Happy Monday everyone! Though we have a smaller slate tonight, the baseball gods have blessed us with a slate chock full of elite pitching options. Honestly, nearly half of these plays have a legitimate shot at being the top play of the night. It’s a crazy slate! As a result, it’s even more important you get your pitching right. With that in mind, let’s jump right in; I’ll hit the highlights of who I like!
Clayton Kershaw ($13,500): On most nights, I tell you that Kershaw is too expensive. He generally is. In fact, he’s only returned 3X value one time in his past 10 starts (a 14-K effort against the Brewers). Tonight, though, I think he’s worth a look in GPPs. He’s still horribly expensive, but he gets the Mets who aren’t good at hitting lefties, and he gets them at home in a park which suppresses offense. While the matchup isn’t the best possible one you could have (the Mets don’t K quite as much as some teams), it’s awfully close (they did just K 10 times vs Lester). You still need a monster effort to reach value, but I see that as a realistic possibility tonight where I didn’t see it before. He’s a rock-solid cash play (though expensive enough you can pass given all the options).
Corey Kluber ($11,700): Boy, this is a tough call. Kluber’s K stuff has been outstanding all year, and he’s really turned it up over his last 3 starts—albeit against flawed opponents. Baltimore is similarly flawed; lots of K potential, but lots of power potential as well. It’s at home for BAL which helps them further. Kluber has been undone (to the extent has has been) by giving up entirely too much hard contact to righties. There’s risk against a hard-hitting Orioles club, but there’s also a chance he goes the distance and strikes out double digits. In the end, I don’t think his up-and-down nature this season will slow down his ownership, nor should it. Given his popularity, I think he makes for a strong cash play (likely more value than Kershaw) and a so-so GPP option. If you feel strongly about his prospects, play him; if you sense the risk, you can fade.
Jon Lester ($10,500): Elite pitching option #3! Lester had a great outing last time and gets a juicy matchup against the Padres who strike out almost more than anyone else against lefties. It would be better if this matchup were at Petco, and it would be better with a wind blowing in as opposed to a light breeze blowing out, and it would be better if SD hadn’t been hitting with a moderate amount of respectability lately—BUT, there is undeniable upside tonight, and it’s just as high as Kershaw and Kluber. I like him for either format.
Johnny Cueto ($9,100): Here’s a classic GPP play. There are elite options all around tonight, and then you get Cueto who has been pretty awful lately, and he gets the Braves who have been downright good since Freddie Freeman went down. No one will go here—and why should they? He’s not the safest option on the board, and he doesn’t have the same upside as the others. I will point out, though, that Cueto does have dominant outings in him from time to time, and ATL has slowed down a little. If there were a time to make the game theory play, now is that time. It’s a play fraught with risk, but it’s also one that has a greater chance of hitting than people will give consider. GPP only.
Brad Peacock ($8,100): The strikeout upside against the A’s is enormous. The A’s can hit, but so can TEX, and Peacock K’d 10 Rangers in just 4.2 IP last time out. Therein lies the problem: Peacock has only once managed to make it to 5 innings, and he hasn’t pitched more than 6 yet. Because of this, his upside is limited. This is properly reflected in the significant price discount, but because of this, I like him far more for cash (where you want a solid score) than for GPPs (where you want a top score). He can (and likely will) reach 3X value, so he’s playable in GPPs, but I don’t know if he can post a score capable of winning you a GPP. I think lots of people will flock to Peacock (ha!), so I think you can pivot away safely. He’s not a bad play, but I think you can do even better.
Marco Estrada ($7,900): All top 6 guys in DK are in a great spot, and Estrada is no different. There is plenty of risk here as TEX is laden with power, but there is a lot of K upside as well. Though I don’t think people will overlook the upside here, there are so many great options that I think the downside will scare people off. That’s when a play takes on extra weight as a great GPP option. Yes, Estrada has been very hittable lately, but the Ks are there, and TEX doesn’t hit fly ball pitchers all that well. Moreover, Vegas has this one pegged as a high-scoring affair, so ownership will be extra low. I think you should give this one strong consideration in GPPs. Don’t forget—this guy cost you $10k+ just a month ago (and he scored 28.5 against these Rangers just 3 weeks ago). At $7,900, I love it.
Gerrit Cole ($7,500): Cole is on an upswing, and he gets the Brewers who offer up a bigger K upside than TEX. They are also dangerous, especially at home, but if Cole really has turned a corner, you could get all kinds of value for your dollar here. A Cole/Estrada GPP pairing could leave you flat, or it could win you a GPP. What’s more, given the downside (and the fact that Cole wasn’t amazing last time against COL), I don’t expect his ownership will be too high. Give Cole strong consideration this evening!
Jason Hammel ($7,200): GPP only, but with the way the Red Sox offense has gone into hiding lately—and with Hammel’s recent resurgence on the mound—there’s some potential here. I don’t recommend this more than a long-shot play, but it’s not the craziest thing you could do.
Anibal Sanchez ($6,500): We’re venturing a little further into the reach plays, but this one’s not bad. Sanchez at one point in his life was a pretty solid pitcher. He hasn’t been that in a long while, but these sorts of call-ups are prime targets for DFS plays. The Mariners haven’t been swinging nearly as well lately, and they’ve been striking out more. Sanchez, meanwhile, has been pretty good down in AAA. There’s a lot of risk, and there’s a lack of real upside (I’d reserve this play for the late slates where it’s sure to also be low-owned), but Sanchez could just as easily toss a gem as he could get blown up. Given his ownership will not reflect that real-world possibility, I think there’s value here.
R.A. Dickey ($5,800): He’s been rough this year, no question, but the thing with knuckleballers is that you never really know what you’re going to get from start to start. Dickey actually was fine against the Nats, giving up a couple HRs in the first only to set a bunch of guys down before losing it in the 6th. And that’s against a team that really can hit knuckleballers. Tonight, he gets SF who, to be fair, hit him well last time out. But ignore the hits and runs for a moment—in his last 12 innings (2 starts), he has recorded 14 Ks and 0 BBs. There’s sure to be tiny ownership here, but this is a guy who is capable of cranking up 4X-5X value (or 6X like he did against PHI 11 days ago). I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw him on down here.
And that’s all I’ve got! I think you’ve got some tough choices with pitchers and roster construction tonight, but you’ve got a good chance whether you go top heavy and pick two expensive SPs, whether you mix and match with expensive and cheap, whether you play two mid-priced guys, or even if you go with two cheap guys (though you’re really crossing your fingers there!). I hope my thoughts have helped a bit! Good luck, and win some money!
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.