Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings MLB salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each pitcher.
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Cream of the Crop
Chris Sale vs. Boston Red Sox ($13200) – Sale is easily the top option on the day and he should be. The Red Sox have struggled with left-handed pitching all season. The only guy who has a wOBA over .360 on the team against lefties is Xander Bogaerts and he has very little power upside. Jose Quintana just held them to two runs last night and Sale is one of the most dominant lefties in the game. The Sox have one of the lowest batting averages in the league and a decent K%. They K% is not a huge concern, because Sale’s stuff can strike out anybody. Over his last ten, he has averaged over 7 innings and 10 strikeouts per game with about 2 runs allowed. The only concern is whether or not he does enough to pay off this lofty price. He’s a great bet for 20-30 fantasy points, with a chance for upside against a team that struggles against lefties.
Scott Kazmir vs. Los Angeles Angels ($9300) – Kazmir grabs an Angels team that is likely without Mike Trout here today. They already struggle some against left-handed pitching when healthy, so taking the biggest bat out of the lineup can only help. Kazmir has averaged over 22 points over his last 8 starts. He has strikeout upside and has limited the damage. He has been averaging about innings per start as well, so he has been going deep into games. He has also only allowed 7 runs over the course of those last eight starts. Deep innings, lots of Ks, and few runs is exactly what we look for in a fantasy starter. Throw in the weakened lineup he faces and you got a perfect storm of opportunity for a big upside game.
Middle of the Pack
Jake Arrieta vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($12100) – Arrieta has a decent matchup with a struggling Brewers offense here as a favorite. The Brewers have the twentieth ranked batting average against right-handers and the 11th highest strikeout rate. Arrieta has been the true ace of that Cubs staff and has a 30 and 40 fantasy point performance in his last three games. He matches up well with the Brewers who have some injures (Lind) and very few guys who have good numbers against right-handed pitching (Parra, Braun). The drawback is price. At over $12K, he does not offer much upside as he would need to pitch an absolute gem to make value.
Jimmy Nelson vs. Chicago Cubs ($7800) – At first glance this looks like a tough match up for Nelson, but the numbers tell a slightly different story. For starters, Nelson has been very good lately. He has over 20 fantasy points in each of his last three starts. Nelson is a high strikeout guy and the Cubs have one of the highest K% in the league against right-handed pitching. They also have the third lowest batting average as a team to go along with the strikeouts. That makes this an elite level matchup. The Cubs do have some big bats that have power, so he will likely get tagged for a few negative events, but at under $8K and with a good floor from those strikeouts, he is definitely in play.
AJ Burnett vs. Cincinnati Reds ($8400) – Burnett has been solid all year and this is a pretty friendly price on him. He has a tough match up here, so nothing that screams use him besides the price. He faces a team with a very low strikeout rate and a middle of the road batting average. Burnett has no big time upside. He is not the guy to look for to get you 30+ points. He is a solid safe 15-20 if that is what you are looking for in a cash game most nights though, so that is where he has value.
Shelby Miller vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($9700) – Shelby Miller makes a great cash game play today. He has been solid all season and now faces a pretty weak offense that struggles to score runs. The Phillies have the fifth lowest batting average against right-handed pitching and Shelby has a WHIP of only 1.13 with an ERA of only 2.27. The Phillies are not a high strikeout team, but Miller does average about 7.5 per nine innings, so he should be able to pick up a few. He should go about 6 or 7 innings with 5 strikeouts and limit the damage. If he does that he should end up above the 20 fantasy point mark which is good safe value for your cash games, but probably lacks the upside to be a great tournament play.
Carlos Martinez vs. Colorado Rockies ($10300) – Carlos Martinez has been dominant lately. His fantasy scores have been in the 20s and thirties in most of his starts, so the upside is accessible to him. Colorado is ranked 12 in K%, so they do strike out a little bit. Martinez has great strikeout stuff so that is a positive. The downside is that the left-handed bats from Colorado have been hitting lately and should be able to put up some runs. St. Louis is obviously the furthest thing from Coors field, so the Rockies get a huge downgrade. Martinez would need to shut them down completely and still have that high strikeout game he is capable of to pay off the salary. It’s not impossible, but it is improbable.
***Editors Note: Michael Pineda has been scratched from his start tonight.***
Michael Pineda vs. Texas Rangers ($8100) – Pineda has a mixed bag matchup today. The Rangers do strike out a lot with the eleventh highest K% which should give him a nice floor, but they also have some mashers that could make this a tough game for him. The game is in Arlington and we have seen the balls flying out of their over this series. The Rangers have a .153 ISO score as a team that is in the top part of the league and proves they have the power to do some damage here. Left-handed bats have done better against Pineda too, so they also have the right personnel. Pineda has some positives and some negatives here, which means he is more of a GPP play than anything else.
Matt Shoemaker vs. Houston Astros ($6600) – Shoe has the talent to be a great pitcher as he showed last out when he fanned 10 over 6 innings. He also has been lit up in a lot of the starts before that here. He is too erratic to recommend for cash, but he does have the strikeout upside to be a tournament option. He rarely goes past six innings and rarely does that without giving up a bunch of hits and walks. He has the ability to go big, but lacks the consistency to do it on a regular basis.
Rest of the Field
Carlos Carrasco vs. Oakland Athletics ($10100) – Carrasco is the one guy who scares me a bunch today. He has the upside with his strikeout potential, but lately he has not shown it. In fact over his last four, he has gone 21 innings with 27 hits, 5 walks, and 14 runs allowed. For a pitcher with a $10,100 price, those numbers are alarming. I do not see him having the 30 point upside to pay off his price tag today and he likely mght not even make it to 25 based on his recent performances. If that is the case he will fall way short of value here and not be a good start.
Miguel Gonzalez vs. Detroit Tigers ($7000) – He is at home in a hitter friendly park and faces the team that has the third highest batting average against right-handed pitching. He has also struggled with the long ball this season as his Hr per nine is a career high 1.53. None of that is positive for him in this matchup against a team that can flat out hit. The Tigers also have the 19th ranked K%, so the strikeout floor is not guaranteed or likely. Gonzalez has not been pitching deep into games either, so there is also no guarantee of a win even if he does leave with a lead. He has allowed 20 runs over 32 innings of work in his last six starts, so this is not an easy spot for him at all. Final nail in the coffin is the elevated price of $7K which will require him to pitch well and get a win to even come close to paying off.
Marco Estrada vs. Kansas City Royals ($5900) – Estrada is maddening. He has 30 point games and follows them up with negative numbers. He has done it a few times already. His fantasy scores are all over the map. That kind of inconsistency would make him a tournament only play in a better matchup, but against the Royals I can not even do that. The Royals have the lowest K% against right-handed pitching and one of the highest team averages in the league. This game is also a park upgrade for them in the Rogers Centre. Estrada will likely struggle for the Ks, struggle with base runners and if his problem allowing long balls surfaces with men on, he will have trouble returning a positive number. He looks cheap and may be favored for the win, but that does not mean he is a good start for fantasy purposes.
Yovani Gallardo vs. New York Yankees ($6000) – Gallardo has two straight starts that ended in negative numbers. The two proceeding those were less than 18 point combined. He has an average of three fantasy points per game over his last four and faces a team with a lot of lefties that should give him trouble. Basically, there is no upside or safety with him.
Alfredo Simon vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5800) – Simon was not pitching well until he got the Red Sox last time out. Hepitched ok in that game, but came away with a groin issue. A groin issue is something that flares up, which adds an element of risk to using him. Top that off with the fact he is in a hitter’s park on the road and pitching at less than 100% and it makes for an easy stay away for me. Baltimore does have a high K% (4th) against right-handers and a middle of the road batting average, but Simon has not had over 4 Ks in any start so far in July, so I don’t think he makes a drastic swing here with an injury and a park downgrade.
Aaron Harang vs. Atlanta Braves ($6100) – Harang has come back down to earth after his usual hot start to the season. HArang is going to be fresh off the DL. In the four starts before he went down, he pitched 23 innings while allowing 35 hits and 20 runs. Even at $4K I would not target him, but at $6100 it’s a complete stay away in a good hitter’s park.
Danny Duffy vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($5000) – All season long targeting the Blue Jays at home against left-handed pitching has paid off. Sure Reyes is gone, Travis is hurt, and Encarnacion is too, but they also added Tulo. Tulo, Donaldson, Bautista, Martin Colabello, Valencia, Pillar is still a lot of right-handed bats that hit lefties well. The Rogers Centre is still a great hitter’s park and Duffy still has an ERA over 4 and a WHIP over 1.40 despite p;aying in a decent pitcher’s park.
Chris Rusin vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($4600) – Rusin is finally away from Coors Field, but that still does not make him a good play. He does have some ability, so he could return 12-18 points. St. Louis has been solid at home though too, so it could go either way. Rusin only has one game in his last four where he went over two times value.
Steven Wright vs. Chicago White Sox ($4000) – In his last two starts he has failed to make it through five, which is likely the case again here. He has pitched 9 innings, allowed 8 runs, and 15 baserunners. The White Sox have scored 28 runs in the last three games, so this offense can do some work currently. There is no upside or reason to use Wright today.
David Holmberg vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($4300) – Holmberg has a tough assignment for his big league call up. He is a lefty who struggled in AAA to an ERA of almost four and a half. He faces a team with at least three guys who have wOBAs over .400 and ISOs in the .220+ range. That does not even include McCutchen who historically has killed left-handed pitching. He likely will not pitch deep and very likely will allow some negatives.