There will be no shortage of options to choose from Friday with 14 games making up the main evening slate on Yahoo. With so many players to sift through, let's jump right in and start breaking things down from both an ownership and production-potential perspective.
The two sexy names among the starting pitchers are Justin Verlander ($56) and Corey Kluber ($49). However, they both present some concerns. Verlander has pitched well out of the gate with a 1.04 WHIP and a 31.3 percent strikeout rate, but his one bad outing did come against the team that he'll be facing Friday in the Rangers. Like this one will be, that game was also played at the hitter-friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington. Verlander allowed four runs over four innings in that start.
Kluber has been simply awful in the early going, serving up 16 runs (13 earned) over his first 19 innings. He's had command issues with 10 walks, which is extremely rare considering he walked 34 batters across 215 innings last year. The Braves have a potent lineup that has generated the fifth-highest OPS (.807), so this might not be the night to take a chance on Kluber turning things around.
As we start to work out way down the price scale, Madison Bumgarner ($43) stands out as having a favorable opportunity to provide value in his start against the Pirates. After his swinging strike rate dropped to 9.2 percent last year, he's rebounded to post a 10.6 percent mark in the category this season, which is right in line with his career numbers. His five home runs allowed across 26 innings is a bit concerning, but that might not be a problem Friday since the Pirates are tied for the second-fewest home runs (13) in the league.
Another pitcher who should have a high ownership percentage is Carlos Rodon ($44) for his start against the Tigers. If you think the Pirates are lacking power, the Tigers have been significantly worse with just seven home runs. Six players in baseball have hit more home runs by themselves than the Tigers have hit as a team. Rodon has allowed three runs or fewer in three of his four starts and missed plenty of bats along the way with his 12.7 percent swinging strike rate.
Whenever Jason Vargas is on the mound for the Mets, he's the pitcher to attack. As if last year wasn't bad enough, he's been destroyed for 10 runs across 6.1 innings this season. He's allowed at least 1.4 HR/9 in back-to-back seasons and doesn't miss many bats with his career 8.6 percent swinging strike rate. Expect to see Paul Goldschmidt ($22), Marcell Ozuna ($24) and Paul DeJong ($24) among the ownership leaderboard.
Finally given a chance to play some games at home, the Rockies should be another popular target in their matchup against Vince Velasquez. Don't be fooled by his 2.25 ERA and 0.75 WHIP three his first three outings. He has a 4.53 xFIP and opponents have been extremely unlucky with a .133 BABIP. He also has just an 18.6 percent strikeout rate. Combine his struggles to keep runners off base throughout his career with his .377 wOBA allowed to left-handed hitters last year and Charlie Blackmon ($17) is going to be a popular target to go along with his teammates Nolan Arenado ($24) and Trevor Story ($25).
The combination of how the Rangers' ballpark favors hitters and their poor starting rotation makes them an easy target most nights. That won't be any different Friday when Drew Smyly takes the mound against the Astros. After sitting out the last two seasons due to Tommy John surgery, Smyly has allowed nine runs in 11.1 innings over his first three starts. He's had control issues with seven walks and was also taken deep twice. The Astros' star right-handed quartet of Jose Altuve ($22), Alex Bregman ($23), George Springer ($25) and Carlos Correa ($19) should all be in plenty of entries.
Stacking the Cardinals against Vargas might be too good of an opportunity to pass up. However, the trio of Goldschmidt, Ozuna and DeJong would eat up a total of $70. That would make it hard to spend up at starting pitcher. Jose Martinez ($15) is a more cost-effective option to consider based on his career 154 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
For those rolling with the Rockies, the good news is that David Dahl ($18) and Ryan McMahon ($10) were activated from the IL on Thursday. That's two more left-handed bats to potentially deploy against Velasquez. As far as an Astros stack goes, the four top options detailed earlier are all pricey. Yuli Gurriel ($17) is another right-handed bat to target who won't destroy your budget.
As far as a contrarian stack to consider in tournament play, using the Padres against Anthony DeSclafani could be the route to take. He had troubles keeping hitters inside the ballpark last year, allowing 1.9 HR/9. He's already given up four homers across 13.1 innings this year, which is troublesome when you also consider that he has a 1.65 WHIP. Even though the Padres have a right-handed heavy lineup, Manny Machado ($21), Wil Myers ($21) and Fernando Tatis Jr. ($22) could all be productive. This is also a good opportunity for Eric Hosmer ($11) to turn things around since DeSclafani allowed a .385 wOBA against lefties last year.