This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
A monstrous 14-game slate awaits Friday's main contest, with only the Mets-Marlins 6:40 p.m. EDT contest omitted. There's no shortage of star power atop the pitching options, where we have four priced in five-figures, and five more checking in at at least $9,000. With some of those in pretty favorable spots, they have the chance to put up 40+ FDP, seemingly forcing your hand to pay up.
I'd expect a bounce back effort from Justin Verlander ($10,500) after surrendering four runs in 3.2 innings at Chicago last time out. But there's no way I'm targeting him in a showdown in the Bronx. Alek Manoah ($10,400) makes far more sense at a very slight discount. He too is coming off of a down showing against the Yankees, but had previously been worth 39+ FDP in five straight. Milwaukee fans at an okay 23.7 percent, and while they are scrappy and put together solid at bats, they also don't have a feared lineup. The case can be made for Aaron Nola ($10,300) in the upper tier too. Despite the Padres record and theory they're a top offense, they have just a .304 wOBA, 98 wRC+ and .134 ISO against righties. Nola is rolling right now, going for 37 FDP or more in eight of his last 11, averaging 41.6 per game.
Michael Kopech ($9,100) figures to be an obvious target against Baltimore. But statistically against righties, the Orioles aren't that different from the Padres, posting a .298 wOBA, 92 wRC+, and .154 ISO. I think I'd prefer to fit Nola in if I can afford him. They both possess high ceilings, but the floor for Nola is considerably higher. Julio Urias ($9,500) is a tough case Friday. Atlanta has thrived on lefties all year, but Urias is surging with 46 FDP in consecutive outings, and current Braves are just 5-of-34 (.148) with a .372 OPS.
Merrill Kelly ($8,900) is in a class to himself Friday. The name doesn't really pair with the price, and he's been up and down of late, alternating 43 point outings with two of 24 or less across his last four. But we know how awful the Tigers' offense is. If not paying all the way up, I think I'm skipping that 9k tier, and hoping we get the good version of Kelly Friday.
I don't feel great about the mid-to-bottom tier of arms on this slate. Sure, a few will pop for 30 or so points, but they all could equally combust, though the matchup for Dane Dunning ($7,800) against Washington is favorable. But if you're intent on paying down, I'll roll with Zack Greinke ($6,500). He threw 12 innings in his two rehab starts, so we should be able to get enough out of him there, and he gets lowly Oakland, who we know we can target nightly. Sure, he can implode too, but for far cheaper.
With top-flight pitching the preferred play, there aren't going to be too many spots to pay up for bats. However, Freddie Freeman ($4,000) is scalding hot, going 7-of-13 with two homers, 10 RBI and four runs scored in a three-game series at Cincinnati. The return to Atlanta narrative is in play here, and the ball has been flying out of Truist park lately. He's also behind only injured Mookie Betts with a .379 wOBA against righties.
C.J. Cron ($4,000) figures to be overlooked with this game being on the road. But I don't trust Dylan Bundy's last outing to be the new norm, and Cron leads this team with a .387 wOBA and .242 ISO, and he's seemingly due after going 0-of-7 in his last two.
What's the play with the Phillies lineup against MacKenzie Gore? He'd been brilliant in the first two months, allowing eight runs across 42.0 innings, but has surrendered 14 in 12.1 June frames, surrendering three homers. Both starts were against Colorado, on in Coors, so does one team just have his number? Rhys Hoskins ($3,700) price seems steep, especially if we're simply chasing a homer, which he hasn't provided since June 14. But a .353 ISO, 42.0 percent hard hit rate and 8.0 soft hit rate suggest favorable odds.
The bulk of the Cardinals' thump comes from the right side, but Cubs' starter Kyle Hendricks is getting crushed by lefties, allowing a .413 wOBA, .970 OPS and 10 homers to 162 batters faced, against .290/.664 and three homers to 130 batters. Nolan Gorman ($3,100) has a chance to take advantage.
Alek Thomas ($2,700) had a 12-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday, and promptly collected two hits Wednesday. He has a team-leading .376 wOBA and 140 wRC+ in a plus matchup against Detroit's Rony Garcia.
Keep an eye on the Blue Jays lineup. Adrian Houser is allowing a .397 wOBA to lefties on the road, something we know Toronto has very little of. Raimel Tapia ($2,200) saw a nine-game hitting streak snapped in his last outing, and Cavan Biggio ($2,000) finally hit his first homer of the year Monday. Low risk, minimal reward but a solid opportunity for either if playing to help round out your lineup.
Stacks to Consider
Voth is allowing a huge .507 wOBA and 1.188 OPS to righties on the road. That makes the appeal very obvious, even if the White Sox have largely been bad against righties this season. They seem to picking up the slack however, and there's a ton of value in this trio. Anderson has his safely in four straight, five of six and 10 of 12, with eight multi-hit games in that stretch. Vaughn too is surging, riding a same four-game hitting streak, and 11 in his last 12, with six multi-hit outings, and has a team-leading .370 wOBA against righties. Finally, Abreu continues to remain unlucky. He's got a .288 BABIP, I guess not too low, but he has a 41.4 percent hard hit rate and only 9.5 percent soft contact rate. He has just two RBI in his last six games, but should be in a spot to produce runs Friday.
On these larger slates, we have to be comfortable being a little weird to take down a GPP. This figures to be just that. Espino's 2.29 ERA isn't supported by a 4.16 xFIP, and he's also not fully stretched out after being used mainly as a reliever early in the year. Even if he's good, the Rangers will get hacks at the Nationals' bullpen that has the league's sixth-highest ERA. I can't see anyone paying this price for Garcia, and I'll warn that his team-leading wOBA is just .345. But he's hit safely in 12 of 13 with three homers in that stretch. Seager has hit safely in eight of nine, homering in three of seven. Semien has quietly collected six knocks in his last five. Again, the split stats aren't encouraging here, but the matchup is. And getting 1-2-3 in this lineup could return big with low usage.