Friday’s main fantasy baseball slate has 15 games. The two top pitchers on this slate, Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, each are coming off injuries of one degree or another. Scherzer tweaked a muscle in his left rib cage while trying to dodge a foul ball in the dugout Sunday. deGrom had a bout with strep throat and was placed on the injured list with elbow soreness, but he has since said his elbow soreness was related to having his routine disrupted because of his illness.
Both Scherzer and deGrom are expected to start, although it’s not clear if there will be workload limitations for either. Potential restrictions for Scherzer or deGrom can be monitored 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:
Max Scherzer, WAS vs. SD ($10,400)
Assuming Scherzer is not limited, he has a strong matchup against a Padres team that has been unproductive and strikeout prone. The Padres rank in the bottom third in team wOBA and are projected to have one of the five lowest run-scoring offenses for the rest of the season. The Padres have struck out at the fifth highest rate and have swung and missed at the eighth highest percentage of the pitches they have seen. The Padres also have chased the eighth highest percent of pitches located outside of the strike zone.
Scherzer has struck out 33% of the batters he has faced through five starts while generating a swing and a miss on an elite 16% of his total pitches, giving him big strikeout upside. His $10,400 price tag is the lowest it’s been all season.
Jacob deGrom, NYM vs. MIL ($10,000)
deGrom had two consecutive shaky starts against the Twins and Braves, but deGrom has attributed it to having his routine disrupted by strep throat, which threw off his command during the games. Assuming deGrom is fully recovered after spending 10 days on the injured list with elbow soreness, he is a bounce-back candidate Friday.
deGrom has an elite 39% strikeout rate through four starts and has generated a swing and a miss on 15% of his total pitches. He has big strikeout upside against a Brewers team that has struck out in the sixth highest percentage of their plate appearances and swung and missed at the third highest percentage of the pitches they have seen. The Brewers also have chased the ninth highest percentage of pitches located outside of the strike zone.
James Paxton, NYY at SF ($9,600)
Paxton gets a huge park and league upgrade, pitching in pitcher-friendly Oracle Park in San Francisco in the National League, where he will face the opposing pitcher instead of the designated hitter. Paxton has struck out an elite 37% of the batters he has faced through five starts while generating a swing and a miss on 15% of his total pitches, also an elite number. Paxton has held opposing batters to an expected wOBA of just .262 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, significantly better than the league average of .322 and better than his actual wOBA against of .296.
A matchup against the Giants is excellent. The Giants are projected to be one of the lowest run-scoring teams for the rest of the season and rank as the second worst offense by wOBA. The Giants have chased the second highest percentage of pitches located outside of the strike zone, which could help Paxton get batters to chase his breaking ball in two-strike counts.
Madison Bumgarner, SF vs. NYY ($8,700)
Bumgarner is facing a depleted Yankees offense that is getting a significant park and league downgrade in pitcher-friendly Oracle Park in the National League. Bumgarner’s peripheral stats are much more encouraging through five starts this season than they were last year. His 24% strikeout rate, 4% walk rate, 34% chase rate and 11.1% swinging strike rate are all improvements from last season. Bumgarner has pitched significantly better at home throughout his career due to the pitcher-friendly play of Oracle Park. The downside of the matchup is that run support will be difficult to come by for an impotent Giants offense facing a tough starter in Paxton.
Corey Kluber, CLE at HOU ($8,900)
Kluber has struggled to start the year and draws a difficult matchup against the Astros, who are projected to have a high-scoring offense and have one of the three lowest strikeout rates in baseball. However, Kluber’s $8,900 price tag is the lowest it’s been all season by $500, and he continues to miss bats on a per pitch basis at a high level, generating a swing and a miss on 13% of his total pitches, a number in line with his career average.
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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.