Yesterday, we only had three games on DraftKings’ featured MLB slate. That meant six pitchers to fill out two SP slots. Not exactly the most enthralling exercise, as none would even reach 20 DKFP for the evening. Well, that won’t be the case tonight. From Blake Snell ($12,400) to a Coors-discounted Clayton Kershaw ($8,800), we’ve got nine high-ceiling pitching options who have been involved in a Cy Young conversation or two in their time. There’s more pitching than I know what to do with on this 14-game fantasy baseball bonanza. So, in an effort to change that, allow me to present my top five options for Friday.
1. Aaron Nola, $11,800, PHI at NYMNot that Nola is prone to giving up many home runs to begin with, but, take this man outside of what is a very hitter-friendly ball park in Philadelphia, and good luck trying to hit anything with conviction. For the season, Nola has held opponents to a microscopic .237 wOBA and 0.41 HR/9 when pitching away from Citizen’s Bank Park — a top-10 stadium for both runs and home runs, according to ESPN Park Factors. Again, it’s not even like his numbers are all that much different in Philadelphia, but at least batters had something to cling to in those situations. It’s not a luxury the Mets will have this evening. Nola also has been racking up the strikeouts as of late, whiffing 37.1 percent of the opponents he’s seen across his past four outings. Still not sold? How about the fact Nola’s scored 36.8 DKFP and 38.6 DKFP in his past two meetings with New York? Yeah. That one roped you in.
2. Blake Snell, $12,400, TB vs. BALIt’s easy enough to point at Snell’s past five starts and say he’s pitched to a 1.34 FIP with a 38.8 percent strikeout rate while also averaging 29.2 DKFP, but context is everything when it comes to the sophomore. Well, really the Rays’ organization in general. At full strength with no pitch count involved, Snell has earned 31.1 DKFP per start over his past three outings. The other two starts — evenings where he still scored at least 25 DKFP — Snell only threw 123 pitches combined. That’s how special this left-hander is. Specific to tonight’s matchup, Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the worst wRC+ (77) against LHPs for the entirety of 2018. Snell has surrendered a paltry eight earned runs over 67.2 innings at Tropicana Field this year. Seems like a one-sided tilt to me.
3. Patrick Corbin, $11,000, ARI vs. ATLThere are a lot of great causes to support in the world right now, but I think it’s about time we started a grassroots campaign to get Corbin the run support he so desperately deserves. For those keeping score at home, Corbin has the third-best FIP of any qualified pitcher so far this season at 2.36. The reward for his efforts? 10 wins. Sure, Jacob deGrom only has eight victories, but at least he can take solace in the fact his team is absolute garbage. Corbin’s the best pitcher on a playoff-caliber team. Anyway, he’s pitched better than his DKFP totals indicate, and he and his team are favored heavily tonight at home. Were he to get those four bonus points, there’s no telling how high Corbin’s ceiling could be. Since June 22, the lefty has held his opponents to a .240 wOBA with a 30.7 percent strikeout rate — all culminating in an otherworldly 1.47 FIP. That’s 80 2/3 innings of work. These aren’t small samples, people. Trust in the 29-year-old.
4. Carlos Carrasco, $11,600, CLE at TORConsistency has not been the most prevalent aspect of Carrasco’s game in 2018. While he’s had six different outings this year where he’s thrown at least seven scoreless innings, he also has had six starts in which he’s given up at least five earned runs. Even just his most recent five game logs almost hurt your brain if you’re trying to comprehend them. Still, if one overwhelming pattern has emerged — a tell, if you will — it’s been Carrasco tends to pitch better when leaving Progressive Field in the rearview mirror. The veteran RHP sports a 2.68 FIP when taking the mound on the road this season, holding opponents to a .263 wOBA in those 85 innings. In fact, since June 11, Carrasco possesses a 0.99 ERA and 34.6 percent strikeout rate away from Cleveland once you remove a poor outing against the Red Sox at Fenway. These Blue Jays are not Boston. Of that, I am positive. Carrasco is the exact archetype of a tournament pitcher. Use him freely tonight.
5. James Paxton, $9,800, SEA vs. NYYIt is always hard to know what to glean from a pitcher making his first start off of the DL, but, considering Paxton’s came against the best offense in baseball since the All-Star break, the fact he just looked good versus the Athletics was enough to show his health. Twenty swinging strikes generated doesn’t hurt, either. Tonight also marks the end of a prolonged absence for Paxton when it comes to Safeco Field. The man they call “Big Maple” hasn’t pitched in Seattle for over a month — a shame considering how good his numbers have been at home in 2018. Paxton’s maintained a 2.84 FIP with a 32.9 percent strikeout rate within the split, limiting opposing batters to a lowly .254 wOBA. Yes, the Yankees aren’t ever the ideal matchup; however, they’ve hit to a league-average 101 wRC+ over the course of the season’s second half, greatly missing Aaron Judge (wrist) in the process. He’s not a cash-game consideration, but in a GPP, Paxton’s very much in play.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theGLT13) 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.