This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Friday's 14-game slate (unless you're playing the all-day to include the Twins/Cubs game starting at 5:05p ET) should be one of the highest-scoring nights we have seen in 2018. A summer heat wave is pushing game-time temperature into the 80s and 90s in many locations, which leaves some of the safer pitching on the west coast where temperatures are considerably cooler.
There are plenty of viable stacking options, but the optimal strategy may be 2-3 mini stacks surrounded by one-off plays, which yields exposure to four or five different matchups across a lineup.
I'm making a concerted effort to indicate the type of contest I prefer to use players in – cash (50/50) or tournaments (GPPs) – which is generally an exercise in estimating ownership rates (or "finding the chalk") and making sure to have enough variation around the highly-coveted top value plays to have a dangerous lineup.
Remember, a strong cash-game play isn't necessarily a "bad" tournament play, but too many "chalky" players can create a limiting factor in big-field tournaments.
Your constructive feedback is appreciated, and always welcomed.
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Cash: Jacob deGrom, NYM at MIA ($11,700) – deGrom is one of three aces on the road near the top of the price list Friday, and there is very little that separates the trio outside of the marginal differences in cost. With a career high strikeout rate (11.2 K/9, 31.4% K%), deGrom continues to pitch at a level that should make him a frontrunner for the NL Cy Young Award...if he remains in the National League all season. The Marlins continue to be one of the league's worst offenses, with a team wRC+ of 86 that ranks 24th in MLB along with the league's 10th-highest K% (23.7%).
GPP: Here's a quick thought on each of the options I would consider for tournaments (in addition to deGrom)...
Bauer – The A's are a better offense than most people realize, posting a 107 wRC+ against righties and carrying a strikeout rate that is in the middle of the pack (22.2% K%). The slightly lower prices of deGrom and Cole should make Bauer the lowest-owned option of the top three arms.
Cole – The Rays strike out at nearly the same clip (22.8%) as the A's, but the offense has been a tick below average this season with a 96 wRC+ vs. RHP. Cole has been human over his last six starts, pitching to a 3.79 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with a 45:16 K:BB (38.0 IP), and even without a double-digit strikeout game during that stretch, he's still managed to average 43.5 FanDuel points per game. The expectation here is that he will be at, if not slightly above, deGrom's ownership rate.
Patrick Corbin, ARI vs. SF ($9,600) – During his first start in May, Corbin's fastball velocity dipped, and he's been unable to regain it over the last two months. After a blistering start to the season in April, he's leveled off with a 3.90 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over his last 10 starts, thanks to his slider-heavy approach. Oddly enough, he's given up at least four earned runs in each of his last four home starts, but the matchup Friday comes against a San Francisco club that has posted a 94 wRC+ against southpaws (22.6% K%) this season. Based on the early-season dominance, the lower price than the top-three arms, and his overall body of work this season, I expect Corbin to be the highest-owned pitcher on the board on this slate.
Rich Hill, LAD vs. COL ($7,400) – The Rockies have been rubbish against righties this season, but are close to league average against lefties (95 wRC+, 22.1% K%). Hill's inconsistency and recurring battles with blisters make him as volatile as any pitcher on the board most nights, but the Dodgers are -160 favorites and the low over/under total (7.5) combine to make him an enticing tournament-only consideration.
Marcus Stroman, TOR vs. DET ($6,200) – Stroman tossed five scoreless innings in his return from a lengthy DL stint against the Angels on Saturday. Like Hill, there is seemingly a very low chance that he'll be asked to pitch more than six innings. Fortunately, he draws one of the best matchups on the board with a Tigers club that is a bottom-five offense over the last 30 days (76 wRC+).
Marco Gonzales, SEA vs. KC ($7,300) – Road starts against the Yankees and Red Sox did not turn out well for Gonzalez the last two times out. A return home to face the woeful Kansas City offense should get him back on track, as the Royals have the league's worst wRC+ over the last 30 days (58!).
Joe Musgrove, PIT at SD ($7,200) – Musgrove may have caught two of the hottest teams in the league at the exact wrong time with the D-backs and Reds recently knocking him around in PNC Park. Prior to those outings, he was shaping up to be a useful in-season pickup in shallow mixed leagues, and regularly undervalued arm for DFS purposes. The latter holds true again Friday with a road trip to Petco to face a Padres offense that continues to strike out often (24.4% K% L30 days, 5th in MLB).
Nick Pivetta, PHI vs. WAS ($8,600) – The Nationals have a 69 wRC+ over the last 30 days, ranking 29th in MLB. There is still plenty of firepower in that offense, but if you're looking for a potentially very low-owned tournament play with the talent to put up double-digit strikeouts when everything is clicking, Pivetta is in play.
Sandy Alcantara, MIA vs. NYM ($5,500) – Alcantara's MLB debut comes against Jacob deGrom at the Mets, and while the price is very fair for a very talented prospect, he's only a consideration for big-field GPP players with several (8+) lineup combinations. The long-term upside is intriguing, but there is a ton of risk despite his raw talent.
Kendrys Morales, TOR vs. DET ($2,800) – I feel like a broken record. Morales is hitting the ball hard as much as any player in the league this season other than J.D. Martinez (he ranks second in balls hit with an exit velocity of 95 mph or more). Like his teammate Justin Smoak, Morales has excellent splits against lefties going back to the start of 2017 (.319/.368/.518). In fact, using the utility spot, it's possible combine Morales and Smoak in a mini-stack against Francisco Liriano and the Tigers if desired. In addition to the favorable matchup against Liriano, the Tigers' bullpen ranks 25th in WAR this season. There are several options under $3,500 to consider, so plan on paying up elsewhere unless you're angling for a lower-owned Freddie Freeman ($4,700) share against Miles Mikolas, or Joey Votto ($4,300) against Chase Anderson.
Cesar Hernandez, PHI vs. WAS ($3,400) – Hernandez faces Nats starter Erick Fedde on Friday, whose limited chances as a big-league starter have led to a 6.99 ERA and 1.77 WHIP over seven starts. Not surprisingly, Fedde's biggest issue has been the long ball (1.93 HR/9), which he's been serving up to hitters on both sides of the plate. Hernandez's approach makes him useful in cash game and tournaments alike, while some of the other intriguing options at second base are best left to tournaments. Facing off against Yovani Gallardo in Texas, I'm expecting Yoan Moncada to be heavily owned in GPPs.
Justin Turner, LAD vs. COL ($3,400) – Rockies lefty Tyler Anderson is not a bad pitcher. He might actually be a pretty good pitcher. Still, he's not good enough to steer me away from Turner at this price, and until Turner gets closer to $4,000, he'll be a consideration every time he's matched up against a left-handed starter, a split in which he is elite. Since sitting out a three-game series against the Braves earlier this month, Turner is hitting .275/.393/.490 with three homers over his last 15 games entering play Friday. Beware of potentially high ownership rates here.
Andrelton Simmons, LAA at BAL ($3,300) – Simmons and the Angels get a nice park boost for their road series against Baltimore at Camden Yards. With an over/under of 10 and a favorable matchup with David Hess taking the ball for the O's, Simmons is nice value play at shortstop on this slate. Quiet initially upon returning from the DL earlier this month, Simmons enters Friday with a six-game hitting streak on the heels of a long ball against the Red Sox on Thursday. The lack of big power and the extremely low strikeout rate make him a better cash-game play than a tournament option, but there is enough here to at least consider him in both setups on this slate. It might be easy enough to pay up for one of the elite hitting shortstops on Friday, which is even more appealing with Paul Blackburn starting for the A's and with Felix Pena starting for the Angels.
George Springer, HOU at TAM ($3,900) – The Rays have Wilmer Font starting Friday's game with Houston, and while Font has flashed enough to be intriguing in very deep season-long formats with his new opportunity in Tampa Bay, he has not established himself as anything close to a pitcher to steer away from on the DFS front. Springer may come in with a pretty low ownership rate since it's a righty-righty matchup, and he has good, but not great splits against right-handed pitching since the start of last season (.264/.338/.473).
Michael Conforto, NYM at MIA ($3,200) – The Mets are matched up against Marlins rookie Sandy Alcantara on Friday night, and it's puzzling that Conforto's price is still this low when you consider the production he's offered during the second half of June. Entering Friday's matchup, Conforto is hitting .280/.403/.540 (.943 OPS) over his last 14 games, while looking more like the hitter he was prior to shoulder surgery than he has at any other point in 2018. When he's right – and that appears to be the case now – Conforto is a $4K player.
Jesse Winker, CIN vs. MIL ($3,000) – Winker has been hitting sixth in the order in recent weeks, but that move his coincided with a recent surge in power, including an opposite homer in the opening game of the series between the Reds and Brewers on Thursday night. He didn't hit his first home of the season until May 24, but since breaking the seal, he's hitting .305/.441/.537 with six homers, 20 RBI and a 20:14 BB:K over the last 27 games. After temporarily reducing his home-run rate in 2017, Brewers starter Chase Anderson has struggled to keep the ball in the park in 2018, an issue that could be on full display in Cincinnati with game-time temperatures forecasted in the high-80s.