After four days off for the All-Star break, Major League Baseball is ready to return to action this Friday with a 14-game main slate on DraftKings. There are a few games with weather concerns on the East Coast and in the Midwest to keep an eye on, and there is also a game scheduled to take place at Coors Field, which you have to consider with so many runs expected to be scored. Most teams can reset their rotation and many will give the ball to their ace, so there are lots of intriguing matchups to take a look at as you build your lineups.
As we approach the first pitch, you’ll need to keep up with the latest player news and lineups. You can do that by installing the DK Live app and following DraftKings Network on Twitter (@DKNetwork). I’m also on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks as the second half of the season gets rolling.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros ($10,900) – Ohtani will have a chance to start back-to-back games for the Halos since he also started the Angels' final game before the break on Saturday. He went 7-4 in his 17 starts before the break with a 3.32 ERA, 4.02 FIP and 11.84 K/9 rate. His strikeout rate was the fourth-best in the majors and the best of any pitcher on Friday night’s slate. He was especially effective at home, where he had a 2.35 ERA, 3.33 FIP and 12.4 K/9 rate. His two most recent home starts resulted in 33.6 and 32.7 DKFP against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, respectively. He finished with double-digit strikeouts in each of those games and has gone at least five innings while allowing three runs or fewer in each of his past six home starts.
This will be the third time he has faced the Astros this season, and he took the loss in each of his first two starts against them, allowing seven earned runs in 13 innings with 13 strikeouts. Even in this tough matchup, though, his strikeout ceiling is so much higher than the rest of the options on the slate that he’s still my top choice if you’re spending up for a starting pitcher.
Other Options – Tyler Glasnow ($10,300), Luis Castillo ($8,900)
Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics ($7,700) – Maeda is still working back to a full workload after missing almost two months with a strained triceps following his initial return from Tommy John surgery. He had his best start of the season just before the break, posting 33.4 DKFP in a dominant start against the Kansas City Royals. In that outing, he went seven innings and allowed just three hits and one earned run with a season-high nine strikeouts.
Maeda gets a great matchup against the Athletics, who rank last in the majors in runs scored, team batting average and team wOBA. They also rank in the top five in K%, so Maeda should be able to pile up punchouts as he continues his recovery. Since his latest IL stint, he has allowed just three earned runs in 17 innings (1.59 ERA) with 21 strikeouts. That recent form and this great matchup make him a great play under $8K.
Other Options – Brayan Bello ($7,700), Sandy Alcantara ($6,800)
Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago White Sox ($6,000) – Olson leads the National League with 29 home runs in his 89 games and went into the break on an impressive power surge. In his past 25 games, Olson has a dozen homers while hitting .317 (31-for-101) with seven doubles, a triple, 25 runs scored, 29 RBI and a .470 wOBA for an average of 13.1 DKFP per contest. Olson has a .403 home wOBA and a 151 home wRC+, so he’s a strong power piece to build around, especially when playing in Atlanta. He and the potent Braves lineup get a good matchup on Friday against the White Sox and Michael Kopech ($8,500), who is expected to be activated off the IL. Olson
Francisco Lindor, New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($4,900) – Lindor’s painfully slow start to the season has his salary still under $5K and his season numbers down overall. However, he has been playing much better lately, hitting .338 with seven homers, seven stolen bases a .465 wOBA and an average of 13.4 DKFP per contest over his past 20 games. Much of Lindor’s power this season has come against lefties like Julio Urías ($8,800), giving him a .348 wOBA against southpaws. He’s a nice value with good upside given his recent form
Other Options – Mookie Betts ($6,400), Gunnar Henderson ($4,600)
Jordan Westburg, Baltimore Orioles vs. Miami Marlins ($3,100) – Westburg has a strong showing in 11 games after being called up for his MLB debut on June 26. He went 13-for-40 (.325) with three doubles, two triples and an average of 8.5 DKFP per game. Westburg is still in search of his first home run and his first stolen base, but in 67 games at Triple-A, he had 18 homers and six stolen bases, showing he has upside in both departments. The 24-year-old righty can also slide to either 2B or 3B, giving you more options in your roster construction.
Jonathan Aranda, Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals ($2,000) – When the Rays placed All-Star Yandy Diaz on the paternity list Thursday, they recalled Aranda, who was just optioned on Tuesday. Aranda went 1-for-8 in his two starts just before the break with a double and two RBI on Sunday for 11 DKFP. The 25-year-old power prospect didn’t impress last year but has been crushing at Triple-A, hitting .342 with 16 homers and a .456 wOBA in 71 games for the Durham Bulls. Aranda is a great way to save salary if he starts in place of Diaz, and he won’t have to do much to deliver on his minimum $2K salary. He will be in a good matchup as well, against Alec Marsh ($5,300), who has gone 0-2 in two starts, allowing eight runs on three home runs in just nine innings.
Other Options – Ezequiel Tovar ($3,700), Maikel Garcia ($3,500), Jose Caballero ($2,200)
George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($5,500) – Springer got a little bit longer All-Star break than most players since he was placed on the paternity list last Saturday. He’s been reinstated and is expected to hit leadoff for the Jays as they host Ryne Nelson ($6,300) and the Diamondbacks at Rogers Centre Friday. Springer tore into the break hitting .324 (33-for-102) with four homers and three stolen bases over his past 25 games with a .375 wOBA. He had 12 multi-hit games in those 25 contests and gets one of the best matchups of the day against Nelson, who has a 5.19 ERA and 4.66 FIP along with 13 homers allowed in 18 starts.
Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers ($4,800) – Before serving as host for this week’s All-Star festivities, Rodriguez had finally gotten rolling after a slow start to his sophomore season in the majors. Rodriguez went 14-for-41 (.341) in his nine games right before the break with four doubles, four stolen bases and 10.9 DKFP per contest. He has hit better at home all season with a .338 home wOBA, and he’ll be on the strong side of the splits against lefty Eduardo Rodriguez ($9,700) on Friday.
Other Options – Ronald Acuña Jr. ($6,600), Randy Arozarena ($5,400), Jorge Soler ($4,800)
Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals ($3,000) – In his 31 games since being called back up, Walker has gone 32-for-111 (.288) with five doubles, six home runs and a .372 wOBA. He has compiled an impressive 52.9% hard-hit rate over that span, per Statcast with triple-digit max exit velocity in four of his past five games. He’ll be in a favorable matchup against Trevor Williams ($5,500) as long as the rain holds off, and he is a great value at just $3K given his high ceiling.
Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks at Toronto Blue Jays ($2,700) – Thomas homered in back-to-back games heading into the break and has made great strides since spending a month back in the minors. The 23-year-old lefty struggled early in the year but has hit .328 (19-for-58) with five doubles, three homers and two stolen bases in his 19 games since being called back up. He has a .385 wOBA and has averaged 7.8 DKFP per start since rejoining the team and continues to bring good power and speed potential. The Dbacks and Blue Jays are expected to be one of the higher-scoring matchups on the slate on Friday and don’t have to worry about weather issues indoors.
Other Options – Jarren Duran ($3,600), Randal Grichuk ($3,500), Henry Davis ($2,600)
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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 skills 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.