We've got a big Friday slate as usual, but just two pitchers really stand out before the rest get jumbled together. And while there isn't necessarily a must-have offense to stack, there's no shortage of offenses to choose between, as roughly half of tonight's teams have implied totals over 4.50.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Dylan Cease ($10,900): Cease's 10.4% walk rate is always a concern, but a 3.15 SIERA and 33.3% strikeout rate have helped him still earn pretty consistent results this season.
Ever since a worrying seven-walk performance at the beginning of June, Cease has tallied at least seven strikeouts in 8 of his last 10 starts, and he's allowed four earned runs combined over that span. That's helped him score at least 40 FanDuel points eight times across those starts, and he's hit 50 or more four times.
Workload hasn't been an issue, either, as Cease regularly exceeds 100 pitches and has gone below 90 just twice all year.
This is roughly a neutral matchup against the Rangers, but it's hardly one to scare us off. They have one of the lowest implied totals on the board (3.45), and Cease is one of the best candidates to lead tonight's pitchers in scoring.
The Halos' active roster has the league's fourth-worst wRC+ (85) against lefties, and while they haven't been as lucrative a matchup for punchouts in the split, this is a pretty bare-bones lineup these days, and the bottom half of the order could provide Ray some easier punchouts tonight.
The veteran lefty hasn't been able to replicate his stellar 2021 marks, but he's still put up a solid 3.51 SIERA, 27.5% strikeout rate, and 8.3% walk rate. Back-to-back stinkers against a tough Astros team can be forgiven, as prior to that, he had a streak of seven straight quality starts, logging at least six strikeouts in six and cracking double-digit Ks in three.
Overall, the left-hander's strikeouts have been more up-and-down than we'd like this season, and a curiously low CSW rate could be a red flag. But on a slate lacking obvious options beyond Cease, this still looks like a spot to trust Ray in an ideal bounce-back matchup.
Josiah Gray ($9,000): Things get a bit murkier once we move past the top two guys, and considering how close Gray is to Ray in salary, we're not even getting great value from someone who we're more likely to stack against than roster ourselves. The Nationals' righty has two crippling flaws between a high walk rate (9.8%) and a ridiculous clip of home runs allowed (2.12 per nine innings).
But Gray does have a 27.0% strikeout rate that's helped him to a pair of performances cracking 50 FanDuel points, so the upside does squeak through occasionally. It just so happens one of those ceiling games came against tonight's opponent in the Philadelphia Phillies, too.
Philadelphia is an average matchup, but their implied total is one of the slate's highest (5.14), and they play in one of the friendliest ballparks for dingers. The risks are obvious.
However, if Gray can find a way to navigate the handful of lefties in the lineup, he can take advantage of a 28.9% strikeout rate and 5.4% walk rate in same-sided matchups. It's hardly a certainty, but you could do worse if you're looking for a contrarian play.
Given everything I just said about Gray, we might as well go straight to the more conventional way of handling this matchup, which is to stack the Phillies.
Despite the high strikeout rate, Gray walks too many guys and allows boatloads of home runs, so the benefits of attacking him are quickly apparent.
And as I inferred in the prior blurb, it's the lefties who do the brunt of the damage. Against left-handed batters, he's recorded a 5.39 xFIP, 24.7% strikeout rate, 15.2% walk rate, and 58.6% fly-ball rate. Despite logging fewer innings in the split compared to righties, 15 of the 24 home runs he's allowed have come off lefties.
If nothing else, Kyle Schwarber ($3,500) is a no-brainer one-off here, and Darick Hall ($2,900) can serve as a discount version. Bryson Stott ($2,700) and Brandon Marsh ($2,400) are less exciting lefties, but the juicy matchup means that they also warrant consideration.
Gray's much better versus righties, but he still coughs up home runs to them, too, so Rhys Hoskins ($3,100), Alec Bohm ($2,800), J.T. Realmuto ($3,300), and Nick Castellanos ($2,500) can freely be mixed in. This is a particularly nice value for Hoskins, who has an inviting .225 ISO and is second on the team in round-trippers (21) behind Schwarber.
Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros
I'm lumping the Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros together because in both cases we're dealing with wild card matchups against pitchers with limited track records. Both teams have implied totals hovering right around five runs, though, making them the next highest totals after the Phillies.
In the Brewers' case, they're up against Robert Dugger, who's actually managed a 32.7% strikeout rate across 12 innings (three appearances) in 2022. However, he's shown no such potential in Triple-A this season, logging below a 20% clip for both the Reds and Rays organizations. He's also held an xFIP well over 5.00 with roughly a double-digit walk rate.
None of his prior stints in the Majors have resulted in positive results, either. Overall, he's posted a career 5.57 xFIP, 16.9% strikeout rate, and 9.1% walk rate across 82 2/3 innings. His career splits point towards prioritizing lefties first, but this all amounts to just rostering the best Brewers bats you can fit in.
For the Astros, they're facing Hunter Gaddis in his MLB debut. Naturally, we have even less info on Gaddis, but it's pretty telling right away that he only has two Triple-A starts under his belt.
While he has demonstrated a promising strikeout rate at every minor league level, the walks have gone up as he's faced higher competition, and he's also struggled with the long ball. It's obviously a silly sample size, but a 12.2% walk rate and 56.5% fly-ball rate in his two Triple-A outings could be a sign of what's to come.
Houston's big boppers need no introduction, of course, and if you're picking a side here, it's the deep and experienced offense all the way.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are never a team to fly under the radar, but they have a middle-of-the-pack implied total (4.60) in a pitcher-friendly venue, so maybe they don't draw as much attention as they otherwise would.
Although Dakota Hudson has always done a great job of suppressing home runs through a high ground-ball rate, his 12.8% strikeout rate and 10.4% walk rate in 2022 sure leave a lot to be desired, and his 5.20 SIERA is over a full run higher than his ERA.
He's got those grounders coming in at a 58.9% rate versus lefties, but that mark drops to a more attackable 46.0% in same-sided matchups.
Between that and the low strikeout rate, this sure looks like another night whereAaron Judge ($5,300) could continue to add to his ridiculous home run pace. Fellow rightiesDJ LeMahieu ($3,600), Gleyber Torres ($3,100), andJosh Donaldson ($2,700) can join him in full stacks, with the latter two being preferred as fly-ball hitters.
Similarly, even though the matchup isn't quite as enticing for lefties -- at least when it comes to dingers -- Anthony Rizzo ($4,000) and Matt Carpenter ($3,100) are less likely to hit grounders, making them more appealing for inclusion over someone like Andrew Benintendi ($3,000).