Friday's main slate is back at the usual start time, and we're getting a whopping 13 games tonight. And yet, there arguably aren't many no-brainer picks for pitchers and stacks alike. The one spot with possible rain issues is the Colorado-Tigers game, but this should otherwise be a clean slate for weather.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Justin Verlander ($10,500): Verlander is 39 years old and missed all of last season, yet he looks like the same old ace in 2022, recording a 2.59 SIERA, 31.9% strikeout rate, and 6.4% walk rate through two starts. The veteran right-hander got up to 87 pitches in his last start, so he should be close to a full workload, as well.
The only problem is he's up against the Blue Jays, a rough matchup for anyone. However, Toronto's a top-heavy lineup that's still missing Teoscar Hernandez to injury, and the team's active roster has actually performed at roughly league average thus far (101 wRC+). They have an unspectacular 3.77 implied total on the road in Houston.
Particularly with other high-salaried hurlers like Freddy Peralta ($9,900)and Julio Urias ($9,800) off to rough starts to the season and also in less-than-ideal matchups, Verlander is looking like the best guy to hitch your lineups to if you have the extra cap space at pitcher tonight.
Kyle Wright ($9,000): It's a little weird to see a guy with a career 5.89 ERA as one of the best plays of the slate, but Wright is a former top prospect who could be finally figuring things out.
Through two outings, the 26-year-old has allowed two earned runs over 11 innings while producing a fantastic 35.7% strikeout rate and 2.4% walk rate. The punchouts are backed by a promising 13.7% swinging-strike rate and 33.9% called-plus-swinging-strike (CSW) rate, and the lack of free passes could be a dramatic turnaround for a player who's struggled with a double-digit walk rate at the big league level.
The improvements are also reflected by some fairly significant changes in pitch mix, which is another reason to buy in. Wright also got up to 92 pitches in his last start, so his workload shouldn't be a problem, either.
This is the right matchup to see if Wright can keep things going, too. While the Marlins have some solid pieces, they're expected to be an average-to-below-average offense this season, and they aren't expected to do much damage tonight with a 3.93 implied total.
Tarik Skubal ($7,900): Given the wonkiness of this pitching slate, you could consider dipping even further into the bargain bin and giving Skubal a whirl. The Detroit lefty posted a solid 3.92 SIERA, 25.9% strikeout rate, and 7.4% walk rate last year, and he's held his own over his first two 2022 starts.
Just as importantly, the Rockies are a team that annually struggles away from Coors Field, and this year should be no different. Their 3.51 implied total is one of the slate's lowest.
The downside is that Colorado is a team that could suppress strikeouts this year; they were a low strikeout team last year and have thus far posted the ninth-lowest mark (20.5%).
Still, on a slate with little in the way of sure things, Skubal could do just enough at this value salary. Just keep an eye on the weather for this one.
Los Angeles Angels: Similar to tonight's pitching, it's a tough one for stacks, too. Despite all these games, every implied total is below five runs.
I'd really love to list the San Francisco Giants here against Patrick Corbin, but this lineup tends to swap in a slew of platoon bats against southpaws, so pinch-hitters could be a factor in the late innings, making this potentially dicey as a top stack.
Instead, we can take a look at the Angels, who face left-hander Bruce Zimmermann.
Zimmermann's actually performed well this season, but as someone who struggled last year and wasn't an elite prospect, it's fair to remain skeptical. In 2021, the southpaw logged a 19.6% strikeout rate and 40.4% ground-ball rate while coughing up 1.96 dingers per nine innings.
Even if we assume some poor luck led to such a high rate of home runs, a low strikeout rate and ground-ball rate should give the Angels plenty of opportunities to barrel a few balls over the fence.
Outside of those two, we can take advantage of the low-salaried righties. We're still waiting forAnthony Rendon ($3,000) to look like his old self, but it's hard to argue with the value, andTaylor Ward ($2,400) has been batting high in the order.
New York Yankees: The Guardians are handing the ball to Eli Morgan for tonight's start, though he's only pitched out of relief to this point, so this will ultimately be more of a bullpen game. Morgan's made three appearances this season with pitch counts of 18, 45, and 25.
That likely means we can only reasonably expect three or so innings at most, but this is still an inviting matchup against a pitcher who's struggled with home runs.
Over 18 starts last year, the right-hander posted a 21.4% strikeout rate and 29.2% ground-ball, and much like the aforementioned Zimmermann, that led to a whole bunch of home runs. Morgan allowed an absurd 2.01 per nine innings.
Morgan registered a 5.88 xFIP to left-handed batters, so Aaron Hicks ($2,600), Anthony Rizzo ($3,700), and Joey Gallo ($2,500) should get extra consideration, but given that the bullpen will be heavily involved tonight, all the usual Bronx Bombers are fair game.
Texas Rangers: Considering tonight's lower implied totals, just rostering top offenses like the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, and Los Angeles Dodgers is always something to consider. The Astros arguably have the best matchup of the group versus Ross Stripling, but the Braves get a struggling Trevor Rogers and the Dodgers face Nick Martinez, a wild card after coming back from Japan this season.
The Rangers might be another team to ponder, though.
They're up against Adam Oller, who had a high walk rate in the minors last season and has stumbled through his first two MLB starts this year. He failed to make it through four innings in either outing, and those control issues have come to haunt him through a 20.0% walk rate.
We could get another subpar outing from the inexperienced righty, and outside of Marcus Semien ($3,600) and Corey Seager ($3,400), everyone else in the lineup is at $3,100 and below.Brad Miller ($2,800) should give us a low-salaried leadoff man, and Mitch Garver ($2,900), Nathaniel Lowe ($2,900), and Adolis Garcia ($3,100) give us multiple value plays with some pop.