This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
I thought for a second this might be my first chance to write an article this season for a day with a full slate. Then the Mets and Yankees game got postponed. Ugh. Well, you still have 12 games worth of players to choose from for Friday's contests, which begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT. One thing that stuck out to me looking at the slate? A lot of games in pitcher-friendly ballparks. Will that keep offense down? I'm keeping that in mind as I make these recommendations.
My first recommendation here is Milwaukee's Adrian Houser ($8,400). This is his first season as a full-time starter, and through four starts he has a 3.27 ERA. One of those starts? Allowing only one run in five innings against the Pirates. Pittsburgh pretty clearly is shaping up to have the worst offense in the majors. The Pirates have the league's lowest OBP and only the Cardinals have scored fewer runs.
Aaron Nola ($9,900) was stellar in 2018 and looked like a future ace, posting a 2.37 GAA and 2.95 FIP. Then, last season his ERA rose to 3.87, though he did strike out more than 10 batters per nine innings. Nola is looking more like the 2018 version to start this season. He has a 2.26 FIP and has struck out 12.65 hitters per nine through four starts. On paper, Atlanta has a good offense, but right now both Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies are injured. That cuts down on the offensive upside.
Jake Odorizzi ($9,000) should be used to facing the Royals by now. Friday will be his third start against Kansas City, which is notable since it will be his third start of the season. He's off to a slow start, but last season he had a 3.35 FIP. The Royals have a decent batting average as a team, but they rank in the bottom 10 in runs scored per game and don't have much power. If Odorizzi can go deeper into this game I like his odds of picking up a win, given the offensive support the Twins can provide.
Christian Yelich's ($5,100) batting average is alarming, but his .233 BABIP seems unsustainably low. Especially for a guy with a career .299 batting average who hit 44 homers and stole 30 bases last season. Additionally, Yelich has a 1.052 OPS versus righties since 2018. Righty Chad Kuhl may have a 3.21 ERA, but he has a 4.21 FIP, which is in line with his career 4.25 FIP.
Turns out Nelson Cruz ($5,700) can still rake. He may be 40, but he also has hit nine homers through 26 games with a .667 slugging percentage. Cruz has a chance to tee off Friday against the left-handed Danny Duffy. Duffy has a 5.30 ERA at home since 2018 and has been allowing homers quite freely since 2018.
Xander Bogaerts ($5,100) took his game to a new level in 2019, slashing .309/.384/.555 with 33 home runs. Overall, his career slash line is .288/.350/.451, but clearly he has more power than that now, which is normal as players age into their primes. John Means has a 6.53 FIP through three starts this season for the Orioles, and he's also allowed 1.41 homers per nine innings in his career.
Austin Nola ($3,700) is a catcher who has shown some upside as a hitter, which is a rare thing to see. While he's only played 100 games in his career, he's slashed .271/.341/.467. For a catcher, I'll take that happily, especially against a pitcher like Kolby Allard. The Ranger is also early in his career, only 13 starts, but he has a 5.92 ERA in that time.
Michael Fulmer isn't going deep into games for the Tigers, and that may not be the case if he keeps pitching like this. The 27-year-old has a 7.56 ERA, even if that is through only 8.1 innings. I don't exactly believe in Detroit's bullpen either. If Cleveland's offense had been better, I'd be stacking them. Unfortunately, the team is hitting around the Mendoza line. At least Franmil Reyes ($4,600) is delivering at the plate. He somewhat quietly hit 37 homers last season, and this year he's sporting a .352 OBP to go with his .518 slugging percentage.
Robbie Ray hasn't looked like himself for the Diamondbacks this season. He has an 8.59 ERA, and even in his last game during which he only allowed one run, he walked six batters in five innings. Mike Yastrzemski ($5,000) is off to an incredible start to the season, slashing .313/.429/.646. Also, you may not have to be worried about him being a lefty facing a lefty. He actually has a 1.008 OPS versus southpaws in his career.
DeSclafani's 6.23 ERA admittedly is largely because he allowed nine runs in two innings in his last start. However, that start was against the Pirates, who as I mentioned have scored fewer runs than every team other than the Cardinals, who were on hiatus for days on end. Last season, the Reds starter had a 4.42 FIP, and the year prior he had a 4.77 FIP. He's also allowed 1.66 homers per nine innings over the last three seasons. I'm betting on the well-rested Cardinals against DeSclafani, including a prospect with a ton of promise.
Goldschmidt, a career .292 hitter, only hit .260 last year with the Cardinals, but he still hit 34 home runs. He's hit more than 30 homers in each of the last three seasons and is a proven steady bat. It's early this season, but he's hitting more like the Goldy of old thus far. DeSclafani is a righty, so I wanted to get a lefty in the lineup, and that's Wong. There's not a lot of pop in his bat, but 16 of his 20 homers since 2018 have come against righties. Plus, he batted .285 last year with 24 stolen bases. Lastly, there's Carlson, St. Louis' top prospect and one of the best prospects in baseball. I'm not looking at his numbers so far. It's only been nine games. He was considered a top-10 prospect heading into this season and dominated the minors in 2019. I'm betting on talent, and betting against DeSclafani.