Things get back to normal on Friday, with DraftKings’ featured MLB slate kicking off a 7:07 p.m. ET with a contest between the Angels and the Blue Jays. Is Toronto playing it’s regular season contests in Florida in a ballpark usually reserved for it’s High-A team? Yes, but as we all know in 2020 and 2021, “normal” isn’t exactly what it used to be.
Let’s go position-by-position for tonight’s six-game slate and break down everything you’ll need to know to set your lineups.
Joe Musgrove, San Diego Padres at Texas Rangers, $8,500 - While it’s easy to sit here and poke holes in Musgrove’s six-scoreless innings from last weekend — the Diamondbacks are exactly the cream of the crop — the right-hander gets another great matchup this evening in the Rangers. Texas has struck out in 27.6% of its plate appearances so far this season, and though the Rangers have been able to score some runs, their numbers are inflated and misleading due to an opening series against the lowly Royals. As for Musgrove, he’s now posted a 33.7% strikeout rate across his past 11 starts. It’s not a huge sample, but it’s certainly notable.
Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds at Arizona Diamondbacks, $7,500 - Speaking of the Diamondbacks, it’s Mahle who draws the plum assignment on tonight’s slate, and unlike Musgrove, he’ll get to face Arizona with All-Star Ketel Marte (hamstring) on the IL. The Diamondbacks slashed just .161/.257/.290 with Marte out of the lineup the past two games — which is even uglier when you consider that those contests took place at Coors Field. It’s not like Mahle’s viability is all matchup-based, either. Last season, opponents managed a paltry 69.6% contact rate off of the RHP, a figure which sat between Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow on the MLB leaderboards. Pretty good company.
Victor Caratini, San Diego Padres at Texas Rangers, $3,800 - There’s not a lot to choose from when it comes to “high-end” catching options on tonight’s slate, but let’s roll with the not overly expensive Caratini. Kohei Arihara ($5,400) will be making his second-career start this evening for the Rangers, and the rookie barely survived his first. Arihara surrendered three barrels in just five innings of work, while his 96.3% zone contact rate leaves a lot to be desired. In a left-on-right matchup, Caratini could do some damage.
Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds at Arizona Diamondbacks, $2,600 - You’re also more than welcome to go with Tyler Stephenson ($3,300) if he happens to draw the start this evening, but let’s focus on Barnhart. The veteran, like most of his teammates, has gotten off to a hot start in 2021, with five hits in his first 13 at-bats. That kind of production is doubtful to continue, yet it’s not a bad idea to get some type of exposure to the Reds in their matchup with Taylor Widener ($6,500). The 26-year-old has only faced 48 LHBs at the major league level, and he’s allowed those opponents to post a whopping .397 wOBA.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays vs. Los Angeles Angeles, $4,500 - Guerrero’s finally lost his third base eligibility, but he’s also finally hitting at the level of a former top prospect. It’s a fair trade. After mashing the ball throughout the Spring, Guerrero is slashing .348/.483/.652 with a 209 wRC+ through the first week of the regular season. Tonight he draws a right-on-left matchup against Andrew Heaney ($7,300), and maybe that will be enough to get Charlie Montoya to move his young slugger up into the top-third of the lineup.
Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics, $3,800 - With Michael Brantley ($4,800) back in the lineup on Thursday, Gurriel was dropped down out of the two-spot in the Astros’ lineup. It’s not ideal, but considering the veteran’s modest price tag and recent success versus left-handed pitching, I’m still interested. Going back to the beginning of 2020, Gurriel is slashing .315/.354/.603 with a 159 wRC+ against southpaws like Sean Manaea ($7,700). Buoyed by one of the slate’s highest implied team totals, Gurriel’s in a great spot this evening.
Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres at Texas Rangers, $4,300 - Not to keep harping on Arihara’s inability to suppress opponent contact, but there’s no way that Cronenworth isn’t getting a few batted ball events off of the right-hander in tonight’s contest. I mean, through his first 31 plate appearances of the season, Cronenworth owns a 100% zone contact rate and a 0.7% swinging strike rate. That’s insane. Hitting atop the Padres’ batting order, the 27-year-old could be in for a big performance.
Editor’s Note: Diamondbacks 2B/3B Josh VanMeter is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Reds.
Josh VanMeter, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds, $2,700 - If you’re not looking to utilize Mahle on tonight’s slate — possibly due to his expected popularity — a good strategy in a GPP would be to stack against the Reds’ starter. While Mahle appears to be a different pitcher than he was two or three years ago, he’s still someone who’s allowed 2.10 home runs per nine to LHBs for his career. VanMeter hit second for Arizona with Marte out of the lineup on Thursday. If that happens again, toss him in a few lineups.
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Baseball Team vs. Detroit Tigers, $5,700 - Julio Teheran ($5,800) is cooked. Flat out cooked. In the veteran’s first start of the season against Cleveland, Teheran allowed three barrels in just 14 batted ball events, leading to an eye-popping expected slugging percentage of .864. He just shouldn’t still be pitching at the MLB level. It’s as simple as that. Ramirez is slashing .350/.381/.700 through his opening five contests of 2021. He’s dialed in at the dish and he should be able to take advantage of a fantastic matchup.
Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves, $3,700 - It’s not like Bohm has all that enticing a matchup on Friday’s slate, but the 24-year-old remains puzzlingly cheap on DraftKings. Bohm is primarily hitting fifth for the Phillies, right behind a murderer’s row of bats in Rhys Hoskins ($4,700), Bryce Harper ($5,400) and J.T. Realmuto ($5,000) — that alone should be worth more than $4K. Bohm can hit for average, he has some pop and he’s already stolen two bases in 2021. There’s a lot of upside here.
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics, $4,500 - We don’t have to delve too deep into Correa as an asset, just know that he crushes all left-handed pitching in his path. In fact, going back to the beginning of 2017, in a sample of 386 plate appearances, Correa is slashing .323/.412/.502 with a .390 wOBA and a 151 wRC+. Houston’s bats are on fire right now, and that should carry over into Friday.
Jose Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays, $3,400 - The Angels have this slate’s highest implied team total, as Toronto will send the inexperienced T.J. Zeuch ($4,900) to the mound this evening. The former first-round pick has just a 14.9% career strikeout rate in MLB and Los Angeles should expect to make a lot of contact. To be fair, Iglesias doesn’t strikeout that much to begin with, regardless of matchup, so he should have no issue creating a few batted ball events in Dunedin.
Eddie Rosario, Cleveland Baseball Team vs. Detroit Tigers, $4,300 - Obviously Mike Trout ($5,900) is the best play on the slate if you can afford him, so let’s scroll down the pricing list and zero in on Rosario. The lefty sports a career .230 ISO when facing a right-handed pitcher, while the aforementioned Teheran’s conceded a massive .713 slugging percentage to the last 96 left-handed hitters he’s faced. That group actually includes Rosario, who took Teheran deep when these two teams met on Saturday.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Toronto Blue Jays vs. Los Angeles Angels, $3,400 - That’s right. We’re stacking brothers on tonight’s slate. The younger Gurriel has been mired in a heck of a slump since Opening Day, having yet to register an extra-base hit in 2021. Still, that might be mostly due to the fact that 24 of Gurriel’s 25 plate appearances have come against right-handed pitching. Not this evening. For his career, Gurriel is a .302 hitter against lefties. He also sports a .269 ISO and a .376 wOBA within the split. The breakout is coming.
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