A short seven-game slate kicks off the MLB weekend as a few teams get a day off to travel.  Some teams, however, get no rest and either play on to finish off a series or hop on a plane to begin a four-game weekend series. It reminds me of an aspect of the 162 game grind that often gets overlooked for DFS purposes:  overuse of a bullpen. Probably the most difficult thing for an MLB coaching staff to manage is the use of pitchers. While it may seem easy enough for a reliever to warm up and throw an inning or two, the toll it takes on their arms over the course of a six-month season needs to be considered each and every day.  A reliever enters each game not knowing if he is even going to play, but once he gets the call he has to jump up, warm up and enter the game ready to perform at his peak. If they do it too often they start to lose effectiveness, so managers need to recognise when to simply rule a guy out for a day or so.

OK, you may be asking: “wtf does this have to do with DFS? Nobody in their right mind will roster a reliever.  Shut up and give us something we can actually use!” And that’s a fair call, but an overused bullpen could mean that a manager is more willing to leave a starter out there even though he’s getting shelled early; or if a game gets out of hand early, bring in a long reliever and make him pitch five innings regardless of how bad he’s doing so you can save your top relief arms for the next couple of games. Simply put, there are times when bullpens are at a state where an opportunity presents itself to project a few more runs than usual.

Thursday games (Friday slates here in AUS) often present such opportunities and I thought I’d look for a few for today’s tips.

Friday’s Tips

Weary Teams To Target

The A’s don’t have a very good bullpen, to begin with. In typical Billy Beane fashion, it’s comprised of four washed up guys who used to be closers and a handful of guys with hardly any MLB experience. As a whole, Oakland relievers are 2nd last in the AL with a 5.07 ERA.

Today’s matchup sees them coming straight off a short two-game inter-league series at Miami where the Marlins forced over 8 innings of bullpen use on their way to 19 runs. Not only that, but the A’s get no day off and had to take the long flight from Miami to get ready for one of the AL’s hottest hitting teams, the Yankees. Starter Sonny Gray is not a bad pitcher, but if the Yankees get to him early it could very well lead to a huge score and on a small slate like today’s, it’s worth a punt on a Yankees stack.

I don’t need to tell you to stack the Rockies at Coors, but the Giants have just finished a couple of games vs the Royals in which their starters were unable to make it through five innings in either game. San Francisco starter Matt Moore has an ERA over 5 and is averaging just under 1.5 homers per 9 innings. Oh, the last time he started at Coors he gave up 6 runs in 4 innings.  You’ll pay for it, but like their Bay Area counterparts above it wouldn’t shock me if they score 10+ runs.

Pitching Plays

If you’re looking to feature Yankees and Rockies in your hitting lineup, you can pretty much forget about Chris Sale ($18,600) even though he’ll be the top pitching option on the slate. He’s in a great spot today as he gets to pitch in the NL and face a pitcher every 9 at bats, so use him as much as you like. Instead, I’ll focus on some value plays that can be matched up with the two stacks above.

Jordan Montgomery ($11,100). For some of the same reasons the Yankee hitters are in a good spot, just about any opposing pitcher will be in a good spot against Oakland today. Travel weariness could see the A’s come out flat and to be honest, they’re not a great hitting team, to begin with. Montgomery has been up and down this year, but does carry some strikeout upside and is a good chance to get you 50pts.

Gio Gonzalez ($12,700) is quietly having a very good season. He’s averaged 41pts in his last 3 starts and faces a Mets team that has just a .699 OPS vs lefties. It might not be an easy win situation for him, but considering the rest of the slate and his price, I like the option.

My Pick To Click

Salvador Perez ($5,700) has been swinging a hot bat recently and faces Angels gascan Ricky Nolasco, who he has a .381 career AVG against. He’s not the cheapest catcher on the slate but is a great chance to be the top scoring one.

Good luck everyone!

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