As is generally the case this early in the season, you’re going to have to pay attention to some weather reports if you plan on taking tonight’s 14-game MLB slate on DraftKings seriously. There is a ton on rain expected across the East Coast this evening, with cities such as Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, New York and Detroit all possibly effected. Fortunately, the first pitch in all those contests is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, meaning we should have a pretty good idea what’s going on in each before anything on the slate locks. Aside from that, it’s up to you to download the DK Live app for access to all the breaking news and analysis from around baseball. Happy tarp watching!
Let’s get into everything else you need to know on Friday.
StudCarlos Rodon, CWS at DET, $8,300 – While this play is mostly about exploiting a feeble Tigers lineup, we should take a moment to acknowledge how well Rodon is pitching so far in 2019. Through four starts, the 2014 third-overall pick has a 1.83 FIP to go along with a 30.2 percent strikeout rate. It’s entirely possible we finally are seeing the healthy, break-out campaign so many have anticipated with Rodon the past half-decade. If that is the case, it’s notable Rodon has featured his slider at a 41.2 percent usage in his first 22 innings of the year; a pitch that owns a fantastic 23.9 percent whiff rate. Considering Detroit owns the fourth-highest strikeout rate in MLB (25.6 percent), expect to see that slider a lot this evening. The fact the Tigers have the league’s lowest ISO (.110) doesn’t hurt, either.
Jose Berrios ($10,800), Madison Bumgarner ($9,500)
ValueAnibal Sanchez, WSH at MIA, $8,100 – Sanchez is just kind of doing what he’s known to do across his first three starts of 2019. The RHP was the king of hard contact suppression last year, and it’s carried over to this new campaign. Only 23.2 percent of the batted ball events Sanchez has allowed this season have come off the opponent’s bat at more than 95 mph — the fourth lowest rate of any pitcher with 40 BBEs. Though he got a little beat up in his first two outings — back-to-back starts against Philadelphia will do that — the veteran threw seven amazing innings in his most recent appearance versus the Pirates. Tonight’s matchup with the Marlins is more along those lines. Plus, with Miami’s National League-worst 26.3 percent strikeout rate, Sanchez’s high-floor approach gets a huge upside boost.
Other Options: Jordan Lyles ($7,900),
Touki Toussaint ($7,300)
StudOmar Navarez, SEA at LAA, $3,800 – After pitching to a 1.52 WHIP against LHBs last season, Felix Pena ($6,400) has continued to struggle with left-handed bats. Through his first three starts of 2019, Pena has surrendered a .364 wOBA to lefties with those 30 hitters managing a 52.9 percent fly ball rate to go along with a 52.9 percent hard contact rate. That seems like a recipe for disaster pitching in Angel Stadium — Baseball Prospectus’ No. 1 left-handed home run park in 2018. Navarez, who possesses a 0.52 GB/FB ratio to pair with a 137 wRC+, should be in for a nice evening.
Other Option: Yasmani Grandal ($4,600)
ValueFrancisco Cervelli, PIT vs. SF, $2,800 – Cervelli is now hitless in his past 24 at-bats and mercifully was moved down from the three-spot in Pittsburgh’s batting order Wednesday. Still, in 603 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching, Cervelli sports a .288 average to go along with a .351 wOBA. It’s entirely possible following an off-day Cervelli is thrown back into a high-leverage lineup spot with few other options for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. If so, you can’t ask for a whole lot more at a price point below $3K.
Other Option: Welington Castillo ($3,300)
StudCody Bellinger, LAD at MIL, $5,600 – We’ve been doing this a long time with Jhoulys Chacin ($6,600). However, unlike in years past, the veteran RHP’s issues with left-handed batters no longer reside in the fact he’s unwilling to use his slider against them. Chacin actually is throwing his breaking pitch 48.9 percent of the time versus LHBs in 2019. Yet, sadly, it’s had absolutely no impact on his struggles within the split. Chacin has a 9.34 FIP when facing a left-hander this season; the result of a 3.24 HR/9 and underwhelming 10.3 percent strikeout rate. Bellinger, who hit his 10th home run of the campaign Wednesday, should be able to stay hot this evening.
Other Options: Dan Vogelbach ($4,600), Jay Bruce ($4,300)
ValueJustin Smoak, TOR at OAK, $4,100 – Ideally, this game would be at Rogers Centre instead of the Coliseum, but it really doesn’t seem to matter where Smoak is hitting the past week and a half. Since returning from a nagging neck injury April 11, Smoak has slashed .333/.543/.625 across 35 plate appearances with a .292 ISO. To put it simply: he’s seeing the ball extremely well right now. Aaron Brooks ($6,900) also has had his problems with LHBs in 2019. The fly ball-oriented 28-year-old owns a 7.37 FIP within the split — a direct result of surrendering a .354 wOBA to the 27 left-handed bats he’s faced so far this season.
Other Option: Tyler White ($3,900)
StudRyan McMahon, COL vs. PHI, $4,300 – I’m not going to sit here and tell you this won’t be the chalk at 2B, but there’s good reason for McMahon to be an expected popular play aside from his pair of home runs Thursday night. First, if yesterday was any indication of managerial decisions to come, we can expect McMahon to be hitting fifth in the Rockies’ order once again. Second, and this is key, few pitchers struggled with left-handed batters as much as Vince Velasquez ($6,700) did in 2018. Among players who threw the equivalent of 70 innings versus LHBs, only Dylan Bundy could claim to have given up a higher wOBA within the split than Velasquez’s mark of .377.
Other Option: Howie Kendrick ($4,400)
ValueRobinson Cano, NYM at STL, $3,600 – Cano smashed a home run off of Max Scherzer in his first at-bat of 2019. Since then, it’s sort of looked like the former All-Star has forgotten how to hit a baseball. Yet, despite that fact, the Mets have stayed committed to batting the veteran third in their lineup. It’s a bad decision; however, for the purposes of DFS lineups this evening, it’s a beneficial one. If Cano was looking for a pristine matchup to break out of this slump, Adam Wainwright ($7,400) is his man. Wainwright has pitched to an ugly 8.22 FIP against LHBs so far in 2019, with lefties combining to hit to a massive .398 wOBA off of the veteran. At a price this inexpensive, you almost have to give Cano a look on this slate.
StudJeff McNeil, NYM at STL, $4,200 – Take everything I just said about how Wainwright struggles with LHBs and apply it to someone who actually is hitting well right now. McNeil, who has multiple hits in six straight games and eight of his past 10 contests overall, was bumped up to the leadoff spot in the Mets’ order Wednesday. It’s possible that changes if Brandon Nimmo ($4,100) is able to return from a neck ailment Friday; but, with McNeil’s hot-hitting and his general contact skills, it’s difficult to see why he wouldn’t remain near the top of New York’s lineup.
Other Options: Anthony Rendon ($5,300), Max Muncy ($4,500)
ValueEugenio Suarez, CIN at SD, $4,000 – Yes, the Reds’ entire lineup is struggling. Yes, this game is being played at Petco Park instead of Great American. Yet, try to imagine Suarez ever being priced this low against a left-handed pitcher last season. You can’t do it. It’s that crazy. Suarez hits southpaws. He always has. In 2018, his .426 wOBA within the split was the sixth-highest qualified mark in all of baseball. Going back as far as the beginning of 2016, Suarez is slashing .292/.393/.547 versus LHPs with a .255 ISO. Matt Strahm ($7,100) is not worthy of this level of respect.
Other Option: Eric Sogard ($3,200)
StudCorey Seager, LAD at MIL, $4,400 – Los Angeles’ lineup is really a nightmare scenario for Chacin. There will be at least four potent left-handed bats to parse through, with the opportunity for a fifth if top prospect Alex Verdugo ($4,300) can find his way into Dave Roberts’ lineup this evening. Seager’s numbers might not be great as a whole, but rest assured, most of his issues have come in left-on-left situations in 2019. Against RHPs? Seager is sporting a .216 ISO with a .369 wOBA. He’s a vital part of a Dodgers stack.
Other Option: Jorge Polanco ($4,800)
ValueJose Peraza, CIN at SD, $3,100 – I won’t lie to you, kind reader; dipping below $4K at shortstop on this evening’s slate is a case study in risk management. Still, if you’re desperate to save the salary, Peraza could be intriguing hovering around $3K. He’s been awful to begin 2019, as he owns a wRC+ of -3, yet some of his slow start might have to do with garnering only nine plate appearances against LHPs. Last year, Peraza hit .313 with a paltry 8.5 percent strikeout rate when facing a lefty. Again, tread lightly, but you could do worse than a former top prospect with stolen base upside.
StudAaron Judge, NYY vs. KC, $4,900 – With few teammates left as viable stacking candidates, Judge is sort of a forgotten man right now. Still, only a couple players possess his immense upside; especially when the 6’7″ outfielder is stepping into the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium. There’s also the matter of his opposition. Jakob Junis ($6,800) surrendered 1.87 home runs per nine to right-handed hitters last season — the third-highest qualified figure in all of baseball. Plus, if Judge doesn’t tag Junis, he should have a couple cracks at a bullpen that holds a 6.06 ERA.
Other Options: Joc Pederson ($5,000), Marcell Ozuna ($4,900)
ValueNick Castellanos, DET vs. CWS, $3,900 – For as much as I like Rodon this evening, Castellanos is about as good as the MLB has to offer when it comes to hitting left-handed pitching. In 2018, Castellanos slashed .381/.432/.571 with a .424 wOBA across 162 plate appearances within the split. If Rodon’s not on your radar Friday, Castellanos should be.
Other Options: Brandon Nimmo ($4,100), Jorge Soler ($4,100)
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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.