Friday’s main fantasy baseball slate has 13 games and is the first major slate coming out of the All-Star break. The Nationals-Phillies game has an earlier start time of 6:05 p.m. ET, so despite Stephen Strasburg taking the hill, he is not a pitching option for the main slate; fantasy owners can instead play him in Showdown contests on DraftKings.
Dinelson Lamet ($9,800), listed as Friday’s probable starter for the Padres, made his first start back from Tommy John surgery in a tough matchup vs. the Dodgers on July 4, throwing 80 pitches over five innings while striking out seven of the 21 Dodgers batters he faced. Lamet remained showcasing a high octane fastball/slider combination, topping out at 99 mph on his fastball while showcasing a sharp slider. On the hitting side, Corey Seager (hamstring) was activated off the injured list and is expected to return to the Dodgers’ lineup in Boston against the Red Sox. Alex Bregman’s status is uncertain after exiting Thursday’s game in the third inning after taking a ground ball off the face while playing the field.
Here are five different pitchers fantasy owners can consider using Friday on DraftKings:
1. Gerrit Cole, HOU at TEX ($11,500)
Cole gets a park downgrade on the road in hitter-friendly Arlington, one of the toughest parks to pitch in due in part to the extreme heat. However, Cole always carries big fantasy upside due to his explosive ability to generate strikeouts. Cole leads all starting pitchers in strikeouts on a per-batter basis, striking out 37% of batters faced, significantly better than the league average of about 22% for starting pitchers. Cole also is generating a swing and a miss on 15.8% of his total pitches, third best among all starters.
Cole is peaking as the season is going along, reaching 101.1 mph on a fastball in his most recent start, the hardest pitch he’s thrown in his career. The three hardest pitches Cole has thrown in his career came in his most recent start. Over his past six starts, Cole has allowed more than one run just once and is holding batters to an expected wOBA of just .241 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, significantly better than the league average of .322. Cole also is in good position to get the win backed by a strong Astros offense.
2. Robbie Ray, ARI at STL ($7,900)
Ray’s price of $7,900 is tied for the second lowest it’s been all season and he is in an appealing spot on the road, where he historically has faced much better, as Chase Field can be difficult to pitch in due in part to the dry air. Ray has faced about 1,600 batters in his career away from Chase Field and has held them to a strong .296 wOBA, compared to a .339 wOBA allowed to hitters in Chase Field. Ray’s 3.40 career road ERA is significantly better than his 4.73 career home ERA, and his strikeouts have also been a tick better on the road, striking out 29% of batters on the road, compared to 27% at home. Ray’s 3.49 FIP away from Chase Field is also noticeably better than his 4.36 FIP in Chase Field.
Ray draws a matchup in St. Louis against a Cardinals offense that has been below average overall and has been mediocre against left-handed pitchers. Ray has struck out a heavy 31% of batters faced this season, significantly better than the league average of about 22% for starters, and has generating a swing and a miss on 13.6% of his total pitches, also a plus number, which gives Ray bat-missing upside.
3. Domingo German, NYY vs. TOR ($10,100)
German was off to a strong start in 2019 before a hip strain led to a series of poor starts. After being sidelined for about a month to recover, German had a successful return, striking out six of 23 batters (26%) while generating a swing and a miss on a heavy 16% of his total pitches in a start on July 3 with just one run allowed. German has struck out a plus 26% of opposing batters on the season while generating a swing and a miss on 14% of his total pitches, also a strong mark.
Pitching in the AL East can be difficult due to the ballparks and a home game at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium is not ideal, but German draws a Toronto offense that despite good production over the past month still ranks as a bottom-six offense on the season by wOBA and has struck out at a higher rate than average. The Blue Jays also are starting Aaron Sanchez ($4,900), who has an ugly 6.16 ERA to go along with poor peripheral statistics, including a 5.56 FIP, which will help put German in position to receive run support and get the win.
4. Mike Clevinger, CLE at MIN ($9,600)
Clevinger has a difficult matchup against a Twins offense that has been the best in baseball by wOBA, but he carries explosive swing-and-miss numbers into today’s start on the back of a big rise in fastball velocity. Clevinger sat a tick over 97 mph in his most recent start, the hardest average fastball velocity in any start of his career and about 3 mph faster than the 94 mph his fastball averaged in 2018. Clevinger has struck out an explosive 41% of opposing batters through five starts in 2019 with the newfound velocity and generated a swing and a miss on 15.9% of his total pitches, also a very strong number. While Clevinger carries substantial risk against a top offense- – especially given two of his five starts in 2019 have been blow-up starts — his newly showcased swing-and-miss ability gives him fantasy upside.
5. Dallas Keuchel, ATL at SD ($8,200)
Keuchel has made four starts in 2019 after sitting out most of the season as a free agent. His strikeouts have been significantly down in that timeframe, striking out just 11% of batters, down from 17% last season with the Astros. However, a rusty start is not unexpected, and Keuchel has pitched well over his past two starts, holding batters to an expected wOBA of .275 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, better than the league average of .322, while pitching at least seven innings in both starts. Keuchel gets a park upgrade on the road in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball, and faces a Padres offense that might help his strikeouts play up more. San Diego has struck out in a heavy 26% of its plate appearances vs. left-handed pitchers, third highest, and its offensive output has been mediocre 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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