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MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Friday 4/21/17

Jacob deGrom's first three starts have been electric, but can we trust him in a tough matchup with the Nationals?

The beauty of daily fantasy baseball is that the top targets are different each and every day. Whether it's the right-handed catcher who destroys left-handed pitching or the mid-range hurler facing a depleted lineup, you're not going to find yourself using the same assets time after time.

While this breaks up the monotony, it can make it hard to decide which players are primed to succeed on a given day. We can help bridge that gap.

In addition to our custom optimal lineups, you can check out our batting and pitching heat maps, which show the pieces in the best spot to succeed on that slate. Put on the finishing touches with our games and lineups page to see who's hitting where and what the weather looks like, and you'll have yourself a snazzy looking team to put up some big point totals. We've also got our Solo Shot Podcast, which breaks down the MLB daily fantasy slate each day. Here's today's episode.

If you need help getting started on that trek, here are some of the top options on the board today.

Pitchers to Target

High-Priced Pitchers

Jon Lester ($10,600): With Jacob deGrom being scratched for the New York Mets, you can make a compelling case for Jon Lester, Corey Kluber, and Justin Verlander as the top arm of the night. All three appear to be tightly bunched, meaning it may just be best to focus on the one you believe will have the lowest ownership. With Lester, the appeal comes from both his defense and facing a team that won't have a designated hitter. Lester has the best SIERA of the three at 3.40 on the season thanks to his 24.3% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate. He has held opponents to a 29.8% hard-hit rate, elevating the floor a bit as Lester faces the Cincinnati Reds.

Corey Kluber ($9,900): If we're picking the second slot based on 2017 performance, it would go to Verlander with his SIERA down at 3.57. Kluber, though, has the superior matchup against the Chicago White Sox, and he showed signs of springing back to life in his most recent start. In that one, Kluber rocked a saucy 15.0% swinging-strike rate, resulting in 8 strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. Sure, he allowed six earned runs, but that was against one of the best offenses in baseball. The White Sox are not that, ranking 28th in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. This is a good spot for Kluber to get his season on track.

Value Pitcher

Sean Manaea ($7,400): We saw big-time potential from Sean Manaea last year when he posted a 3.67 SIERA and 12.6% swinging-strike rate after the All-Star break. He's right back at it early on with a silly 15.6% swinging-strike rate through his first three starts, bumping him high on our DFS radars. Things haven't all aligned for Manaea yet with his ERA up at 5.51, but his 3.46 SIERA says that should come soaring down, even with an elevated walk rate. Manaea's at home with his Oakland Athletics as slight favorites at -123, so while we're likely best paying up in cash games, Manaea's a great tournament option.

Hitters to Target

High-Priced Hitters

Freddie Freeman ($4,600): Jeremy Hellickson had a great season last year for the Philadelphia Phillies, but his peripherals are a bit concerning in 2017 with a 5.61 SIERA. That's all the convincing we need to pluck Freddie Freeman from the player pool. Freeman's hard-hit rate is at 43.9% for the year, a mark that will play well at Citizens Bank Park. With Miguel Cabrera and some value first basemen on the slate, Freeman could slide through the ownership cracks, making him even more intriguing in a decent matchup.

Khris Davis ($3,500): There aren't many hitters swinging a better stick right now than Khris Davis. His .310/.364/.707 slash is validated by his 48.8% hard-hit rate, helping him to loft seven dingers into the seats already. Although Davis' strikeout rate will never be low, he's facing Hisashi Iwakuma, and Iwakuma has struck out just 9.8% of his opponents on the season. Toss in the 38.9% fly-ball rate Iwakuma allowed to righties last year, and Davis' appeal only grows.

Nick Castellanos ($3,100): We're almost three weeks into the season, and the league's leader in hard-hit rate is still Nick Castellanos at 61.4%. You can get that for $3,100, which is enough to move the needle all by itself. A matchup with Hector Santiago shouldn't hurt as Santiago has allowed a 41.0% hard-hit rate and 53.7% fly-ball rate to righties the past calendar year. Castellanos is underpriced, he smashes left-handed pitching, and he's facing a pitcher who struggles with hard contact. That's the type of player around whom you can build a lineup.

Value Hitters

Victor Martinez ($2,700): Sticking with the Detroit Tigers, Victor Martinez is bound to break out of his season-opening slump in the very near future. Martinez is yet to record an extra-base hit despite holding an absurd 48.7% hard-hit rate. That's not a number you see associated with a .204/.286/.204 slash often, so this puppy isn't going to persist. Once luck finally breaks Martinez's way, he should get back to posting big totals, and tonight seems as good of a night as any for that to happen.

Addison Russell ($2,700): Addison Russell is worth his salary simply by batting fifth for an offense as good as that of the Chicago Cubs. He adds to that value with his raw talent. Through 62 plate appearances, Russell's strikeout rate is down to 14.5% while his fly-ball rate is holding steady at 42.0%. When he comes to the dish with runners on base -- as he should often given his spot in the order -- Russell has the ability to capitalize in a hurry. The Cubs' entire offense is intriguing as they face Tim Adleman, and Russell can help you pay up for the big names if you so desire.

Jed Lowrie ($2,300): Jed Lowrie's similar to Russell in that we should be checking him out simply because of a positive situation, batting third for a competent offense. The batted-ball numbers justify this interest as Lowrie enters Friday with a 36.4% hard-hit rate and 45.5% fly-ball rate. He, the aforementioned Khris Davis, and the A's get a great matchup, and there's value to go around here, so this is a team we can target with regularity if we need to save some salary.

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