This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Normally, at this point in the season I would still be looking primarily at last season's numbers. However, this is a weird year and that goes beyond the MLB campaign. We're almost a fifth of the way through the season. That's 20 percent of the year! Even if the sample size is no bigger in terms of sheer numbers, it is bigger relative to the season at hand. As such, I feel like it may be time to look at this year's numbers, at least a little bit. I will be mixing in numbers from the past and present in making my recommendations for Friday.
Matthew Boyd's ($8,900) first two starts looked ugly, he does have a 7.20 ERA after all, but his 3.87 FIP tells a different story. The Tigers have been off due to their series with the Cardinals being postponed, but now they get to play the Pirates. Pittsburgh's offense was poor last season, and it looks even more punchless this year. Avert your eyes from this game, but I wouldn't mind rolling with Boyd.
This is not a great day for pitchers, which is why I led off with Boyd. I mean, when I look at the schedule I see Jack Flaherty projected to start for the Cardinals, but don't think for one second I expect to see St. Louis on the field Friday. It was announced yesterday that Zach Davies ($7,800) has had his start moved up for the Padres, so I like him against the Diamondbacks on Friday. Davies is an average pitcher who doesn't strike guys out, but he also doesn't really allow home runs. That was true when he pitched for Milwaukee. Pitching in Petco Park, he may never allow a homer.
Lastly, it's only been two starts, but Antonio Senzatela ($5,800) has looked good for the Rockies so far, posting a 2.45 ERA. I wouldn't trust him at home, but on the road against Seattle? That works for me, given that I don't see much power in the Mariners' lineup and Seattle has a pitcher-friendly ballpark traditionally.
All in all, though, a rough day for pitchers. Look for a good matchup, hold your nose when looking at a pitchers own personal stats and hope for the win. That may be your best bet Friday.
Cleveland has actually had one of the worst offenses in the majors so far. That's a reason to maybe still consider sample size before rushing to conclusions, especially since it just put 13 runs on the Reds. For example, I'm not writing off Francisco Lindor ($5,100) at all. He's slashed .287/.345/.493 in his career and has back-to-back seasons with more than 30 homers and more than 20 stolen bases. Lindor could easily get right against Dylan Cease, who has a career 5.33 FIP.
The Twins set a new home run record in 2019, and the homer-happy baseball only played a part in that. You can't knock the skills of a guy like Max Kepler ($4,300), who hit 36 homers in only 134 games with a .519 slugging percentage. For a lefty, Kepler has pretty even splits, but that doesn't mean I can't like him against a right hander like Jakob Junis, who has allowed 1.54 homers per nine innings in his career.
People knock Bryce Harper ($5,600) for not being Mike Trout, but the guy is still a fantastic hitter. He also seems to quite enjoy his new home in Philly, as he had a .939 OPS at home in 2019. Harper and the Phillies are at home Friday against Kyle Wright and the Braves. Wright doesn't have a ton of MLB action to his name, despite making his debut in 2018, but that may be because he has a career 7.67 ERA.
Vladimir Guerrero may get the love from casual fans, but Bo Bichette ($4,900) is the better player right now among sons of former big leaguers. In 46 games last season, Bichette slashed .311/.358/.571 with 11 homers. Boston's beat up rotation is starting Ryan Weber on Friday. He's struggled in his career even when he primarily was a reliever, and in two starts this season he has a 13.70 FIP.
It feels like the cult of Whit Merrifield ($5,700) has cooled a bit since his breakout, but he's still a reliable player. In a time of all-or-nothing at bats, the 31-year-old has a career .294 batting average and .344 OBP. He's also a guy who can get you double-digit homers and stolen bases every season, even if he ran a bit less in 2019. The Twins have decided to move Devin Smeltzer into their rotation, despite the fact he has a career 4.75 FIP.
There seemed to be some magic in the Rangers' pitching staff last season, especially given how offense-friendly their ballpark is during summer. Would that magic rub off on Jordan Lyles when he joined the team? Well, so far the man with the career 5.11 ERA has a 6.00 ERA. David Fletcher ($2,500) tends to bat at the top of the Angels' lineup, which means batting right before Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. If he gets on base – and he had a .350 OPS last season – there's a great chance of him crossing home plate.
Jeff Samardzija has made a ton of money in a sport that's much easier on the body, but do you ever think he wonders what would have happened if he played football professionally? Maybe I'm thinking that because he has a 9.31 ERA through two starts. It's only two games, I know, but the last few years have been a struggle for Shark. He had a 4.58 FIP in 2019 and a 5.38 FIP before that. Samardzija used to not allow many home runs, but over the previous three seasons, he's given up 1.31 per game. That's not terrible, but it certainly isn't good, especially when you play in so many pitcher-friendly ballparks. I almost grabbed all lefties from the Dodgers, not intentionally, but decided to switch in Turner for Cody Bellinger since the MVP is off to a somewhat slow start. Plus, at some point Shark will come out and a lefty reliever could step in.
Seager scuffled a bit last season, by his standards, but he was also coming off major surgery. It was fair to give him a season to get back in the swing of things. Well he's swinging with gusto to start this campaign. Seager has slashed .347/.396/.612 through 12 games. Turner's power hasn't arrived yet, but I'm not concerned. The redhead has slugged over .500 for three straight seasons. Pederson may have to hit the bench against lefties, but he's posted a .907 OPS versus righties since 2018 with 63 homers in 885 plate appearances.