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MLB DFS: Best/worst plays for Friday, June 18th

Heath covers Friday’s 15-game slate on DraftKings.

Seattle Mariners v Cleveland Indians Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

It’s a full 15-game slate of MLB DFS tonight, beginning at 7:05 PM ET on DraftKings. We’ve got Coors Field on the docket, and plenty of pitching and hitting to go around on a big slate. It should be fun, so let’s get into an overview...

PITCHING

Worst play: Jackson Kowar vs. Boston Red Sox ($4,900)

Kowar has failed to make it out of the second inning in either of his first two MLB starts, and those were against the Angels and Athletics. He’s got five walks against only one strikeout, and an ERA of 36.00 so far. His pitch counts in those two games are 39 and 57. There’s no reason you should consider him. Lastly, it’s 98 degrees in Boston today. Surely that’s not helping Kowar.

Best play: Yusei Kikuchi vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($8,600)

I know, I know. The Rays are magical. But they stink against lefties, with a .143 ISO and a whopping 28.7% strikeout rate. The Rays win with pitching, but they’ve taken a hit lately with the injury to Tyler Glasnow. That means the underwhelming Michael Wacha gets the nod today, which only boosts the chances of Kikuchi getting some run support. Kikuchi is coming off of one of his best turns of the year, spinning seven scoreless innings against Cleveland. He’s also done some of his best work at home, allowing only a .193/.262/.353 slash in the split. Finally, he has effectively erased left-handed batters in 2021, allowing a .140/.183/.298 slash line and inducing ground balls at a 58.5% rate. The stick I fear most for Tampa is the left-handed Austin Meadows. I just really like the matchup today, and Kikuchi’s price point isn’t prohibitive. At this early stage of the day, I think I’m in.

HITTING

Worst play: Colorado Rockies vs. Corbin Burnes

I’m obligated to tell you that there is a game at Coors Field today. And sure, you can consider Milwaukee bats all you like. You and everyone else. I may weave in some Brewers, but I just can’t get behind stacking a middling offense just because they’re at Coors. Against RHP, too, is Milwaukee’s less powerful split (a .146 ISO, compared to .179 vs LHP). Knock yourself out if you’d like, but I won’t be going full-tilt on Brewers today. And darn sure not looking to stack Rockies against Corbin Burnes. That qualifies as the worst play of the day in my book. Hashtag, analysis. Moving on...

Best play: Boston Red Sox @ RHP Jackson Kowar

It follows that the Red Sox would be one of the best plays since Kowar is one of the worst. The MLB sample is too small to discern which handedness of hitter to select, as is his minor league sample from this year—and there is no sample from 2020, thanks Covid. Deal is, you can play whatever Red Sox player suits your fancy...but the hottest three over the last two weeks are Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo, and Xander Bogaerts. All three have a .200+ ISO and a strikeout rate below 20.0% over the last 14 days. Bogarts has been especially stout, with a .341 ISO over that stretch. J.D. Martinez (.171 ISO) has been fair recently, but he’s also striking out 30.2% of the time recently. Not saying you shouldn’t play him, but if you’re making tough decisions, there ya go.

Oakland Athletics @ RHP Jameson Taillon

The A’s are one of the hottest teams over the last couple of weeks, with a top 10 ISO (.187), a 10.0% walk rate, and a solid 20.4% strikeout rate. They also just returned STUD outfielder Ramon Laureano, so what has been tough to navigate is about to get tougher. Related, Laureano is only $3,800 on DK and smacked a homer in his return from injury two days ago. Anyway, Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Mark Canha, and Sean Murphy are where the power has been recently, with Olson (.349 ISO, 15.7% K-rate) and Murphy (.367 ISO, 21.6% K-rate) really standing out. Lastly, Taillon is coming in cold. The Phillies rocked him for four earned runs on five hits in his last turn, with Taillon managing only one out. He’s sitting on a 5.74 ERA that looks a bit better if you check his FIP (4.50) and xFIP (4.45), but I’m buying the park boost for Oakland here. On the year, lefties have torpedoed Taillon, slashing .290/.372/.540 with 13 XBH (6 HR) in 23 13 innings. Lefty bats also walk 11.5% of the time, compared to only 3.4% to right-handed bats. For reference, RHH are slashing .243/.277/.405, with 10 XBH (4 HR) over 30 innings. I’m not shying away from right-handed bats here, but I’m also not going to ignore Mitch Moreland ($3,100) in a YOLO lineup or two, either. It’s a lefty power stick in Yankee Stadium, folks. If he cracks the lineup, I’d say take a shot.

Minnesota Twins @ RHP Mike Foltynewicz

Another epic play. The Twins are coming in hot, while Folty is coming in cold. I don’t love the park, but we could get some great value here if guys like Luis Arraez ($2,700) and Trevor Larnach ($3,300) have favorable lineup spots. The Twins have a .179 ISO against RHP on the year, the sixth-best mark in the majors. The best three by far (that are healthy) are Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Donaldson. Miguel Sano has a ton of power (.304 ISO) but also carries his customary whiffs (42.3% K-rate). Arraez (.045 ISO) and Larnach (.118 ISO) work best as part of a full team stack, in my opinion. Larnach also has a 29.0% strikeout rate against RHP—he’s actually done better work against southpaws so far, FYI.

San Francisco Giants vs. Vince Velasquez

I’m guilty of always overlooking them. But Vince V. has been up-and-down this year, true to form. The Giants have been mostly “up,” as their .191 ISO is tied for tops in the league against right-handed pitching, alongside annual bashers in the Braves, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. Mike Yastrzemski is back from injury, and he STILL leads this team in plate appearances against righties. He also has a .296 ISO and .387 wOBA in the split. Brandon Crawford (.285 ISO, .407 wOBA), and Buster Posey (.231 ISO, .396 wOBA) also really stick out as strong plays, as neither of them strike out very much in the split. Brandon Belt has some power (.276 ISO, .371 wOBA) but that also comes with a whopping 36.6% strikeout rate in the split. Lamonte Wade Jr. (.213 ISO, 18.3% K-rate) has been really solid as a leadoff man, and you can also consider Steven Duggar (.272 ISO, 36.4% K-rate) if he cracks the lineup. Donovan Solano hasn’t been “Donnie Barrels” against RHP, with a mere .073 ISO, for what it’s worth.

That’s about it for me on the first look this morning. All the coffee is gone, so it’s time to go refill and start playing around with some lineups. Who sticks out to you today? Let me know in the comments!