The Chicago Cubs just have to be different. They play the only afternoon game on Friday against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies. For the rest of the league, big crowds are expected for Friday night and there are some very good pitchers on the mound. Five pitchers are priced north of $10,000, with Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Chris Archer, Felix Hernandez, and Scott Kazmir all in action. It’s a big weekend for a lot of teams as the trade deadline looms.
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The salaries listed are from DraftKings.
Here are the top teams to stack for July 24:
New York Yankees – Phil Hughes has to be excited for every start against his former team, but they have to be just as excited to face him. Hughes has shown a major command problem this season, just like the one that he had with the Yankees. After allowing 16 round trippers last season, Hughes has given up 23 in just 123.2 innings this season. The Yankees have hit 123 HRs so far this season. Only the Blue Jays and Astros have hit more. The big decline in strikeout rate has done a lot to hurt Hughes and there are signs of further regression in his stat line.
Cincinnati – The Reds have the opportunity to hang some big numbers against Eddie Butler on Friday night. Butler is a reliever masquerading as a starter. The Rockies are desperate for starting pitching so, for better or worse, Butler will be trotted out there on a regular basis. His 5.25/5.58/.513 ERA/FIP/xFIP in his career is pretty indicative of the struggles that he has had. He doesn’t miss many bats, doesn’t work much in the zone, and his command at the big league level is lacking. The Reds have some power and could showcase it here.
Kansas City – This one is more of a hunch than a stat-based argument. Scott Kazmir has been great this season for the Athletics and now switches teams to make his debut for the Houston Astros. I correctly pegged Thursday as a letdown spot for the Royals against the Cardinals, but I think this is a bounce back spot for them. Kazmir has some slight reverse splits, as lefties have a higher SLG against him, but his dominant home performance skewed his overall stats. At O.co Coliseum, Kazmir had a .165/.243/.198 slash against. On the road, it was .267/.328/.476. All seven of his home runs allowed came on the road in 43.2 innings of work.
Here are the top value hitters for July 24:
Juan Uribe ($3,100) – Platoon bat Juan Uribe needs to play well against left-hander Tim Cooney on Friday because contenders will be looking for results against southpaws out of the veteran. Uribe is likely to get moved before the July 31 trade deadline, though he could be a waiver trade deal as well. Uribe has a .288/.362/.596 slash against lefties with five home runs in just 58 plate appearances this season. Uribe has been above league average against lefties in each of the last three seasons.
Stephen Drew ($2,700) – With some expensive pitching out there, taking a chance on a guy like Stephen Drew isn’t a bad idea. Drew is an all-or-nothing hitter this season that has run into 12 mistakes so far this season. He doesn’t have much value outside of hitting home runs, but he’s facing a pitcher that gives up a lot of them. With any luck, Drew will be one of the guys that hits a ball out.
Billy Burns ($3,700) – The A’s are sellers, but that shouldn’t stop them from playing hard. Billy Burns knows no other way to do it. The switch hitter is batting .300/.332/.394 against righties this season and has a good matchup against Jake Peavy, a pitch-to-contact right-hander with declining stuff. Burns is 18-for-21 in stolen bases off of right-handed pitchers, so he could pick up some easy points by swiping some bags.
Here are the top value pitchers for July 24:
Tim Cooney ($6,500) – The Cardinals left-hander has a great matchup against the Atlanta Braves on Friday. The Braves rank 28th in wOBA against lefties on the season and have the second-lowest slugging percentage. Cooney has shown a good feel for pitching so far in his first 24.1 innings and the stuff, while not great, has a little bit of deception. He’s a standard four-pitch mix lefty, but he throws curveballs and changeups nearly 43 percent of the time, making it hard to center on the baseball.
Manny Banuelos ($6,200) – On the same mound, Manny Banuelos could make things very uncomfortable for the Cardinals. They still struggle to hit left-handed pitching, posting a .291 wOBA, which is good for 26th in MLB this season. Their problems are also tied to a lack of power against southpaws, since they have one of the top walk rates in baseball. Banuelos is a lot like Cooney and that’s not a good matchup for the Cardinals either.
Chris Archer ($11,400) – None of the five top pitchers can be considered “value” picks, but you’re inclined to go with one of them, so I figured I would pick one. The teams with the highest strikeout rates against right-handed pitchers are the Astros, the Cubs, and…the Orioles. Archer’s 2.73/2.69/2.59 pitcher slash shows just how well he has pitched this season and there may be a little bit of positive regression coming in his HR/FB rate. The Orioles have scored 3.2 runs per game this month after lighting up the scoreboard in June, so they are struggling quite a bit in that regard.