This looks to be a fun 13-game slate, with several aces taking the mound and Coors Field leading the way for stacks. There will be quite a few tough decisions to make for single-entry lineups tonight.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Max Scherzer ($10,700): Scherzer is showing no signs of slowing down, and he's every bit as good as he was in 2021. Through six starts, the veteran has a stellar 2.47 SIERA, 34.3% strikeout rate, and 6.3% walk rate. Pitch counts are of no concern, as well, with Scherzer cracking 100 pitches in three of the past four starts.
While Seattle isn't a great matchup for strikeouts, the righty's slate-high strikeout rate is capable of overcoming that, and pitcher-friendly Citi Field should help Scherzer minimize any damage. The Mariners' 3.10 implied total is the lowest on the board.
It's difficult to find many reasons to dislike Scherzer tonight, and he's an elite option on a deep pitching slate.
Kevin Gausman ($9,800): With Clayton Kershaw hitting the injured list today, we have two other guys with strikeout rates at 29% or better in Gausman and Gerrit Cole.
Naturally, both are top-notch plays on that point alone, but Gausman gets the slight nod. Cole has a potentially difficult matchup against a White Sox lineup that doesn't whiff and is still smacking barrels at a high rate despite underperforming this year.
As for Gausman, he owns the league's second-best SIERA (2.12), and his 31.3% strikeout rate trails only Scherzer on the slate. Incredibly, he's only issued one walk all season, giving him an absurd 0.7% walk rate. He logged a season-high 104 pitches last week, so he's fully stretched out, too.
The Rays have performed well at the plate in 2022, but outside of a handful of players, this lineup is loaded with high-strikeout bats. Additionally, Gausman will benefit from run-suppressing Tropicana Field, leading to Tampa Bay getting a mere 3.11 implied total.
If you can't get up to Scherzer's salary, Gausman is a shoo-in replacement at a cool $900 discount, and when factoring in salary, you can even make a case for him being the best play overall.
Eduardo Rodriguez ($7,200): It's been an odd campaign for Rodriguez, but this is a golden opportunity for him against the Orioles at a bargain-bin salary.
E-Rod's strikeout rate has dipped to 23.0% this season, and it's come alongside a concerning 6.3% swinging-strike rate that's way below his 10.8% career average.
However, the left-hander has endured a rough schedule that's included low-strikeout teams like the White Sox and Dodgers, perhaps partially explaining the lack of whiffs thus far. He also faced a similarly tough Astros his last time out, but he actually came away with a season-high eight strikeouts, giving us some hope that he's moving in the right direction.
Baltimore should be a far easier draw for those precious punchouts. If we go back to the start of last season, Baltimore's active roster owns the eighth-highest strikeout rate against left-handed pitching (23.8%). Although they're a righty-heavy lineup, it gets pretty weak in the bottom half, so that shouldn't be overly concerning for Rodriguez.
Like our previous two entries, E-Rod gets a park factor bump from his home digs in Comerica Park, and the Orioles check in with a 3.40 implied total. We needn't worry about pitch count, too, as he's gone 98 or more pitches in three of the last four starts.
Considering this year's depressed hitting environment, Coors Field nights seem that much more impactful, and it's rare we see an implied total like the Colorado Rockies' 5.58 these days. That places them at or near the top of Friday's stacks pretty much by default, and it really just comes down to whether you want to ride with what figures to be the chalk.
Their matchup is against a long-past-his-prime Zack Greinke, who miraculously has a 2.67 ERA despite a 5.21 SIERA and 7.5% strikeout rate. That strikeout rate is so low that Greinke has recorded one or zero punchouts in four of his six starts -- all of which were at least five innings.
Sure, Greinke's always been a crafty pitcher, but there is absolutely no chance he can maintain a low ERA when he can barely get a single strikeout in some outings. He'll be playing a particularly dangerous game allowing that much contact in Coors.
Oddly enough, Greinke was more effective versus lefties in 2021 due to a 55.9% ground-ball rate, and he's maintained a 49.0% clip in the split this year, as well. Given the laughable strikeout rate, we don't need to overthink this -- the lefties are just as much in play here -- but it's something to consider if you need a tiebreaker between two players.
C.J. Cron ($4,200) is your man as both a one-off and primary stacking piece, coming in with a fantastic .305 ISO that ranks fifth among qualified players this year. I'd say he's enjoying hitting at Coors; he's slugged seven of his nine home runs at home.
Ryan McMahon ($3,500) is probably the next-best choice for power, owning a career .229 ISO at Coors Field. Although he's only hit two dingers this year, he has a solid 11.6% barrel rate.
Beyond those two, you can arguably mix and match most Colorado hitters with a lean towards those hitting higher in the order. Jose Iglesias ($2,800) is an appealing value play if he's batting second again.
New York Yankees
As of this writing, the New York Yankees oddly have a 4.18 implied total, which seems far too low for a matchup against Vince Velasquez. Perhaps that rises later in the day.
In any case, the Yankees are leading the league in barrels, so this is a no-brainer stack against a home run-prone pitcher like Velasquez
The Chicago right-hander has gotten decent results, but a 21.2% strikeout rate, 9.1% walk rate, and 47.8% fly-ball rate are all in favor of the Bronx Bombers. Velasquez does have a 12.2% swinging-strike rate, so maybe that strikeout rate will creep closer to his 25.3% career average, but that shouldn't deter us in the least.
Only Mike Trout and Yordan Alvarez have a higher ISO thanAaron Judge ($4,300) this season (.339), and Anthony Rizzo ($3,600) isn't far behind (.304).
Throw in the massive barrel rates of Giancarlo Stanton ($3,600) andJoey Gallo ($2,600) -- both above 20% -- and it's easy to see why this lineup is so potent. Gallo only has three round-trippers this year and strikes out far too often, but he's still a threat to knock one out any time he connects.
Josh Donaldson ($3,100) andGleyber Torres ($2,400) offer up additional value power threats, so you don't even need to break the bank for this stack.
Considering he only debuted last season, Josiah Gray has some time to prove otherwise, but his numbers closely mirror what we get from Velasquez. Hello, Houston Astros.
Dating back to last season, we have 102 innings of data from Gray, and the result has been a 25.1% strikeout rate, 12.2% walk rate, 52.6% fly-ball rate, and 2.12 home runs per nine innings. We'll gladly accept those strikeouts if it comes with a helping of walks and dingers.
The 24-year-old has performed worse versus lefties (5.36 xFIP), so the aforementioned Yordan Alvarez ($3,800) is an especially nice play, andKyle Tucker ($3,500) gets a bump, too. Michael Brantley ($2,800) isn't a great bet for power, but he's a third lefty to consider if he's occupying the two-hole as usual.
Gray has been much better against righties so far this year, but he was just as susceptible to home runs against them in 2021. Alex Bregman ($3,700)andJose Altuve ($3,400) remain strong all-around hitters with outstanding plate skills, making them welcome additions to any stack, and the rest of Houston's bats are below $3,000 apiece, adding some flexibility when needed.