Friday’s main fantasy baseball slate has 14 MLB games. This is the final Friday slate before the postseason, and there could be potential pitch limits as the regular season winds down. In particular, San Francisco Giants SP Johnny Cueto could be limited to about 85 pitches after feeling an issue in his left side. Los Angeles Dodgers SP Walker Buehler is also a candidate to have his pitches somewhat limited as the Dodgers prepare for the playoffs. On the hitting side, Tommy La Stella (tibia) is a candidate to return to the Los Angeles Angels’ lineup. Freddie Freeman (elbow) is also candidate to return to the Atlanta Braves’ lineup.
Fantasy owners can get up-to-the-minute news on the statuses of these players and all other fantasy relevant news and analysis by downloading the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter at @DKLive.
Before delving into good options for Friday, Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios ($10,800) has seen a decline in effectiveness in the second half. Digging deeper into pitch-tracking metrics, the vertical rise on Berrios’ four-seam fastball has declined over that timeframe and has flattened out particularly in September, seeing a drop in about three inches of vertical carry from the first month of the season. Berrios’ average spin rate also has seen a tick down as the season has went on, contributing to a decline in fastball carry. Berrios’ decline in stuff and effectiveness is worth considering when constructing lineups for his matchup against the Kansas City Royals, who tagged him for five runs in six innings in his most recent start.
Here are five different pitchers fantasy owners can consider using Friday on DraftKings:
1. Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants ($11,700)
Buehler has been one of baseball’s top pitchers across the board. He has been excellent at both generating strikeouts and limiting walks, posting a strikeout minus walk rate of 24.4%, sixth best among qualified starting pitchers. His 3.03 FIP, which takes into account strikeouts, walks and home runs, is fifth best. He also has been strong at keeping runners off base, posting a 1.02 WHIP, seventh best.
Buehler has a strong matchup at pitcher-friendly San Francisco, one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball, and takes on an offense that has been very poor lately. The Giants rank as baseball’s worst offense over the past month by wOBA by a comfortable margin and have struck out in an elevated 25% of their plate appearances, ninth highest. Buehler is in an excellent spot for run prevention and strikeouts in a great pitcher’s park against a poor offensive opponent. The issue here is Buehler could be limited pitch-wise as the Dodgers prep for the postseason, so keep it locked into DK Live for up-to-the-minute news on any potential restrictions.
2. James Paxton, New York Yankees at Texas Rangers ($11,200)
Paxton has had a successful first season in the Bronx, posting plus numbers by ERA (3.73), FIP (3.80) and strikeout rate (29.5%). Paxton has been especially impressive lately, allowing just one run and no home runs over four September starts while striking out a heavy 31.5% of batters, a boost from his season average.
One of those starts was against Friday’s opponent, the Rangers, who Paxton dominated, striking out more than half the batters he faced in a seven-inning, zero-run, 12-strikeout performance. Despite a great hitter’s park at Texas, the Rangers’ offense has been poor lately, ranking as a bottom-third offense by wOBA over the past month.
3. Dallas Keuchel, Atlanta Braves at New York Mets ($9,600)
Since allowing eight runs in a start against the Marlins nine starts ago, Keuchel has been highly effective, posting a 2.06 ERA and 3.58 FIP on the back generating plus weak contact, holding batters to an expected wOBA of .306 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, better than the league average of .319. Keuchel’s heavy sinker is difficult to lift and hit for extra bases, and he has held batters to a minuscule .077 isolated power during that stretch.
Two of those starts were against the Mets, who recently lost one of their best hitters, Jeff McNeil, to a fractured wrist. In those starts, Keuchel was dominant and flabbergasted Mets hitters, holding Mets batters to a contact quality derived expected wOBA of .268, an excellent number. Keuchel averaged roughly 26 DKFP in two starts against the Mets.
4. Anthony DeSclafani, Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates ($9,900)
DeSclafani has had a better-than-average season when adjusted for the hitter-friendly play of Cincinnati and is getting a park upgrade at Pittsburgh on Friday against a lineup that has been depleted by injuries. Starling Marte (wrist) and Josh Bell (groin), who have been two of Pittsburgh’s three best hitters, will miss the remainder of the season, and Bryan Reynolds, who has been the Pirates’ second best hitter, has an uncertain status as he deals with a hamstring injury. The park upgrade combined with facing a soft lineup puts DeSclafani in good position to prevent runs. DeSclafani has been slightly better than average at generating strikeouts this season, striking out 24% of batters, better than the SP league average of 22%.
5. Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles ($4,100)
Eovaldi is worth considering given his dirt cheap price, which is the lowest on Friday’s slate. Eovaldi is coming off a solid start, throwing 100 pitches over six innings with six strikeouts. Eovaldi generated a swing and a miss on 20% of his total pitches in the start, an outstanding rate and easily his best in a start this season. Eovaldi showcased boosted breaking ball usage in the start, throwing a breaking ball on 29% of his total pitches, a boost from his season mark of 19%. The increase in breaking ball usage contributed to more chasing of pitches located outside of the strike zone and more swings and misses. Eovaldi has an unimposing matchup against an Orioles team that has been a below-average offense in September and a bottom-third offense on the season.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) 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.