Friday’s fantasy baseball slate has 14 games. Aaron Judge (oblique) is expected to re-join the Yankees’ lineup, while Nolan Arenado (toe), Mitch Garver (heel), Rafael Devers (hamstring) and Trey Mancini (elbow) have statuses that are unclear. Dallas Keuchel ($8,300) is scheduled to make his first start for the Braves. For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter at @DKLive.
Here are five different pitchers fantasy owners can consider using Friday on DraftKings:
1. Chris Sale, BOS vs. TOR ($12,000)Sale has struck out double-digit batters in nine of his last 11 starts, striking out a ridiculous 41% of batters over that stretch. Sale’s surge in strikeouts can be in part attributed to heavy slider usage, throwing the pitch 42% of the time, a boost from 35% last season. Sale’s boost in slider usage is helping him compensate for a loss in fastball velocity, as his fastball is sitting about 94 mph over his last 11 starts, a two-mph drop from last season’s 96 mph. Sale has been excellent at limiting opponent contact quality over that stretch, holding batters to a puny expected wOBA of .235 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, significantly better than the league average of .321 and comparable to his .238 number from last season.
Sale draws a strong matchup on Friday against a Blue Jays team that ranks towards the bottom of baseball in team offense on the season and has continued to struggle over the last 30 days. Toronto has also posted an elevated strikeout rate, helping to further fuel Sale’s massive strikeout upside.
2. Walker Buehler, LAD vs. COL ($10,800)After a rocky start to the season, Buehler has kicked it into gear lately, posting a 2.60 FIP while striking out a strong 30% of batters in eight starts since May 1. Buehler has forced batters to chase 38% of his pitches located outside of the strike zone over that stretch, which would rank as one of the top marks in the league over the course of a full season. Buehler has held batters to an expected wOBA of just .267 based on their contact quality over his last eight starts, significantly better than the league average of .321.
Buehler draws a good matchup at home in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium against a Rockies team that struggles on the road. The park environment of Coors Field can alter pitch movement, which can affect Rockies’ hitters when they play in road parks. Colorado ranks as the league’s fourth-worst road offense by wOBA and has struck out in roughly 27% of their plate appearances on the road, the third highest rate. Colorado’s offense could also be without Nolan Arenado (toe). Download the DK Live app for up-to-the-minute news on Arenado’s status. Buehler carries big strikeout and run prevention upside in this matchup.
3. Trevor Bauer, CLE vs. DET ($11,100)Bauer has struggled at times this season, posting significant drops both in run prevention and in his peripheral statistics from last year’s breakout season. Batters have made much better contact quality off Bauer, producing an expected wOBA of .318 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, up from .264 last season.
That said, Bauer draws a strong matchup on Friday against the lowly Tigers, who he just faced in his most recent outing. Bauer tossed a complete game shutout of the Tigers in that game, holding batters to an expected wOBA of just .169 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls. Detroit has been the third-worst offense this season by wOBA and has struck out at the second-highest rate. Bauer carries strong strikeout and run prevention upside against one of the weakest and most strikeout-prone teams in baseball.
4. Aaron Nola, PHI vs. MIA ($8,000)Nola, who entered the season expected to be an ace for the Phillies, is having a highly disappointing season. Nola’s 4.89 ERA, 4.52 FIP, and contact quality derived expected wOBA allowed of .333 are all worse than average. That said, Nola draws an outstanding matchup against the foul Marlins on Friday. Miami ranks as the league’s worst offense by both wOBA and isolated power and has struck out at a higher than average rate. Despite Nola’s ineffectiveness in preventing runs, he has still generated a plus strikeout rate, striking out 25% of batters, better than the league average of 23%.
5. James Paxton, NYY vs. HOU ($8,100)The Astros, who have struck out in a league-low 17% of their plate appearances over the last 30 days, generally are not an appealing fantasy opponent, but Paxton’s price has substantially dropped to the point where he is worth strong consideration. Paxton costs just $8,100, easily his lowest price of the season, and down from $9,500 in his most recent outing. Paxton’s previous low price was $9,400. Paxton carries big swing-and-miss numbers on the season, generating a swing and a miss on 14% of his total pitches while striking out 30% of opposing batters, both very strong numbers. Houston is also down two of their top hitters in George Springer (hamstring) and Carlos Correa (rib) and have not had the same punch in their offense lately, ranking as a below average team offense by wOBA over the last 30 days. After having a tick down in average velocity in a poor start against the Mets two starts ago, Paxton’s velocity bounced back in his most recent start, sitting at 96 mph on his fastball and 89 mph on his cutter, which is in line with his season averages on those pitches.
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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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