Tuesday baseball is back, and we have 15 games on tap for the main fantasy baseball slate. There are a wide array of pitching options, and there will be some tough decisions to make tonight. That is what I am here to help with!
1. Jack Flaherty, $8,700, STL vs. MIA
It has been a bit of a lackluster season for Flaherty, who was billed as one of the top breakout candidates for 2019. He has a 4.28 ERA through 14 starts and has allowed four or more earned runs five times. That said, he appears to be at least a little unlucky. His xFIP sits at 4.01, and his SIERA is 4.08. Flaherty also has managed to strike out a good bit of batters, 26.3%.
What makes Flaherty so appealing today and worth rostering in all formats, is his matchup with the Marlins. Miami is no longer last in wRC+ against right-handed pitching, but it still is only 29th. The Marlins strike out 24.8% of the time against them, sixth-most often in baseball. The Marlins are extremely right-handed heavy, with at least six righties expected, plus an opposing pitcher who is a righty. Flaherty has extreme platoon splits this season, allowing 76 less points of wOBA and 109 less points of ISO to righties, while striking them out 11.7% more frequently.
It might feel odd to prioritize Flaherty with a few other talented pitchers on the slate. However, Flaherty is in one of the best matchups in DFS, possesses great talent and comes at a sub-$9K price.
2. Cole Hamels, $10,500, CHC vs. CHW
I’m not sure I possibly could have been more wrong on Hamels. Aging and pitching in a hitters park, I was expecting some major regression in Hamels’ 2019 performance. He has instead been fantastic, pitching to a 2.98 ERA with 83 strikeouts in 84 2/3 innings. Hamels is coming off of a 32.95-DKFP masterpiece in Coors.
Now Hamels gets the White Sox, who are an average MLB offense against lefties. They have a 98 wRC+ and strike out 23.9% of the time. However, their all-righty lineup is a bit of a plus for Hamels in terms of DraftKings scoring. Hamels has struck out 25.1% of all righties faced this year but just 18.2% of lefties. And while he does give up more hits to right-handed batters, he still has allowed just a .291 wOBA and .132 ISO to them. His fly-ball rate is just 28.7%.
3. Justin Verlander, $11,900, HOU at CIN
Verlander is a stone-cold stud who is worthy of consideration on any slate. He has a 2.41 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 100 2/3 innings. Every start but two this season has been a quality start, with one earned run or fewer given up in nine of them.
The Reds are a favorable matchup for righty pitchers. They are 26th in wRC+ and ninth in strikeout rate. They also are expected to have four lefties in the lineup this evening. Verlander has struck out a ridiculous 39.5% of left-handed batters this season. He definitely has his usual monster ceiling in this matchup.
Verlander is a fantastic play in terms of raw points. He has gone over 32 DKFP in five of his past six starts. However, he comes at great cost today relative to Flaherty and Hamels. If some good value bats pop up on this slate, Verlander is a great play in all formats, but if those bats do not arise, I would recommend limiting him to GPPs with contrarian, cheap stacks.
4. Clayton Kershaw, $11,200, LAD vs. SF
Kershaw is not the same pitcher he once was, but the future Hall-of-Famer still is putting together an excellent season. His ERA is 3.13, and he has allowed more than three runs in just one start this year. The area he has regressed the most is with strikeouts. A career 9.72 K/9 pitcher, Kershaw has fanned just 8.38 batters per nine in 2019.
The Giants have been demolished by lefties all year. They are tied with the Marlins at a 68 wRC+, last in baseball, and strike out 24% of the time against them. Kershaw has deployed his fastball the most against lefties (53%) and slider the most against righties (44%). The anticipated Giants lineup has five righties and three lefties. None of the righties have better than a .154 ISO against sliders, and none of the lefties have better than a .196 ISO against fastballs.
Kershaw is undoubtedly in an excellent spot but might be priced closer to his ceiling than median outcome. I recommend limiting him to GPPs as a means of differentiating off of Verlander or Hamels, who should be more popular.
5. Yusei Kikuchi, $5,300, SEA vs. KC
Your cheap GPP pitcher of the day is Kikuchi, who comes in at a bargain-basement price. It has been a mixed bag for the Japanese native, who has a 4.78 ERA on the year. Kikuchi has allowed one earned run in five of his starts but more than three runs four times. This is the kind of variance that typically exists for GPP plays.
That said, I still believe Kikuchi is underpriced given the matchup. Kansas City has been awful against left-handed pitching, ranking 28th in wRC+ and striking out 25.4% of the time, ninth-most. Kikuchi is also mostly fastball/slider, throwing those pitches more than 75% of the time combined. The Royals have just one batter, Jorge Soler ($4,400), who has an ISO over .170 against fastballs, and no batters with a .300 wOBA or better against sliders.
In addition to the matchup, it is worth noting the Royals already have seen a 0.4 drop in run total for this game. This is more information that points to Kikuchi as a potential DFS steal in tournaments.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is amicsta) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.