This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
This Friday's slate features several high-end arms, but with a good number of them matched up against formidable opponents.
The variety opens up several unique combinations for tournament play, but offers up enough depth to have a solid cash-game pairings as well.
As noted over the last couple weeks, I'm making a concerted effort to indicate the type of contest I prefer to use players in -- cash (50/50) or tournaments (GPPs) -- which is generally an exercise in estimating ownership rates (or "finding the chalk") and making sure to have enough variation around the highly-coveted top value plays to have a dangerous lineup.
A strong cash-game play isn't necessarily a "bad" tournament play, but too many "chalky" players can create a limiting factor in big-field tournaments.
Your constructive feedback is appreciated, and always welcomed.
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Cash: Chris Sale, BOS vs. CHW ($11,100) -- It's jarring to see two pitchers priced ahead of Sale on any slate; especially when one is Trevor Bauer, but Bauer's production since this time last year ranks among the league's top arms and he draws a favorable matchup with the Tigers at Comerica Park on Friday. As Sale goes, he's the easiest cash-game pitcher to lock in out of the top options, since the Red Sox are huge favorites (-320) against Dylan Covey and the Pale Hose. The White Sox strike out more than any team in the league against lefties as a team (27.7%), while their 88 wRC+ against southpaws checks in at 24th in MLB through the first two-plus months. Don't be discouraged by a pair of rough starts from Sale against difficult opponents his last two times out, he should rebound nicely Friday.
Cheap 2nd SP Consideration: For cash games, none tonight. I would lean on two expensive arms and leverage higher-than-expected lineup placements from cheap bats when lineups are released this afternoon.
Garrett Richards, LAA at MIN ($7,700) -- The Twins' offense appears to be heating up, at least, the thought of having to pitch to Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar is scary at the moment, but among the sub-$8K options Friday, Richards' upside might be unrivaled. Target Field has proven to be a more hitter-friendly environment over time, and the aforementioned mashing from Rosario and Escobar might be enough of a deterrent to temper ownership somewhat.
J.T. Realmuto, MIA vs. SD ($4,200) -- Realmuto and the Marlins face Padres lefty Eric Lauer on Friday night, and while Marlins park suppresses homers and offense as a whole, Lauer might be the kind of pitcher who can help the Marlins' bats beat those park factors. True to form, catcher remains a wasteland, and yet again, the Cubs are home with a matinee, plucking one of the other top-end options from the main slate (Willson Contreras) and arguably a second if you believe in what Francisco Cervelli is doing at the plate this season. In any event, Realmuto is the second-most expensive catcher on the board, and it might be one of the only positions you can pay up for in cash games Friday.
Cody Bellinger, LAD vs. ATL ($3,800) -- Bellinger crushed three homers during the Dodgers' three-game set with the Pirates this week, which will bring him to a very high ownership rate with a return home to Chavez Ravine against former teammate Brandon McCarthy. The series lifted his season OPS by more than 60 points, and is certainly an encouraging sign for those who have been disappointed by his Year 2 production to this point. McCarthy does a nice job of limiting homers to lefties, and the park reduces run production overall, even though it boosts homers for left-handed bats like Bellinger. I like him more as a cash-game option to save against the cap than in tournaments, where he might be the most highly-owned first basemen on DraftKings.
Matt Carpenter, STL at CIN ($4,000) -- The turnaround in recent weeks from Carpenter has almost certainly been aided by good matchups. His favorable scheduled continues Friday as the Cards begin a series against Matt Harvey and the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Carpenter has a shot at being the highest-owned second-base eligible player on DraftKings on Friday, so plan accordingly, but at least in cash games, it's very difficult to steer away at this price. The Reds' bullpen hasn't been the gas can we've grown accustomed to in recent years, but it's still a below-average relief corps that hitters can take advantage of.
Top Alternative: Daniel Robertson, TAM vs. SEA ($3,700)
Anthony Rendon, WAS vs. SF ($3,900) -- Rendon's price for a home matchup against Giants lefty Andrew Suarez should spike his ownership rate in a big way. Since the start of last season, Rendon is hitting .336/.438/.644 against left-handed pitching. In cash games, he's one the easiest building blocks to lock in Friday. In tournaments, it's a simple of matter of mixing things up enough elsewhere to get differentiation in your lineup(s). For those who want to steer away from the chalk, Mike Moustakas ($4,300) draws Frankie Montas on the road in Oakland on Friday, and he is the Kansas City bat best suited to do damage in that matchup. Moreover, his ownership rate should be very low as Jake Lamb ($4,500) gets a road lefty-righty matchup against German Marquez at Coors Field.
Top (cheap) Alternative: Kyle Seager, SEA at TAM ($3,500)
Aledmys Diaz, TOR vs. BAL ($3,200) -- This is not necessarily an endorsement of Diaz, but more of a way to get your attention about some of the names you're looking at if you're unable/unwilling to pay up at shortstop for Manny Machado or Trea Turner on this slate. Shortstop is tricky when multiple options near the top of the price list end up in difficult matchups. Nick Ahmed in Colorado is cheap if he gets a chance to start, so he's actually the best of the sub-$3.5K considerations *if* he's in the lineup. Diaz would be the next best option behind Ahmed if Ahmed is unavailable, or if you're simply looking for a cheap shortstop who might be ignored.
Top Alternative: Trea Turner, WAS vs. SF ($4,400) -- For those fading Anthony Rendon, perhaps the higher price will on Turner will make him a less chalky way to get exposure to the Nats-Giants matchup.
Marcell Ozuna, STL at CIN ($3,700) -- When I hit the copy/paste command, Marcell Ozuna's name and matchup are at the ready all too often. Matt Harvey remains a frequent target when we're looking for lineups to stack and one-off plays, and while I have also been recommending Matt Carpenter frequently, Ozuna's price is even better on Friday night. The production is beginning to catch up to the underlying data (most specifically, Ozuna's hard-hit rate), as he's opened June with a 9-for-22 stretch including a pair of homers, while averaging nearly 11 DraftKings points per game to open the season's third full month.
Teoscar Hernandez, TOR vs. BAL ($4,000) -- The Jays continue to use Hernandez in prominent spots in the order, and most recently, have hit him third for back-to-back games entering Friday's matchup against Andrew Cashner and the Orioles. While Cashner is not getting by with the same crazy-low K% he posted last year with Texas, he's still struggling with walks (4.3 BB/9) and homers (1.49 HR/9) while pitching to a 5.02 ERA and 1.67 WHIP this season. Given the price and the power-heavy tilt of Hernandez's output against righties (.265/.316/.558), Hernandez fits better as a tournament play than as a cash option in this particular spot.
Johnny Field, TAM vs. SEA ($3,300) -- Field reminds me of a player that video games would use to replace a player who wasn't able to be utilized in the game -- a la Jon Dowd, or QB Eagles. Since Field often hits near the bottom of the Rays' lineup, he's almost certainly going to be limited to big-field tournament use Friday night, but a righty-lefty matchup against Marco Gonzales paired with success in an extremely limited number of opportunities against lefties in the big leagues (.326/.356/.581...and no his minor-league splits aren't on that same level) is enough to garner a mention here as a potential value play for those who are disappointed that Chad Pinder and the A's are not facing a lefty on this slate. I would consider Field if I were using a chalky-heavy tourney lineup otherwise.