It’s all shaping up to be a pretty nice night of baseball, guys. We’ve got a pair of American League Cy Young hopefuls at the top of the pricing list in Robbie Ray ($10,700) and Carlos Rodon ($10,300), the likely AL MVP will be doing his hitting and pitching thing down in Houston, while there isn’t a single weather system in the country to be concerned about.
Let’s go position-by-position and break down Friday’s 13-game featured slate on DraftKings.
Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $10,700 - This is the second-most expensive Ray has been all season, yet with his recent exploits, I’m positive he’ll be the most popular pitching option on tonight’s slate. You still have to use him. What Ray has been able to accomplish in his past four starts is incredible. The left-hander has thrown 28.2 innings in that span, maintaining a 1.26 ERA and a 1.10 FIP. How is it humanly possible to keep your FIP so low? All it takes is a robust 42.5% strikeout rate and an eye-popping 9-to-1 K/BB ratio. Simply put, Ray’s been pitching out of his mind, and I doubt that an Orioles lineup that’s mustered an 89 wRC+ and the league’s fourth-lowest contact rate (74.3%) over the past two weeks is going to get him out of this groove.
Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins, $6,600 - Speaking of notable price tags, tonight will be the first time all season that Anderson has a salary below $7K and I just don’t understand it. Yes, Anderson is only two starts removed from a lengthy IL stint. Yes, Anderson was roughed up at Coors Field in his most recent outing. However, six days prior, the right-hander threw 5.2 innings of shutout ball against the NL West-leading Giants. As a career 3.22 ERA and 24.0% strikeout rate illustrate, Anderson is a more than capable big league pitcher. He appears to be fully stretched out he’ll draw a tantalizing matchup on Friday in the form of the Marlins. Miami ranks third in strikeout rate (25.2%) and dead-last in ISO (.108) over the last two weeks. There’s a decent case to be made that they’ve been the most underwhelming lineup in baseball during that specific span.
Sal Perez, Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins, $5,800 - Another day, another excuse to write about Sal Perez. As I’m sure we’re all aware at this point, Perez has been an absolute monster in the batter’s box since the All-Star break, registering a .351 ISO and a .400 wOBA across 210 plate appearances. He ranks first in the league in RBI (104) and second in home runs (42). He’s fantastic. Still, his viability on Friday is likely more about the presence of Griffin Jax ($5,900), who owns a 6.62 FIP and has surrendered 2.86 long balls per nine to RHBs. That’s a rough stat line.
Omar Narvaez, Milwaukee Brewers at Cleveland Guardians, $3,500 - It flies under the radar, but Narvaez is truly one of the better offensive catchers in baseball and he’s consistently hitting in the middle of the Brewers’ lineup. Why not? Against right-handed pitching in 2021, Narvaez is slashing .301/.380/.464 with a 126 wRC+. Considering that Eli Morgan ($7,100) has conceded a whopping .403 wOBA when pitching at Progressive Field this season, this price point is a steal for Milwaukee’s backstop.
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Pete Alonso, New York Mets vs. New York Yankees, $5,000 - There’s a few things to consider here. First and foremost, Alonso is red-hot, as he’s posted a 1.049 OPS across his last 28 games and 122 plate appearances. Second, Alonso will be facing the left-handed Jordan Montgomery ($9,400) and the reigning Home Run Derby Champion has a .350 ISO against LHPs in 2021. Third, even if Alonso can’t tag Montgomery, he’ll likely get a couple at-bats against a Yankees bullpen that owns a 5.95 FIP in September. Check, check and check.
Eduardo Escobar, Milwaukee Brewers at Cleveland Guardians, $4,000 - The Brewers playing in an American League park could be a fun little stack on Friday, as the team’s implied total is hovering around five runs. Escobar has also been on fire since coming off the IL back on Sept. 3, hitting .381 with a 188 wRC+ over his last 24 plate appearances. He should be able to do some damage off the aforementioned Morgan.
Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $5,600 - There are few players in baseball hotter than Semien right now, as the former shortstop comes into Friday slashing .309/.415/.764 with a .455 ISO and a 210 wRC+ dating back to Aug. 26. That’s a span of 14 games with eight home runs for those keeping track at home. Chris Ellis ($5,200) has pitched well so far in an Orioles’ uniform, but regression is on the horizon. The 28-year-old has a 5.38 xERA and this will be the second-time in two weeks that’s he’s faced the Jays.
Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals, $4,100 - While Jon Lester ($5,800) has actually cobbled together three-straight good outings, he’s still rocking a 5.25 FIP for the season as a whole. That’s where India comes in. The rookie has been amazing against LHPs all season long, posting a .383 wOBA and a 138 wRC+ in 133 plate appearances within the split. Getting a leadoff hitter this close to $4K is never a bad thing, either.
Josh Donaldson, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals, $5,200 - I miss the days of August when Donaldson was less than $4K on every slate, but the former AL MVP is still viable with a price tag above $5K. Donaldson has posted a 130 wRC+ against left-handed pitching so far in 2021, while his 98th percentile average exit velocity (94.1) is always enticing. It certainly helps his case that Daniel Lynch ($5,300) is in possession of a 6.17 xFIP, too.
Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox at Chicago White Sox, $3,200 - This is an upside-based value play that has an absolutely cavernous floor. Rodon is a really, really good left handed pitcher, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Dalbec is unable to make a lick of contact on Friday. However, at the same time, the rookie is sporting an .806 OPS against LHPs in 2021 and, since the All-Star break, he’s registered an eye-popping 158 wRC+. He’s just too cheap for the type of ceiling he supplies.
Editor’s Note: Tigers SP Tyler Alexander will start tonight’s game vs. the Rays.
Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers, $5,600 - I’m just in awe of Franco. Since the beginning of August, the 20-year-old is slashing .320/.387/.516 with a 152 wRC+ and a microscopic 6.3% strikeout rate. It’s jaw dropping stuff. There’s no other way to phrase it. He’s also crushed left-handed pitching the entire time he’s been up in the majors, hitting .349 with a 1.029 OPS within the split. Matthew Boyd ($5,600) would be wise to tread carefully with the young phenom.
Josh Harrison, Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers, $3,900 - It’s not that I’m not buying into the Glenn Otto ($6,300) hype, it’s just that Josh Harrison has also been fantastic as of late. Going back to July 16 — a span of 173 plate appearances for Harrison — the veteran is slashing .329/.376/.522 with a 146 wRC+. Harrison’s also struck out in just 6.9% of those PAs, which is probably why he’s now batting leadoff for Oakland. He’s good and he’s underpriced. That’s always a great combination in DFS.
Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks at Seattle Mariners, $5,500 - As always, I will firmly recommend the use of Marte when the All-Star is actually healthy — especially when a left-handed pitcher is involved. This season, in 87 plate appearances within the split, Marte is hitting .413 with an insane 220 wRC+. Southpaws simply can not retire this man, which means Marco Gonzales ($8,300) is in a difficult situation on Friday. Also not assisting my confidence in Gonzales is the fact that he’s surrendered six home runs in his past three outings and owns a 5.66 xERA for 2021 as a whole.
Lourdes Gurriel, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles, $3,900 - Gurriel continues to be the cheapest element of an always expensive Toronto stack. The Cuban-born outfielder has been on fire since the beginning of August, slashing .324/.385/.562 with a 154 wRC+ in 117 plate appearances. Within that span, he’s also managed a 1.024 OPS against RHPs, so it’ll be interesting to see the kind of damage Gurriel can do versus the aforementioned Ellis this evening.
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