MLB-Pitcher-Ranks

Friday’s main fantasy baseball slate is loaded with 15 games. Tommy Pham left Thursday’s game with a lower-leg cramp and his status is uncertain for the Rays. Hunter Dozier also left Thursday’s game with chest tightness and his status for the Royals is uncertain. Eugenio Suarez (hand), Jorge Polanco (illness), Justin Turner (hamstring), Cavan Biggio (illness) and Yadier Molina (thumb) also have statuses that are unclear.

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. Chris Sale, BOS at NYY ($10,800)

Sale’s start has been pushed to Friday due to a rainout after he was scheduled to pitch Thursday.

After a stark early-season dip in average fastball velocity to 90 mph in his second start set off alarm bells, Sale’s velocity has settled in at about 94 mph over his past five starts. This represents a substantial drop from Sale’s average fastball velocity of about 96 mph last season, and the drop in velocity gives Sale less margin for error, as evidenced with his ERA rising to 4.19 and FIP rising to 3.60, both significantly higher than last year’s 2.11 ERA and 1.98 FIP. Sale has attempted to compensate for some of the loss in fastball velocity by throwing his slider more often, throwing it on 41% of his pitches, a boost from 35% last season.

The heavy slider usage, which one of the nastier pitches in baseball, has kept Sale’s bat-missing at an elite level. Sale’s 34% strikeout rate is third best among starting pitchers and significantly better than the league average of 23%. His 14.2% swing-and-miss rate is 12th best.

The Yankees have a top-10 offense, but they still are missing two of their big right-handed thumpers in Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, helping to soften the matchup from Sale’s first start against the Yankees, which included Judge. Even in a tough park environment in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, Sale is so good when he’s on top of his game that he presents big upside, particularly with strikeouts.


2. Patrick Corbin, WAS at CIN ($11,200)

Like Sale, Corbin also features heavy slider usage, throwing the pitch 37% of the time, which helps him overcome below-average fastball velocity and generate a strong strikeout rate. Corbin is striking out 28% of the batters he has faced this year, 18th best among starters and better than the league average of 23%.

One potential red flag with Corbin is his peripheral statistics aren’t quite as good as his run prevention. Corbin has held batters to an outstanding .265 wOBA but has allowed batters to produce an expected wOBA of .298 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls. That number is still very good, but it’s a noticeable difference. Corbin’s 3.33 FIP is also higher than his 2.85 ERA.

While Corbin gets a park downgrade in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park on Friday, he faces a Reds team that ranks in the bottom third in team offenses by wOBA and is projected to be a mediocre run-scoring team the rest of the season, making the matchup decent.


3. Caleb Smith, MIA at SD ($9,700)

Smith is backed by the worst offense in the major leagues in the Marlins, which limits his win upside. However, for what Smith actually can control, he has been excellent, especially with bat-missing, where he ranks near the top of the league. Smith has struck out an elite 33% of the batters he has faced, fourth best among qualified starting pitchers. He has generated a swing and a miss on an elite 15.9% of his total pitches, also fourth best. Smith has limited solid contact against him, holding batters to an expected wOBA of .293 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, better than the league average of .321. His 3.33 FIP is also strong, significantly better than the league average of 4.40.

Smith draws a matchup in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, one of the best pitching environments in the majors. As a fly ball heavy pitcher, the park is a good fit for Smith, who generates a fly ball on 47% of his batted balls, third most among starters and significantly higher than the league average fly ball rate of 36%.

Smith faces a Padres team that has struck out in 27% of their plate appearances, the highest rate among teams, with that number holding at 27% vs. LHP. San Diego has swung and missed at 12.6% of its pitches, the fourth highest rate. Smith, who has been elite at generating strikeouts, presents very strong strikeout upside against a team prone to swings and misses, and also is in a good spot for run prevention against a poor offense in a great pitcher’s park.


4. Trevor Bauer, CLE at CWS ($9,200)

Bauer hasn’t been nearly as good in 2019 as he was in 2018 on the back of giving up much stronger contact quality to batters. Bauer’s expected wOBA against based on the exit velocities and angles of his batted balls is a below-average .334 this season after sitting at a strong .264 last season. However, Bauer still is striking out batters at a strong level, producing a 27.5% strikeout rate, better than the league average of 23%.

Bauer draws a good matchup for strikeouts Friday against the White Sox, who have struck out in more than 26% of their plate appearances, second most. The White Sox have swung and missed at 12.7% of the pitches they have seen, tied for the most swings and misses. The matchup is also good for run prevention, as the White Sox have been a bottom-third offense on the season by wOBA, including the fourth worst in May.


5. Joey Lucchesi, SD vs. MIA ($8,800)

While Lucchesi’s 4.25 ERA isn’t impressive, his peripheral statistics suggest a better performance than that. Lucchesi has held batters to an expected wOBA of .290 based on the exit velocities and angles of their batted balls, better than the league average of .321. His 3.48 FIP is strong on the back of a better than average home run rate, strikeout rate and walk rate. Lucchesi’s bat-missing has been plus with a 25% strikeout rate and 11.4% swing and miss rate, both higher than average.

Lucchesi draws a soft matchup at home in pitcher-friendly Petco Park against a Marlins team that has been the worst offense in the league by both wOBA and isolated power. In particular, Miami has been easily the league’s worst team at generating extra-base hits, posting a .106 isolated power, the worst mark by almost 40 points and significantly below the league average of .177. Miami’s 24% strikeout rate is also higher than average. Lucchesi will be in excellent position to prevent runs in this matchup.


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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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