Pay up for pitching.
Friday’s slate features some of the best arms in the game today. Guys like Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, David Price and Madison Bumgarner and Yu Darvish are all on the bump today, making my mouth water. No, seriously. You can’t afford to get cute when all of these stars are on the mound, but we will get to that later.
There are more than just arms, after all.
|Jon Lester (BOS)||CC Sabathia (NYY)|
|Jose Fernandez (MIA)||A.J. Burnett (PHI)|
|Dustin McGowan (TOR)||Chris Tillman (BAL)|
|David Price (TB)||Johnny Cueto (CIN)|
|Tanner Roark (WSH)||Julio Teheran (ATL)|
|Scott Feldman (HOU)||Yu Darvish (TEX)|
|Carlos Corrasco (CLE)||Chris Sale (CWS)|
|Bruce Chen (KC)||Kyle Gibson (MIN)|
|Francisco Liriano (PIT)||Wily Peralta (MIL)|
|Jeff Samardzija (CHC)||Joe Kelly (STL)|
|Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD)||Brandon McCarthy (ARI)|
|Dillon Gee (NYM)||Tyler Skaggs (LAA)|
|Rick Porcello (DET)||Andrew Cashner (SD)|
|Tommy Milone (OAK)||Felix Hernandez (SEA)|
|Jorge De La Rosa (COL)||Madison Bumgarner (SF)|
Brian McCann vs BOS – Honestly, half of this is me legitimately liking McCann, while the other half is me selfishly listing him here, hoping it lights a fire under him. McCann has not been what the Yankees have been hoping he’d be to start the season, batting under .200. Luckily, he is coming off a solid performance on Thursday night, and I think Friday night is the start of something good. Jon Lester doesn’t frighten me anymore, and is a guy who gives up a healthy amount of fly balls, which could bode well for a power hitter like McCann in Yankee stadium with that short porch. McCann is sporting a career fly-ball percentage of 42.4, and I think he hits on out in this game.
Adrian Gonzalez @ ARI – Gonzalez doesn’t have the appeal of some of the higher upside first baseman, but he could pay off in a big way in this matchup, Gonzo is coming off a game where he launched his second homer of the year and now gets a strong matchup with the Diamondbacks. Over the past three seasons, Gonzalez is batting .323 with four homers and 18 RBI in 93 at-bats. Meanwhile, he is batting a career .375 with Brandon McCarthy, and Chase Field is good for hitters. A terrific lineup around him, Gonzalez always has immense RBI potential, and this game could be one of the more high-scoring affairs of the evening. Of course, Paul Goldschmidt is an obviously terrific play in this game, but if you are looking to save some salary and see similar potential, Gonzalez is worth a look.
Dustin Pedroia @ NYY – Pedroia is one of the top plays of the day against a shaky CC Sabathia. In 53 career at-bats against Sabathia, Pedroia is sporting an awesome .302 average with three doubles. He has just been owning Sabathia, and when you figure that the former Cy Young winner isn’t what he used to be, you assume Pedroia should see continued success. Sabathia has been struggling, and if his breaking stuff isn’t there, he’s in trouble. An 88 mph fastball isn’t scaring anyone, especially an elite contact hitter like Pedroia who hits about 63 percent of fastballs over the course of his career. Pedroia has been raking to start the season, and is a Yankee killer, batting a career .333 with five homers and 28 RBI. Consider him one of the top tier plays of the night.
Pedro Alvarez @ MIL – A bit of a gut call here, but Alvarez is always a threat to take one deep. His five home runs to this point rank first in the National League, and he has major power. Now, he’ll travel to Miller Park, a hitter-friendly venue that saw the 5th-most homers per game a season ago (1.259) and a park where Alvarez has hit five home runs in over the last three seasons, his most at any park outside of PNC, of course. Opposing pitcher, Wily Peralta can certainly give up the long ball, surrendering 19 last year, and giving up a blast during his first start of the season. For his career, he is allowing a little under one HR/9, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Alvarez took him deep.
Elvis Andrus vs HOU – Shortstop isn’t too strong today, so Andrus serves as a high-upside guy in a plus matchup. The Rangers are expected to be one of the highest scoring offenses in baseball today, and with the way Shin-Soo Choo has been batting lately (especially against right-handed arms), Andrus should see ample RBI opportunity, assuming he continues to bat second.
Alex Rios vs HOU – Rios is incredibly safe, but also has high upside. Because of that combination, I find myself rostering him quite a bit. That will be the case on Friday, as he gets a plus matchup with Scott Feldman and the Astros. Now, Feldman has looked very good in his first two starts of the season, but Rios has rocked him in his career, batting .314 with two home runs and two stolen bases in 35 at-bats. He also plays very well against Houston in general, sporting a .344 average in 61 career at-bats. The game is in Texas, an incredibly favorable venue for hitters, so that helps. There could also be some stolen base potential here, too, as Rios has now swiped a big in two of his last three outings, and Feldman is a right-handed arm, making it a bit easier to steal first. Meanwhile, catcher Jason Castro posted a caught stealing percentage of just .247, ranking 61st among all catchers. I like Rios quite a bit in this game.
Other OF options: Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen.
Jose Fernandez @ PHI – I’ll tell you, watching Fernandez’s breaking stuff is as beautiful as Ken Griffey Jr.’s illustrious swing. Almost, actually. Fernandez continues to make the case as a serious Cy Young candidate, starting the year off with consecutive wins, averaging 8.5 strikeouts per game. His stuff is filthy and it makes me giddy inside. He’ll get a plus matchup with a weak Phillies offense that has come back down to Earth lately, scoring a total of 10 runs combined over their last three games. Fernandez should mow down a lineup that features heavy strikeout batters such as Ryan Howard. During his rookie campaign against Philadelphia, Fernandez posted an ERA under one and 16 strikeouts, while the Phils’ lineup batted just .129 as a team. He also averaged a gaudy 32.07 fantasy points per game against them. Fernandez is deadly with his curveball, posting a swinging strike percentage of 16 with it (via FanGraphs). The Phillies didn’t hit the curve very well last year. Math.