This article is part of our FantasyAces MLB series.
Fantasy Aces has a great baseball product that offers games at every level, in a variety of formats. Whether you play Traditional or Salary Pro, this article will help you find the optimal plays and build a lineup that'll help build that bankroll.
Clayton Kershaw ($8,250): Every day I scrape a bunch of data into an excel sheet, populate columns with important stats, and then color the data from blue (bad) to red (good). Kershaw may be $8,250 (just about the most you'll ever shell out for a pitcher), but his row glows a great bright red. His season long FIP stands at 2.22, an already fantastic number that has done nothing but drop over the past few months (his ERA over the last 30 days is an unmatched 0.22). Strikeouts, the Pirates rank sixth of Friday night's teams in strikeouts per nine, while Kershaw stands nearly alone on top among Friday's pitchers with an outstanding K/9 of 11.68. Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game today and there are few occasions when you should fade him – whole-heartedly or partially.
Other stud recommendation(s): Jacob deGrom ($7,750)
Andrew Heaney ($5,900): Heaney is pretty easy to endorse at his price. He's not going to knock your socks off with double-digit strikeouts, but he is (to say it very flatly) good. He's been consistently good too with a 3.16 FIP and a 2.20 ERA over the last month. Heaney represents most solidly a GPP play due to the variance of the opposing offense, the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles strike out quite a bit (8.12 K/9), but from time to time find a power stroke and score a lot of runs, hence variance in the success of opposing pitchers.
Other value recommendation(s): Just stick with the studs outside of a GPP swing with Heaney, especially deGrom who would have top recommendation numbers on a non-Kershaw night.
Salvador Perez ($4,750): Note, I have no highly-rated catchers Friday night. The usual suspects either have tough matchups or a BABIP and K-rate so high I simply can't buy (see Welington Castillo). Perez doesn't strike out much, literally zero in the past seven days, and thus has a decent floor (decent being non-negative). That's honestly good enough for me at catcher on a night like this. It's also a good spot to punt, use a cheap catcher with a decent matchup and pray – think James McCann ($3,750).
Matt Carpenter ($4,950): Carpenter's season has been an upside-down parabolic curve. He started the season on fire, cooled off, and appears to be back on the uptrend now that we head into the most important time of the season. The matchup with Tyler Cravy (the cheapest pitcher on the night) appears to be a good one.
Lucas Duda ($5,250): Long-suffering Mets fans, congratulations, you are on top of the NL East. How did this happen? Duda's 1.520 OPS over the last seven days was a big contributor.
Miguel Sano ($4,750): Minnesota ranks highly on the matchup meter against Cody Anderson with his 4.66 FIP and 3.57 K/9 (though admittedly in a small sample size) and Sano has solidly established himself as the top offensive threat in their lineup. The future is bright for young Sano, and Friday in Cleveland glimmers gold as well.
Alexi Amarista ($3,750): Amarista is a cheap punt at a tough position and he should be leading off. Aaron Nola has been nothing special so far. You have to save money somewhere, Amarista buys you some cheap at-bats, and he's hitting fairly well at the moment.
Randal Grichuk ($4,850): I think Matheny has finally come to terms with what he has in Grichuk, moving him to a well-earned position in the meat of the lineup. His strikeouts can be a tad concerning, but a 1.077 OPS over the last seven days and a matchup with the formerly mentioned Cravy quickly wipes away concerns about the 23-year-old future star.
Nelson Cruz ($6,000): This play is not for the wary, nor cash games. Cruz is max-priced against a very good pitcher in Cole Hamels. However, Cruz has been the hottest hitter in the MLB over the past week with a 1.822 OPS and Hamels is a lefty – in case you weren't aware, Cruz crushes lefties, always has crushed lefties, and will continue to crush lefties for years to come. Plus, Hamels' ERA over the past month is 5.11 (and that includes a no-hitter, so he's had some very bad outings).
Victor Martinez ($4,850): I like the Tigers against Joe Kelly (he throws hard, but that's the end of the positives – if it even counts as one in the first place). Martinez had a double-dong game Thursday night, he's affordable, and will look to carry his top form into Friday night at a very reasonable price.