Our experts are here to provide the best hitters and pitchers for you to build your daily fantasy baseball lineups around on Friday.
Today's panel includes ESPN Fantasy's Tristan H. Cockcroft, Eric Karabell, Joe Kaiser and Kyle Soppe.
Hitters to build around
He's off to a scorching start, it's a home game, he's a heart-of-the-order hitter, is remarkably cheap on daily sites, and he'll face a left-hander in Tommy Milone, who's line-drive and fly-ball oriented. It appears Suarez's price has not caught up to his year-to-date results, and I'll continue to enjoy his more favorable matchups -- at a discount -- until it does.
Pearce isn't off to such a great start at the plate, but that all changes Friday night against Baltimore lefty Wade Miley, for Miley gives up plenty of hits to right-handed batters, and Pearce feasts on pitchers like him. Sure, Miley didn't allow any runs in his first outing, but this isn't some mid-career change, either. He walked seven in that no-decision against the Yankees. The Blue Jays will want to load the lineup with right-handed hitters, and Pearce is going to hit.
There's no guarantee that the second-year outfielder will be in the lineup on Friday, but the chances should be good considering that the Marlins are starting right-hander Edinson Volquez. Conforto is cheaply priced, and is 5-12 with two home runs and a double against righties this season, after hitting 12 homers and posting an .805 OPS in 256 at-bats against righties last season.
Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre are pretty good baseball players, no? Well, that's the company Smith keeps in terms of career wOBA against right-handed pitching, so while Aaron Sanchez is a rock-solid pitcher, Smith's price point this evening is enticing given that most people will be spending big on starting pitching. Left-handed opponents have reached base 30.3 percentage points more often than righties during the course of Sanchez's career -- making their floor a bit higher than you might realize -- in addition to lefties getting a 45.4 percentage point bump in slugging percentage. Rostering Smith is all about the cheap upside tonight, given his price tag on DraftKings ($3,100) and FanDuel ($2,500).
Pitchers to build around
Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard strike me as obvious choices, but if I'm seeking a cheaper choice in a GPP or as my SP2, Teheran stands out. The visiting Padres are one of the slowest-starting offenses plus are lacking in depth, and in fact rank second-worst as a team in terms of hard contact to date. Yes, SunTrust Park might ultimately play neutral (or perhaps even hitter-friendly), but until we have data in the books to prove it, I'll take the Teheran discount. Skills-wise, he's no Kershaw or Thor, but he's also only a tier behind them.
It might seem risky to rely on a pitcher who had so much trouble succeeding in road games last season, but Keuchel and his healthy throwing shoulder appear back to form, and the Athletics certainly aren't an offensive juggernaut. In fact -- and this isn't really that big of a deal -- no current Athletics have homered off Keuchel. Perhaps that changes Friday, but Keuchel has been efficient so far, and he's avoided hard contact so well I'm just not buying that he can only pitch well at home.
How do you slow down the top scoring offense in baseball? You throw Clayton Kershaw. You'll have to pay up for him, as always, but on a night with few other elite options, Kershaw stands on a tier by himself in the home game against former teammate Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 10 home games last season, Kershaw went 8-1 with a sparking 1.08 ERA, 86 strikeouts and four walks. Pay up for Kershaw tonight at Chavez Ravine.
Kyle Soppe: Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
It is easy to get swept away by the trio of aces on tonight's slate, but saving a few pennies with the top tier-two pitcher might just be the best play. Yes, Keuchel's numbers last year were very disappointing after having won the 2015 Cy Young -- or were they? If you subtract the numbers Keuchel put up last May, the man has a 2.93 ERA since the beginning of 2014. That's pretty good. He'll also be pitching in a spacious ballpark against the team that ranked 26th in wOBA against southpaws last season, and at a 25-30 percent price discount from Clayton Kershaw? I'll take my chances, and spend up elsewhere.