The main slate on DraftKings gets underway at 7:05 p.m. ET and includes 11 games taking place under the Friday night lights. There are three early games that are on other slates while the Padres and Giants have a rare Friday off-day. The 11 games that are in play have plenty to offer, as many teams send their aces to the mound for their sixth start of the season. Don’t worry, though, there are also some tasty matchups to target offensively as well. There’s also a World Series rematch on the schedule as the Astros welcome in the Phillies.
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 $222K Relay Throw [$50K 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.
Framber Valdez, Houston Astros vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($10,000) – Friday’s slate has an embarrassment of riches at SP with so many strong options that it’s going to be very tempting to go pitching heavy and build with bargain bats. One of the best options in play is definitely Valdez, who takes the mound at home vs. the Phillies.
In his first five starts of the season, he has only gone 2-2 but posted an impressive 34 strikeouts in 32 innings while allowing just eight earned runs for a 2.25 ERA and 3.38 FIP. He has over 20 DKFP in each of his past four starts, which have come against strong lineups. He has gone at least six innings in each of those starts while totaling 30 strikeouts. Valdez was a quality start machine last season and has picked right up where he left off. His home starts have been especially impressive so far this season, and he’ll look to continue that trend against the Phillies Friday. Of all the elite options on the board, he comes with the fewest risk factors and one of the best matchups.
Other Options – Luis Castillo ($10,300), Zach Eflin ($9,000)
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves at New York Mets ($7,700) – While the matchup isn’t ideal, this salary is too good to ignore, as Fried takes the mound for his third start since a brief stop on the IL with a hamstring injury. In his two starts since returning, Fried has faced the Padres and Astros but held them to seven hits in 11 2/3 shutout innings with nine strikeouts. He got a no-decision against Houston in his most recent start but still managed to post over 20 DKFP for a second straight outing.
Fried knows the Mets well, having faced them in 21 games in his career, by far his most games against any team. Overall, he has gone 7-5 with a 2.78 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 97 innings against his division rivals from the Big Apple. At this salary, he’s a strong play on Friday, and he should get good run support in his battle with fellow-lefty David Peterson ($7,200).
Other Options – Dustin May ($7,900), Alek Manoah ($6,900)
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves at New York Mets ($5,300) – Riley hit 11 of his 28 home runs last year against lefties, on his way to a .455 wOBA in the split, and he has picked up right where he left off in the early going this season. He is 9-for-30 (.300) against southpaws this season with three of his five home runs and a .434 wOBA. Riley isn’t even in the top five salaries at his own position despite a great matchup against Peterson, who he has gone 8-for-16 against in their past meetings. He had a rough day Thursday, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, but this is a great bounce-back spot for the Braves’ No. 3 hitter, who should be primed to produce a big number.
Nathaniel Lowe, Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees ($4,600) – Lowe has gone 4-for-11 over his past three games, with all four hits going for extra bases. He has a 66.7% hard-hit rate in those three games with an average exit velocity of 94.5 mph, per Statcast. In short, he has been teeing off. Putting the ball on the tee for him on Friday will be Clarke Schmidt ($6,200), who has struggled to a 6.30 ERA in his first five starts and has given up four of his six home runs allowed to lefties like Lowe, who are hitting .385 against him this season with an eye-popping .517 OPS. Lowe is locked in as the third hitter in the Rangers’ order and brings elite upside in this matchup for a salary under $5K.
Other Options – Ketel Marte ($5,200), Jeremy Peña ($4,300)
Mauricio Dubón, Houston Astros vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($3,400) – Dubón has filled in very nicely for José Altuve (thumb) and has a 20-game hitting streak since going 0-for-3 on Opening Day. Dubón isn’t just scratching out a single in most games, either, hitting .341 (29-for-85) with six doubles, a triple and a pair of stolen bases throughout this run. He has also scored 18 runs in those 20 games and seems set to stay leading off for the Astros until Altuve is back. Getting him at under $3.5K is a solid way to go at 2B, so you can stock up on power hitters or power pitchers elsewhere in your roster.
Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers ($2,200) – Another solid cheap play in the middle of the infield is DeJong, who has been a streaky hitter throughout his career with the Cardinals. He was sidelined at the start of this season with a back injury but has come back on a heater, going 8-for-17 (.471) with two doubles, two homers and 11.2 DKFP per game in his first five games since returning. While this hot streak probably won’t last forever, DeJong’s value at this minimal salary is a great spot to take advantage of on Friday against Dustin May ($7,900), who has been fairly underwhelming in his first five starts this season.
Other Options – Evan Longoria ($4,000), Josh Naylor ($3,500), Emmanuel Rivera ($2,600)
Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies ($5,300) – Sure, you could pass up the D-backs’ 22-year-old lefty since he’s facing lefty Kyle Freeland ($6,400), but I think it’s a great spot to look past the lefty-lefty matchup on the surface and find a little bit of leverage. Carroll has actually crushed lefties when given the chance this season, going 11-for-27 (.407) with a home run and a .430 wOBA. Carroll comes into this Coors Field matchup with a six-game hitting streak, during which he has gone a scalding 10-for-20 (.500) with four walks, four doubles, a triple and three stolen bases, helping him average 13.3 DKFP during that span. Look past the matchup and buy the surge as the top prospect starts to settle in and smash for the Snakes.
Hunter Renfroe, Los Angeles Angels at Milwaukee Brewers ($4,800) – Renfroe and the Angels head to Milwaukee to face his former squad, and he gets a tasty matchup with a lefty to start the series. Throughout his career, Renfroe has gotten a reputation as a lefty-slayer and has continued that this season, going 9-for-22 (.409) with two homers and a .469 wOBA in the early going. He has added some nice thump to the middle of the Angels’ lineup and hit safely in nine of his 10 most recent games with four homers and a .414 wOBA over that span.
Other Options – Randy Arozarena ($5,700), Masataka Yoshida ($4,500)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s game between the Pirates and Nationals has been postponed due to inclement weather.
Jack Suwinski, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Washington Nationals ($3,200) – The Pirates have been one of the biggest surprises in the first month of the season, and sweet-swinging Suwinski has been returning good value, especially lately. The 24-year-old lefty has played every position in the outfield over his past 14 games while going 15-for-43 (.349) with four doubles and five home runs for a hefty .508 wOBA. He has also tacked on four stolen bases, giving him an extremely high upside in this matchup against former-Pirate Chad Kuhl ($5,400) — if the weather cooperates in Washington.
Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Guardians ($3,100) – After struggling in his first two tries in the Majors, the third time may be the charm for Duran, who looks significantly better in his 10 games since being called back up. The speedster has gone 14-for-35 (.400) with five doubles, a home run and two stolen bases, helping him average 10.9 DKFP per contest. He still has 12 strikeouts in those 10 games, so there are still some issues to be worked out, but Duran has a very high ceiling at a very reasonable salary as the Sox come home to Fenway to face the Guardians.
Other Options – Alec Burleson ($3,500), Esteury Ruiz ($3,100), Henry Ramos ($2,000)
Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $222K Relay Throw [$50K 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.