate against left-handed pitching (28.1%), but he doesn’t make a whole lot of soft contact either (9.4%). He’s also getting the ball airborne quite a bit (34.4%) against lefties, which has led to four of the home runs he’s hit this season. Right-handed hitters didn’t hit an overwhelming amount of flies off Max Fried ($8,300) in May (28.6%), but he did have trouble generating grounders to the level us usually does (40.3%). More importantly, right-handed hitters had a 31.2% line-drive rate and 34.6% hard-contact rate against him in May.
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians at Baltimore Orioles ($5,800) – Ramirez had a rough May on the whole, but he turned things around after the month’s midway point. In the limited chances he got against left-handed pitching throughout that time frame, he generated quite a bit of hard contact. That should play well against Bruce Zimmermann ($5,100), who just gave up nine home runs, six doubles and a triple to right-handed hitters throughout May. Baltimore’s left also only posted a 10.7% strikeout rate and generated next to no soft contact (9.7%).
Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves ($3,900) – Rodgers has logged double-digit DKFP in three of the last five games, one of which was his ridiculous three-home-run showing. While that type of day isn’t likely to happen again, his big days do come in bunches. In the first half of May, he had a 10-game stretch that included four double-digit-DKFP performances.
Also, Rodgers has been crushing left-handed pitching. Over his last 24 plate appearances against lefties, he has 12 hits, four of which have been for extra bases. During that span, he has a 40.9% hard-contact rate against left-handers.
Matt Chapman, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Minnesota Twins ($3,700) – Chi Chi Gonzalez ($4,000) is set to make his return to the big leagues after starting the season in the minors. What better way for a struggling pitcher to get a shot at redemption than by taking on an upward-trending Blue Jays offense?
Chapman isn’t lighting the world on fire, but he has logged seven hits over his last 20 at-bats and either scored a run or driven one in, in five of his last six games played. He only has one extra-bases hit during that stretch, and he only homered once in May despite having a 44.9% hard-contract rate and 42.9% fly-ball rate against righties throughout the month.
Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta Braves at Colorado Rockies ($4,300) – For everything already said about Colorado hitters against Fried, similar things can be uttered about Atlanta’s matchup against Chad Kuhl ($5,400). He’s also not as good of a pitcher as Fried. Colorado’s right-hander has done worse and worse at Coors over his first three starts there as a member of the Rockies. Also, he does not generate a lot of ground outs (38.6%).
Enter Ozuna, who has a 38.9% hard-contact rate and 47.8% fly-ball rate against right-handed pitching this season. That’s led to nine home runs and five doubles. He also didn’t add much to Atlanta’s barrage on Thursday, so we’re not asking him to double-up on strong performances on back-to-back nights, which I like from a hitter who’s largely seen the ball well lately (7-for-17 over the last five games).
How about this: lefties had a 34.6% hard-contact rate and 42.3% fly-ball rate against Brady Singer ($7,900) last month, yet he only surrendered two extra-bases hits to them. The KC right-hander may have ridden a lengthy scoreless-innings stretch recently, but he’s playing with fire.
Adolis Garcia, Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners ($4,000) – As much as I think Logan Gilbert ($8,600) is a good way to pivot off of the higher-priced pitchers tonight, Garcia poses a tough matchup for the Seattle right-hander. He’s 4-for-12 with two doubles and a home run against Gilbert in his career.
More importantly, Garcia is crushing right-handed pitching lately. He’s got a 40.5% hard contact rate and just a 29.7% ground-ball rate against righties since May 15. He’s also gone 14-for-47 with two home runs and a double during that stretch.
Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates ($3,300) – Things have slowed down a bit for Thomas, but he still finished May with a 40% hard-contact rate against right-handed pitching and a .212 ISO. Lefty bats didn’t get to JT Brubaker ($7,600) much last month, but they’ve displayed more power against him throughout his MLB career. If you’re looking to fade Brubaker following back-to-back strong outings, Thomas is a cheap and effective way to do so.
TEAM TO STACK
Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves – Both the Rockies and Braves are worth stacking on Friday, but Colorado’s hitters are cheaper across the board. Cron and Rodgers are the top bats to stack against Fried, who righties had a 31.2% line-drive rate and 34.6% hard-contact rate against in May. Jose Iglesias ($4,000) hasn’t had as much success against lefties at Coors as he has on the road, but he has yet to make soft contact against them at home. Brian Serven ($4,000) has only logged three plate appearances against lefties since getting the call, but has logged two hits against them and shown potential otherwise. Should Elias Diaz ($3,600) start at catcher instead, he could help save some salary, as could Randal Grichuk ($3,900).
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