After a few early games sprinkled throughout Friday, Major League Baseball is ready to start the weekend off right with a 12-game main slate for daily fantasy baseball on DraftKings, which gets underway at 7:05 p.m. ET. Of the dozen matchups, only two are divisional contests while six are interleague matchups. Coors Field is in play once again, but there could be some rain in the forecast in Denver, so be sure to check the weather before lineups lock and be sure to adjust accordingly.
Make sure to keep a close eye on pregame lineups and the latest player news by installing the DK Live app and following DK Live on Twitter (@dklive). I’m also on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks as the season continues.
Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates at Seattle Mariners ($10,100) – Friday night’s slate is stocked with plenty of great options on the mound, but Keller has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past month, making him my top play of the night. In each of his past six starts, he has posted at least 19.9 DKFP. Two outings during that stretch have been absolute gems, resulting in 42.3 and 42.8 DKFP in wins over the Baltimore Orioles and the Colorado Rockies. On the season, he’s 5-1 with a 2.44 ERA and 2.67 FIP while racking up 77 strikeouts in 62 2⁄3 innings.
Keller has at least eight strikeouts in five straight outings, totaling 47 over 33 innings while holding opponents to a paltry .174 batting average and issuing only three free passes. Keller has good games against some tough offenses during that stretch as well, so a matchup in Seattle shouldn’t be one to avoid. The Mariners are hitting just .229 as a team with the sixth-lowest team wOBA in the MLB. Keller should be able to keep them in check Friday night given his outstanding recent results.
Other Options – Kevin Gausman ($10,300), Hunter Brown ($9,900)
Matthew Liberatore, St. Louis Cardinals at Cleveland Guardians ($7,100) – Liberatore was ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in the Cardinals farm system coming into the season and looks like he’ll get a chance to earn a spot in the rotation. The 23-year-old lefty had a strong start to the year in Triple-A, going 4-1 with a 3.13 ERA and 3.68 FIP to go with 56 strikeouts in 46 innings with the Memphis Redbirds. He was called up last week and sparkled in his first start of the season, throwing five shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. He finished with six strikeouts and 23.7 DKFP in that outing but then gave up a couple of runs while working out of the bullpen last weekend.
The Cardinals will put Liberatore back in the rotation this weekend, as they start their series in Cleveland. The Guardians should be a lower-risk matchup since they have the lowest wOBA of any team in the Majors and have scored 10 fewer runs than any other team in the league. They’re hitting just .219 as a team against Southpaws with just a .278 wOBA against lefties as well. Liberatore brings a high ceiling as a result and is a good play if you pass up the top arms with higher salaries to spend on bigger bats.
Other Option – Reid Detmers ($7,700), Jared Shuster ($6,100)
Pete Alonso, New York Mets at Colorado Rockies ($5,700) – Alonso is always one of the best power plays on the board, and the fact that he’s playing at Coors Field in a favorable spot against a struggling Connor Seabold ($5,000) makes him an option you have to consider. Alonso leads the Majors with 19 home runs this season and has crushed six of those in his past nine games, averaging 14.4 DKFP per game over that stretch. He went deep on Thursday night in the Mets’ 10-1 win and totaled 32 DKFP by also adding his first stolen base of the season. While stolen bases are fun, you’re playing Alonso for his prodigious power potential. He has three home runs with a .478 wOBA and .314 ISO in his nine career games at Coors Field in the past and has posted a .483 wOBA and .545 ISO over his nine most recent games overall. Alonso should be set up for a huge weekend series in Colorado, starting this Friday night.
Josh Jung, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles ($4,800) – Jung has finally been able to stay healthy this season and the top-10 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft is starting to deliver on the promise that made him a top prospect before being detoured. He has hit 11 home runs in his 46 games while hitting .273 with a .350 wOBA, .224 ISO and 34 RBI. He has been a key part of the heart of the order for Texas and has been especially hot lately. In his past 13 games, Jung is hitting .346 (18-for-52) with two doubles, three homers and a .409 wOBA. Strikeouts are still an issue, but Jung has been able to overcome that and be a strong fantasy producer, averaging 15.5 DKFP over his six most recent contests.
Other Options – Corey Seager ($5,400), Alex Bregman ($5,200), Nolan Gorman ($4,700)
Owen Miller, Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Francisco Giants ($2,900) – Miller is hitting an impressive .333 in his first 35 games this season with the Brewers, after being acquired in a trade from Cleveland for a player to be named later. He usually hits leadoff against lefties like Alex Wood ($6,300) and is expected to be back in that spot Friday. Since May 1, Miller is hitting .375 (14-for-64) with six doubles, four home runs and a robust .435 wOBA. He has even tacked on a pair of stolen bases, although he doesn’t bring prototypical leadoff hitter speed. Miller has shown enough pop recently to be a good play in this prime run-producing spot in the order. He can also slide to the OF if you are playing someone else in the 3B slot, offering increased roster flexibility.
Maikel Garcia, Kansas City Royals vs. Washington Nationals ($2,400) – Garcia has reached base at least twice in six of his past seven games while going 10-for-23 (.435) with four walks, three doubles and two stolen bases. The 23-year-old has been the Royals' everyday 3B over that stretch although he has played multiple infield positions. Since being called up, the No. 3 prospect in the organization has hit an impressive .421 against lefties. He doesn’t bring much power to the table but has been getting on base enough and adding enough stolen bases to be worth a look as a cheap play at home vs. Patrick Corbin ($5,900) and the Nationals.
Other Options – Alex Kirilloff ($3,500), Casey Schmitt ($3,400), Rougned Odor ($2,700)
Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($6,400) – Acuña has established himself as a regular in this top outfield spot in my picks with a great start to the season and always is an option to consider if you’re spending up in the outfield. He has been the best player in baseball this season by almost every measure and is on a historic pace. He could even produce the first ever 50 homer/50 stolen base season in MLB history. He has 11 homers and 22 steals in his first 50 games of the year while hitting .332 with a .245 ISO and .424 wOBA. He has five home runs and seven stolen bases over his past 15 contests and is averaging 12.9 DKFP per game over that stretch. He stole a pair of bases in Atlanta’s series-opening win on Thursday and had 18 DKFP. With so much power and speed potential, no other option can match Acuña’s ceiling and consistency. He’ll be in a favorable home matchup against Taijuan Walker ($7,300), who has a 7.43 ERA and 5.41 FIP on the road this year.
Juan Soto, San Diego Padres at New York Yankees ($5,700) – Soto had a surreal return to Washington earlier this week, highlighted by a home run off of MacKenzie Gore, who was one of the players he was traded for last season. After a slow start to his first full year in San Deigo, Soto has caught fire this month. He is hitting .342 (25-for-73) in May with 10 doubles, four home runs, a .301 ISO and a .477 wOBA. The Nationals basically gave up on trying to find ways to get him out, issuing him six walks in the final two games of their series. Over his past 15 games, he is averaging 11.7 DKFP. Throughout his stop in the Bronx this weekend, that short porch in RF is sure to be beckoning him. He’ll get a good matchup against Randy Vásquez ($4,000) on Friday night, who will be making his MLB debut.
Other Options – Yordan Alvarez ($6,000), Charlie Blackmon ($4,900), Anthony Santander ($4,200)
Michael Conforto, San Francisco Giants at Milwaukee Brewers ($3,400) – After missing all of last season with shoulder surgery, Conforto has taken a while to ramp up in his first season with San Francisco. The power production has been there throughout the season, but he hit a ghastly .168 through his first 31 games of the season. In his 12 most recent games, though, he has found a great rhythm, hitting .396 (19-for-48) with two doubles, six home runs, a .417 ISO and a .510 wOBA for an average of 15 DKFP per contest over that stretch. Conforto went 4-for-4 in the series opener Thursday with his 11th homer of the season on his way to 30 DKFP. He will look to stay red hot on Friday night against Freddie Peralta ($8,800), who keeps the left-handed hitter on the strong side of his splits.
Brandon Dixon, San Diego Padres at New York Yankees ($2,000) – Dixon should be in line for another start after entering Thursday’s game for San Diego after Ha-Seong Kim ($3,300) had to be carted off with a knee injury. Dixon went 2-for-4 with a double and 12 DKFP after entering Kim’s spot after hitting his first MLB homer of the season on Tuesday in the series opener. Dixon brings some power potential in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium at the minimum salary. He joined the Padres after hitting .273 with seven home runs and a .396 wOBA over his 26 games with the El Paso Chihuahuas. With Manny Machado (hand) on the injured list and Kim now hurt, Dixon should get a chance to show his upside. If you’re spending up for Acuña, Alonso, Soto or other high-priced bats, you may need to go cheap in an outfield spot, and Dixon provides a great spot to do that while still bringing good upside.
Other Options – Esteury Ruiz ($3,200), Leody Taveras ($3,000), Jonathan Davis ($2,500)
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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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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.