Friday’s fantasy baseball slate has 15 games. Yoan Moncada (back) is not expected to return to the White Sox’ lineup until this weekend. Joey Votto (back) is a candidate to return to the Reds’ lineup after leaving Wednesday’s game early.
Here are five different pitchers fantasy owners can consider using Friday on DraftKings:
1. Gerrit Cole, HOU vs. TOR ($11,900)
Cole has been baseball’s top strikeout pitcher by both total strikeouts (130) and strikeout rate (39%) on the back of one of the game’s most explosive four-seam fastballs. Cole throws his four-seamer on just over half of his pitches and leads the league in swings and misses generated on a fastball. The hard velocity, which ranks fourth highest at an average of about 97 mph, combined with a high spin rate allows Cole to pitch above the barrel effectively. Cole pairs a breaking ball, which he alters the shape and velocity of, off his four-seamer.
Cole is coming off a season-high 14 strikeouts in his most recent start against a weak Orioles offense. Cole draws another weak offense in the Blue Jays on Friday. Toronto ranks as the league’s third worst offense by wOBA and has struck out in the sixth highest percentage of its plate appearances. Cole is in an excellent spot at home against a poor offense that is prone to striking out.
2. Max Scherzer, WAS vs. ARI ($11,500)
Scherzer is second only to the aforementioned Cole in total strikeouts (126) and ranks fourth in strikeout rate (33%). After a slow start to the season, Scherzer has dominated lately, cutting his ERA down from 4.08 over his first seven starts to 2.83 on the season. Scherzer’s 2.04 FIP, which takes into account strikeouts, walks and home runs, is the best of his career and primarily has been fueled by a career-low home run rate. Scherzer’s average fastball velocity also has ticked up this season, tying the second hardest average fastball velocity of his career.
Scherzer draws a home matchup against a Diamondbacks offense that has been mediocre. Scherzer’s ability to rack up a big strikeout total gives him large fantasy upside.
3. Lucas Giolito, CWS vs. NYY ($11,100)
Giolito, once one of the best prospects in baseball, has had a breakout season on the back of a mechanical change, returning his arm action to something similar to his amateur delivery. The result has been a significant bump in fastball velocity and a significant bump in bat-missing. Giolito is averaging about 94.5 mph on his fastball, a two-mph increase from his first two seasons with the White Sox. Giolito has generated a swing and a miss on an outstanding 14% of his total pitches, up from a poor 8% rate last season. He has struck out an excellent 30% of batters, also a significant bump from a poor 16% last season.
Giolito draws a difficult matchup at home against the Yankees, but his skillset has been among the best on Friday’s slate, and his ability to miss bats gives him fantasy upside despite a tough matchup.
4. Robbie Ray, ARI at WAS ($10,100)
Ray has posted a career-best 3.19 FIP this season on the back of a heavy 31% strikeout rate and a drop in home runs allowed. In a season where a juiced ball has led to a spike in dingers, Ray has allowed just 0.83 home runs per nine innings, a drop from 1.38 last season and better than the league average of 1.36. Ray has cut his isolated power allowed to batters down to .137 this season, better than the league average of .177 and down from .163 last season.
Ray historically has pitched much better away from Chase Field, which can be a difficult atmosphere to pitch in due to the dry desert air. Ray has held batters to a strong .294 wOBA in about 369 career IP away from Chase Field, compared to a below average .340 wOBA in 324 career IP in Chase Field. Ray’s career strikeout rate is also better away from Chase Field, striking out 30% of batters, up from 27% at Chase Field. Ray draws a road matchup in Nationals Park on Friday.
5. Blake Snell, TB vs. LAA ($10,000)
Snell is putting together a historic swing-and-miss season. A total of 19.4% of Snell’s pitches have been swings and misses, a rate that would rank as the best among starting pitchers since the stat began being tracked, eclipsing Randy Johnson’s 2002 mark of 16.3%. Snell has struck out 35% of batters on the back of the bat-missing, a boost from 32% last season and third best among starting pitchers.
Snell draws a home matchup at the Trop against the Angels. While the Angels have been baseball’s least strikeout prone offense, striking out in just 17% of their plate appearances, Snell’s extreme bat-missing can help combat some of that. Snell has pitched significantly better at home throughout his career, as Tropicana Field is one of the better pitcher’s parks in the American League.
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