It’s a good thing Mike Trout currently has some free time on his hands, because we’re going to need every meteorology nerd we can find to help us figure out the weather for tonight’s 12-game featured MLB slate. There appears to be concerning amounts of rain expected in Washington, New York and Boston; while the wet stuff could also play a factor in Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. Why would anyone live in the northeast, am I right?
Let’s go position-by-position and try and fill out some lineups for Friday night.
Editor’s Note: Tonight’s games between MIL/WAS and ATL/NYM have been postponed due to inclement weather.
Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers, $11,200 - There’s nothing complex about Cole’s viability on Friday. The right-hander is sporting a pristine 2.05 xERA through his first 10 starts of 2021, a figure which he pairs with a massive 38.5% strikeout rate. The last time he faced the Tigers, Cole needed just 87 pitches to post six scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts. It was a night he registered 39.1 DKFP. Now, there’s no guarantee that that exact outcome repeats itself, but Detroit does lead the league in strikeout rate (28.6%) and swinging strike rate (13.6%). It’s sort of what they do.
Randy Dobnak, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals, $5,800 - Dobnak is sort of the anti-Cole. He’s half the price and projects about half the strikeout upside. Still, there are many ways to survive in the big leagues and Minnesota’s right-hander is quite adept at launch angle suppression. To wit, in Dobnak’s first start of 2021 last week against Cleveland, he induced a whopping 70.6% ground ball rate on his way to six scoreless innings and 24.5 DKFP. Obviously, Dobnak’s margin for error is minuscule; however, he’s fully stretched out and he’ll draw an amazing matchup this evening in the form of Kansas City. Across the past 14 days, the Royals have mustered just a 76 wRC+ — the worst mark in the American League.
Yermin Mercedes, Chicago White Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles, $5,000 - Right-handed batters have teed-off on Matt Harvey ($6,400) so far in 2021, as they come into Friday with an impressive .330/.378/.495 slash line against the veteran. Mercedes is an RHB, but more importantly, he hits in the middle of a Chicago lineup that has the slate’s highest implied team total. That’s DFS paradise.
Yan Gomes, Washington Nationals vs. Milwaukee Brewers , $4,000 - Even at 33-years-old, Gomes continues to crush left-handed pitching. In 26 plate appearances within the split so far this season, the backstop is hitting .385 with a 154 wRC+. If that’s not a big enough sample for you, consider that Gomes possesses a .228 ISO and a .367 wOBA against LHPs dating all the way back to the beginning of 2017. If he’s in tonight’s lineup versus Brett Anderson ($7,500) , he’s viable.
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Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Baseball Team, $6,200 - We’re not projected to have what you would call “hitting weather” tonight in Cleveland, but that won’t stop me from utilizing Guerrero against a rookie making his MLB debut. Eli Morgan ($4,600) is not a top name. Far from it, actually. He’s a former eighth-round pick and FanGraphs has him slotted outside Cleveland’s top 40 prospects. This is, for all intents and purposes, an emergency start. Guerrero, who leads baseball in home runs (16) and wRC+ (199), used to routinely hit .400 against minor league pitching. That’s pretty much what he’ll see this evening.
Garrett Cooper, Miami Marlins at Boston Red Sox, $3,700 - If this contest is able to play, Cooper is a fantastic dollar-for-dollar value. Going back to the start of last season, Cooper is now slashing .325/.371/.651 against left-handed pitching with a .325 ISO and a 177 wRC+. That might only be a sample of 89 plate appearances, but it’s good enough for me, and it’s more than enough for Martin Perez ($8,700) to take notice.
Nick Solak, Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners, $4,400 - The Rangers’ offense was terrible on Thursday night, but there’s a chance for a bounce-back performance this evening against Justus Sheffield ($7,900). The sporadic left-hander comes into tonight’s start with a 5.30 xERA and having surrendered 12 earned runs in his past three outings. That’s great news for Solak, who has destroyed LHPs so far in 2021. In 66 plate appearances within the split, the 26-year-old is sporting a .389 wOBA and a 152 wRC+. At this modest price point, Solak can do some damage.
Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $3,600 - Things have not been going incredibly well for Johan Oviedo ($7,300) at the MLB level. The RHP has pitched to an ugly 6.06 FIP in his four big league appearances, conceding 1.72 home runs per nine. Rojas, who recently re-inherited the leadoff role for the Diamondbacks, should be able to take advantage of Oviedo’s struggles. In 98 plate appearances in May, Rojas is slashing .352/.396/.545 with a .403 wOBA. You might say he’s in a groove.
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox vs. Miami Marlins, $4,600 - I know, I know, there’s a chance this game doesn’t even play. However, we have to talk about Devers’ salary on this slate. Do you know how many times Boston’s third baseman had been priced below $5K prior to tonight? The answer is zero. This is the first time. Despite the fact that Devers owns a .398 ISO and a 174 wRC+ against right-handed pitching so far in 2021. I understand that Cody Poteet ($7,100) has been pitching well, but this is insane.
Josh Donaldson, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals, $4,000 - While Donaldson’s surface numbers don’t look amazing, his underlying statistics tell a different story. The former MVP’s .385 expected wOBA is right in line with his best seasons in Toronto, while he’s also managed an eye-popping 160 wRC+ in his 43 plate appearances against southpaws so far this season. Kris Bubic ($6,500) would be wise to not underestimate the veteran infielder.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Baseball Team, $5,700 - Bichette is the definition of a streaky hitter and after hitting a pair of home runs in yesterday’s doubleheader versus the Yankees, things appear to be setting up well for the former second-round pick. In fact, across Bichette’s past 50 plate appearances — a span that dates back to May 16 — the shortstop owns a .277 ISO and a 138 wRC+. Not bad for someone who mentioned he wasn’t feeling “comfortable” at the plate prior to Thursday’s action.
Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals, $3,200 - We’ll see if it happens two days in a row — Christian Yelich ($4,700) was given the afternoon off — but Adames hit second against a left-handed starter on Thursday. He also went 4-for-5 in the game with a double, a home run and 31.0 DKFP. Considering Adames sports a .283 ISO within the split so far this season, I could see him up there again against Jon Lester ($8,100) , which would be a huge boost for Adames with Lester currently carrying an ugly 5.33 ERA.
Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals, $5,400 - I’m a simple man. If I see that the Twins are facing a middling left-handed opponent, I will use Nelson Cruz in my lineups. Even at 40-years-old, Cruz has continued to crush left-handed pitching. So far this season, he’s doing it to the tune of a .388 wOBA and a 150 wRC+. Bubic hasn’t been bad in his limited opportunities in 2021, but he’s due for some home run regression, something I think Cruz will be more than willing to provide.
Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox vs. Miami Marlins, $3,600 - You can pretty much copy and paste everything I said about Devers into this paragraph about Verdugo. This is as cheap as I can remember seeing the outfielder in 2021 and there’s simply no justification for it. Verdugo has registered a .375 wOBA and a 139 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. He’s established and entrenched himself as Boston’s No. 2 hitter and, on top of all of that, the Red Sox own one of the slate’s highest implied team totals. Pray for a dry sky and get Verdugo into some lineups.
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