Let’s get the weekend started with an excellent 11-game main slate of fantasy baseball this Friday night on DraftKings. Four games start early, but all the games starting at 7:05 p.m. ET or later provide plenty of interesting matchups to consider. Only two matchups are divisional contests while four are interleague games.
Be sure to keep up with the latest news and lineups leading up to the first pitch. One way to do that is to install the DK Live app and follow 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.
Framber Valdez, Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics ($10,800) – Valdez is coming off a season-high 13 strikeouts in his most recent start, but he also gave up five runs to the Los Angeles Angels, which limited him to only 24.9 DKFP. Valdez averaged at least one strikeout per inning in six of his past seven starts and totaled 52 punchouts in 45 1⁄3 innings over that span.
Framber’s strikeout potential is what makes him such an attractive option as he takes on the Athletics for the third time this season. He went 2-0 in back-to-back starts against Oakland at the end of May, allowing just one run on eight hits in 15 innings with 12 strikeouts and a total of 62.2 DKFP. The A’s have scored fewer runs than any other team and have also posted the third-highest K% in baseball. As a team, they have hit just .231 against southpaws like Valdez. While other top pitchers also have good matchups, Valdez is a proven commodity against the A’s and should be in a spot to deliver big points once again, especially if he can continue his strikeout success from his last outing.
Other Options – Shohei Ohtani ($11,000), Joe Ryan ($10,600)
Clarke Schmidt, New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals ($6,200) – The Yankees are struggling after going just 2-9 in their last 11 games and will hope a weekend set against Kansas City proved to be a “get right” spot. Schmidt has been one of the most consistent Yankees’ producers for fantasy and has posted over 20 DKFP in each of his past two starts. His 26.5 DKFP in his most recent start was a new season high and is even more impressive when you factor in that the start occurred at the altitude of Coors Field. In that start, Schmidt went six innings and allowed two runs on three hits and matched his season-high with eight strikeouts.
In his past 10 appearances, Schmidt has gone 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA and 3.88 FIP while striking out 47 in 54 innings. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of those games but also has not yet been able to complete more than six innings. This should be a great matchup for him since the Royals have scored the second-fewest runs in the Major Leagues this season with the second-lowest team wOBA (.290) and an average of just 3.7 runs per game in their 16 games in July. Schmidt should be able to continue to limit damage and could be an elite value if he continues his recent uptick in strikeouts.
Other Options – Freddy Peralta ($8,500), Johan Oviedo ($5,700)
Matt McLain, Cincinnati Reds vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($5,700) – McLain got Thursday’s contest off but should be back in his normal spot in the lineup for Friday’s matchup with lefty Tommy Henry ($6,400). The Reds’ rookie has hit .298 with eight homers, seven stolen bases and a .374 wOBA since being called up from Triple-A 56 games ago. He has especially thrived against lefties with a .333 (19-for-57) batting average, six doubles, four homers and an impressive .436 wOBA against southpaws. McLain brings the added flexibility of slotting into either middle infield spot, and his success against lefties makes him the preferred Cincinnati bat in what should be a good matchup at home against Arizona.
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves at Milwaukee Brewers ($5,300) – The Braves have continued to score runs in bunches and Riley has been heating up to join Matt Olson ($6,400) and Ronald Acuña Jr. ($6,600) as elite plays to consider on a nightly basis. Riley is still a little cheaper than his teammates and is a strong option to consider at 3B on Friday as he faces Freddie Peralta ($8,500). Riley had four homers in the Braves’ three-game series against the Diamondbacks, averaging a massive 29 DKFP in those three contests. Nine of his 20 home runs this season have come in his past 23 games, during which he posted a .292 average (28-for-96) with a .408 wOBA and .344 ISO. He is locked in as the team’s No. 3 hitter and brings a very high ceiling due to his power potential.
Other Options – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($5,100), Justin Turner ($4,500), Amed Rosario ($4,200)
Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cincinnati Reds vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($3,000) – Encarnacion-Strand is the latest Reds’ prospect to join what has become a suddenly fun and suddenly deep lineup. If McLain and Elly De La Cruz ($6,500) are too expensive to fit in your lineups, Encarnacion-Strand is a much more affordable way to get some Reds youth infused into your roster. The 23-year-old power prospect hit 20 homers in 67 games at Triple-A with a .440 wOBA. In his four games since being called up, he went 4-for-13 (.308) with a home run, a .350 wOBA and an average of 8.3 DKFP per contest. Encarnacion-Strand hit 10 of his 20 homers in Triple-A off of lefties, so he definitely brings good power potential and a high ceiling at only $3K against Henry on Friday.
Andruw Monasterio, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves ($2,500) – With Brian Anderson (back) and Rowdy Tellez (forearm) on the injured list, the Brewers are short-handed as they open their series with the Braves. Monasterio has stepped into a larger role and provided good contact skills for the Brew Crew since the All-Star break and has collected multiple hits in four straight contests coming into a good matchup against Mike Soroka ($6,900), who is filling in the Braves one thin rotation spot. Monasterio has hit .303 in his 30 games with Milwaukee and has a home run, three stolen bases and a .352 wOBA. He is a solid way to go cheap at either 2B or 3B with his dual eligibility and still likely get something from the spot since he has at least 8.0 DKFP in seven of his last 10 games with an at-bat. His per-game averages are a little skewed from all the games he entered earlier this season as a defensive replacement.
Other Options – C.J. Abrams ($3,300), Kyle Farmer ($2,700), Jordan Diaz ($2,200)
Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks at Cincinnati Reds ($5,800) – Carroll continues to produce outstanding power and speed numbers as the leader of the exiting young Dbacks’ offense. Watching Arizona and Cincinnati go head-to-head this weekend should be tons of fun, and both teams are expected to score plenty of runs on Friday. Carroll and Co. will face Ben Lively ($7,300) on Friday night. Carroll has hit .288 against righties like Livey with a .407 wOBA on the season. Carroll had both his 19th home run and his 29th stolen base of the season on Thursday on his way to 23 DKFP. He continues to offer elite upside in both power and speed and is a great pay-up play to build around Friday.
Masataka Yoshida, Boston Red Sox vs. New York Mets ($4,600) – Yoshida has hit .317 with 11 homers and a .380 wOBA in his first year for the Red Sox and continues to be a little under-priced given his recent form. Yoshida hit safely in 12 of his past 13 games with 10 multi-hit performances during that run. He went 24-for-56 (.429) with five doubles, a triple, three homers and a .489 wOBA while averaging 13.4 DKFP during that span. He has started to attempt more stolen bases lately, which gives him an even higher ceiling. It makes sense to consider Masa whenever the Red Sox are facing a right-handed starter like they do Friday as they take on Kodai Senga ($9,600).
Other Options – Ronald Acuña Jr. ($6,600), Christian Yelich ($4,900)
Michael Conforto, San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals ($3,500) – Conforto is having a solid season in San Francisco after sitting out all of last year, and his production has actually been a slight improvement from his 2021 numbers. He has hit .244 with 13 homers and a .328 wOBA on the season but has been more productive lately with a .305 average, one homer and a .366 wOBA over his past 17 games. He missed some games early in that span with a hamstring issue but seems to be past that, having started all six games since the All-Star break and going 8-for-24 (.333) with a pair of stolen bases. He’s a very affordable way to get a middle-of-the-order bat in a good matchup as the Giants take on Jake Irvin ($5,400) and the Nats. Irvin has gone 2-5 in 13 starts with a 4.96 ERA, 5.25 FIP and a .357 wOBA allowed to lefties like Conforto.
Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox ($2,600) – Kepler was not in Thursday’s lineup but entered as a pinch-hitter. It was a little surprising to see him on the bench after a nice 15-game run. In those contests, Kepler hit .304 (17-for-56) with four home runs and a .383 wOBA while producing a 58.5% hard-hit rate, per Statcast. Kepler has plenty of pop when he’s healthy, and the Twins seem set on giving him the rest he needs to make that possible. He should be back in the middle of the lineup against Lance Lynn ($7,600) to start this divisional series, and at barely over $2.5K, he brings a good ceiling based on his recent results.
Other Options – Andrew Benintendi ($3,200), Travis Jankowski ($2,900), Henry 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 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.