MLB-Pitcher-Ranks

Friday’s main fantasy baseball slate has 15 games. Buster Posey (concussion) is expected to return to the Giants’ lineup. Trevor Story (knee) is hopeful to be in the Rockies’ lineup after exiting Wednesday’s game early. Trea Turner (finger) has re-joined the Nationals and might return to their lineup Friday.

David Peralta (trap), Anthony Rizzo (back), Jeff McNeil (abdomen), Yandy Diaz (ankle), Nelson Cruz (wrist) and Brandon Belt (knee) are other players with injury statuses that should be monitored, which fantasy owners can do 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. Jacob deGrom, NYM at MIA ($11,400)

After a three-start rut in April he attributes to his routine being disrupted due to an illness, deGrom has straightened things out in May, generating a swing and a miss on a gigantic 17.4% of his total pitches in three May starts while allowing a total of three runs and 16 baserunners over 21 innings.

One of those starts was against the impotent Miami Marlins, who deGrom faces again Friday. The Marlins easily have the game’s worst overall offense and worst power-hitting offense by both wOBA and isolated power and are projected to be the worst run-scoring team the rest of the season. The Marlins’ .088 isolated power is extremely poor, and deGrom will get a strong pitching environment for run prevention in pitcher-friendly Marlins Park. The Marlins also have struck out more than average, striking out in about 25% of their plate appearances.

deGrom is one of the game’s best pitchers and is in an obvious elite spot Friday. In two previous starts against the Marlins this year, deGrom has struck out a heavy 22 of 52 batters (42%) while limiting Marlins batters to a contact quality derived expected wOBA of just .189 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, significantly better than the league average of .321.


2. Max Scherzer, WAS vs. CHC ($11,100)

Scherzer’s 3.64 ERA is higher than fantasy owners have become accustomed to seeing from him, but his peripheral statistics indicate a better pitching performance. Scherzer’s expected batting average against of .234 based on the exit velocities and angles of the batted balls he has allowed is better than his actual batting average against of .252. His expected wOBA allowed of .287 is better than his actual wOBA allowed of .300, and his 2.24 FIP is outstanding. While some of the difference between his ERA and peripherals can be attributed to a poor Nationals defense behind Scherzer, some of it is also bad luck, and Scherzer’s baserunner stranding is also a candidate to normalize going forward to help cut his ERA down.

Scherzer has struck out a heavy 32% of batters while walking just 4% and has generated a swing and a miss on an outstanding 15.6% of his total pitches. He is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game, and Scherzer carries big upside due to his strikeout ability even in a difficult matchup vs. the Cubs, who have been a top-five offense and are projected to be a top-10 run-scoring offense the rest of the season.


3. Gerrit Cole, HOU at BOS ($10,700)

Cole has flourished under the Astros’ player development on the back of a gigantic rise in backspin on his four-seam fastball. Prior to being traded to the Astros, Cole’s average four-seam spin rate was a soft 2,164 RPM in his final season with the Pirates, worse than the league average of 2,257 RPM. In 2018, his first year with Houston, Cole increased his four-seam spin rate to a plus 2,379 RPM, which helped him pitch with more life up in the zone and pitch above the barrel of the bat, contributing to a spike in strikeouts.

And now, in 2019, Cole’s four-seam spin rate has exploded to an average of 2,521 RPM, an elite mark. The huge backspin on his four-seam fastball has given Cole’s fastball explosive life. Cole is generating a swing and a miss on 16% of his four-seam fastballs, an elite number and better than the 13% clip he posted last year. Cole leads baseball in total swings and misses generated on a four-seam fastball.

Like Scherzer, Cole has pitched better than his 3.88 ERA indicates. Cole’s expected wOBA against of .257 based on opposing hitter contact quality is outstanding, as is his 2.92 FIP. Cole’s ERA has been spiked by an unusually low stranding of baserunners, stranding just 64% of baserunners, worse than his 78% rate last year. Cole’s stranding of baserunners likely will normalize going forward, which will help cut his ERA down.

On Friday, Cole has a difficult matchup in hitter-friendly Fenway Park against a Red Sox offense that has straightened things out. After ranking as a below-average offense in April, the Red Sox have skyrocketed in May, ranking as the second best offense while striking out in just 19% of their plate appearances, fourth lowest. That said, Cole is one of the best pitchers in baseball and has the skills to dominate despite a tough matchup. Cole’s 39% strikeout rate is monstrous and leads all starting pitchers, giving him strikeout upside even against a Red Sox team that has not struck out much lately.


4. Martin Perez, MIN at SEA ($8,600)

Perez, one of the worst pitchers in baseball last year, has transformed his profile on the back of changing his mechanics to add velocity and beginning to throw a sharp, new cutter. Perez is sitting 95 mph with his fastball this year, a boost from 93 mph last season, which he attributes to using his lower body more in his delivery. Perez also is throwing a cutter on 31% of his pitches, which has taken over as his primary fastball.

Perez’s strikeouts have spiked due to the changes. Over three May starts, Perez has struck out an excellent 31% of batters while generating a swing and a miss on 11.2% of his pitches, both significant boosts from his 13% strikeout rate and 7.2% swinging strike rate from last year.

Perez draws a matchup vs. a Mariners offense that has been strikeout prone vs. lefties, striking out in 26% of their plate appearances vs. LHPs. The Mariners are projected to be a mediocre run-scoring offense the rest of the season.


5. Cole Hamels, CHC at WAS ($9,700)

Hamels takes on a disappointing Nationals team that has been strikeout prone, striking out at the fourth highest rate at 26%, including a 26.5% strikeout rate vs. left-handed pitching. While Washington has hit LHPs well by their outcomes, they have posted below-average contact quality metrics vs. LHPs.

Hamels has struck out 24% of batters, slightly better than average. His expected wOBA against of .307 based on opponent contact quality is also better than average.


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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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