This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Good news everyone!
The Indians are not playing an early evening home game. The Cubs are not at home for a matinee at Wrigley. We have a complete 15-game night slate, and the weather might be kind enough to let it happen.
As you'll see looking at the top of the price list for pitching, there is a shorter list of useful arms than a typical big slate, which will open up plenty of bats at most positions, but it will likely concentrate ownership over a few starting pitchers.
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Cash: Gerrit Cole, HOU at ARI, ($11,000) – Cole as a cash recommendation has become a staple of every slate he's on lately. The Astros go on the road to the NL to face the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, where the humidor is working as expected, and the Snakes are trotting out Kris Medlen for his first start since 2016. The Astros are a -200 road favorite, and while Cole will almost certainly be the highest-owned pitcher on FanDuel, he's cheap enough to lock in for cash games and still have enough flexibility to build a nice combination of bats behind him on a full 15-game slate.
Also consider: Jose Berrios, MIN at CHW ($8,400)
GPP: Joey Lucchesi, LAD at SD in Mexico ($8,600) – The over/under for this matchup in Monterrey (~1,800 feet above sea level) is 7.5, so it's not expected to be a hitter's haven the way a game in Mexico City (7,380 ft) might be with an elevation even higher than Coors Field. In any case, Walker Buehler will get plenty of attention on the other side, and while the Padres are a whiff-happy lineup, the Dodgers need to handle Buehler with kid gloves on a regular basis, as he's an increasingly important member of their rotation now that Hyun-Jin Ryu is on the DL until after the All-Star break. Lucchesi faces a Dodgers lineup that has been below average against lefties this season, while toting a team K% north of 20 percent. With Berrios, who could help keep the Gerrit Cole ownership rate in tournaments from being completely insane, priced at $200 less, Lucchesi might be overlooked Friday.
GPP Fade: Walker Buehler ($7,700) – I like him a lot as a pitcher, but I have short-term concerns about how deep he'll be allowed to pitch into starts, even when he's sharp.
Brandon Belt, SFG at ATL ($3,600) – At this price point, a lot of attention will likely be directed at Matt Adams ($3,500) against Nick Pivetta. The hope here is that Belt might fly under the radar, since Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz has pitched well to begin the season. Last season, Belt's uptick in per-game production had the look of a 30-homer first baseman if he didn't have to play half of his games in homer-suppressing AT&T Park. Going into Atlanta, Belt (and the other Giants lefties) gets a big park boost, and when Foltynewicz struggles, it's typically with lefties, as he's allowed a 1.37 HR/9 and .347 wOBA against them since the start of 2016.
Daniel Robertson, TAM vs. TOR ($2,800) – Robertson has been one of the big surprises of 2018 to this point, hitting .310/.456/.521 with three homers through 25 games. As noted by David Laurila of FanGraphs, Robertson is part of the swing-path revolution. While J.A. Happ is often underrated despite making some late-career adjustments, his weakness is still giving up the occasional long ball to righties (1.22 HR/9 since the start of 2016), and getting Robertson under $3K will open up salary for a few high-priced options at other positions.
Josh Donaldson, TOR at TBR ($3,500) – As the hitters go, Donaldson might be the most highly-owned bat on the board Friday. The Rays are going have Andrew Kittredge start things off as part of a parade of relievers take the ball for this matchup (Kittredge has already made a pair of one-inning appearances earlier in the week on Tuesday and Wednesday). Donaldson played in both games of a doubleheader with Cleveland on Thursday – and homered in each contests – so any concerns about the health of his shoulder can be put to rest for the time being. Jeimer Candelario ($3,500) draws Ian Kennedy in Kansas City for those looking to avoid the sky-high ownership rate on Donaldson Friday.
Carlos Correa, HOU at ARI ($3,900) – Another contender for the highest-owned bat on the board, Correa is $400 more than Donaldson, but he draws an excellent matchup against Kris Medlen, who did not appear in a big-league game in 2017. The humidor at Chase Field has had the predicted effect, but elite bats against highly questionable starters are still very much in play in the adjusted environment. Both Didi Gregorius ($4,400) and Francisco Lindor ($4,600) are worth paying up for as well, and those hoping to save money at shortstop and land on a much less owned option should consider Brandon Crawford ($2,200) as a cheap option for tournaments.
David Dahl, COL at NYM ($3,000) – I will back off recommending him regularly when the price catches up to his lineup position and production (he's roughly $800 underpriced on the road, and $1,200-$1,500 below expected cost at home at the moment). Until then, I will shamelessly continue to go back to the well. Zack Wheeler has allowed a 1.77 HR/9 and .349 wOBA to lefties since the start of 2016, and while the Rockies' team stats are actually pretty ugly, the promotion of Dahl a couple weeks back is the type of thing that helps turn those numbers around.
Joey Gallo, TEX vs. BOS ($3,500) – Rick Porcello might be good again, and he's made some adjustments that help support the excellent start that he's off to. Despite those changes, he's still going to be prone to giving up homers at a higher rate than he has over his first six starts (0.22 HR/9, 2.6% HR/FB; career: 1.04 HR/9, 11.7% HR/FB). I'm not looking at a stack a bunch of Rangers against Porcello, but Gallo has homered once per every 13.8 plate appearances in 2018, and he's quietly trimmed his strikeout rate from 36.8% last season to 30.4% to begin this one. The hope here is Porcello's excellent start leads most lineups to other outfield options.
Andrew Benintendi, BOS vs. TEX ($3,900) – The over/under for the Red Sox-Rangers matchup in Arlington is 9.0, and if we're not expecting a lot of that total to come from the Rangers side (other than Gallo), the Red Sox will have to do damage against Bartolo Colon. Since the start of 2016, Colon has a sub-15 percent K% against left-handed hitters, while he's allowed a generous 1.63 HR/9 and .346 wOBA (fifth-highest on the board Friday) against them. Benintendi has an .820 OPS against right-handed pitching since the start of last season, and aside from a nice matchup with Colon, he'll likely get a couple plate appearances against a league-average Rangers bullpen.