Friday features a robust 14-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
There are plenty of ways to go tonight, with some strong elite options. We will first take a look at Gerrit Cole.
Cole has had his strikeout stuff working to begin the 2021 season. He has double-digit strikeouts in three of his first five starts, and the other two starts finished with a measly eight.
The match-up could not be juicier on Friday night against the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have the worst K% in all of the MLB. This offense played 14 innings yesterday and scored one run. It is not really a surprise, but they are the clear worst team in the MLB to begin the year.
A real positive out of Cole is that he has only allowed one home run in 2021, which was his Achilles heel in 2020. When he is not giving up the long ball, it becomes quite difficult to string together hits off of him.
He rates at the No. 1 option on DraftKings on the Bales Model and No. 2 on FanDuel.
Shane Bieber has been even more dominant with his strikeouts thus far. The 2020 American League Cy Young Award winner has double-digit strikeouts in four of his five starts, only reaching nine in his last start against Cole and the Yankees.
Bieber has been burned by the long ball, akin to Cole in 2020. He has only given up 10 earned runs on the year but has allowed five home runs.
The right-hander gets the Chicago White Sox tonight, a team that he has already faced once this season, throwing nine innings of shutout baseball with 11 strikeouts. It was not a complete game because the inept Cleveland offense did not score until the 10th inning.
The White Sox own the third best strikeout percentage (K%) in MLB, and they scored 10 runs over a pair of seven-inning games against the Tigers yesterday.
Bieber also hits for eight ProTrends this evening.
I would rather have Cole than Bieber tonight and it’s really down to the match-up. The White Sox have a significantly better offense than the Tigers. I think Bieber pitches well, but I do not think he has the same start in him as the last time against these White Sox.
The other ace tonight, Yu Darvish, gets to face off with the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants.
Darvish does not have the strikeout potential of our first two options, but he has strung together four straight starts of giving up only one earned run. One of those starts was against these Giants and two of them were against the fearsome Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Giants have really been one of the biggest pleasant surprises to begin the season. They do own the 10th-worst K%.
You get a slight discount with Darvish tonight, but I think he is hampered by the limited strikeout upside. Cole and Bieber are pretty locked in for a minimum of eight, whereas Darvish has topped out at nine. He feels fine in cash games.
For a cheaper option, Nathan Eovaldi looks tantalizing. This is about trying to pick a spot with him.
He used to be a much stronger strikeout pitcher but has 27 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings this season. In five starts, he has strung together four, seven, three, 10, and three K’s. That tells me that the potential is still there with him.
Tonight, Eovaldi faces the Texas Rangers, owners of the second-worst K% in MLB. In general, the Rangers’ offense should not scare many. The Boston right-hander hits for six ProTrends.
A stat that is pretty impressive from Eovaldi: In 2021, he has not given up a home run. Hopefully, that does not mean that he gives up multiple long balls tonight.
If we can see Eovaldi replicate some of those bigger strikeout games, he is an excellent value for tonight.
One final option to consider is Andrew Heaney. His price seems pretty off on DraftKings, which is making him the No. 2 option from the Bales Model there. The Seattle Mariners are the seventh-worst in K% and play in a very pitcher-friendly park.
Just a warning, there looks to be many weather impacted games tonight. It looks like the Red Sox/Rangers game is the most likely to be rained out/delayed, but also a ton of wind in almost every game. Make sure to consult our lineups page closer to lock.
The best stack of the night belongs to the Boston Red Sox:
- 1. Enrique Hernandez (R)
- 4. Rafael Devers (L)
- 3. Xander Bogaerts (R)
- 2. Alex Verdugo (L)
This group is projected for 48.7 FanDuel points on a $13,000 salary. The Red Sox lineup looks like it will be without J.D. Martinez as he is day-to-day. They get to face Kohei Arihara, whom the Bales Model does not think will fare too well. Arihara gives up one hit per inning and has topped out at 85 pitches so far in his first MLB season. That means that the Red Sox should be able to see the middle relief of the Rangers’ bullpen too.
The favorite hitter on both sites on the Bales Model is DJ LeMahieu. By no means has LeMahieu looked the part that he did in 2019 or 2020, but in the last week or so he has been beginning to show signs of life. In his last three games, he has five hits and his average is creeping closer and closer to .300. He faces lefty Tarik Skubal tonight, which has always been where he does his damage. LeMahieu has an OPS of .854 vs. lefties compared to .760 vs. righties.
A lot of the Cincinnati Reds lineup is considered a bargain by the Bales Model. Nick Castellanos, Eugenio Suarez, and Joey Votto are all 99% Bargain Rating. They get to see Jake Arrieta tonight, in hitter friendly Great American Ball Park. There is projected to be 14 MPH winds out to right field too. Votto is 8-for-22 lifetime with two home runs off of Arrieta.
The top of the New York Mets’ lineup shows up frequently in the Lineup Optimizer, especially Francisco Lindor. The Mets have been a dreadful offense this season, which is definitely making some of their “usually elite” hitters cheaper. Lindor gets to see Chase Anderson tonight, who is barely a true starting pitcher in my opinion. A lot of these Mets hitters do not own great career numbers off of Anderson, including Lindor (0-for-6). Dominic Smith is 2-for-5 lifetime, although both hits were home runs.
Pictured above: Shane Bieber
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