This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Weather and COVID-19 permitting, there are seven games on the schedule across Major League Baseball on Friday. Six of them will make up the main evening slate on DraftKings. Let's dive into the matchups and discuss some players to consider targeting for your entries.
The Padres made a few significant moves during the offseason, one of which was acquiring Blake Snell ($9,700) from the Rays. Snell bounced back from a lackluster 2019 to post a 3.24 ERA in 2020, although his FIP wasn't as impressive at 4.35. He remained an excellent source for strikeouts, though, recording a 31.0 percent strikeout rate. He'll look to start of his Padres career on a high note against a Diamondbacks team that had an OPS that ranked inside the bottom-10 in baseball last season.
If you play season-long fantasy baseball, a popular potential breakout name heading into 2021 was Mariner Yusei Kikuchi ($6,000). His 5.17 ERA in 2020 looked like a disaster, but his FIP was much better at 3.30. He increased his strikeout rate to 24.2 percent, which was more than eight percentage points higher than his rookie campaign. Also, he allowed only three home runs across 47 innings. If you're looking to roll with a starter at a reduced salary, he should at least be on your radar for his matchup against the Giants.
A pitcher the Astros may be forced to rely heavily upon this season is Cristian Javier ($6,500), who started 10 of his 12 appearances in 2020. He came through with a 3.48 ERA, but his 4.94 FIP doesn't suggest a dominant campaign by any stretch of the imagination. His strikeout rate wasn't anything to write home about at 25.2 percent, but he could improve in that area given his big strikeout numbers in the minors, including posting a strikeout rate of at least 33.3 percent in each of his three stops in the minors in 2019. That potential makes him an intriguing option at such a cheap salary versus the A's.
Whenever a left-handed pitcher is on the mound, Anthony Rendon ($5,400) should be on your radar. He's dominated southpaws, posting a wOBA of at least .383 against them in each of the last four seasons. While his opponent, Dallas Keuchel, did have a 1.99 ERA last season, his FIP was higher at 3.08, and he's never been a big strikeout pitcher. Rendon could be in line for a productive evening.
Speaking of players who mash left-handed pitchers, Jose Abreu ($5,800) has a 149 wRC+ against them for his career. He was as good as it gets last season, finishing with 19 home runs, 60 RBI and a 166 wRC+ across 60 games. He could be a tough out for Andrew Heaney ($7,600), who has allowed 1.5 HR/9 for his career.
Heaney probably won't like to see Tim Anderson ($5,500) in the opposing batter's box, either. He had an insane 299 wRC+ against lefties last season, and he has a .366 wOBA against them for his career. That's a considerable difference from the .302 wOBA that he's recorded versus righties.
Staying with the White Sox matchup against Heaney, Nick Madrigal ($3,000) is a player with a significantly cheaper salary to consider. No, he's not a potential power bat given his .029 ISO last season. However, he hit for a high average throughout the minor leagues and continued that in the majors with a .340 average in 2020.
Justin Upton ($3,300) is clearly on the downside of his career. His batting average has fallen off the map the last two seasons, bottoming out at .204 in 2020. However, he's still hit for power, posting an ISO of at least .201 in each of the last eight seasons. Right-handed pitchers held him to a .290 wOBA last season, but with his .330 wOBA versus lefties, he might be worth considering with Keuchel on the mound for the White Sox.
Stacks to Consider
Kelly is anything but an overwhelming pitcher, posting a 20.7 percent strikeout rate the last two seasons. That could spell trouble against the powerful Padres lineup, which is headlined by the duo of Tatis and Machado. Hosmer may be in the shadows of those two stars, but don't sleep on him. He was one of the Padres' more reliable contributors last season, finishing with a .231 ISO and a .359 wOBA.
Even on a night with a lot of games to choose from, the Dodgers playing at Coors Field would make them an appealing team to stack. Throw in the limited six-game slate, and they should be one of the more popular teams to pursue. As if pitching at Coors Field wasn't difficult enough, Senzatela doesn't exactly help his cause given his meager 15.7 percent career strikeout rate.
While the Padres and Dodgers figure to be popular stacks, you might be able to fly under the radar with the Mariners in tournament play. Cueto bounced back from a couple of injury-plagued seasons to make 12 starts in 2020, although they were mostly unspectacular given his 5.40 ERA and 4.64 FIP. After sitting out all of 2020, Haniger will look to resume his role as one of the most productive hitters in the Mariners lineup. France is also a dangerous option after recording a .362 wOBA last season.