Well, it took over two weeks, but we finally have a massive weekday slate on DraftKings. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the smaller slates as much as the next guy — maybe even more — but there’s something admirable about attempting to master a 14-game Friday night schedule. At the very least, after the past 13 months, it feels normal. Although, it is a 14-game slate in early April, so, you know, there’ll probably be at least two rainouts. Baseball!
Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything else you’ll need to know to set your lineups.
Editor’s Note: Tonight’s games between NYM/COL, TOR/KC and CWS/BOS have been postponed due to inclement weather.
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets at Colorado Rockies , $11,000 - For a slate this large, the pitching options really fall off a cliff after the first three names, so I’m not going to mess around at the top. Am I a little worried about the optics of paying $11K for a pitcher set to take the mound at Coors Field? Sure, but I’d honestly trust deGrom to toe the rubber on the moon at this point in his career. The right-hander is fully stretched out — he threw 95 pitches in his last outing and is working on extra rest — and the Rockies’ team wRC+ of 64 is the second-lowest mark in baseball. New York’s ace has also struck out 39.4% of opponents going back to the beginning of 2020, which is the best way to combat the altitude.
Yusei Kikuchi, Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros, $7,200 - There are some worrying advanced stats when it comes to Kikuchi’s prior two outings in 2021 — ranking in just the seventh percentile in hard hit rate (56.7%) isn’t ideal — yet there’s still a lot to like about this spot. The left-hander has struck out 32.7% of the opponents he’s faced so far this season and his 2.81 xFIP looks pristine. Kikuchi will also be catching the Astros at precisely the right time, with Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez all unavailable to play. In fact, that leaves LHBs Michael Brantley ($4,400) and Kyle Tucker ($4,100) as two of Houston’s key remaining bats, and Kikuchi has yet to allow a hit in a left-on-left matchup in April.
Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $4,200 - This feels incredibly inexpensive for Sanchez, especially considering how good he’s looked to begin 2021. Through 40 plate appearances, the backstop has registered a .394 wOBA and a 145 wRC+, while he’s also struck out just seven times. Contact is what unlocks Sanchez’s massive upside and power potential, and he should do some damage against the struggling Michael Wacha ($7,800). It helps that Sanchez was recently moved up into the clean-up spot, too.
Kurt Suzuki, Los Angeles Angels vs. Minnesota Twins, $3,600 - Here’s an easy rule of thumb: If Suzuki is facing a left-handed pitcher for less than $4K, get him into a few lineups. Dating back to the beginning of 2019, the 37-year-old is slashing .345/.395/.559 with a .399 wOBA within the split. Tonight’s LHP isn’t exactly Sandy Koufax, either. In fact, Lewis Thorpe ($6,100) has pitched to a career 6.14 ERA across his 44.0 innings at the MLB level.
Pete Alonso, New York Mets at Colorado Rockies, $5,600 - It’s supposed to be snowing tonight in Denver. Yes, you read that right, snowing. So what could be more fitting than a man nicknamed “the Polar Bear” going deep a couple of times? Really, this all comes down to Chi Chi Gonzalez ($6,200) and his inability to suppress opponent contact. For his career, the right-hander has a 89.1% zone contact rate, which has translated into Gonzalez surrendering 1.6 home runs per nine in his 44.2 innings at Coors. It’s a poor combination, unless you happen to be the one playing the Rockies.
Josh Bell, Washington Nationals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $3,600 - The Nationals have one of the highest non-Coors team totals on tonight’s slate and that’s mostly due to the presence of Taylor Widener ($6,700). We don’t have a lot of hard data on the right-hander, but we do know a few things. One, in 100.0 Triple-A innings in 2019, Widener conceded 2.07 home runs per nine and pitched to a 8.10 ERA. It was the Pacific Coast League, but still. We also know Widener’s continued to struggle in the majors, with a career 5.47 xFIP. Meanwhile, Bell’s always been a better left-handed hitter than right-handed hitter and he’s found himself in the top-half of Washington’s order in all three games he’s played.
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $5,000 - The Yankees’ lineup needs a full game of catharsis. How this team has just a .140 ISO through 12 contests is a mystery, but it truly feels like the breakout is coming this evening against Wacha and a Rays’ bullpen with a 5.70 ERA — the third-worst mark in baseball. Despite the struggles, LeMahieu keeps doing his thing, as the leadoff hitter has posted a 142 wRC+ through his first 51 plate appearances. If he can find his way to five at-bats on Friday, LeMahieu could end up being a huge source of value.
Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres, $4,000 - While San Diego’s crop of relievers has arguably been the best in all of baseball so far this season, the demands of a bullpen game are a little different. So, though Ryan Weathers ($6,400) and Co. might look fine on paper, I’ll still take my chances with a few cheap Dodgers’ bats. Taylor, in particular, is pretty enticing. The veteran has been hitting in premium lineup spots with Cody Bellinger (calf) on the IL and Taylor has above-average career-numbers within all splits. He was made for a game where he might see four different pitchers in his first four plate appearances.
Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants at Miami Marlins, $4,700 - Longoria can still hit left-handed pitching with the best of them, and he’s started this season 7-for-14 (.500) within the split with four home runs. Will he be able to sustain that pace? Of course not. Yet, Longoria posted a .212 ISO and a 129 wRC+ versus southpaws in 2020. This isn’t a new trend. Daniel Castano ($6,500) — who’s registered a 5.56 xFIP in his six career starts — had better tread carefully with the veteran third baseman.
Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $3,900 - It hurts to suggest this, but Carlos Martinez ($7,700) might be cooked. The right-hander has seen a massive dip in his velocity to begin 2021, and that’s led directly to an 8.61 expected ERA and a modest 11.4% strikeout rate. Heck, RHBs have pummelled Martinez to the tune of a .700 slugging percentage and a .445 wOBA. It is early and these are small samples, but the Phillies might be able to put up some crooked numbers on Friday. Bohm would be right in the center of that action.
Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds vs. Cleveland Baseball Team, $5,100 - While Logan Allen ($8,400) does a great job of suppressing launch angle, at the end of the day, he’s a contact-oriented left-handed pitcher. That’s an archetype that Suarez has taken advantage of throughout his career, especially when playing at Great American Ball Park. To wit, across the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the infielder sported a 1.109 OPS and a 181 wRC+ in the 164 plate appearances he took against LHPs in Cincinnati. I’ll bank on a return to form this evening.
Jazz Chisholm, Miami Marlins vs. San Francisco Giants, $3,900 - There’s a lot of swing and miss in Chisholm’s game, but the tools that made the 23-year-old one of the top middle-infield prospects in all of baseball are starting to shine through. Chisholm owns a .355 ISO and a 164 wRC+ over his first 39 plate appearances of 2021, while he’s also swiped three bases. He truly has unlimited DFS upside, as it’s exceedingly rare to find a power and speed combo this inexpensive. For his career, Anthony DeSclafani ($8,100) has also had his issues containing left-handed opponents.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $5,300 - Going back to the start of 2019, Wacha has faced 451 right-handed hitters. I think we can all agree that’s a pretty large sample. Anyway, in that span of time, the RHP has allowed those RHBs to hit 2.3 home runs per nine and post a gargantuan .389 wOBA. As much as we all thought Tampa might be able to magically fix the former top prospect, Wacha is a gas can through and through. Judge, slashing .308/.386/.615 so far in 2021, should be in line for a huge performance.
Adolis Garcia, Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles, $2,700 - Hopefully you were able to grab Garcia on Thursday’s slate where he hit his first-career home run at the absolute minimum price. Still, even if you’re playing catch-up, $2.7K isn’t a terrible time to get in. Garcia will likely hit clean-up once again for the Rangers, and he’ll do so versus Jorge Lopez ($6,000), a man who’s surrendered 11 earned runs in his first 8.2 innings of the season. That’s not great.
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