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Fantasy Baseball Picks: Top DraftKings MLB DFS Targets, Values for May 21

Garion Thorne gives his top studs and value plays at each position for Friday’s fantasy baseball slate on DraftKings, which starts at 7:05 p.m. ET.

I can’t say for sure if this is the first 15-game featured MLB slate that we’ve had all season, but I do know that this is the first one I’ve had the opportunity to write up in 2021. That’s sort of insane, right? That we’d gone eight weeks without every team playing on the same night? We also don’t appear to have any weather concerns for this evening’s action, so it’s all systems go for this jam-packed schedule.

Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know.

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Trevor Bauer, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants, $11,900 - Bauer is the most-expensive we’ve seen him all year after matching a season-high with 10 strikeouts in his most recent outing against the Marlins. Across 57.1 innings, the right-hander has pitched to a 2.25 expected ERA with a 35.5% strikeout rate that is the seventh-best in all of baseball among qualified starters. In a word, he’s been great in 2021. Now, the Giants aren’t exactly a cupcake matchup, but it’s an enviable spot when you consider that Aaron Nola ($11,600) draws the Red Sox and Tyler Glasnow ($11,200) will face the Blue Jays. While San Francisco has had little issue scoring runs the past two months, at 28.2%, it does possess the league’s highest strikeout rate against RHPs. That alone elevates Bauer’s ceiling to incredible heights.


James Kaprielian, Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels, $6,100 - A former top prospect in the Yankees’ system, Kaprielian made an emotional return to the mound last week against the Red Sox, racking up 21.1 DKFP across five innings of one-run baseball. Crucially, the right-hander was able to amass six strikeouts in that outing, as he leaned heavily on an above-average 13.7% swinging strike rate. Really, that’s the whole key to his viability on Friday: His ability to generate swings and misses. The Angels have been scuffling at the plate over the past 14 days, registering a paltry .292 OBP. With Mike Trout (calf) on the IL, this isn’t exactly a lineup to fear, and Kaprielian should be able to take advantage.



Yermin Mercedes, Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees, $4,600 - Allow me to officially say that the stance of this article is that we love Yermin Mercedes and you should swing at all the 3-0 pitches you want. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the struggles of Jordan Montgomery ($8,100). The southpaw has been getting hit hard by RHBs all season long, as he’s surrendered 1.80 home runs per nine within the split. Meanwhile, in 35 plate appearances versus LHPs, Mercedes is slashing .424/.457/.667 with a 211 wRC+. This seems like a match made in heaven for the rookie.


Editor’s Note: Rays C Mike Zunino is not in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Blue Jays.

Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays, $3,800 - You know what you’re getting into with Zunino. The backstop comes into Friday’s slate with 19 hits so far in 2021, and more than half of those are home runs (10). He’s struck out in 37.0% of his 100 plate appearances. This is a pure upside play, because Zunino’s floor is cavernous. However, the veteran does have a few things working in his favor. First, he’ll face the left-handed Anthony Kay ($5,900) and Zunino currently sports a ridiculous .486 ISO within the split. Second, he’ll be playing at TD Ballpark, which has proven to essentially be Coors Field on the east coast.

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Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals, $5,000 - Is it odd that Bryant now has first base eligibility and not third base eligibility? Very much so. However, I’ll gladly work him into any position I can against the struggling Carlos Martinez ($6,900). It’s not as if the veteran RHP is giving up home runs left and right each and every start, but something certainly feels off with Martinez. Through seven starts, C-Mart has an ugly 5.27 expected ERA, while his zone contact rate is up at 88.7%. He’s just not missing bats and that’s a problem against a red-hot hitter like Bryant.


C.J. Cron, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $3,800 - While it’s usually ideal to use Cron when the Rockies are facing a left-hander, the main split to focus on with the first baseman is location. As one would expect, Cron’s been a machine when hitting at Coors Field so far in 2021, with a .999 OPS and a .296 ISO in 64 plate appearances. Plus, while Seth Frankoff ($4,600) isn’t a southpaw, he is someone who’s only thrown 9.1 career innings at the MLB-level. He’s allowed nine earned runs. It hasn’t been great. Good luck in the altitude, Seth.



Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $4,900 - The top of the player pool at second base is a little underwhelming on Friday, so let’s just stick with Coors. Like his aforementioned teammate, McMahon has been a different player when in Colorado, as his .861 OPS is nearly 200 points higher than his mark on the road (.663). In an opposite-hand matchup, with the highest implied team total on the slate, this price doesn’t seem too steep for McMahon’s services.


Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres vs. Seattle Mariners, $3,800 - Here’s something interesting to note when it comes to Cronenworth’s value: Even with Fernando Tatis Jr. ($5,800) and Eric Hosmer ($4,200) back in the lineup on Wednesday, the infielder continued to bat third in the Padres’ lineup. That’s huge, especially if it continues tonight against Chris Flexen ($6,600). While Flexen’s been perfectly average this season, it feels like trouble is on the horizon. It’s simply hard to survive in the majors with an 88.6% zone contact rate and a microscopic 7.7% swinging strike rate.



Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels, $4,600 - In general, this should just be a tough game for Jose Quintana ($6,200). Oakland has destroyed left-handed pitching in 2021, coming into tonight’s contest with a 115 wRC+ within the split — the fourth-best mark in all of baseball. Chapman is one of the people responsible, too. The veteran’s bat has been heating up in May and, against specifically left-handed opponents, Chapman is slashing .286/.365/.536 with a 156 wRC+. The fact that Quintana’s surrendered a .402 wOBA to RHBs doesn’t help his cause too much, either.


Jonathan Villar, New York Mets at Miami Marlins, $3,500 - When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to go with a cheap leadoff man in a matchup with a rookie starter. Villar’s been far from amazing this season, but he has been at his best as a left-handed hitter, as he’s slashing .258/.364/.470 with a .212 ISO against RHPs. The 30-year-old also still has enough juice to make a few things happen on the base paths. If he gets five plate appearances this evening, it seems pretty likely he’ll bring back value.



Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees, $5,600 - By this point we all understand that Anderson can hit left-handed pitching. In fact, in May, the shortstop is 7-for-16 (.438) within the split in limited opportunity. Still, if you want some statistics from a larger sample, let’s go all the way back to the beginning of 2019. In Anderson’s past 234 plate appearances versus southpaws, he’s hitting .356 with a .233 ISO and a 163 wRC+. Again, we all understand that he can hit lefties. Let’s move on, shall we?


Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox, $3,500 - While I can certainly appreciate that Torres is struggling at the plate right now, this price tag seems like a bit of an overreaction. In fact, it’s the cheapest Torres has been over the past two seasons. That’s extreme, especially when you consider that Torres owns a career .245 ISO against left-handed pitching and a .351 wOBA hitting in Yankee Stadium. Is it a tough matchup with Carlos Rodon ($9,900)? Yes. However, this is just too cheap for an asset with this pedigree.



Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays, $5,000 - I’m playing the narrative here. While I could easily just point to Arozarena’s 143 wRC+ against left-handed pitching in 2021 as a justification for his selection, I’d rather admit that I’m just afraid to not ride the hot hand. We’ve all seen how Arozarena’s streaks can carry an entire team to the World Series and it appears he’s on one of those kicks as we speak. In the outfielder’s past five games, he’s collected 11 hits, three home runs and nine RBI all while scoring eight runs. If I were Anthony Kay, I’d proceed with caution, though it might not matter.


Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees, $2,200 - While Vaughn’s spot in the batting order is generally pedestrian at best — he did hit fifth the last time the White Sox saw an LHP on Monday — this is purely about the rookie’s insane salary. Why is he still this cheap? What does the algorithm know that I don’t? Not only was Vaughn considered to be one of the most polished college hitting prospects in recent years, he’s mashed left-handed pitching in 2021 to he tune of a 203 wRC+ in 34 plate appearances. He’s a steal at this price. Stop reading this and go put him into a lineup.

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