Cash: Max Scherzer, WAS at MIA ($12,000) -- Scherzer is the most expensive option on the board Friday night, and rightfully so thanks to a road matchup against a Marlins offense that has been extremely weak against right-handed pitching the season (their 76 wRC+ against righties is the second-worst team split on the slate behind the Rockies vs. RHP at 61). Over the past calendar year, Corey Kluber has better ratios than Scherzer, but he draws a tougher matchup with the Astros visiting Progressive Field. Additionally, Scherzer has the edge in strikeout rate during that span, with a slate-leading 37.1% K%.
Also consider: James Paxton, SEA vs. MIN ($9,700), Noah Syndergaard, NYM at MIL ($10,600), Luis Severino, NYY vs. LAA ($10,300), Corey Kluber, CLE vs.HOU ($11,000)
GPP: Ross Stripling, LAD vs. SD ($6,700) -- Before thinking about Stripling, be absolutely certain that you want to steer away from the top arms listed above, as I have no reservations about using aces in tournaments, especially when there are several to choose from. Luis Severino might finally get some of the respect (see also: higher ownership rates) he deserves, and the appeal of using him (or James Paxton) is the flexibility provided under the cap on a Coors Field slate. As Stripling goes, he’s interesting for two reasons. One, he’s pitched very well, mostly in a bullpen role, since last season for the Dodgers. He’s done it with increased slider usage, which has led a spike in strikeouts. The second reason for targeting him Friday is the opponent, as the Padres continue to struggle offensively with an 82 wRC+ against right-handed pitching along with a 25.5% K%.
Jon Gray, COL vs. CIN ($7,000) -- It’s a great price for his skills. Not for the faint of heart with the start being at home, of course.
Mike Minor, TEX vs. KC ($6,800) -- It’s been feast or famine this season for Minor in his move back into a starting role. He’s topped 30 FanDuel points in five of his last eight, topping out with a 52-point effort against the Jays back on April 7.
Jose Abreu, CHW at DET ($4,000) -- There are a handful of similar options to think about Friday, but Abreu matches up with Mike Fiers in a game with a strong over/under total (9.0) and he should work well as a cash-game play and in tournaments. Abreu’s splits against right-handed pitching include an .878 OPS (.294/.348/.530) since the start of 2017, placing him among the top-10 options on the board, and he moves up even further when you remove the bats ahead of him with more difficult matchups. Aside from a matchup against Fiers, Abreu and the White Sox are facing the league’s 21st-ranked bullpen in terms of WAR in this series.
Other options to consider include: Paul Goldschmidt ($3,900 vs. Sean Manaea and the A’s -- he continues to crush lefties), Tyler Austin at $3,200 (home against Andrew Heaney) and Joey Votto ($4,500 at Coors against Jon Gray).
Whit Merrifield, KC at TEX ($3,500) -- Like scones, I was very skeptical of Merrifield for about a year, but I’m ready to admit that I was wrong...at least about Merrifield. His placement in the lineup, paired with an improved eye at the plate (he’s nearly doubled his walk rate from last season), and a righty-lefty matchup against Mike Minor in the heat at Arlington are enough to push him into my lineups as a fixture at second base Friday. If you’re using Merrifield in tournaments, root for the masses to pay up for Ozzie Albies ($4,600 vs. lefty Eduardo Rodriguez) and Scooter Gennett at Coors ($4,400) to keep the ownership rate reasonable. Two pivots I like with similar prices are Cesar Hernandez ($3,800) against Sam Gaviglio and Yangervis Solarte ($3,400) against Zach Eflin in the Blue Jays-Phillies matchup.
Johan Camargo, ATL at BOS ($2,600) -- Camargo has been hitting the ball in the air more often in the upper levels of the minors and with the Braves, and he’s been particularly productive against left-handed pitching since getting the call last season (.340/.373/.577). The likely low lineup position limits Camargo most to GPP use, but he’s an easy path to a high over/under total game on Friday’s slate (10.0) at Fenway, and his ability as a switch-hitter makes him less susceptible to getting wiped out by a bullpen specialist in the late innings.
Of course, paying up for Nolan Arenado ($4,700) at home against Sal Romano is fine if you’re saving money elsewhere, and Justin Turner at $3,900 against a lefty (Clayton Richard) is extremely appealing as well as he’s posted an 1.178 OPS against southpaws since the start of last season.
Jean Segura, SEA vs. MIN ($2,600) -- Segura is usually a go-to option when the Mariners face a left-handed starter, but the extremely low price for a very good player, high in the Seattle lineup, against a young right-handed starter (Fernando Romero), at a position that loaded with bloated salaries for the top-end guys (who mostly have difficult matchups) checks the boxes to make him one of my preferred options Friday. I’m comfortable using Segura in cash-games and in tournaments at this price, given the state of the position on this 14-game slate.
Charlie Blackmon, COL vs. CIN ($4,600) -- It’s a relative bargain to see Blackmon under $5K with a home lefty-righty matchup against the Reds. Sal Romano and a parade of Cincinnati relievers without Raisel Iglesias is an extremely favorable setup, and while Blackmon’s price being slightly deflated could make him the most highly-owned bat in this matchup, this has the look and feel of very good chalk. Blackmon has a 144 wRC+ against right-handed pitching at Coors Field over the past two calendar years.
Nelson Cruz, SEA vs. MIN ($3,200) -- The thinking with Cruz is very similar to the thinking with Jean Segura above. Usually it’s Cruz against lefties at a low price that pushes him high up the list of considerations in the outfield. A closer look at his recent splits shows a .290/.348/.553 line against right-handed pitching, and with Twins rookie Fernando Romero taking the ball on the road for his fifth career MLB start, the Mariners are priced down in a situation that could make them an intriguing stacking option Friday.
Jay Bruce, NYM at MIL ($2,600) -- Bruce and the Mets get a park boost for their four-game series with the Brewers, which should help get the team’s slumping bats back on track. More importantly, Bruce has a .262/.337/.508 line against right-handed pitching since start of last season, and he gets a matchup against Junior Guerra on Friday night. Guerra has looked more like the pitcher he was during his surprising 2016 than he did in his disappointing (and injury-marred 2017), but his occasional tendency to serve up homers is enough to push Bruce into lineups as a value play in the outfield.