After a lighter Thursday schedule with many teams traveling to get ready for their weekend series, Major League Baseball is back to a busy night on Friday night. There are 13 games on the main slate on DraftKings, which gets underway at 7:05 p.m. ET. Five of those 13 games are divisional contests, including all three of the late games, and five of the games are interleague matchups.
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.
Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves at Toronto Blue Jays ($12,200) – Strider has been one of the top pitchers in baseball this season and leads the league with a 15.1 K/9 rate, which is significantly higher than every other pitcher in the Majors. Shohei Ohtani is second at 12.9 K/9. Strider has been a fantasy beast with over 17 DKFP in every one of his seven starts and over 30 DKFP in three of them. Two of those big performances came on the road in Washington and San Diego, so there’s no need to fade him based on his location. He gets the advantage of facing the Blue Jays, who are largely unfamiliar with him as only Brandon Belt ($2,400) and Daulton Varsho ($4,00) have ever faced him in the Majors.
In his seven starts, Strider is 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA and an even better 1.81 FIP. His 67 strikeouts in 40 innings help him have an extremely high ceiling and also help cover up a start where he struggles. While there are other starting pitchers that are great options, none can match Strider’s consistency and his upside so far this season. He’s worth paying up for if you’re looking for a top arm Friday night.
Other Options – Gerrit Cole ($12,000), MacKenzie Gore ($8,700)
J.P. France, Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox ($7,600) – France made his MLB debut last week against the Seattle Mariners and held them to just three hits in five shutout innings, striking out five on his way to 18.3 DKFP in a no-decision. While he doesn’t have overpowering, lights-out stuff, he was able to skillfully mix his pitches together to avoid too much trouble and pick up a strikeout per inning.
Before getting called up, the 28-year-old righty was off to a strong start with the Sugar Land Space Cowboys in Triple-A. He had a 2-1 record in five games along with a 2.33 ERA and 3.06 FIP. He had 26 strikeouts in 19 1⁄3 innings this season and also picked up 136 strikeouts in 110 2⁄3 innings at Triple-A last year. The strikeout potential is definitely there to make him a strong value play on this slate against the White Sox. He’ll go head-to-head with Michael Kopech ($7,500), who has struggled to a 1-3 start due to his 5.97 ERA. France has a good shot at his first MLB win if he can duplicate his success from his first outing and is a very nice option on the mound under $8K.
Other Option – Blake Snell ($8,100), Logan Allen ($7,800)
Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics ($5,400) – The Rangers are in a great spot on Friday against struggling Athletics’ starter Ken Waldichuk. Waldichuk is second in the Majors with 12 homers allowed this season and has struggled to a 7.25 ERA. The lefty has allowed righties to hit .320 with a .436 wOBA and 11 homers across his seven starts. One of the Rangers’ hottest hitters is right-handed leadoff man Marcus Semien, who has homered in two straight games and gone 13-for-37 (.351) with three doubles, two home runs, a stolen base and a .451 wOBA over his first nine games in May. Semien has done most of his damage this season on the road, and he usually plays well against his former team from Oakland, averaging 10.5 DKFP per game in his 34 appearances against them.
Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies at Colorado Rockies ($5,800) – The Phillies are in Denver to take on the Rockies and lefty Austin Gomber ($5,200). The Coors Field effect definitely elevates their salaries, but the Phillies are still a strong option to build around, led by Turner. He comes into this series with a 10-game hitting streak that includes three doubles and two home runs for a solid .332 wOBA. During that span, he has three barrels and a 42.9% hard-hit rate, which shows a trend in the right direction. Turner’s splits show he has done most of his damage on the road, and he has enjoyed his previous career trips to Denver, averaging 12.2 DKFP per game in 23 games at Coors.
Other Options – Anthony Rizzo ($4,700), Manny Machado ($4,700)
Joey Meneses, Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets ($2,700) – Meneses is out to prove that his late-season surge was no fluke last year, and so far he’s been solid, hitting .288 with a .303 wOBA over his first 36 games. He doesn’t offer the high-end power of a typical 1B, but he is available in the middle of the Washington order for under $3K, which makes him a solid affordable pivot at that position. Over his eight games, he is hitting .364 with a home run, a .379 wOBA and a 55.6% hard-hit rate. He has actually fared much better against righties than lefties this season and a matchup against the Mets’ Tylor Megill ($8,000) plays into the strength of those reverse splits.
Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox ($2,700) – DeJong is another player that makes a good pivot at a premium position if you decide to go cheap in order to pay up in other spots. DeJong has only played 13 games for the Cardinals this season due to a back injury and inconsistent playing time. When he has been in the lineup, though, he’s hitting .364 with three home runs and a .449 wOBA. He should get the start on Friday night against lefty James Paxton ($7,700) at Fenway. Paxton has looked very hittable during his rehab and will be making his first MLB start in over a full year. DeJong is a good spot to get some upside from under $3K as the Cardinals continue to search for answers to get their season on track after a brutal start.
Other Options – Josh Jung ($3,900), Miguel Vargas ($2,900), Ezequiel Duran ($2,800)
Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves at Toronto Blue Jays ($6,300) – If you can make his hefty salary work, it’s hard to argue against Acuña on any slate because he brings such a high ceiling. He’s hitting an impressive .347 on the season with 15 stolen bases, seven home runs and a .433 wOBA helping him average 12.4 DKFP per contest. He hasn’t been quite as active on the basepaths with just two steals over his past 13 games but has picked up the power production with four home runs in that span. He had multiple hits and over 15 DKFP in each of his two games against the Red Sox this week and has at least 14 DKFP in six of his past 10 contests while averaging 12.5 DKFP per game. It’s expensive to build around Acuña and Strider, but the Braves duo are good pay-up options to anchor your Friday night lineups.
Nick Castellanos, Philadelphia Phillies at Colorado Rockies ($5,200) – Since the Phillies are taking on a lefty, Bryce Harper ($5,800) and Kyle Schwarber ($5,800) are on the wrongs side of the splits. Right-handed hitting Nick Castellanos is in a good spot, though, and he comes in swinging a hot bat as well. Over his past 16 games, Castellanos has gone 23-for-63 (.365) with five doubles, five home runs and a .449 wOBA. All season, he has been locked in as the cleanup hitter in Philadelphia’s lineup and has thrived against lefties, hitting .343 with a .423 wOBA and 166 wRC+ against southpaws. Rather than paying more for one of his teammates in a lefty-lefty matchup, it makes sense to go with Castellanos if you’re trying to get a piece of the rarified air in Coors Field.
Other Options – Fernando Tatis Jr. ($6,000), Adolis García ($5,000)
Esteury Ruiz ($3,400), Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers – Ruiz is not nearly on Acuña’s level yet, but he does bring good speed from the leadoff spot and can hopefully continue to develop the power as he settles into the Majors. Ruiz was acquired in the Sean Murphy ($4,900) trade this past offseason and has laid a strong claim to Oakland’s leadoff spot, hitting .272 with a .306 wOBA and 17 stolen bases in his 39 games. The 24-year-old has especially hit lefties well, batting .325 against southpaws like Martín Pérez ($8,300) with a .370 wOBA. He has a high ceiling due to his prowess on the basepaths and makes sense under $4K any time the A’s face a lefty.
Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics ($2,400) – Another 24-year-old outfielder in that AL West matchup that can bring salary relief is Taveras, although he doesn’t get to hit in quite a premium spot in the batting order. He has been productive in his 24 games in the Majors this season, hitting .298 with one home run, three stolen bases and a .351 wOBA. Taveras has been hot in May, going 14-for-30 (.467) with two doubles, two stolen bases, a home run and a .504 wOBA. He has averaged 11.6 DKFP per game over that stretch which is solid for any outfielder, especially one who comes with a salary under $2.5K into one of the best hitting spots of the day against Waldichuk.
Other Options – MJ Melendez ($3,700), Stone Garrett ($3,000), Juan Yepez ($2,900)
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.