After a lighter Thursday night schedule, Major League Baseball is back in a big way Friday with all 30 teams ready to start the weekend looking for a win. There are 13 games on the main DFS fantasy baseball slate on DraftKings, which begins at 7:05 p.m. ET. It’s a jam-packed slate with top pitching options and intriguing divisional matchups. Seven of the 13 games on the main slate are divisional contests, so there are plenty of familiar opponents facing off Friday. While there isn’t a game at Coors Field, there are a few great spots for offense on Friday as well. Check out who I think you should build your lineups around below.
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.
Framber Valdez, Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels ($10,100) – Valdez is my favorite play of all the aces on the bump this Friday. The Astros lefty has gone 5-4 but has pitched better than that record indicates, compiling a 2.38 ERA, 2.94 FIP and 9.63 K/9 in his 11 starts. He has reliably pitched deep into games as well, lasting at least six innings in nine of his 11 starts.
He faced the Angels just under a month ago and held them to just three hits and one run with a season-high 12 strikeouts in eight innings. He posted a season-high 42.2 DKFP in Anaheim and will look to continue that success in this home start. He has over 21 DKFP in four of his past five outings with two ceiling games over 40 DKFP, including that previous win against the Angels. Valdez has been the most reliable of all the elite options on the board and is in one of the better matchups as well. It’s especially hard to pass up the ceiling of Shohei Ohtani ($10,700) on the other side of what sets up to be an epic pitchers’ duel, but Valdez has been more consistent and has shown he can dominate this specific matchup.
Other Options – Logan Webb ($9,700), Zack Wheeler ($9,200)
Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox ($7,900) – Glasnow was sidelined for the first two months of the season with an oblique injury, but he looked strong in his return last Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that contest, he only lasted 4 1⁄3 innings but had eight strikeouts and 16.2 DKFP in a no-decision. The strikeout upside is tantalizing enough to chase even though he may not be fully ramped up. He did throw 83 pitches in that contest, so if that number increases just a little bit, he should be able to go long enough to qualify for the win.
Glasnow is 1-1 in five career starts at Fenway but has racked up 37 strikeouts in his 27 innings. In his career against the Red Sox, he has 56 strikeouts in 42 1⁄3 innings, so it should be a matchup where he can find success. The Red Sox have hit well this year but have also been silenced in several recent matchups and lost three of their last four. So recently returned from injury, Glasnow does bring some extra risk, but when he’s healthy, he has an elite ceiling due to his strikeout rate. He’s not the safest play under $8K, but he brings too much upside to overlook.
Other Options – Jon Gray ($7,600), Michael Wacha ($7,400)
Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees ($5,400) – The Dodgers host the Yankees in what should be a fun series on the left coast, and Freeman comes into the matchup swinging a scalding bat. Freeman comes into the series with a 20-game hitting streak and has gone 19-for-81 (.457) over that span with 12 doubles, five homers, a .549 wOBA and even three stolen bases. He stole two bags on Wednesday on his way to 22 DKFP and has over double-digit DKFP in six straight contests. Over those 20 games, he has averaged 14.9 DKFP per game. It’s a little surprising he’s still only the fourth-highest-priced 1B on this slate, but he has been so consistent and brings such a high ceiling that he’s a great centerpiece to construct around.
Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies at Kansas City Royals ($4,600) – Even though the Rockies are on the road, McMahon is worth a look in a great matchup detailed below in stacks. He has five multi-hit games in his past eight contests, going 15-for-30 (.500) with three doubles, a triple, four homers and an average of 17 DKFP per contest. He’s still an affordable option at the hot corner but offers great converging trends coming into this matchup.
Other Options – Josh Jung ($5,300), Bo Bichette ($5,200)
Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Guardians ($3,100) – Lewis has jumped right back into the heart of the Twins’ batting order and given the offense a much-needed boost after a year-long recovery from a torn ACL. The former top prospect hit four homers and stole four bases in his 10-game rehab and has gone 4-for-13 (.308) with a double and two home runs in his three games since returning. The 23-year-old looks like he’s going to quickly make up for lost time and regain his status as one of the most exciting young players in the game. He is eligible at both 3B or SS, so he brings extra roster flexibility as well.
Rougned Odor, San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs ($3,000) – Odor can also slot in at a couple of spots in your infield with both 2B and 3B eligibility. He has provided a nice spark for the Padres since becoming a regular after the injury to Manny Machado (hand). As usual with Odor, the batting average isn’t pretty, but there’s plenty of power potential. He has three homers and three doubles in his past nine games with a .425 wOBA while averaging 13.75 DKFP in his past eight starts.
Other Options – Brett Baty ($3,200), Adam Frazier ($2,800)
Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves at Arizona Diamondbacks ($6,500) – Acuña stole his 23rd base of the season on Wednesday night and collected two hits on his way to 15 DKFP. He has at least that many DKFP in nine of his past 18 games while 21-for-74 (.284) with four doubles, four homers, eight stolen bases and a .373 wOBA. Hitting atop one of the most productive lineups in the Majors, Acuña is always a threat for a monster game with either his power, his speed or both. He’s actually been significantly more productive on the road, where he has a .446 wOBA, and against righties, who he has a .407 wOBA against. He’s on the strong side of both those splits in Friday’s matchup with Merrill Kelly ($8,700) in Arizona.
Juan Soto, San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs ($5,500) – Soto hit .333 in May with five home runs, a .299 ISO and a .468 wOBA. For the season, he’s now hitting .259 with a .395 wOBA and six stolen bases to go with his 10 home runs. He and the Padres are in a great matchup highlighted below, and they should be excited to be back at Petco Park after a nine-game trip to the East Coast.
Other Options – Corbin Carroll ($5,400), George Springer ($4,900), Charlie Blackmon ($4,600)
Jake McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Atlanta Braves ($3,100) – McCarthy was a pre-season sleeper who got plenty of fantasy buzz after a strong second half last year but looked lost early in the season at the plate. A trip to the minors seems to have fixed the issue, though, and the 25-year-old has returned looking much better at the plate. In his seven games since coming back, he has gone 7-for-22 (.364) with a double and six stolen bases in just seven games. McCarthy’s stolen base potential makes him a high-ceiling play if he keeps getting on base. His upside at just over $3K deserves attention even though his power potential is limited.
Nolan Jones, Colorado Rockies at Kansas City Royals ($2,900) – Jones tore up Triple-A with a .356 ISO and .503 wOBA in 39 games for the Albuquerque Isotopes. The lefty has been able to translate that success to the Majors since being called up, going 7-for-22 (.318) with a pair of doubles and a home run in seven games. With multiple injuries opening playing time in the Colorado lineup, Jones is a nice power production option to consider in this great matchup against the Royals (more below).
Other Options – Mitch Haniger ($3,000), Aaron Hicks ($2,400), Isiah Kiner-Falefa ($2,300)
San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs – The Padres have been one of the biggest disappointments in the Majors so far this season, and their offense has really been a letdown. They are in a good spot on Friday, though, as they return home and take on Jameson Taillon ($5,400). Taillon is 0-3 in eight starts for Chicago with an ugly 8.04 ERA and 4.47 FIP and five home runs allowed. He has given up four of those homers in his four most recent starts, allowing at least four earned runs in each of those outings. He has been hit especially well by lefties, who have four homers and a .469 wOBA against him. Soto is definitely an anchor to build around on the strong side of those splits in addition to Jake Cronenworth ($4,300), who is expected to hit leadoff. Odor and Trent Grisham ($2,800) are also lefties who make good value plays, and you can fill in your stack with righties Fernando Tatis Jr. ($6,000) and Xander Bogaerts ($5,100) if you have the salary.
Colorado Rockies at Kansas City Royals – Normally stacking the Rockies on the road isn’t a great option, but they have a great matchup against former Rockie Jordan Lyles ($6,000). Lyles is 0-9 in his 11 starts with a 7.30 ERA and 6.37 FIP. He has always been prone to giving up home runs, but this year he has served up an MLB-leading 16 home runs. He has allowed at least four runs in seven straight starts with 12 home runs allowed during that span. Since they’re not at Coors, the Rockies bring interesting value. McMahon and Jones are both strong options highlighted above and you can add in veteran outfielders Charlie Blackmon ($4,600) and Randal Grichuk ($4,100) as good midrange targets as well. Ezequiel Tovar ($3,100) and Harold Castro ($2,400) are cheap plays to round out the stack.
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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.