An exciting night coming up! We’ve got a lot of wind-aided games, some bad pitching, and some sneaky plays you can make to gain an advantage. A lot of these guys (well, all of them) were discussed last night on the DRS podcast which I was on. Some good advice tossed around in there, so you can use that to supplement these notes as you see fit!
Let’s jump in to see what we have!
Michael Fulmer ($11,200)
He’s a decent play—and I think his floor is pretty high—but I’m not too interested tonight. His price is way up there, but he’s not striking out as many as he has before, and the Orioles have been really tough to get out the past couple weeks. They could return to their free-swinging ways at any time, so I can understand a GPP play, but I think the chances of Fulmer getting you 30 DK points is exceedingly low. With last night’s game emptying both bullpens, I can see a desire by both teams (more on Ubaldo below) to get every last inning out of their starters, so I don’t mind Fulmer as much for cash games. 20 points is quite possible/likely.
Michael Pineda ($10,100)
This is a very easy call. Pineda is striking guys out at over 30% and has a swinging strike rate of 13.6%, and tonight he goes up against one of the worst offenses in baseball (at least so far) in the KC Royals. He’s been giving up HRs at a rate far greater than one might expect, and that’s a concern with the wind blowing out at 20 MPH, but he’s very dominant, and I expect him to dominate tonight. His price is such that he’s a cash game lock.
As I’m a GPP player, I’ll come out and tell you I’m not playing him tonight. There are two main reasons: (1) ownership levels; (2) he never seems to stick around long enough in a game. Would you believe that he has thrown a single pitch in the 8th inning just one time since July 2015 (earlier this season against TB)? This puts a pretty hard ceiling on his value. Because KC isn’t the type of team you generally rack up 10+ Ks against, it is a longer shot for him to duplicate his monster performance he had against TB earlier this season tonight against KC. I think there are guys who can outscore him tonight, and if they do, you’ll save money and pass the field a little bit.
Ervin Santana ($9,500)
This is a classic GPP play. Santana has the stuff to strike guys out any time, and the Rockies away from Coors are a prime target for such starting pitchers because they are nowhere near the same team offensively. I like the play a lot for these reasons. On the other side, though, Santana walks over 10% of the guys he faces which results in guys getting on base and can lead to shorter outings. Plus, Colorado does have some guys who can hit. I think this is a decent night to try out Santana in GPPs, but he’s far from a sure thing.
Kyle Hendricks ($9,100)
With another strong wind blowing out at Wrigley, and the Reds’ ability to hit for power, I’m not inclined to play Hendricks tonight. I don’t think he’ll do horribly, but I think the chance he comes anywhere close to paying off his salary will be very, very low. He also struggles to go deep into games.
Rick Porcello ($9,000)
Porcello is still a quality pitcher who can rack up strikeouts, and tonight he gets to duck out of the hitter’s park in Boston. This is an okay spot for him, but the Cardinals don’t strike out much, so it’ll be harder for Porcello to reach GPP value. I think he’s a fine cash play with GPP potential, but he’s not my favorite play on the board.
Matt Shoemaker ($8,800)
He’ll probably be pretty chalky given that the White Sox have the lowest Vegas implied runs on the board, but he’s my favorite play on the board. The White Sox have been very weak against righties this year, and they K at a pretty high rate. Shoemaker seems to be putting it together, and I expect him to have a good night tonight. He could be the highest-scoring pitcher on the slate, and at $8,800, that’s something not easily passed up. What’s more, the ballpark is very friendly to pitchers. I’d lock him in for cash games; and he’s about as strong a GPP play as there is tonight (you never “lock in” a GPP play).
Gerrit Cole ($8,600)
I actually think Cole will be a respectable, under-the-radar play tonight. GPP only. The Nationals are very dangerous at the plate, but Cole does a great job against right-handers, and the Nats righties actually strike out a fair amount when facing right-handed pitchers. Cole himself can pile up Ks. Where he’s vulnerable is against lefties. Guys like Murphy, Harper, and Lind (if he plays) are pretty strong plays. Especially Harper. There’s a chance he will disappoint, but there’s al
Jason Vargas ($8,400)
If you’re going to play a chalky pitcher like Pineda or Shoemaker, it will help to have someone a little off the radar with high upside. Enter Jason Vargas. He has a swinging strike rate of 12.5% and a K rate of 22.9% to go along with a low walk rate. His ERA is stupid-low right now (1.01), and though that’s sure to rise, his peripherals would suggest that it won’t rise too much (xFIP and SIERA both well under 4.00). Yes, he has no track record of this sort of success, but he apparently has employed a new release point which might explain some of his success, or at least give you some confidence that this isn’t all luck. The Yankees are indeed a very scary lineup with all manner of power up and down. Plus, the wind is blowing out which shrinks the otherwise large field at Kaufman Stadium. There is no question that this is risky. But consider this: (1) against lefties this season, the Yankees have struck out nearly 23% of the time; (2) their ISO against lefties when they are playing on the road is .101 (that’s not good); (3) in the last two weeks, the Yankees have struck out 25% of the time against lefties (6th highest in MLB over that same time frame); and (4) you’d be most worries about right-handers here—in the past two weeks, Yankee righties have struck out 28.7% of the time against left-handed pitching with a wRC+ of 59 and an ISO of .097. If the Yankees employ some of their big K guys in tonight’s lineup, I think Vargas is a great GPP play. He’s likely to give up a HR or two, but I think the risk/reward calculation weighs heavily in favor of “reward” tonight.
Matt Garza ($8,400)
He’s a perfectly fine play given that he’s going at Petco against the K-happy Padres. I’d probably say this about anyone in the same situation. I think that the Padres lefties could get some extra base hits tonight, but as long as we’re not talking about a pitch-to-contact guy (which Garza is not), just about everyone will benefit by pitching against these guys at Petco. Fine for cash; playable for GPP.
Mike Foltynewicz ($7,800)
He’s a forgotten man on every slate, and tonight is no different. Until the Blue Jays show me that they’ve emerged from the offensive funk that hung over their first 6 weeks of the season, I think Folty is a good play. His biggest problem is HRs, and TOR just hasn’t been hitting them. At home, he provides nice value. I don’t think I like him much for cash, but I think there’s a decent chance he can tick off 20 points on DK which is great at his price.
Miguel Gonzalez ($7,700)
Lots of contact, lots of fly balls, few strikeouts. That’s a recipe for DFS failure. Gonzalez does have some K potential buried in there, but we haven’t really seen it this year, and it’s unlikely to show its head tonight against the Angels. I think you can safely move past this play.
Mike Leake ($7,600)
As good as Leake has been pitching—and he has been pitching very well—facing the Red Sox is not a good spot to be in. Whether or not they have a great night at the plate, they simply don’t strike out much. Given that, I think Leake can also be ignored.
Andrew Cashner ($7,500)
As of now, DK shows Andrew Cashner, though Martin Perez might also make the start. Neither one is worth mentioning, even against the Phillies. There’s always a chance of some Ks here, and the Phillies offense disappears for longer stretches of time, but both guys are contact pitchers, and the Phillies can hit for power. Vegas thinks there will be a lot of runs. Aaron Altherr is high on my radar tonight.
Scott Feldman ($7,200)
Soft-tossing righty at Wrigley with a strong wind blowing out. No.
Jhoulys Chacin ($7,100)
Chacin is worth mentioning simply because you get the K-upside Brewers in Petco. I’m not thrilled with the play—it’s not like he’s a big K machine, and the Brewers can hit—but there are worse ways to spend $7,100.
German Marquez ($6,900)
I’m somewhat intrigued by this play. He gets a bunch of Ks at times, and the Twins can strike out a lot. Plus, he’s not at Coors, so that’s good. On the downside, the Twins are hitting better than I ever expected they would—would you believe Miguel Sano hasn’t hit the ball softly this year? It’s true! I think Marquez is a low-owned, high-upside GPP play, especially at his price, but he could also fall flat.
Ubaldo Jimenez ($6,800)
On the surface, this looks like a terrible play. And it might be. I’d caution you to not jump right into a Tigers stack, though. Jimenez ebbs and flows, and he just came off a really nice start (which you wouldn’t be able to tell by the game log) against a really tough Nationals team. As bad as he is, he often goes deep into games. Given that both teams just blew their bullpens last night—and given that everyone will pile on DET—I think that fading Detroit is something you should consider. There’s a non-negligible chance that he has a respectable night.
Jesse Hahn ($6,700)
A Cano-less Mariners opposition makes me somewhat interested in Hahn as a cash play. I don’t expect he’ll get a bunch of strikeouts, but I think he makes for a nice, cheap cash play. I’ll probably save him for a late-slate play. The M’s can still hit right-handed pitching, even without Cano, so don’t go crazy.
Jacob Turner ($6,600)
Turner gets the spot start against the Pirates. I’m not head-over-heels about this pick, but you couldn’t ask for a much better matchup for someone this cheap. I don’t know if the Ks will be there, but he very easily could go 5 innings, get 3 or 4 Ks, and give up a run and get the win. That puts him well within 3X value territory and frees up a ton of salary for your hitters. Ownership should be lower as he wasn’t named until today.
Zach Eflin ($6,100)
Another contact pitcher. Though he faces Texas—who does K a bit—he’s not a big K guy. I think you can target him with lefties, and the Rangers have a bunch of dangerous ones. You can safely skip this matchup, too.
Joe Biagini ($6,000)
I wrote up Biagini last time, and he rewarded me with 9Ks against the Mariners over 5 innings. I like him again tonight, though he’s substantially more expensive. He’s been tough on hitters from both sides, and though the Braves aren’t total pushovers, they aren’t the Yankees or anything. The main concern is the innings pitched. There’s a high likelihood he gets pulled early when his spot in the batting order comes up, so that could put a cap on his value. Still, though, he could pull 3X value at a very cheap price, and that’s all you can ask for from someone down here.
Christian Bergman ($5,500
: Yet another contact pitcher—he’s cheap enough, and avoids enough damage usually, that maybe you could play him in cash games against an OAK team whose offense disappears at times, but I’m not particularly interested tonight.
That’s all I’ve got! Good luck!!
About the Author:
Dr. Mike Hass is a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan and a lawyer who lives in Washington DC. He started playing DFS a couple years ago when he no longer had time for season long leagues, and has been hooked ever since. He plays most DFS sports but he focuses most of his time on MLB, especially pitching. He started posting his pitching analyses on Twitter @msonichdrhass last season mostly because it helped him organize his thoughts. Eventually, there were enough people reading, and asking for it daily, so he now does it as regularly as possible (around family and career). He’s primarily a GPP player, but also writes advice for cash games, too.