Friday night MLB DFS is here, and that means a full slate of games to choose from. As always, be sure to remember the heavy variance that comes with baseball and to be very aware of your bankroll management. Additionally, the RotoGrinders MLB lineups page and push notifications are the best way to get all team lineups in a timely manner. Now let’s dig in for some picks for FanDuel and DraftKings.
Jose Berrios (vs. Tampa Bay Rays)
The first reason behind the selection is that I am not in love with any of the high-priced arms tonight. There are some fair options, but I don’t think there is a must play in the bunch. So, I’m going to choose a very high upside, highly volatile option in Jose Berrios. The general numbers are very solid for him and he strikes out batters at around a 25 percent clip. The intriguing part comes in when you factor in that Tampa Bay has a projected lineup right now that features eight batters that we consider “high strikeout hitters.” Also, this is typically a ballpark that favors pitching much more than hitting. With no one standing out to me on the slate at pitching, Berrios will be my most heavily owned the guy.
Catcher/ First Base
Brandon Belt (vs. Baltimore Orioles)
Brandon Belt is typically a forgotten man that flies under the radar for fantasy purposes, but he’s in a great position tonight to reward you on your DFS team. First off, he goes from a home ballpark that absolutely suppresses power, to a hitter’s Park that is nearly twice as easy for left-handed batters to hit home runs. Over the last two seasons he has a phenomenal .218 ISO against right-handed pitching and a massive 49.6 percent flyball rate. Andrew Cashner is the starting pitcher for Baltimore tonight and I would expect him to be his typical below average self. The incredibly low 15.4 percent strikeout rate and 5.24 xFIP over the last two seasons indicates that he is a below average major league pitcher. This San Francisco lineup is extremely weak, so I don’t think they are a team I want to stack, but Brandon Belt as a one-off is a great option.
Jason Kipnis (vs. Chicago White Sox)
When you see the name Dylan Covey listed as the starting pitcher, it would behoove you to look at the opposite lineup and see where you can find DFS batters. This Cleveland lineup has a few options tonight, but the thinnest position I see that I can take advantage of with this matchup is second base with Jason Kipnis. He should draw a spot in the top four in the batting order and has a respectable 35.9 percent hard-hit rate against right-handed pitching over the last two seasons. On the flipside Covey has struggled mightily against left-handed batters. He’s only struck out 18.2 percent of them while walking 13.9 percent of those lefties since the start of 2018. He gives up a massive 35.2 percent hard-hit rate against left-handed batters also. This isn’t the same Cleveland lineup that’s been dominant over the past couple years, but I still think we can find some success with two or three of these guys in this fantastic matchup tonight.
Nolan Arenado (vs. Toronto Blue Jays)
So, we’re going to find plenty of cheap hitters tonight and, as I said earlier, the pitching doesn’t stand out so we can even go midrange salaries at that position. We have to leave some money in cash games to afford Rockies hitters. Their 7.3 implied run total is nearly two full runs higher than the next closest team, and they are projected to have a lot of success tonight at home against Edwin Jackson. When this starting lineup comes out any of these guys are in play but for the sake of this article, I’m going to narrow down to one guy- Nolan Arenado. He’s the best hitter in this lineup and has as much two-homerun upside as any batter in baseball tonight. Against right-handed pitchers over the last two seasons, Arenado’s put up a phenomenal .215 ISO and 40.5 percent hard-hit rate. Edwin Jackson contributes to this play tonight with an xFIP that sits at 5.10, a 36.7 percent hard-hit rate while only generating a 9 percent swinging strike rate over the last two years. It is going to be very difficult to pitch to contact in this ballpark against this lineup and still find success.
Jonathan Villar (vs. San Francisco Giants)
This pick comes more because there is a complete lack of affordable options at the shortstop position tonight. Villar is solid but typically not a guy I’m running to roster DFS. However, there are absolutely no options at shortstop that I feel comfortable with, so I think there’s a chance here to take advantage of it. This is a hitter who has shown a tendency to steal bases in the right opportunities and he’s facing off against a pitcher that has a 12.1 percent walk rate since the beginning of last season. With nine stolen bases already this year and 35 stolen bases in 2018, Villar has as much upside as anybody else at this position not named Trevor Story tonight.
Mike Trout (vs. Seattle Mariners)
We all know Mike Trout is one of the best hitters in the game and the 5.1 implied run total for Los Angeles tonight tells you this is a matchup with which they can get busy. Trout has an elevated price tag on DraftKings and a fair price tag on Fanduel, but if you play on Yahoo he is criminally underpriced at only $22. Of course, all the numbers are going to dictate he’s a great hitter and the stats for Mike Leake are going to tell you he’s average. With so many outfielders playing on tonight’s 15-game slate, the tiebreaker for me is the 11 for 21 history Mike Trout has vs. Mike Leake.
Myles Straw (vs. Oakland Athletics)
Be on the lookout for that Astros tonight as they are suffering from multiple major injuries that are costing their stars a lot of time. Yesterday they called up prospect Myles Straw from AAA and there is a chance he makes the lineup tonight. If he’s not in the lineup, then I would pivot to a guy like Derek Fisher who should leadoff tonight for the Astros. But if Straw is in the lineup, then I wouldn’t hesitate to play him at his minimum salary across the industry. Opposing pitcher Mike Fiers has allowed 31 stolen bases over the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Meanwhile Straw had 16 steals this year in AAA and racked up 35 stolen bases last season in limited time in AAA. He is a guy that steals bases when he gets on, it’s been a theme throughout his minor league career. This price tag opens the rest of your roster to load up on great hitters from that Colorado lineup while still offering a hint of upside with the stolen bases.