It’s fitting that, on the final Friday of baseball’s regular season, we are bestowed with our usual top-heavy pitching options. Tonight specifically features a quintet of talented left-handers and three hard-throwing RHPs in the eight highest-priced arms; with quantity and quality coming together for the 13-game featured fantasy baseball slate on DraftKings. So, for the last time this year, I ask you: Who should you be turning to on the mound this evening?Let’s find out.
1. Gerrit Cole, $12,800, HOU at BALBelieve me, the irony of me favoring Cole for his longevity is not lost upon me, however, when attempting to separate this slate’s top two SPs, pitch count has to be taken into account. Cole is coming off one of his better DFS outings in the past four months; a seven-inning, 12 strikeout performance against the Angels than netted him a cool 34.2 DKFP. He’ll need something similar tonight to hit value, yet, that’s totally in the cards with his opposition wearing the orange and white of the Orioles. At 12.0 percent, Baltimore owns the second-highest swinging strike rate in all of baseball. They strikeout. A lot. Cole is also known for his strike generating prowess. The former Pirates’ ace leads the league with a 35.1 percent strikeout rate in 2018, while also sporting a 2.10 FIP since July 9. All year long, in the American League, if you couldn’t exploit the White Sox, the Orioles were next in line. Why change things 159 games in?
2. Hyun-Jin Ryu, $11,100, LAD at SFAs stated above, the key to differentiating Ryu and Cole comes not in recent performance or matchup – both of which might even lean towards the lower-priced Dodgers’ SP – but in volume. For as good as Ryu has been across his last eight outings, only once in those starts has the 31-year-old exceeded even 90 pitches thrown, with Dave Roberts always willing to turn the game over to the bullpen. Still, there’s enough reason to trust Ryu too. Over that same eight outing span, the left-hander possesses a 1.93 ERA with a 2.60 FIP, adding in a more than respectful 26.7 percent strikeout rate. He’s also the perfect archetype to survive under such strict managerial conditions. In 2018, Ryu has averaged just 15.1 pitches per inning, as his pristine control assists greatly in his ability to conserve pitches. In his most recent 46.2 frames, Ryu has walked four people – and one was intentional. It’s not enough to get him atop Cole in tonight’s pitcher hierarchy, but that – mixed with the Giants – locks up the second spot.
3. Mike Foltynewicz, $9,000, ATL at PHIConsidering that his price has been at or above $10K in 14 of his last 18 starts, this feels like a bit of a discount for Foltynewicz. Sure, he had an ugly outing against St. Louis a few games back, however, aside from that blip on the radar, he’s been more than solid going back to early August. Since the eighth day of that month, Foltynewicz sports a 2.56 ERA across 59.2 innings pitched, as he’s held opposing bats to a microscopic .235 wOBA in that span. The Phillies also happen to be stumbling their way to the finish line. In September, they’ve only been able to muster a .224 team average with a 24.4 percent strikeout rate and subpar 86 wRC+. For the entirety of the season, they own the National League’s second-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers at 25.0 percent. Where Foltynewicz supplies the floor, Philadelphia represents the ceiling.
4. Mike Clevinger, $10,400, CLE at KCAt first glance, this might not seem like the best spot to attack with Clevinger. Despite a rather strong recent resume, the Royals simply have been among the league’s best in generating runs in the final month of the season. Their .320 wOBA sits just outside MLB’s top-ten team totals for September and – somewhat shockingly – a .186 ISO slots them at seventh-best. However, there is one skill that Kansas City has lacked in this time period: Patience. At 6.7 percent, the Royals possess the fourth-lowest walk rate in baseball for the month. They also have the league’s eighth-highest swing rate at 48.7 percent. That aggression has worked for them, but it negates Clevinger’s largest flaw. Over his last nine outings, a stretch that has seen the young RHP pitch to a 2.01 ERA with a 29.2 percent strikeout rate, Clevinger is walking 3.7 opponents per nine. With that out of the equation and Clevinger also far better against left-handed bats away from Progressive Field; this suddenly appears to be a positive matchup.
5. Patrick Corbin, $10,800, ARI at SDLet’s get a little narrative street going in what is likely Corbin’s final start as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Especially after getting shelled in his last home outing of the season, you know Corbin’s going to want to leave a positive impression on the only MLB fan base he’s ever known. Heck, he might want to just take advantage of the last start he’ll make against the lowly Padres for some time – he’s done it before. Corbin dropped 33.70 DKFP versus San Diego back in April, striking out 11 opponents over six fantastic innings. But, I get it. Like you, I’m a stats guy, not a stories guy. So, let us delve into Corbin’s amazing numbers since June 22nd. In that 102 inning span, the left-hander has retired 11.0 batters per nine on strikes, all while maintaining a 1.86 FIP. Before his salary jumps from $7.5 million to something closer to the $20 million range, allow yourself to bask in Corbin’s skill one final time in 2018.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) 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.