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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 today. On Friday, May 27, all games start at 7:05 p.m. ET or later, with the exception of Phillies at Cubs, which starts at 2:20 p.m. ET. Luckily for you, none of our daily fantasy baseball picks come from that game.
Starting pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka ($10,400) @ Tampa Bay and Adam Conley ($7,500) @ Atlanta
Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester are all more expensive than Tanaka on Friday, but the Yankees righty is the choice to lead our staff. He still isn’t reaching the strikeout heights of his rookie year, but that doesn’t much bother the Yankees or, to a lesser degree, fantasy owners, so long as he continues to pitch as well as he has this season. Tanaka had one of his better starts of the year against the Rays, going seven innings while allowing two runs and fanning seven batters. They do have the 11th-best wOBA in baseball, but their 24.8% strikeout rate opens the door for Tanaka to find that strikeout upside from two years ago.
Conley joins Tanaka partly on his own merits, and partly because of his matchup. He has given the fantasy community more good than bad, especially considering the fact that no one leans on him as more than a No. 6 starter in season-long leagues or a value option in daily formats. That he’s striking out nearly a batter per inning across 47 2/3 frames is a bonus, and certainly makes him even more intriguing on Friday. As for the matchup, it doesn’t get much better than the Braves. They’re last in the league in wOBA and slugging percentage, 26th in OBP, and 27th in batting average.
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto ($3,100) @ Atlanta, Williams Perez
Realmuto isn’t going to give you much in the way of power, but once you get over that, there’s a lot to like about him on Friday (aside from his price). He’s hitting .304 in May and gets a matchup with Perez that is, at worst, neutral. The Atlanta righty has been surprisingly effective this season, but not to the point that he’s someone we need to avoid in daily formats.
First base: Chris Davis ($4,400) @ Cleveland, Trevor Bauer
Taking price out of the equation, there are more attractive first basemen than Davis on Friday. Of course, production-per-dollar is the very essence of DFS, and Davis is an excellent dollar-for-dollar play against Bauer. While he’s between the highs of 2013 and ’15, and the lows of ’14, Davis is still raking against righties, amassing a .248/.366/.504 slash line with the platoon advantage.
Second base: Daniel Murphy ($3,700) vs. St. Louis, Jaime Garcia
Yes, this is a matchup with a tough lefty, and that’s why Murphy is so affordable. In the past, that might have been an issue. This year, Murphy could probably go 2-for-4 against peak Sandy Koufax. He’s slashing a ridiculous .386/.396/.523 against lefties this season. He hasn’t just negated the platoon advantage, but has turned it into a disadvantage for pitchers. The lefty-lefty matchup shouldn’t concern you with the way Murphy has swung the bat during his first two months with the Nationals.
Third base: Josh Donaldson ($4,300) vs. Boston, Joe Kelly
We try not to put much stock into batter vs. pitcher, or BvP, in this space, because it takes a significant number of matchups between two foes before you can really draw any conclusions. Still, 9-for-17 with a homer and six RBI catches your eye, all the more so when the players in question are Donaldson and Kelly. Take the discount driven by Donaldson’s mini-slump with a smile and get him in your lineup.
Shortstop: Carlos Correa ($4,200) @ Los Angeles Angels, Matt Shoemaker
As is the case with Donaldson and Kelly, we’re getting in discount on a slumping superstar at shortstop who can simply outclass the pitcher his team is slated to face on Friday. Shoemaker is the owner of a 6.81 ERA, 4.77 FIP and 1.57 WHIP in 37 innings this season. Seven of the 45 hits he has allowed have left the yard. Correa could be in an 0-for-100 slump and break it with a 4-for-4 against Shoemaker. This matchup is too good to ignore.
Outfield: J.D. Martinez ($4,700) @ Oakland, Sean Manaea; Jackie Bradley Jr. ($4,300) @ Toronto, Aaron Sanchez; Leonys Martin ($3,400) vs. Minnesota, Pat Dean
Bradley snapped his 29-game hitting streak with an 0-for-4 day on Thursday, but that’s no reason to avoid him against Sanchez on Friday. Just beware of the potential for him to get a day off, given that he hasn’t had one in more than a month. Martinez is 15-for-41 with five homers, three doubles and 10 RBI in his last 10 games. In that time, he has raised his slash line to .261/.337/.494 from .230/.312/.385. That’s the sort of hitter you want in your lineup, especially with a great matchup against Manaea. Martinez is slashing .313/.343/.531 against lefties this year. Finally, we get one of baseball’s brightest surprises in 2016. Martin already has a career-high nine homers, and has a chance to be the first player in baseball with 10 homers and 10 steals. His stubbornly low price makes him arguably the best dollar-for-dollar player on the board Friday.