This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Thursday was a weird light day for MLB this season. Friday is more like business as usual, although the game between the Cardinals and White Sox, has been postponed, which I have zero surprise about. There is also a 6:37 p.m. EDT start between the Blue Jays and Rays in Buffalo not being included for the purposes of the DFS slate. Which is a shame, because the Blue Jays have struggled offensively, and you might've been able to find a pitcher who could provide high value on their salary. Nevertheless, there are a lot of options Friday, and here are my thoughts on the slate.
Maybe because of the day off, the pitchers taking the mound Friday are an impressive bunch. Gerrit Cole ($11,000), Clayton Kershaw ($10,600), and Jacob deGrom ($11,600) are all in line for starts. So is Lance Lynn, who was excellent last year, but he's starting at Coors Field so I'm skipping him. Of all those pitchers, I would go with Cole against the Red Sox first and foremost. He's the one of those three who is at home, and also Boston's offense is not what it has been in the past without guys like Mookie Betts and still-in-his-prime Dustin Pedroia.
There are plenty of other pitchers out there that interest me. Sonny Gray ($9,600) posted a 2.87 ERA last season, and through four starts this season he has a 2.25 ERA. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the worst OBP in the league and were really struggling offensively before facing off with the Tigers. The Tigers don't have any pitchers like Gray.
Frankie Montas ($8,400) had a 2.98 FIP in 2019, and I don't think it's because the A's have such a pitcher-friendly ballpark. He actually had a 2.33 ERA on the road and a 3.00 ERA at home. Somehow, he's improved his numbers to start 2020. He's posting a 2.45 FIP and now is facing the Giants. In addition to San Fran having a good park for pitchers as well, it's ranked in the bottom five in runs scored the last three seasons. Oakland pitcher Frankie Montas is sporting a 2.45 FIP and is facing the Giants in their pitcher friendly park.
Tyler Chatwood ($9,100) has a 5.40 ERA, but don't be scared off by that. He actually has a 2.53 FIP on account of the fact that his BABIP is a staggering .417. Hitters aren't going to keep swinging the bat like they're Rogers Hornsby against Chatwood, especially not with the way offenses look in 2020. The Cubs are off to a hot start, making a win for Chatwood feel pretty likely, and also the Brewers are in the bottom five in runs scored in the non-Marlins, non-Cardinals division.
Cleveland's offense is struggling, but don't point the finger at Jose Ramirez ($5,600). He's got a .341 OBP with four home runs in 19 games. The 27-year-old also had 20 homers and 20 stolen bases last season in only 129 games. Facing the Tigers could help the Cleveland offense, including Ramirez. Ivan Nova has a career 4.38 FIP, and this year his FIP is up to 5.04.
Max Kepler ($4,600) has a .227 batting average at the home, but this year that's less of a concern. Plus, even with that he has a .515 slugging percentage and has hit five home runs in 17 games. I like the lefties' chances against right-handed pitcher Jakob Junis of the Royals. A big reason for that is that Junis has allowed a .288 batting average to lefties since 2018.
Justin Turner ($4,800) doesn't have huge power for the modern era – his career high is 27 homers – but he has a slugging percentage over .500 in each of the last three seasons. Plus, he hit those 27 home runs in only 135 games last year. Since Patrick Sandoval has only made 11 starts in his career, it's hard to get a full picture of the left hander. What I know is that he has a 2.70 ERA this year but with a 4.66 FIP after having a 4.58 FIP last year.
The Rangers have struggled offensively this year. You know what could help? A trip to Coors Field. Nick Solak ($4,700) has only played in 49 games in his career, but in that time he's slashed .289/.392/.439. That's not a ton of power, but you don't need a lot of pop in your bat in the thin air of Denver. The Rockies are starting Ryan Castellani, who pitched four shutout innings in his MLB debut. That was on the road against the Mariners. This is quite different, especially for a guy who had a 8.31 ERA in Triple-A in 2019.
Atlanta has a few good franchise pitchers (though they aren't all available this season), but Kyle Wright isn't one of them. The 24-year-old has a 6.54 FIP in his career and has allowed 1.91 homers per nine innings. You may not think of the Marlins much for your DFS lineup, but you should really keep Brian Anderson ($6,700) in mind. In addition to having a career slash line of .268/.351/.432, he has a 1.007 OPS in 2020 thanks to a hot start and four homers in 12 games.
Michael Conforto ($4,000) has pretty much been good at getting on base and hitting for power for his entire career, but this season he's one of an increasingly rare number of players hitting for average. His .333 batting average is quite impressive, but I'm as interested in his .514 slugging percentage. Philly's starter Spencer Howard is considered a top prospect, but he's only made one MLB start so far. He allowed two home runs in 4.2 innings. Someday, Howard may be a fine pitcher, but I trust Conforto to handle the righty rookie.
Kikuchi arrived in the United States from Japan in 2019 and got a rude welcome from his new home. In 32 starts he posted a 5.46 ERA and allowed two homers per nine innings. This year he's made three starts and has a 5.28 ERA. In fact, in his first start of the season he allowed five runs in 3.2 innings. The Astros have gotten off to a slow start, but that hasn't been an offense issue. Especially not for these three right-handed batters going up against southpaw Kikuchi.
Bregman is technically having a down year by his standards, but, even so, he still has a .500 slugging percentage with four home runs in 18 games. He hit 41 home runs last year, so I expect his bat to be just fine. Correa is actually getting on base at the best clip of his career, as he has a .333 batting average and .421 OBP. Both of those are personal bests. Gurriel is not the first hitter you think of for the Astros, but he has a career .292 batting average, and since 2018 he has an .849 OPS versus lefties.