After a quick three-game turbo slate gets the action started, Friday night’s main slate gets underway on DraftKings at 7:05 p.m. ET. Major League Baseball is ready to stack up 12 games worth of drama to help you start the weekend off right with a strong fantasy baseball showing. The two teams from the Lone Star state clash in Houston, while the Twins take on the Yankees in the Bronx and the Cubs visit the Dodgers in other marquee matchups.
There are a few weather spots to keep an eye on this Friday as well. As always, make sure to keep a close eye on pregame lineups and the latest player news by installing the DK Live app and following DK Live on Twitter (@dklive). I’m also on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks as the season continues.
Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $300K Relay Throw [$100K to 1st]
For up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.
Drew Rasmussen, Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays ($10,000) – While I think it’s still safe to say that the Rays won’t go 162-0, they’ve definitely come out of the gate at the start of the season riding a virtually unprecedented hot streak and can set the record for most wins to start the season when they take on Toronto Friday night. Not only have they been winning, but they’ve also been crushing their opponents, scoring 101 runs and allowing only 30. Rasmussen has been one of the brightest stars of the pitching staff in the early going, allowing just three hits in 13 shutout innings over his first two starts. He has 15 strikeouts and no walks allowed while posting 30.3 and 35.2 DKFP.
Granted, those starts came against the Nationals and Athletics, and the Blue Jays should be a much tougher test. Still, with the added motivation of history on the line, Rasmussen is a great option at $10K. He isn’t just a two-start wonder after posting a 2.84 ERA and 3.26 FIP to go with his 11-7 record last year. The strikeout rate probably won’t stay quite as high against better hitters, but he still brings enough ceiling to consider at $10K.
Other Options – Kodai Senga ($10,400), Nestor Cortes ($9,700)
Johan Oviedo, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($6,000) – Oviedo has had good stuff but has lacked command, but the former Cardinals’ prospect will look to showcase his improvement against his former team on Friday night, after joining the Pirates in the deal for José Quintana last August. Oviedo went 2-2 in seven starts after joining the Pirates with a 3.23 ERA, 3.47 FIP and 8.22 K/9.
He’s looked even better this season after allowing four runs and three home runs in his first inning against Boston. He settled in after that and threw 3 2⁄3 scoreless and carried that momentum into his next start with 6 2⁄3 shutout innings against the White Sox. He picked up the win in that game and finished with 26 DKFP. Oviedo has totaled nine strikeouts in his 11 1⁄3 innings this season. If he can keep his command so sharp, he should be a good play at this price if you’re shopping for a value SP option on Friday’s slate.
Other Options – Justin Steele ($7,900), Tanner Houck ($6,500)
Ty France, Seattle Mariners vs. Colorado Rockies ($5,000) – France has gotten off to a great start to the season going 20-for-56 (.357) with a home run, a stolen base and 10.8 DKFP per contest. He has at least seven DKFP in nine of his past 10 games and at least 12 DKFP in six of those contests. He had two multi-hit games in this week’s series at Wrigley Field and will now come home to face lefty Austin Gubmer ($5,800). He’s flourishing in the second spot in the Mariners’ lineup with a 34.0% hard-hit rate, per Statcast, and a 170 wRC+ due to run production contributions.
Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays ($4,300) – I thought Lowe was ready for a bounce-back season, but I didn’t see this coming! He has started the year carrying the Rays with five homers, a .485 ISO and a .523 wOBA while averaging 12.2 DKFP over his first 11 games this season. The lefty battled multiple injuries last year but seems set on erasing that last season. He has at least 16 DKFP with a home run in five of his six most recent games. He’ll get a good matchup to stay hot too against José Berrios ($7,200), who has given up 14 runs in 9 2⁄3 innings over his first two starts and allowed lefties to post a .413 wOBA in the early going
Other Options – Pete Alonso ($5,400), Xander Bogaerts ($5,100)
Vaughn Grissom, Atlanta Braves at Kansas City Royals ($3,100) – Grissom is expected to be called up prior to the beginning of the Braves series in Kansas City and take over as the everyday shortstop after the injury to Orlando Arcia (wrist). Grissom brings a very high ceiling with his power and speed combo. Last season he had five homers, five stolen bases and a .345 wOBA in 41 games in the Majors, and he was off to a hot start in Triple-A with the Gwinnett Stripers, hitting .366 with a home run, two stolen bases and a .449 wOBA in 10 games. Grissom’s potential is why the Braves could let Dansby Swanson leave in free agency, and the timetable for his takeover at the position was just bumped up by Arcia’s injury.
Franchy Cordero, New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins ($2,800) – Cordero has brought power potential throughout his career, but a below-average glove and high strikeout rate have held him back. This season, though, he has looked ready to stick in the Majors. In his first eight games with the Yankees this season, he has already smashed four home runs with 11 RBI, a .464 ISO and a .417 wOBA. His strikeout rate is still high, but the power potential he brings from under $3K makes him worth a look, especially since he can fit either at 1B or in the outfield.
Other Options – Elehuris Montero ($3,000), Brice Turang ($2,300), Edouard Julien ($2,000)
Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves at Kansas City Royals ($6,500) – Acuña is the most expensive hitter on the slate, but he’s still worth considering as a pay-up play since he’s off to such a strong start to the season. In his 13 games, he has two home runs and six stolen bases while going 20-for-54 (.370) with three doubles, a .167 ISO and a .432 wOBA. He has produced at least nine DKFP in nine of his past 10 games while averaging 13.3 DKFP over that span. He and the stacked Braves lineup will face Brady Singer ($7,600), who was knocked around by the Giants in his most recent outing.
Hunter Renfroe, Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox ($4,900) – The ball has been flying out of Fenway Park in the early part of the season, and Renfroe has a history of success in Boston with a .295 career average, 23 doubles and 18 home runs in his 80 games at Fenway. He and the Halos will face righty Tanner Houck ($6,500), but Renfroe is showing he’s more than just a lefty specialist. He has gone 13-for-36 (.361) with three doubles, three home runs and a 50.0% hard-hit rate over his past 10 games while averaging 11.2 DKFP. With a chance to take on his former club in a spot he loves to hit, Renfroe should be set for a good weekend in Boston, and getting him under $5K seems like a great value given his power potential.
Other Options – Mookie Betts ($5,500), Byron Buxton ($5,200)
Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers ($3,200) – Another hitter with homer potential returning to his old stomping grounds is Bellinger, who will be playing at Dodger Stadium for the first time since signing with the Cubs. He started slow but has gone 10-for-31 (.323) with a double and two home runs over his past eight games. He has typically been hitting clean-up and brings good production potential at this price in his matchup against Noah Syndergaard ($7,000), who gave up six runs in Arizona his last time out.
Corey Julks, Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers ($2,200) – The Astros are giving Julks a long look while Michael Brantley (shoulder) is sidelined, and the 27-year-old rookie has been very solid in his first Major League action. In nine games, he has gone 10-for-34 (.294) with two doubles, a home run and a .308 wOBA. He has a 50% hard-hit rate, per Statcast, including multiple hard-hit events in each of his past three starts. He produced 31 home runs and 22 stolen bases in 130 games last year in Triple-A for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, so there’s definitely a high ceiling to consider for a player at this bargain price on the right side of the splits against Martín Pérez ($6,800).
Other Options – Andrew Benintendi ($3,800), Kyle Garlick ($2,300)
Cleveland Guardians at Washington Nationals – While none of the Guardians made the picks above, there are several that offer strong correlation as they take on Trevor Williams ($5,600) and the Nats in D.C. Cleveland is tied for the MLB lead with 19 stolen bases, and they have taken advantage of the new rules. Running wild and making more contact makes them more prone to boom-or-bust as a unit than a team that relies more heavily on power. José Ramírez ($5,700) is the top power option from the middle of the lineup while Josh Bell ($3,600) brings good value against his former squad as well. Andres Giménez ($4,500), Amed Rosario ($4,400), Steven Kwan ($4,300) and Will Brennan ($2,500) are all off to solid starts, while Myles Straw ($3,600) has been bringing speed from the bottom of the lineup as well.
Seattle Mariners vs. Colorado Rockies – Gomber has gone 0-2 in his two outings with the Rockies this season, allowing eight runs and three home runs in 10 2⁄3 to the Padres and Nationals. The top of the Mariners’ order typically hits lefties well, so you can stack Julio Rodríguez ($5,600), Eugenio Suárez ($4,300) and Teoscar Hernández ($5,100) along with France for a strong stack in Seattle.
Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $300K Relay Throw [$100K to 1st]
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.