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Friday’s main MLB slate has 14 games. Francisco Lindor (ankle) is re-joining the Indians, but it’s not clear if he will be activated and in the starting lineup. The Indians’ shortstops have been the worst in the league to this point by hitting .069 with a .139 OBP and .097 SLG, good for a .117 wOBA, easily the worst mark among shortstops, so his return will give the Indians’ lineup a strong boost. Carlos Santana’s status is also unclear for the Indians as he deals with hamstring tightness.

The Indians’ lineup news is relevant for Touki Toussant ($7,300), who is making his first start of the season for the Braves. Toussant has a nasty hammer curveball and has about league average fastball velocity at 93 mph, but he has battled control problems. If he can iron out his control and throw more strikes, Toussant presents upside as a fantasy starter.

Andrew Benintendi (foot), Brandon Nimmo (neck) and Starling Marte (head) are other notable players with statuses to monitor during the day, which can be done by downloading the DK Live app, where fantasy owners receive up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups.

Here are five different pitchers fantasy owners can consider using for Friday’s action on DraftKings:

Jose Berrios, MIN at BAL ($10,800)

Berrios is off to a strong start to 2019, holding batters to an expected wOBA of .280 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, better than the league average of .322 and a slight improvement from last year’s .293. Berrios also has seen a slight uptick in strikeouts, striking out 27.5% of batters through four starts, up from 25.5% last year.

Berrios is throwing his plus, sweeping curveball more often this year, throwing it on 39% of his pitches, up from 30% last year. Berrios is throwing his curveball more at the expense of his fastball, which is a good sign considering Berrios has a significantly better swing-and-miss rate and significantly better numbers on his curveball than his fastball.

Despite a park downgrade in Camden Yards, Berrios draws a soft matchup against the Orioles, who rank as a bottom-third offense to start 2019 and are projected to have one of the worst offenses the rest of the season with the league’s worst run differential. The matchup will put Berrios in good position to prevent runs and get the win with below-average starter Alex Cobb ($6,000) opposing him.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tonight’s game between the Indians and Braves has been postponed.


Justin Verlander, HOU at TEX ($10,400)

Verlander is pitching in a tough park for run prevention in Arlington on Friday, but he brings the strongest strikeout upside on Friday’s slate.  His 31% strikeout rate through four starts is elite, as is his 25% strikeout-minus-walk rate. Verlander is coming off his best performance of the season, striking out 11 Mariners batters over six innings.

Verlander’s contact quality-derived expected wOBA allowed through his first three starts was an uncharacteristically elevated .342 — worse than the league average of .322 — but he generated an expected wOBA of .207 in his most recent start. His average fastball velocity (95 mph) and average fastball spin rate (2,593 RPM) are also comparable to last season.


Corey Kluber, CLE vs. ATL ($9,000)

Kluber’s numbers are ugly to start the year, allowing batters to produce an expected wOBA of .346 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, worse than the league average of .322 and up from .281 last season. Kluber’s 4.00 FIP is also up from 2018’s 3.12 mark.

The good news is Kluber continues to miss bats at a strong rate on a per-pitch basis, generating a swing and a miss on 13.3% of his pitches, better than the league average of 10.6% for starting pitchers. Kluber’s average two-seam fastball velocity is also only about a tick lower than last year’s, which is not unusual in April. Kluber just could be hitting an early-season rut and will be in position to bounce back to his excellent true talent level.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tonight’s game between the Indians and Braves has been postponed.


Madison Bumgarner, SF at PIT ($9,500)

Bumgarner is in decline from his peak years and has posted roughly league average contact-quality statistics over the past year with an expected wOBA against of .321, with it at .325 through four starts in 2019.

The good news for fantasy owners is Bumgarner pitches most of his games in soft run-scoring environments, and he draws a soft matchup Friday against the Pirates, who are projected to be a bottom-third run-scoring team this year and have been a worse-than-average offense to start 2019. The matchup takes place in PNC Park, a good environment for preventing runs.

Bumgarner has gone at least six innings in all four of his starts this year, including two seven-inning starts. His 19% strikeout-minus-walk rate is better than average, as is his 34% chase rate. His average fastball and average cutter velocities are comparable to last season.


Caleb Smith, MIA vs. WAS ($8,200)

For a lesser-known name, Smith has strong peripheral statistics. Smith has struck out 32% of the batters he has faced while generating a swing and a miss on 14.3% of his pitches, both outstanding marks for a starting pitcher.

Smith has held batters to an expected wOBA of just .265 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls through three starts against good offenses in the Phillies, Braves and Mets, better than the league average of .322.

The downside is that the matchup is against the Nationals, who are projected to be a top-10 run-scoring team this year and have had a top-10 offense to start 2019. Also, run support will be difficult for Smith to come by with a poor Marlins offense behind him. The good news is it takes place in pitcher-friendly Marlins Park, one of the best pitching environments in baseball.


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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.