With the MLB Trade Deadline looming on Tuesday, teams are getting in position to make a run to the postseason or get the best deals possible to set their team up for success in the future. While deals go down, though, there are also some great series on tap for this weekend, starting with a 14-game main slate Friday night on DraftKings. There are five divisional matchups on tap along with four interleague matchups. One of those matchups takes place at Coors Field, so it deserves special attention as you build your lineups.
Throughout the day, be sure to keep up with the latest weather, injury, trade and lineup news that can have an impact on Friday’s contests. One way to do that is 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 playoff races continue to take shape over the next few months of the regular season.
Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Los Angeles Angels ($10,800) – The Blue Jays and Angels are both hoping to be factors in the AL Wild Card race coming into their series this week in Toronto. Gausman leads the American League with an 11.98 K/9 rate and 162 strikeouts. He has gone 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA and 2.77 FIP in his 20 starts this season, and the Blue Jays will feel good to have their Ace on the mound to start this series Friday.
Gausman has been even better at home this year, with a 2.58 ERA and 2.22 FIP. He had masterful home starts against the Giants, Astros and Brewers in three of his five most recent home outings, finishing with 33.1, 41.4 and 36.8 DKFP, respectively. He brings that kind of a high ceiling again in this matchup, even though Shohei Ohtani ($6,500) is expected to be in the lineup after leaving Thursday’s game early due to injury. The Angels lineup doesn’t have a lot of depth behind Ohtani and has compiled the second-highest K% of any team in the majors over the past 30 days. With so much strikeout potential and a high ceiling, Gausman is the option I’m most interested in paying up for Friday.
Other Option – Zack Wheeler ($9,800), Sonny Gray ($9,300)
MacKenzie Gore, Washington Nationals at New York Mets ($7,300) – Gore has had an up-and-down season on his way to a 6-7 record, 4.37 ERA and 4.23 FIP. He has gone 3-1 over his last five outings with over 15 DKFP in each of his three wins. In his last start, he threw five shutout innings against the Giants with eight strikeouts for 27.7 DKFP. He has 122 strikeouts in his 101 innings, so he does bring good punchout potential even if he’s not quite at the same level as Gausman.
Gore will be facing the Mets for the third time this season. In his other two starts against his division rival, he has allowed just one run on nine hits over 10 innings with 13 strikeouts. The Mets look to be sellers at the deadline and have hit just .228 over the past 30 days while scoring only 94 runs, both marks which put them in the bottom six offenses over that span. Gore has the potential for another strong start with good strikeouts, making him a good value to consider at just over $7K.
Other Options – Bobby Miller ($7,700), Grayson Rodriguez ($6,300)
Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs ($5,500) – Arenado’s strikeout rate has jumped a bit this season, but his overall numbers are not that far off his career norms. He has hit .287 with 22 homers and a .359 wOBA through 99 games and has been picking up the pace lately. Over his past 25 games, he has hit .348 (32-for-92) with 10 doubles, seven home runs and a .441 wOBA. He is a .310 career hitter against lefties with a .405 wOBA, so he should be in a good spot against Drew Smyly ($5,700), who he has gone 5-for-13 against in their past meetings including a home run. While there are flashier plays with salaries around $6K, Arenado is a proven option who is a good play at this price.
Justin Turner, Boston Red Sox at San Francisco Giants ($4,400) – Another proven option who has been steady and productive lately has been veteran Justin Turner, who has added 2B eligibility, further enhancing his value. Turner has thrived in his first season in Boston and has hit .289 with 16 homers and a .362 wOBA in his 98 games. Turner has been trending in the right direction as well and has gone 27-for-75 (.360) over his past 20 games with seven doubles, five homers and a .438 wOBA. He and the Red Sox roll into San Francisco for their weekend set against the Giants and will face Logan Webb ($10,200), who Turner went 4-for-9 against with a walk in their previous head-to-head matchups. Turner is a great midrange option at either 1B or 2B depending on what other stars you’re building around.
Other Options – Elly De La Cruz ($6,100), Marcus Semien ($5,900), Nico Hoerner ($4,800)
C.J. Abrams, Washington Nationals at New York Mets ($3,900) – Abrams has been a fixture in my picks since he moved to the top of the Nationals' batting order and continues to be a good value under $4K. The 22-year-old brings plenty of speed and run-scoring potential while also providing some good pop. He hit .337 in his 21 games so far in July with four doubles, two triples, three homers and a .401 wOBA. Those numbers would be attention-grabbing for any leadoff hitter and are even stronger when you add in his 12 stolen bases over that span. Using his power and speed combo, he has averaged 12.3 DKFP per contest this month, and Max Scherzer ($9,400) is no longer a matchup that needs to be avoided at all costs. If anything, it may serve to keep Abrams’ ownership from going to high.
Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals ($2,700) – Kirilloff missed Wednesday’s game with a sore shoulder, but the hope is that he’ll be back in the lineup Friday against Brady Singer ($6,400) and the Royals. The injury has been the only thing to slow Kirilloff down lately, as the 25-year-old has come into his own at the plate over the past month. He hit averaged 12.8 DKFP per game over his past 10 contests by hitting .310 with four doubles, four homers, 14 RBI and a .440 wOBA. If he’s back in the lineup, he’s a great option under $3K, especially against Singer, who has let lefties post a .357 wOBA against him this season. If Kirilloff isn’t able to return, Christian Encarnacion-Strand ($3,200) and Triston Casas ($3,300) are other young 1B that come at reasonable salaries with good power potential.
Other Options – Jordan Diaz ($3,100), Andruw Monastario ($2,700)
Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Seattle Mariners ($6,000) – Carroll had three hits, a stolen base and 24 DKFP on Wednesday and has averaged 13.7 DKFP over his past 10 games. The rookie phenom has hit .279 (12-for-43) since the All-Star break with a double, two triples, three homers and four stolen bases. He has hit .295 on the season against righties with a .418 wOBA, so he should be ready to roll in this home matchup against Logan Gilbert ($9,000) and the Mariners. He can’t match Ohtani’s power production but has averaged almost the same fantasy production over his past 10 games while outperforming the other studs with salaries well over $6K over that span.
Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves ($5,400) – With Yelich, Gausman, Turner and Arenado in this post, it’s worth double-checking the calendar to make sure it’s 2023. Yelich has been picking things up for the Brew Crew as they battle for the NL Central. He has hit safely in eight straight games and posted a blistering .346 average with six homers, five stolen bases and a .423 wOBA to average 12.1 DKFP per game over his past 26 contests. All year, he has hit righties well with a .309 average, 12 homers and a .400 wOBA.
Other Options – Ronald Acuña Jr. ($6,600), Julio Rodriguez ($5,200), Nolan Jones ($4,300)
Brent Rooker, Oakland Athletics at Colorado Rockies ($3,800) – Normally, Rooker wouldn’t get much attention at this salary, but throw in the Coors Field factor, and he becomes one of the most interesting options under $4K. Rooker has a team-high 16 homers on the season and was Oakland’s lone All-Star representative. Six of those 16 homers have come against lefties, who he has posted a .357 wOBA against. He also has hit much better on the road than at home, so facing lefty Kyle Freeland ($5,400) at Coors Field puts him on the favorable side of his splits.
Gabrial Arias, Cleveland Guardians at Chicago White Sox ($2,000) – Arias is expected to get plenty of playing time at SS following the trade of Amed Rosario ($3,900) to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 23-year-old still has OF eligibility as well, making him a great play if you have to pay down to the minimum on Friday night’s roster. Arias was ranked in the team’s top 10 prospects in 2021 and 2022 but hasn’t been able to hit consistently in the majors yet. Last year, he hit just .191 with a .294 wOBA, and this year he has hit .196 with a .283 wOBA. There is still some interesting upside, though, so don’t just overlook him as a punt play. He had two hits in each of his two starts on Wednesday and Thursday with a double, a walk and a stolen base helping him to produce 12 and 13 DKFP. With the White Sox turning to former Guardian, Touki Toussaint ($5,100), for this AL Central matchup in Chicago, the Guardians lineup could be a good cheap source of production, and Arias is a name worth looking for as a fill-in at the minimum salary.
Other Options – Travis Jankowski ($3,100), Henry Davis ($2,900), Colton Cowser ($2,600)
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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.