Friday’s main fantasy baseball slate has 14 games. Charlie Blackmon (calf) is a candidate to be activated from the injured list and return to the Rockies’ lineup. Shin-Soo Choo (hand), Gleyber Torres (shoulder), J.D. Martinez (back) and Adam Jones (hamstring) also have injury statuses worth monitoring. Fantasy owners can monitor the statuses of these players by downloading the DK Live app, where fantasy owners receive up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter at @DKLive.
Here are five different pitchers fantasy owners can consider using Friday on DraftKings:
1. Gerrit Cole, HOU vs. BAL ($12,200)
Cole has transformed under the player development regime of the Astros on the back of a rise in fastball backspin, which has helped him pitch up in the zone with explosive life. Cole’s average four-seam fastball spin rate has risen to an outstanding 2,525 RPM this season, above the league average of 2,265 RPM and a gigantic boost from 2,164 RPM in 2017 with the Pirates and up from 2,379 RPM last season with the Astros. The combination of huge backspin and huge velocity (97 mph) has resulted in a ton of swings and misses on Cole’s four-seam fastball, and Cole leads the league in swings and misses on his four-seamer.
The Astros’ pitching philosophy has clicked with Cole. Houston generally wants its pitchers pitching above the barrel and up in the zone with four-seamers and pitching below the barrel with breaking balls. Roughly 95% of Cole’s pitches this season have been either four-seam fastballs or breaking balls. The nasty stuff combined with the strong execution has contributed to an outrageously strong 37% strikeout rate for Cole, which leads baseball.
Cole brings big-time fantasy upside against the Orioles, who have struck out more often than average and rank as the sixth worst offense by wOBA. Baltimore is also starting below-average pitcher Gabriel Ynoa ($4,800), which should put Cole in good position to get the win.
2. Jacob deGrom, NYM vs. COL ($9,400)
deGrom hasn’t pitched nearly as well as his Cy Young 2018 season, but he still has had strong performances in several key metrics. deGrom has held batters to an expected wOBA of .276 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, better than the league average of .321 and better than his actual wOBA allowed of .293. deGrom has struck out 29% of the batters he has faced while generating a swing and a miss on 14% of his pitches, both significantly better than average.
deGrom has a home matchup in pitcher-friendly Citi Field against a Rockies team that struggles on the road. The park effects of Coors Field make it challenging for Rockies’ batters to play on the road in part due to the effects on pitch movement. Colorado ranks as the second worst road offense this year by wOBA and has struck out in roughly 27% of its plate appearances on the road, fifth highest. deGrom carries strong strikeout and run prevention upside in this matchup, and his $9,400 price tag is fairly cheap given his skill set.
3. Clayton Kershaw, LAD at SF ($11,200)
Kershaw is no longer one of the premier pitchers in the league in large part due to an erosion in fastball velocity, with him sitting around 90 mph with his fastball, down from 93 mph in 2017. However, Kershaw is still an effective pitcher and draws a soft matchup in pitcher-friendly Oracle Park against an impotent Giants offense. The Giants rank as the league’s second worst offense by wOBA, second worst power-hitting offense by isolated power and have struck out slightly more often than average. The matchup in one of the best pitcher’s parks in the game against one of the worst offenses makes Kershaw a strong candidate to prevent runs and baserunners.
4. Mike Soroka, ATL at MIA ($11,600)
Soroka has been highly effective through nine starts, holding batters to a contact quality derived expected wOBA of .278 while posting a 2.75 FIP, both significantly better than average. Like Kershaw, Soroka draws an incredibly soft matchup in one of the best pitcher’s parks against a terrible offense. The Marlins rank as the game’s worst offense by both wOBA and isolated power and have struck out at a slightly higher-than-average clip. Soroka is an excellent candidate to prevent runs and baserunners in this matchup.
5. Andrew Heaney, LAA vs. SEA ($9,200)
Heaney has made two starts in 2019 and has missed a gigantic amount of bats, generating a swing and a miss on roughly 20% of his total pitches, nearly double the league average rate, while striking out 18 of the 41 batters (44%) he has faced. One of those starts came against the Mariners, who have been strikeout prone vs. lefties this year, striking out in 26% of their plate appearances vs. LHP, seventh highest. Heaney struck out 10 of the 23 Mariners batters he faced in that start. For a larger sample, Heaney had a 24% strikeout rate and generated a swing and a miss on 11.8% of his pitches last season, both of which rank better than average. Heaney is in a good spot for strikeouts against a team that has been strikeout prone.
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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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