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.
Starting pitcher: Nathan Karns ($8,200) vs. Los Angeles Angels and Edinson Volquez ($8,000) vs. Atlanta
It’s a weak pitching slate, with just one hurler, Chris Sale, priced at more than $10,000. Karns is one of the more underappreciated strikeout-per-inning pitchers in the majors, which would appear a misnomer. It seems impossible that a pitcher who strikes out a batter per inning could be underappreciated, but it is Karns’s reality. The Seattle righty has fanned 38 batters in 34 2/3 innings last year after sitting down 145 in 147 frames a year ago. The Angels don’t strike out much, but they are 25th in the league in wOBA. Karns is my favorite pitcher of the day, dollar for dollar.
Volquez has had about the widest range of results of any pitcher this season. He has made two starts where he threw at least six shutout innings, and two more in which he allowed at least five runs in five innings or fewer. He shouldn’t have any trouble, however, with the Braves. Attacking the Atlanta offense is never a bad idea, especially with a pitcher like Volquez with demonstrated ability to shut down a much better team. Atlanta is last in the league in wOBA and in the bottom three in almost every meaningful offensive stat.
Catcher: Welington Castillo ($3,200) vs. San Francisco, Jeff Samardzija
Castillo had a quiet day at the plate Thursday, but he has come to be the personification of a plug-and-play DFS catcher. This is a spot where we typically look to save some money, and Castillo lets us do that while also bringing power-based upside to the equation. When the Diamondbacks are at the hitter-friendly Chase Field, Castillo is always an easy selection.
First base: Edwin Encarnacion ($4,500) @ Texas, Martin Perez
Encarancion’s season-long numbers still don’t look great because of a poor April, but he has started to come around, at least in the power department. He’s slugging .512 with three homers, three doubles and 12 RBI in the month of May. Don’t be fooled by Perez’s 3.51 ERA. He has a 4.66 FIP, 1.34 WHIP and just 25 strikeouts against 23 walks in 41 innings. He’ll be living a nightmare with matchup against Toronto on Friday.
Second base: Jean Segura ($3,700) vs. San Francisco, Jeff Samardzija
Segura picked up three more hits on Thursday, and is now slashing .353/.378/.533 on the season. He was one of the quietest acquisitions of the year, but has turned into a godsend for an Arizona lineup that lost A.J. Pollock and is playing without David Peralta in the short term. The Diamondbacks are an attractive stack against Samardzija on Friday.
Third base: Nolan Arenado ($5,100) vs. New York Mets, Matt Harvey
Arenado typically doesn’t need an introduction, but we’ll give him one anyway. He leads the majors with 13 homers, and is first in the National League with 31 RBI, 28 runs and a .679 slugging percentage. That’s not bad for six weeks work. Matt Harvey has struggled once he hits the middle innings this year, and that’s not a pattern you want to carry into Coors Field. The matchup remains daunting for Colorado’s hitters, but they, especially Arenado, can take advantage.
Shortstop: Manny Machado ($5,100) vs. Detroit, Justin Verlander
It’s rare that we get to put Arenado and Machado in the same lineup, but with the latter gaining shortstop eligibility on DFS sites and the savings we found on the mound, we can have two of the best hitters in baseball in the same lineup on Friday. Machado leads the AL with 49 hits and the majors with a .691 slugging percentage and 1.107 OPS. He’s on a six-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 11-for-25 with three homers, two doubles and seven RBI. There’s never a bad time to have him in your lineup.
Outfield: Carlos Gonzalez ($4,600) vs. New York Mets, Matt Harvey; Kris Bryant ($4,100) vs. Pittsburgh, Francisco Liriano; Odubel Herrera ($3,300) vs. Cincinnati, Brandon Finnegan
Our outfield starts with Gonzalez, who gives us another hitter at Coors Field. He has hit a rough patch after a hot start to the season, but it’s hard to ignore this team when it is back at Coors, especially when you know people you’re playing against will be attacking both sides of this game. We’re able to game the system a bit more here, getting Bryant in the outfield, thus giving us three of the best young hitters in baseball, all of whom primarily play third base (though Machado could be embarking on a permanent defensive change). Bryant has faced Liriano just seven times, and two of those have ended with doubles. Finally, Herrera is an on-base machine who we get at a discount because he lacks the platoon advantage against fellow lefty Finnegan. That shouldn’t bother a guy who’s hitting .313/.463/.375 against lefties this year.