Friday's slate has a little bit of everything, with a fairly deep selection of pitchers to choose from, some strong offenses in plus matchups, and the always enticing Coors Field. Heck, we actually have some implied totals above five runs tonight!
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Aaron Nola ($9,900): There are some intriguing names up top at pitcher, but it's hard to match the overall track record of Nola. While the veteran right-hander is coming off a down year, his peripherals largely remained intact, and he's looked every bit the part of an ace in 2022.
Following some missteps out of the gate, Nola now has a pristine 2.50 SIERA, 29.8% strikeout rate, and 6.0% walk rate through four starts. He's also showing a 58.0% ground-ball rate, and while that will presumably drop closer to his career average (48.9%) at some point, it's still a positive sign after showing a significant drop-off in that department last year.
The Mets' active roster has the ninth-lowest strikeout rate (21.1%) dating back to last season, and they've performed well at the plate to begin the season. That isn't ideal for Nola, but he'll benefit from run-suppressing Citi Field, and New York only has a 3.61 implied total.
Nestor Cortes ($10,000): Do you believe? Cortes has looked like a possible breakout star this month, boasting a 1.26 SIERA, 44.6% strikeout rate, and 5.4% walk rate over three starts. The southpaw put up promising numbers in 2021, and he's now leaning into his cutter more often with dazzling results.
He's shown an improved 30.3% called-plus-swinging-strike (CSW) rate, but considering his swinging-strike has only seen a slight bump (10.8%), it's reasonable to expect a fair bit of regression in his punchouts. Still, Cortes owned a 27.5% strikeout rate in 2021, so it's not like he didn't show potential before this point.
The Royals are another team that doesn't strike out often, as their active roster has the league's third-lowest strikeout rate (20.4%) going back to 2021. But the good news is they're lacking punch overall, ranking 26th in wRC+ over that span.
Lucas Giolito ($9,300): Giolito missed a good chunk of April due to injury, so he's making just his third start of the young season. But he looked to be in midseason form coming off the injured list, piling up nine punchouts over just four innings against the Twins.
Given the recent injury, Giolito's workload could be a slight concern, though after reaching 76 pitches in that last appearance, he could be closer to a full pitch count this time around.
The feels like a boom-or-bust spot versus the Angels, a red-hot offense that has the scary duo of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani but also whiffs a fair amount. Since the start of 2021, the Angels' active roster has the second-highest strikeout rate in the league (25.5%).
Another positive for Giolito is the weather forecast. We're expecteing 12 mph winds blowing in at Guaranteed Rate Field, leaving this game with one of the lowest over/unders of the night (7.0).
Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds
With offense down across the league this season -- *cough* deadened ball *cough* -- it's refreshing to see a game total at 10.5 runs. Of course, that's because Coors Field is turning the lights on tonight, but we'll take it.
This isn't the perfect setup, however. The visiting Cincinnati Reds have won just three games and have been absolutely putrid on offense in 2022. Meanwhile, the Colorado Rockies have to face top prospect Hunter Greene, who has positive underlying numbers despite mixed results this season.
That means this isn't necessarily a must-stack spot, but this is still far and away the best hitting environment at a time of year where temperatures are still generally cool across the country.
Beginning with the Rockies' matchup, Green's 3.62 SIERA and 26.2% strikeout rate suggests he's performed better than his results. However, he's struggled with walks (9.8% rate) and home runs have been an issue due to a sky-high 50.0% fly-ball rate.
Colorado's lineup isn't the deepest, particularly if we assume Kris Bryant and Brendan Rodgers remain out. But we can still get solid power from Connor Joe ($3,900), Charlie Blackmon ($4,000), Randal Grichuk ($3,900), C.J. Cron ($4,100), and Ryan McMahon ($3,800).
Those restrictive salary cap hits will make it difficult to roster four in a stack, though, so you may need to dip lower in the order for guys like Sam Hilliard ($2,500) and Elias Diaz ($2,600) if they start.
On the other side, we have that slumping Reds lineup, but before you write them off, check out those salaries.
Additionally, they're facing Antonio Senzatela, who has a laughable 8.2% strikeout rate and 19.4% CSW rate to begin the year. He's also failed to get grounders at his typically high clip with just a 37.7% ground-ball rate.
Senzatela should bump up the strikeouts a bit over time, but with a career average of just 15.5%, we're still talking about a plus-plus matchup for Cincinnati.
For as bad as the Reds have been, they've dealt with injuries and have an active roster that was league average in wRC+ last year, so positive regression could be coming.
The previously mentioned Pham hasn't been hitting for average, but a 54.8% hard-hit rate is easy to like. India recently returned from the injured list and is a power-speed threat out of the leadoff slot.
Joey Votto ($2,900) has been downright awful in 2022, but he had a resurgent 2021 campaign, so it's too early to assume he's washed. He's batting cleanup and will have the platoon advantage with guys like number two hitter Tyler Naquin ($3,000) and the now healthy Mike Moustakas ($2,700).
Nick Senzel ($2,600) is one other Reds bat to consider. Injuries have left him with little to show over the past couple of campaigns, but he produced double-digit dingers and stolen bases in his rookie campaign, so there could still be some fantasy upside in his profile.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Another slate, another opportunity to stack the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Left-hander Tyler Alexander has an unlucky .371 BABIP, so he hasn't been as bad as his bloated ERA would indicate, but a 17.0% strikeout rate isn't going to get the job done against the Dodgers. In 2021, he had a mediocre 4.47 SIERA and 19.3% strikeout rate, and a 44.2% fly-ball rate left him open for the home run ball.
Righty sticks are naturally the big winners of this matchup, so pick and choose between Mookie Betts ($4,000), Trea Turner ($3,900), Justin Turner ($2,700), Will Smith ($3,400), and Chris Taylor ($2,900) and then go from there.
New York Yankees
The best of the rest include good spots for the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves, and Jose Urquidy has struggled enough to throw the Toronto Blue Jays in the mix, as well. You might also give the St. Louis Cardinals a look versus Madison Bumgarner, who has lucked his way to a low ERA through a .216 BABIP.
Bubic has a middling 4.82 SIERA over his young career, and he's been brutal to begin 2022. Over three outings, he's posted a 7.18 SIERA, 12.5% strikeout rate, and 22.5% walk rate. Add in a 42.3% ground-ball rate, and it's all bad news for the 24-year-old southpaw.
The Bronx Bombers have begun to flex their muscles lately, and outside of Aaron Judge ($3,900), we can still get fellow righties Giancarlo Stanton ($3,100), Josh Donaldson ($3,300), and Gleyber Torres ($2,600) at reasonable salaries.
Oddly enough, Bubic actually has worse career numbers against lefties, though, including a 5.67 xFIP. So, don't be afraid to throw in Anthony Rizzo ($3,900) orJoey Gallo ($2,600), who both have solid career numbers in lefty-lefty matchups.