The MLB heads into the final weekend of April with an all-in 15-game fantasy baseball slate lined up for Friday. There are a few weather concerns on the East Coast, specifically in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, but even if those games do get impacted by rain, there should be plenty of players to choose from as you build your Friday night roster.
There are some big-name arms scheduled to be on the mound, and there are 18 hitters with salaries of at least $5K. If you choose to build around some big salaries, you’ll need to balance out your lineup to stay under the cap with some bargain plays. Here are five players who can offer nice production at minimal investment in my top bargain plays for Friday.
SP DANNY DUFFY, KC vs. LAA, $6,500
The Royals get a boost to their rotation this Friday as Duffy makes his season debut after struggling with a shoulder issue late last season and again in Spring Training. Before missing the final month of the season, Duffy struggled to a 8-12 record with a 4.88 ERA. He was much better in 2016 and 2017, when he went a combined 21-12 while making 50 starts and posting an ERA under 4.00 each season.
Duffy looked good in his rehab outing, striking out seven while giving up just one unearned run in 5 1/3 innings and throwing 78 pitches. If he is fully healthy and his velocity returns to the level it was at before last season, Duffy could be set up for a bounce-back campaign. He’ll start his season against an Angels offense that has been surprisingly solid this season, but Los Angeles still has struggled against lefties. The Halos are hitting just .204 in 284 at-bats against southpaws, which is the second-lowest mark in the Majors. Duffy should be able to start the season strong if he continues the form he showed in Double-A in his rehab start for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. There’s always risk with a pitcher coming straight off the IL, but Duffy has a ton of upside at this affordable salary.
SP DANIEL NORRIS, DET at CWS, $6,900
Another left-handed starter under $7K to consider is Norris, who will be making his second straight start against the White Sox after starting the year as a long reliever out of the bullpen. With Matt Moore (knee) done for the season and Jordan Zimmermann (elbow) also now ailing, Norris will need to step up and become a regular in the rotation. In his four appearances this season, he has a 2.70 ERA and 1.28 WHIP while picking up 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. He allowed one run or fewer in three of his four outings, including his lone start of the season last Sunday.
In that outing, Norris went five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out six and getting the win for a total of 25.5 DKFP. He only needed 79 pitches but should be stretched out to go further in this start if needed. Since that start also came against the White Sox, I like the matchup for him this time out as well.
C/1B BUSTER POSEY, SF vs. NYY, $3,400
Posey is usually a very reliable source of production in the Giants’ lineup even when the rest of the lineup is struggling to put together rallies and give him opportunities. The veteran did get off to a slow start this season, though, and still is hitting just .230 with a .670 OPS, a stark contrast to his career numbers of a .305 average and a .837 OPS. Posey has shown signs of coming around, though, and hopefully can keep things going as the Giants come home after a two-week road trip.
In his seven most recent contests, Posey has gone 7-for-22 (.318) with three doubles, a home run and five RBI. He had both Monday and Thursday off around a two-game set in Toronto, so he should be rested and ready as the Giants host James Paxton ($9,600) and the Yankees. Posey hasn’t faced Paxton in his career and has been slow out of the gate against southpaws this season. He did have success against them last season, though, hitting .300 with a .829 OPS and also enjoying playing at home, where he hit .337 with a .893 OPS. At home against a lefty, I think he’ll continue to turn things around and get back to his normal productive self.
2B JOSH HARRISON, DET at CWS, $3,300
Harrison was unsigned as a free agent until just before the season started and has gotten off to a slow start after joining Detroit. He is hitting just .163 on the season but has been better lately, going 6-for-20 (.300) over the past week with two doubles and a home run.
The Tigers will face lefty Carlos Rodón ($8,100) in their series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field. Harrison’s first homer of the season came against Rodón last Friday, and he’ll look for similar results on this slate. He has been dropped in the order due to this slow start but could move back up if he keeps heating up.
OF STEVIE WILKERSON, BAL at MIN, $2,200
If you have to go with an extremely cheap play, check out Wilkerson, who likely will move into the lineup since the Orioles are facing lefty Martín Pérez ($6,800) as they open their series in Minnesota. Wilkerson can play almost any position and has shown he can be a solid bat.
In 15 games in Triple-A, he hit .316 with a pair of home runs and an .806 OPS for the Norfolk Tides. He hit his first Major League home run in his start Wednesday and should continue to see time after being called up to replace the struggling Cedric Mullins. Wilkerson is an ultra-cheap bat that can give you significant salary to upgrade other spots and also still give you some production of his own.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) 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.