Friday’s main fantasy baseball slate has 12 games. Top pitching prospect Dustin May ($7,600) is scheduled to make his big league debut for the Dodgers in Los Angeles against the Padres. DJ LeMahieu (groin) is a candidate to rejoin the Yankees’ lineup against the Red Sox, while Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s (knee) status is uncertain. Brandon Crawford (shoulder) was removed from Thursday’s game early and his status is also unclear as the Giants head into Colorado for a Coors Field series against the Rockies.
Here are five different pitchers fantasy owners can consider using Friday on DraftKings:
1. Lance Lynn, Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers ($11,700)
Lynn has been one of baseball’s best at combining strikeouts with effective home run and walk prevention. Lynn’s 2.94 FIP is sixth best among qualified starting pitchers, and it has been fueled by a 27% strikeout rate — better than the league average of 22% for SP — along with limiting batters to just 0.83 home runs per nine innings, also sixth best. Lynn’s home run prevention is especially impressive given his home park in Arlington is one of the best hitter’s parks in baseball.
Lynn draws a soft matchup against a Tigers team that just traded its best hitter, Nicholas Castellanos, to the Cubs. Prior to trading Castellanos, Detroit ranked as the second worst offense by wOBA and struck out in the highest percentage of its plate appearances. While pitching in hitter-friendly Arlington is not usually an appealing landing spot, the matchup against one of baseball’s most strikeout prone and unproductive offenses is highly appealing.
2. Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians vs. Los Angeles Angels ($11,100)
After a rocky return from injury in the middle of June, Clevinger has hit his stride recently, striking out a heavy 35% of batters while walking just 4% in five starts since July 1. Clevinger’s 1.74 ERA and 2.42 FIP over that stretch has been elite, and he has generated a swing and a miss on 16.3% of his total pitches over that timeframe, also an elite number. Clevinger’s explosive swing-and-miss numbers have been fueled by a big spike in fastball velocity, sitting just under 97 mph over those starts, a substantial boost from 94 mph in 2018.
Clevinger’s Friday matchup against the Angels isn’t ideal, as Los Angeles has a better-than-average offense and has struck out in the fewest percentage of their plate appearances among all teams, but his explosive strikeout numbers can help compensate for some of that. Cleveland’s offense also has been improved recently with Jose Ramirez returning to form along with the additions of Franmil Reyes and Yasiel Puig (pending suspension appeal).
3. Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals ($10,400)
Ray has been among baseball’s best at generating strikeouts, striking out 32% of the batters he has faced, tied for fifth best among qualified starting pitchers. While Ray traditionally has been less effective at home in Chase Field, the addition of a humidor to the park appears to have helped, as the dry air in Arizona used to make the ball slick and difficult to grip. Ray has held batters to a better-than-average .303 wOBA at Chase Field in 2019 while striking out a heavy 35% of batters, showcasing improved effectiveness in the park.
Ray has flaws, including a high walk rate, along with a less-than-ideal matchup against the Nationals, considering the Nationals have been strong against left-handed pitchers and do not strike out much against LHPs. That said, Ray’s ability to generate a high strikeout total gives him fantasy upside.
4. Dustin May, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres ($7,600)
The aforementioned May has earned the nickname “Gingergaard” due to his similarities to Mets’ starter Noah Syndergaard, combined with his red hair. Reports on May from Baseball Prospectus include a hard fastball that sits in the mid-90s with heavy sink along with a plus curveball, and he was ranked as the seventh best overall prospect on Baseball Prospectus’ midseason top 50 list. Despite pitching in the Pacific Coast League, which is a launching pad due to the extreme hitter-friendly park effects, May allowed no home runs in his five PCL starts. May’s home run prevention is encouraging given the 2019 juiced ball environment.
May draws a good matchup in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium against a Padres team that has been both strikeout prone and unproductive. The Padres have struck out in the second highest percentage of their plate appearances and rank as a bottom third offense by wOBA. May also is in good position to receive run support backed by an excellent Dodgers offense.
5. Steven Matz, New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates ($7,700)
Matz has been inconsistent in 2019, but his spike in production recently has been fueled by increased slider velocity and increased slider usage. Matz’s slider has sat around 91 mph since the All-Star break, a boost from 89 mph previously. Matz has also doubled his slider usage, throwing his slider on 21% of his pitches in that timeframe, up from 10% previously.
Matz is coming off one of the best starts of his career against this same Pirates club, needing only 99 pitches to complete nine innings of five-hit, shutout ball while striking out seven and walking none. The Pirates have had a worse-than-average overall offense this season and have had the worst offense in baseball against left-handed pitchers by wOBA.
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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.
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