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Although baseball seemingly just came back into our lives, MLB’s regular season concludes this weekend. The last Friday slate before the playoffs features 10 games on DraftKings and nine on FanDuel, which isn’t including either matchup of a doubleheader between the Giants and Padres. Aside from a short and select tier of aces, most of the probable starters are neither trustworthy plays nor bad enough to target. This could yield success by traveling down contrarian roads, but a chalk stack stands out as too strong of a play to ignore.
Top SP: Carlos Carrasco, CLE ($10,400 DK, $10,800 FD) vs. PIT
Some may determine that Yu Darvish is pitching too well to fade regardless of the opponent, but why test a powerful White Sox lineup when Carrasco is instead facing a listless Pirates offense? They’re last in OBP, slugging, and wRC+ against righties, so don’t overreact to them teeing off against Alec Mills on Thursday night. While Carrasco isn’t in the Cy Young Award hunt like Darvish or Cleveland teammate Shane Bieber, he’s sporting a strong 2.90 ERA, 3.52 FIP, and 28.8% K rate through 11 outings. He’s logged five consecutive quality starts, averaging seven strikeouts a game in the process, so he’s in line to produce a win and plenty of fantasy points as a heavy favorite.
Value SP: José Urquidy, HOU ($7,100 DK, $6,800 FD) at TEX
There are two standout value plays in Urquidy and Brad Keller. In fact, it’s sensible to double up on them in DraftKings, where Keller is only $300 more than Urquidy. Since the Houston starter is $1,500 cheaper on FanDuel, he’s the clear option for anyone looking to save on pitching there. The 25-year-old righty has registered a 2.78 ERA in four starts since his delayed 2020 debut. While his 12 strikeouts in 22.2 innings are certainly concerning, he picked up seven of them in one turn against Texas. The Rangers are ahead of only the Pirates in wRC+ against righties with the 10th-highest strikeout rate, so take the discount on Urquidy.
1B Anthony Rizzo, CHC ($4,300 DK, $3,400 FD) at CHW
Rizzo is a better play on FanDuel. On DraftKings, I’m more likely to lock up the first base slot with the super cheap Jesús Aguilar or the superstar highlighted in the stack below. The price, however, is awfully tempting if looking for another high-grade option. While his overall 2020 numbers (.222/.339/.419, 103 wRC+) are far below his standards, Rizzo has a double and two homers during his current five-game hitting streak. He wields a career 137 wRC+, and he’ll get a vulnerable matchup Friday night. Don’t be fooled by his 3.52 ERA; Dylan Cease has labored all year. No starter (minimum 50 innings) has a worse K-BB% than his dreadful 3.0. After escaping disaster all year, he allowed seven walks and three runs in just three innings against Cincinnati last Sunday. And since the start of his career, Cease has ceded a .273/.379/.523 slash line to lefties. Consider pairing Rizzo with the sneakily spectacular Jason Heyward, and add Ian Happ to the mix if he returns from an ankle injury.
Honorable Mentions: Rafael Devers, BOS ($5,200 DK, $3,900 FD) at ATL; Ian Happ, CHC ($4,20 DK, $3,000 FD) at CHW; Alex Verdugo, BOS ($3,900 DK, $3,000 FD), Jason Heyward, CHC ($3,700 DK, $2,800 FD) at CHW
OF Michael Brantley, HOU ($4,000 DK, $3,200 FD) at TEX
“Why is Brantley so cheap?” seems to be a common question asked throughout this season. He doesn’t have the type of fence-clearing muscle GPP players crave, but cash gamers can’t argue with the steady results. He’s batting .305/.367/.488 with a 138 wRC+ right in line with a 133 wRC+ earned throughout 637 plate appearances last season. The career .307 hitter against righties will face the untested Kyle Cody, who is making just his fifth career major league start. He has succeeded thus far, posting a 1.53 ERA in 17.2 innings, but this is a 26-year-old rookie who pitched just five innings (in Rookie ball) over the past two years.
Value Batter: OF Franchy Cordero, KC ($2,300 DK, $2,000 FD) vs. DET
Returning from a wrist injury that cost him more than six weeks, Cordero wasted no time making an immediate impact. The outfielder touched them all twice Wednesday, suddenly upping his slugging percentage to .500. As a career .237 hitter with a 35.2% K rate, the 25-year-old is an all-or-nothing dice roll who is particularly tempting in tournaments. He’s also dirt cheap on both FanDuel and DraftKings, leading Fade The Noise’s DFS Optimizer to identify him as the best value on each site’s main slate. Take a chance against a solidf but beatable Spencer Turnbull, whose 5.1% HR/FB rate could receive a swift course correction.
Honorable Mentions: Eugenio Suárez, CIN ($3,400 DK, $3,400 FD) at MIN; Jeimer Candelario, DET ($3,300 DK, $2,900 FD) at KC; Jesús Aguilar, MIA ($3,100 DK, $3,100 FD) at NYY; Lewis Brinson, MIA ($2,000 DK, $2,100 FD) at NYY
Lineup Stack: Braves vs. Red Sox (RHP Chris Mazza)
Those who go cheap at pitcher and/or deploy Cordero can free up enough money to pay for an explosive offense getting the evening’s best matchup. Chris Mazza, who possesses a 5.40 ERA and 5.08 SIERA, is likely not up for the task of facing MLB’s premier lineup by wRC+ and wOBA. Seven of the Atlanta’s active starters sport a wRC+ above 120 against righties, so it’s easy to see why FTN projects them for the evening’s highest run tally (5.6).
It’d be wise to pay up for Freddie Freeman ($5,400, $4,400), who is batting .343/.457/.637 during an MVP-caliber campaign. He boasts a scorching 220 wRC+ in September and 219 wRC+ against righties. Although Marcell Ozuna matches Freeman’s cost on DraftKings, he’s surprisingly affordable on FanDuel ($4,900) considering his .327/.415/.526 slash line. He’s averaging more DraftKings points per game (10.7) than Mike Trout. Your budget might then get too tight to add Ronald Acuña Jr. ($5,900 DK, $4,500 FD) or Ozzie Albies ($5,400, $4,200), but Dansby Swanson ($4,100 DK, $3,900 FD) won’t break the bank at shortstop despite going deep in each of his last two games. Just be sure to check the lineup card, as Atlanta could take its foot off the accelerator in preparation for the postseason.
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Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)