Every weekday during the MLB season, we’ll provide you with our ultimate DFS cash game lineup. Please note that the column is written in the morning, and you should check all lineups to make sure the players we’ve recommended are starting that day. Get all of Michael Beller’s columns as soon as they’re published. Download the new Sports Illustrated app (iOS or Android) and personalize your experience by following your favorite teams and SI writers.
Starting pitcher: Taijuan Walker ($9,500) @ Houston and Chris Archer ($9,400) @ Los Angeles Angels
Friday’s slate is loaded on the mound, with Noah Syndergaard, Max Scherzer and Madison Bumgarner all scheduled to start. Why did we eschew all of them for Walker and Archer? Our guys have just as high a ceiling while providing savings, relative to the three at the top of the pricing chain.
Walker is in the midst of what looks to be a breakout season, posting a 1.80 ERA, 2.07 FIP, 1.03 WHIP and 29 strikeouts in 30 innings. Syndergaard has the best matchup of any big-name pitcher (San Diego), but Walker is right on his heels. The Astros are second in the majors with a 25.9% strikeout rate.
After a poor start to the season, Archer has, unsurprisingly, put up two strong starts in a row. He allowed two runs total while striking out 14 batters in 12 2/3 innings against a couple of strong offenses in the Orioles and Blue Jays. His assignment isn’t nearly as tough in Los Angeles on Friday.
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto ($3,300) vs. Philadelphia, Vince Velasquez
The Marlins have found their leadoff man in the wake of Dee Gordon’s suspension, and he couldn’t possibly be more different of a player. In three games at the top of the order, Realmuto is 4-for-12 with a two doubles and a pair of runs scored. Leadoff men are always intriguing since they’re all but guaranteed four plate appearances. A $3,300 catcher leading off is DFS gold, even in a tough matchup.
First base: David Oritz ($4,500) @ New York Yankees, Michael Pineda
Ortiz pretty much isn’t going to slow down until he actually retires. In his last eight games, he’s 12-for-32 with three homers, four doubles and nine RBI. He’s slashing .319/.413/.638 in his age-40 season, is sixth in the majors in wOBA, and fourth in OPS. Pineda has surrendered 19 earned runs and an eye-popping seven homers in 27 innings this season. Ortiz is not the last Red Sox you will see here.
Second base: Jean Segura ($3,700) @ Atlanta, Aaron Blair
Segura returned to the Arizona lineup on Thursday after dealing with a minor hip injury and didn’t skip a beat. He went 2-for-4 in the game, a 4-0 loss to the Marlins. He also had a pinch-hit appearance on Wednesday in which he singled, so there’s pretty much no slowing him down this year. Blair has pitched well in his first two career starts, tough draws with the Mets and Cubs. That should not scare you away from any Diamondbacks hitters on Friday.
Third base: Nolan Arenado ($4,000) @ San Francisco, Madison Bumgarner
It’s a bad idea to make a habit of rostering players who are facing Bumgarner, but this is a special circumstance. First of all, Arenado is making a case that he should be considered the best player in baseball, hitting .309/.377/.673 with 12 homers and 28 RBI this year. Second, when you can get a player of his caliber at just $4,000, it’s hard to care who’ll be staring him down on the mound. Arenado is 5-for-25 with two homers in his career against Bumgarner, but that price is too good to pass.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts ($3,800) @ New York Yankees, Michael Pineda
At the end of play on April 19, Bogearts was hitting .204/.246/.333. He’s now up to .309/.374/.427, even after taking an 0-for-4 on Thursday. In between, the Boston shortstop went 23-for-52 with, six doubles, six RBI and 11 runs scored. The Red Sox are one of Friday’s most attractive stacks, not only because of the matchup, but because you can stack the three players right in the middle of the order.
Outfield: Mookie Betts ($4,500) @ New York Yankees, Michael Pineda; Adam Eaton ($4,100) vs. Minnesota, Ricky Nolasco; Nomar Mazara ($3,200) @ Detroit, Jordan Zimmermann
Betts rounds out our Boston stack quite nicely. In a small sample of 15 plate appearances against Pineda, he has five hits, including two homers and two doubles. Betts isn’t having the overall season many expected just yet, but he still does things of a high value in fantasy, namely hit for power and steal bases in the middle of a potent lineup. Eaton had two hits and two walks on Thursday, running his slash line to .294/.376/.376, and also swiped his fourth bag of the season in that game. The White Sox should have their way with Ricky Nolasco, with Eaton getting everything started atop the order. Finally, our old friend Mazara continues to be one of the best dollar-for-dollar players on the board. He’s riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he has a homer and three RBI. All the balls in play Zimmermann is allowing are going to catch up with him sooner or later. A team like Texas, which doesn’t strike out very much, is primed to take advantage.