This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
There are 15 MLB games this Friday, though not every team is in action. Sorry, Astros fans. There's a doubleheader between Philly and Miami, which cuts them out of the picture. And, of course, DraftKings isn't a fan of a full-day slate, leaving us with the 10 games on the docket, though there's an asterisk on that. That gives me plenty of options for my picks below.
I know strikeouts are as common as girls named Emma these days, but it's still notable that Lucas Giolito ($10,500) has struck out 12.35 batters per nine innings. His 3.29 ERA is the best of his career, and so is his 2.71 FIP. While the Tigers aren't a bad offense this season, they are decidedly mediocre, so, I'm not afraid of them against Giolito with the way he is dealing and striking out batters, this season.
Mike Fiers ($7,200) has a 4.93 ERA, but that's in part to a rough start to the season. Over his last four outings he has a 3.22 ERA. Mostly, though, this is about the matchup. The Rangers and the Pirates are neck-and-neck in their battle of the worst offense in the majors. Speaking of Pittsburgh, I wouldn't target them today, as Royals starter Kris Bubic is a rookie starter with a 4.91 FIP that has allowed 1.54 homers per nine innings.
Adam Wainwright ($8,800) has gotten into a time machine this season. He looks like his vintage self with a 2.68 ERA through six starts. Sure, there's been luck involved – he has a .207 BABIP – but I think he could stay lucky against the Reds. Cincinnati has the lowest team batting average in the majors.
Originally, I was recommending DJ LeMahieu to start this section. However, DraftKings has decided players from the Orioles-Yankees games today will not have their performances counted in Friday contests. Those players are still listed, but do not select them. Since I'm finding somebody off the cuff, I'll just go with Manny Machado ($5,700). He just hit his 13th home run and has a .307 batting average. Machado is facing Johnny Cueto, who has a 4.56 ERA.
Jose Abreu ($5,500) has put together a 22-game hit streak, but, more importantly he's absolutely mashing the ball. The masher has a .599 slugging percentage this year and a .517 slugging percentage in his career. Casey Mize is considered a fine prospect. He'll probably be a very good pitcher someday soon. This season, he has a 6.75 ERA.
Ke'Bryan Hayes ($3,000) was considered one of the Pirates' best prospects heading into the season, and that's still true. He's off to a hot start to his MLB career, but it's only been seven games so I don't want to make too much of his 1.074 OPS so far. Still, with how bad Pittsburgh has been offensively, that stands out. He'll be facing his fellow rookie Bubic, with the 4.91 FIP, and this is also a righty vs. lefty matchup that should benefit Hayes.
I'm throwing a catcher at you, because Max Stassi ($2,600) is playing at Coors Field on Friday. He's also playing the best baseball of his career, as he's slashed .241/.328/.463. German Marquez must really hate pitching at his home ballpark. Since 2018 he has a 3.21 ERA on the road and a 5.63 ERA at home.
Well, if two teams are playing at Coors Field, why not flip that matchup around? One look at the home numbers of Rockies' hitters over the years would give you all the reason you need. On top of that, Canning has allowed 1.82 homers per nine innings this season. How many times could Colorado go yard? Blackmon has cooled down a bit, but he still has a 1.037 OPS at home since 2018. Even in a down year, Arenado has a .481 slugging percentage, and at home that number soars to .617. I'm going with Murphy because he's a lefty facing a righty, and at home this season he has a totally fair .795 OPS.
Lyles' first season with Texas has been a disaster, as he has an 8.07 ERA. If you care more about FIP, his FIP is a woeful 6.09 as well. In fact, Lyles has had a FIP lower than four only once in his career. Grossman has hit four homers and stolen five bases, and since he's joined the Athletics he's done decidedly better away from their cavernous ballpark. Olson is having a rough year average-wise, but his career average is .247, and even with his issues, he has 12 homers. La Stella has no concerns about having a down year, as his .269 batting average is in line with his career average of .273 and he has an .894 OPS versus righties this year.
As a rookie (though with plenty of experience overseas), Kikuchi had a 5.46 ERA. This year, he has a 5.23 ERA, even though so far he's been barely allowing homers. Given that he gave up two homers per nine innings last season, and given how frequent homers are, I don't expect that to continue. Walker came out of nowhere to surprise last season as a 28-year-old, posting a .824 OPS with 29 homers and eight stolen bases. This year, he has six homers and his batting average is up to .278. Ahmed has an .834 OPS versus lefties like Kikuchi since 2018, and though he basically never walks, he had 19 homers and 81 RBI last season with 79 runs scored to boot. Locastro will almost assuredly be in the lineup with Ketel Marte on the IL, and he's got a ton of speed potential. He stole 17 bases in 91 games last year and has three in limited action this season.