After four daytime baseball games, Major League Baseball is ready to start the weekend off right with a jam-packed 11 games under the Friday night lights. DraftKings is ready to roll with another full set of contests, as usual, so let’s take a look at some of the players in the best positions to succeed and help you start the weekend on the winning side of your fantasy baseball contests.
Throughout the day, stay locked into the DK Live app for updates, and you also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive for the latest news and analysis leading up to the first pitch. You can also let me know what you think of these picks, ask any questions and find more bargain-specific content on my Twitter, @ZT_Sports.
Carlos Rodón, San Francisco Giants at Cleveland Guardians ($9,800) – Rodón made his Giants debut last Saturday and looked very sharp with 12 strikeouts in five innings, allowing just one run on three hits. He totaled 30.3 DKFP despite not earning the win and continued his strong form from Spring Training, when he allowed just one run in 6 2⁄3 innings and struck out eight. Rodón broke through last season with the White Sox, going 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA, 2.65 FIP and an impressive 12.55 K/9 rate. He was 2-0 in three starts against the Guardians, producing 23 strikeouts in 20 innings. His strikeout rate makes him a great play with a ton of upside even though as a team, the Guardians have been hitting much better lately after a slow start.
Other Options – Dylan Cease ($10,200), Tony Gonsolin ($8,400)
MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres vs. Atlanta Braves ($5,000) – Gore will make his long-awaited MLB debut as the Padres try to make it two in a row over the World Champions. The 23-year-old was ranked as the No. 85 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline and the No. 4 prospect for the Padres. He was the third overall pick from the 2017 Draft but had his progress to the Majors derailed by mechanical issues after the lost 2020 minor league season. The big lefty seems to have figured out what was wrong with his delivery and dominated at Triple-A in his first start of the season, allowing two hits and striking out seven in five shutout innings. He had a 4.50 ERA in Spring Training but the strikeouts were still there with 16 punchouts in 12 innings. As long as he keeps producing strikeouts, he should be a solid fantasy value at only $5K even though he’s a little risky since it is his debut. His stuff is definitely elite and his ceiling is high, so take advantage of this reduced salary.
Other Options – German Márquez ($7,900), Brad Keller ($7,000)
Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers ($5,200) – Arenado has already smashed three home runs in his five games this season and has a track record of success against Brewers SP Freddy Peralta ($10,000). In their past meetings, Arenado has gone 5-for-16 with three home runs, so he should be able to stay hot as the Cards continue their trip to Milwaukee. Arenado has hit cleanup and gotten at least one hit in each of his five games this season, while going 8-for-20 with a crazy .600 ISO, .603 wOBA and 41.2% hard-hit rate including a 23.5% barrel rate. He’s seeing the ball very well and should continue to be a great play in this matchup.
Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals vs. Detroit Tigers ($4,500) – Whenever the Royals play a lefty like Tarik Skubal ($8,200), Merrifield deserves consideration, especially when his salary is this reasonable. He is a .302 career hitter vs. LHP with a .172 ISO, .348 wOBA and 118 wRC+. He has been locked into the top spot in the Royals lineup all season, and he has started the year 5-for-25 (.200), but has saved his fantasy value with a stolen base in each of his three most recent games, resulting in double-digit DKFP. He showed good pop with five extra base hits in 30 Spring Training plate appearances, so his power production should come around, and he brings an even higher ceiling with the green light he consistently gets on the basepaths.
Other Options – José Altuve ($5,400), Freddie Freeman ($5,100)
Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees ($3,200) – Mancini is one of the cheapest middle-of-the-order bats anywhere on the slate but brings nice upside to this matchup even in a depleted Orioles’ attack. He has gone 5-for-23 (.217) to start the season with three doubles and is still looking for his first home run after hitting 21 dingers last season. He has always hit lefties well and posted a .378 wOBA and .247 ISO against them last season. He also had very favorable home splits last season, so all signs point to him being in a good spot against LHP Jordan Montgomery ($8,000) at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in this contest.
Jeremy Peña, Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners ($2,600) – It has been great to get such bargain salaries on all the young prospects early in the season, and I’ve been riding the rookies as bargain bats with Bobby Witt Jr. ($2,400), Spencer Torkelson ($2,900), C.J. Abrams ($2,500) and Julio Rodriguez ($3,200) all being productive at times at bargain rates. Peña has been one of the most consistent of the group, going 7-for-24 (.292) with two doubles and a home run. His 52.6% hard-hit rate shows his production hasn’t been a fluke, and he should continue to impress on the right side of the splits against lefty Marco Gonzales ($9,300).
Other Options – Spencer Torkelson ($2,900), Bobby Witt Jr. ($2,400)
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles ($5,200) – Judge crushes the Orioles, and he especially enjoys his visits to Camden Yards, where he has more HR than any other park where he is a visitor. Last season he hit nine home runs in 17 games against the Orioles, bringing him up to 26 home runs against Baltimore in 69 games and 14 home runs in 35 games at Camden Yards. While he only has one home run this season, he has been hitting the ball extremely well, as evidenced by a 61.9% hard-hit rate with a 28.6% barrel rate. He’s 8-for-28 (.286) with three doubles and a home run, but he’s due some positive regression if he keeps hitting the ball so well. Facing Jordan Lyles ($7,400) is also a good spot for Judge as explained below.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yankees OF Aaron Judge is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Orioles.
Seiya Suzuki, Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies ($4,600) – Suzuki has gotten off to a strong start for the Cubs after they brought him over from Japan this offseason. He has gone 7-for-19 (.368) with a double, three homers, 10 RBI and an average of 13.7 DKFP per contest. Facing Germán Márquez ($7,900) takes a little bit of the sparkle off of playing in Coors Field, but Suzuki’s excellent plate approach and power potential make him a strong option to consider in the middle of Chicago’s lineup.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Cubs OF Seiya Suzuki is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Rockies.
Other Options – Juan Soto ($5,700), George Springer ($5,100)
Connor Joe, Colorado Rockies vs Chicago Cubs ($3,400) – Joe has started the year strong and also gets a boost from playing at Coors Field. He is 8-for-24 (.333) in his first six games this season with a double, two home runs, a .292 ISO and .465 wOBA. While he does normally excel against left-handed pitchers, he has also hit very well against righties this season with both his home runs and his better contact coming against right-handed pitchers. He has led off in four straight games for Colorado, and he’ll be a top option if he’s in that spot again, although he has shown enough potential to be worth playing under $3,500 even if he hits lower in the lineup.
Michael Taylor, Kansas City Royals vs. Detroit Tigers ($2,400) – Taylor has gone 5-for-17 (.294) with a home run and three RBI in his first six games this season. He usually hits near the bottom of the order, but he still provides upside with both power and speed, especially in a matchup against a lefty. Taylor hit .295 against southpaws last season with a .333 wOBA and .129 ISO. He’s an off-the-radar punt play, but the splits say he’s in a good spot.
Other Options – Darin Ruf ($2,900), Nick Senzel ($2,700)
TEAMS TO STACK
New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles brought in Jordan Lyles ($7,400) to help give a veteran starter and eat innings at the top of their rotation. Regularly during his career, he has been a great option to stack against since he is a fly-ball pitcher. He gave up an MLB-leading 38 home runs over his 32 games last season for the Rangers with a 1.9 HR/9 rate and a 6.62 FIP. He let righties post a .359 wOBA against him, but lefties fared well too, posting a .347 wOBA. Only the Blue Jays have hit more home runs this season than the Yankees, and they offer plenty of power options in their first visit of the season to Camden Yards, where they seem to always put up big run totals. Along with Judge (highlighted above), consider Anthony Rizzo ($5,100), Giancarlo Stanton ($4,900), Gleyber Torres ($4,000), and even some bargain options like Aaron Hicks ($3,000) and Kyle Higashioka ($3,100) bring some home run upside.
Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels – The Rangers are going with Matt Bush ($4,000) as an opener with lefty Kolby Allard ($4,800) in a bullpen game while the Angels are starting Reid Detmers ($6,300) in a game that seems set up for plenty of offense both ways. Detmers went 1-3 and gave up five home runs in five starts last season for the Angels and allowed two home runs in his first start this season. While Corey Seager ($5,400) seems a little over-priced in a lefty-on-lefty matchup, the rest of the lineup looks to offer good upside as a value stack. Marcus Semien ($5,000), Mitch Garver ($4,400) and Nick Solak ($4,000) historically hit well against southpaws, and Charlie Culberson ($3,100) is an interesting bargain play as a specialist against left-handed starters as well. This team has scored double-digit runs in two of their past four games, including a 10-5 win to open the series on Thursday.
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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 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.
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