The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players. 

As usual, Friday’s night slate is packed with a 14-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. on DraftKings and FanDuel.

Pitchers

Studs

On FanDuel, there are five pitchers who cost $10,000 or more:

  • Gerrit Cole (R) $11,200, HOU vs. BAL
  • Mike Soroka (R) $10,800, ATL @ MIA
  • Clayton Kershaw (L) $10,700, LAD @ SF
  • Jacob deGrom (R) $10,300, NYM vs. COL
  • Matt Boyd (L) $10,100, DET vs. MIN

Friday’s slate should be fun as it’s chock full of aces. Cole checks in as the top-priced pitcher, which isn’t surprising since he’s dominated this season, pitching to a 2.52 xFIP with a 37.4% strikeout rate and 31% K-BB%. He’s set to take on a projected Orioles lineup that has a high 27% strikeout rate and weak .293 wOBA against right-handed pitchers over the past 12 months.

Furthermore, Cole has an 8.6 K Prediction, and the Astros have the most favorable Vegas data on the slate: Baltimore is implied for a meager 2.8 runs while Houston checks in as massive -326 moneyline favorites (see live odds here). Targeting pitchers in similar spots to Cole has been fruitful. Per our Trends tool, pitchers with comparable salaries, K Predictions and Vegas data have historically averaged an absurd +9.15 FanDuel Plus/Minus with an 85.7% Consistency Rating.

Soroka is in a favorable spot as well, pitching against a projected Marlins lineup with a 26.9% strikeout rate and .288 wOBA over the past year against righties. They also rank 28th in Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) against them this season. That said, he’s too expensive for a pitcher with a 15.5% K-BB% and 6.3 K Prediction. Despite the exploitable matchup, I’d rather just shell out the extra money for Cole. Soroka has a negative Projected Plus/Minus on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

Kershaw is another guy in a favorable spot against a projected Giants lineup with a slate-high 30.8% strikeout rate, along with a low .222 wOBA. They also rank dead last in wRC+ against lefties this season. However, Kershaw’s 8.18 K/9 over the past year and 6.6 K Prediction is on the lower end of the spectrum for a pitcher who costs this much.

Clayton Kershaw

Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Clayton Kershaw

Granted, he’s a safe floor play against a Giants team that is implied for just 3.0 runs. The Dodgers are also -216 moneyline favorites, but he doesn’t bring as much upside to the table as Cole tonight.

DeGrom isn’t a bad secondary option to Cole tonight on FanDuel, but I like him more as an SP2 guy on DraftKings with his 89% Bargain Rating. His 8.2 K Prediction trails only Cole tonight, and he’s against a projected strikeout-heavy lineup as the Rockies possess a 27.7% strikeout rate against righties over the past 12 months. Additionally, they’ve struggled to generate runs against right-handed pitchers this year, ranking 21st in wRC+. He leads all pitchers in our models with his +8.34 Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings.

Boyd is just a guy I’m avoiding altogether on Friday night. He owns a -3.01 Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel, and he’s taking on a Twins team that ranks first in wOBA, second in wRC+ and sixth in ISO against left-handed pitching this season.

Values

Andrew Heaney is a slight value on DraftKings with his 65% Bargain Rating and excellent +7.96 Projected Plus/Minus. He has a favorable 7.7 K Prediction against a projected Mariners lineup that possesses a 26.3% strikeout rate. He only has two starts this season, but Heaney has been better than his 4.09 ERA suggests given he owns a 2.60 xFIP. Overall, his K Prediction is the third-highest mark on the slate, and the Angels are sizable -185 moneyline favorites while the Mariners are implied for a paltry 3.8 runs.

Brandon Woodruff is another viable SP2 option on DraftKings if you’re looking to save some salary. He costs just $7,800, resulting in an 86% Bargain Rating. He’s been great this season, pitching to a 3.62 xFIP and 28.3% strikeout rate. Even though the Pirates don’t strike out often, you won’t need much from Woodruff at his price tag.

Fastballs

Erick Fedde: I wouldn’t use him outside of mass-multi-entry tournaments. He’s $5,800 if you need a pure punt on FanDuel to load up on bats. He’ll take on a projected Padres lineup with a 29.5% strikeout rate, and Fedde has a slate-high +11.06 Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel. However, the optimal approach tonight is to probably just pay up for one of the studs.

Notable Stacks

With our Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. One of the top four-man DraftKings stacks in the CSURAM88 Player Model belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies.

  • 1. Cesar Hernandez (S)
  • 2. Bryce Harper (L)
  • 4. Rhys Hoskins (R)
  • 5. J.T. Realmuto (R)

Total salary: $16,800

Bryce-Harper

Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Bryce Harper

The Phillies should be a contrarian stack since they’re implied for just 4.6 runs, and everyone in this stack has a projected ownership of just 2-4%.

The matchup against the righty will put Hoskins on the positive side of his batting splits. He’s demolished righties over the past year, hitting them to the tune of a .386 wOBA and .283 ISO. His +38 Recent Batted Ball Luck (RBBL) also suggests he could be headed for progression.

Harper enters this game in tremendous batted-ball form. He’s smashed the ball over the past two weeks, evidenced by his 251-foot average distance, 97-mph exit velocity and 50% hard-hit rate. His 15-day/12-month distance differential is a whopping +25 feet. Hitters with comparable distance differentials have historically averaged a +1.03 DraftKings Plus/Minus.

The top FanDuel stack in the CSURAM88 Model belongs to the Kansas City Royals.

  • 1. Whit Merrifield (R)
  • 3. Alex Gordon (L)
  • 4. Jorge Soler (R)
  • 5. Ryan O’Hearn (L)

Total salary: $12,200

The Royals’ matchup against Ivan Nova is exploitable as he has an abysmal 1.40 WHIP, 1.62 HR/9 and 5.82 K/9 over the past 12 months. He’s also struggled this season, pitching to a 4.82 xFIP and 7.4% K-BB%.

Soler has throttled righties over the past year, boasting a .337 wOBA and .279 ISO against them. He’ll enter this game in good form as well, sporting a 261-foot average distance, 96-mph exit velocity and 47% hard-hit rate. All of which exceed his 12-month averages.

O’Hearn’s .144 wOBA and .167 ISO differentials are among the highest at his position, and he carries a +1.96 Projected Plus/Minus. Merrifield checks in as a solid value on FanDuel with his 88% Bargain Rating and top-three median projection, resulting in a +1.72 Projected Plus/Minus.

Other Batters

The top third baseman in the Bales Model is Yoan Moncada. The switch-hitter has a sublime matchup against Homer Bailey, who has a terrible 1.53 WHIP and enters this game allowing a 254-foot average batted-ball distance, 93-mph exit velocity and 42% hard-hit rate.

Meanwhile, Moncada is smashing the ball over the past two weeks, possessing a 231-foot average distance, 96-mph exit velocity and 48% hard-hit rate. Overall, it’s a good spot for the White Sox with their 4.9 implied run total.

If you have the extra salary, it’s hard not to consider Christian Yelich when he has a robust .466 wOBA and .360 ISO against righties over the past 12 months. Not to mention the Brewers have a slate-high 6.0 implied run total at the time of writing, which is an increase of 0.5 runs since the line first opened.

To get up to Yelich, Chris Taylor could be a form of salary relief. He’s projected to hit from the No. 1 spot for the Dodgers. He’ll be on the positive side of his batting splits, and he has a top-three Projected Plus/Minus on both sites.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.

After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs.

Pictured above: Gerrit Cole
Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports