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The weekend kicks off with a day game at Wrigley Field and 14 night games across the country. You’ll want to take a look at your DFS lineups early, however, with Jon Lester shaping up to be one of the best pitcher plays of the day. If you miss out on him, however, you’ll have plenty of aces to choose from, highlighted by Corey Kluber, Stephen Strasburg, Drew Smyly and Felix Hernandez.
Starting pitcher: Jon Lester ($10,900) vs. Atlanta and Hector Santiago ($7,300) @ Texas
The Braves scored five runs against the Red Sox on Thursday, which is pretty much unheard of for this team. Don’t expect them to do the same against Jon Lester and the Cubs. As bad as the Braves have been generally, they’ve been even worse against lefties specifically. Their team wOBA against southpaws is .235, while they’ve struck out in 25.9% of their plate appearances. Lester, who has a 1.98 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings this year, shouldn’t have any trouble shutting them down on Friday.
As for Santiago, we’ve seen this before. Last season, he made the All Star game before falling off, and if he continues to pitch like he has in the month of April, he’ll be right back there this season. Through four starts and 26 2/3 innings, he has a 2.70 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 27 strikeouts. The Rangers have been about league average in offense, ranking 20th in overall wOBA and 16th against lefties. Santiago’s price makes him an ideal pitcher to pair with any of the big-name pitchers.
Catcher: Francisco Cervelli ($3,400) vs. Cincinnati, Dan Straily
Cervelli has turned himself into one of the better offensive catchers over the last two and a half seasons, hitting .299/.376/.407 starting with his 49-game stint with the Yankees in 2014. He’s 4-for-9 with a homer and a pair of walks in his last two games, and has at least one hit in 10 of his last 12 games. The Pirates will be a popular stack on Friday, and Cervelli, the team’s No. 5 hitter, is a key member in any grouping of Pirates.
First base: Miguel Cabrera ($4,300) @ Minnesota, Phil Hughes
After a slow start to the season, Cabrera has started to break out of his funk. In his last four games, Cabrera is 9-for-17 with two homers, two doubles, five RBI and four runs scored. Cabrera and Hughes have a lengthy history with one another and, as you might expect, the future Hall of Famer and not the replacement level pitcher has gotten the better of those matchups. In 44 plate appearances, Cabrera is slashing .415/.455/.902 with five homers, five doubles and 13 RBI against Hughes.
Second base: D.J. LeMahieu ($3,600) @ Arizona, Robbie Ray
LeMahieu broke out in 2015 and has kept it rolling in 2016, slashing .310/.367/.451 with a pair of homers and 13 runs. One thing LeMahieu did so well last year was hit lefties, slashing .316/.390/.368 with the platoon advantage. Ray has done a good job against lefties in his career, but righties have hit him to the tune of a .277/.363/.436 slash line.
Third base: Manny Machado ($4,200) vs. Chicago White Sox, Carlos Rodon
Machado seems to be an unstoppable force in 2016, slashing .333/.389/.678 with seven homers and 16 RBI. He destroyed the White Sox in the series opener on Thursday, going 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a grand slam in Baltimore’s 10–2 win. Machado had reverse splits last season, hitting righties better than he did lefties, but the way he’s going, it really doesn’t matter who’s on the mound. At $4,200, Machado is one of the best dollar-for-dollar plays on the board.
Shortstop: Ketel Marte ($3,500) vs. Kansas City, Kris Medlen
Marte is riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 13-for-30 with three doubles, seven runs, two RBI and a steal. This is the Marte we saw for the balance of his 247 plate appearances with the Mariners last season. Medlen has made his way back into a rotation after a litany of arm injuries, but he has gotten off to a rocky start this season, allowing 10 earned runs, 17 hits and 11 walks in 15 innings. Marte and the Mariners should be able to get after him on Friday.
Outfield: Bryce Harper ($5,200) @ St. Louis, Mike Leake; J.D. Martinez ($4,100) @ Minnesota, Phil Hughes; David Peralta ($3,500) vs. Colorado, Tyler Chatwood
It has been a few days since Harper has made it into our lineup, so we might as well circle back to the best hitter in the league. Harper’s starting to get the Barry Bonds treatment, walking seven times in his last three games, but he’s the sort of hitter who can make the most of the one or two hittable pitches he sees in an entire game. Brad Ausmus moved Martinez into the two hole on Wednesday, getting one of his best hitters more plate appearances, and likely more fastballs with Miguel Cabrera behind him in the order. In two games hitting second, Martinez is 3-for-6 with a homer, double, three walks and four RBI. Finally is our good friend Peralta, who has become a stalwart in our ultimate DFS lineup. Peralta was one of the most dangerous hitters against right-handed pitching last year, and you’re going to want to invest in the Rockies and Diamondbacks all weekend at Chase Field.