Welcome back to the DraftKings Playbook daily pitcher rankings. It’s Friday, which is amazing for so many reasons, one of which is Friday’s always offer a great slew of contests here no matter how big your bankroll is. If you’re new or if you have any last-minute questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
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. To determine the best values in today’s rankings, I run projections that include opponent’s strength, betting situation, handedness, park factor, projected Game Score, power/finesse pitching tendencies along with ground-ball/fly-ball tendencies. We want to take everything into consideration when making our pitcher choices, because they’re the backbone of the lineup.
Cream of the Crop
Chris Sale vs. Texas Rangers ($11,900)
We have quite a few ‘ace’ level starters on the docket here tonight, but Chris Sale is head and shoulders above the rest. He is priced accordingly, but he’s worth every penny. He’s in rarefied air right now, matching the GOAT Pedro Martinez with four consecutive starts with 12 or more strikeouts. Whoa. He’s struck out 10 or more in six of his last seven outings, and the Rangers (22.7% K-rate) are very generous if you’re looking to stockpile the whiffs. He’s always devastating to left-handed hitters, but he’s dominating right-handed bats this season as well (.257 wOBA).
We still haven’t had one of those huge games from Carlos Carrasco yet this season, and this could be the spot for it. He’s had some less than stellar outings this season, but he’s essentially the same pitcher that was full of preseason helium in March. His 2.67 FIP is a much better indicator of his skills then his 4.38 ERA is, and elite 4.72 K/BB ratio is nearly identical to last season’s 4.83 mark. The Rays are feisty against left-handed pitchers, but they’re a team to target (22nd with a .298 wOBA) when they face a big swing-and-miss pitcher like Carrasco.
Sonny Gray vs. Los Angeles Angels ($10,100)
The increase usage of Sonny Gray’s slider sure seems to be working. He’s used it to shut down batters from both sides of the plate, particularly left-handed hitters who are really struggling against him this season (wOBA .236, six best in the league). The curve-ball is still a weapon to induce swinging strikes against right-handed hitters, and the results are playing out in Gray’s strikeout rate. His price is pretty stagnant, despite his home park and opponent (Angels 21st vs. RHP .300 wOBA).
Jacob deGrom @ Atlanta Braves ($10,700)
This is an interesting spot for Jacob deGrom (2.73 FIP/2.33 ERA) tonight. He’s slightly over-priced, slotted ahead of some other legit aces and has one of the more difficult matchups when you consider how infrequently the Braves strike out in relation to the rest of the league. With that said, I think deGrom is an interesting tournament play, because I think most will either pay up for Sale, or lean towards Sonny Gray to save the $600.
A.J. Burnett @ Washington Nationals ($8,700)
A.J. Burnett went from middle tier tournament option to cash game plug-and-play as soon as Bryce Harper (PLEASE BE OK!!) fell to the ground in a heap last night as he attempted to throw someone out from right field. It’s really that simple. The Nationals offense is quite a bit less dynamic when you take Harper out of the mix. Burnett himself has been strong this season, despite a small dip in his overall K/9, he’s still above average and his walk rate has improved. Throwing to Francisco Cervelli, who’s the top pitch-framing catching in the game (11.9 Runs Above Average) doesn’t hurt either.
Lance McCullers @ Seattle Mariners ($8,000)
What’s not to like about what we’ve seen from Lance McCullers so far? Of course, his 3.2% HR/FB ratio is unsustainable but even so, his xFIP is 3.17 (2.33 FIP). He faced these Mariners in his last start but only lasted 5 innings after piling up 90 pitches. He gets them again, this time in the more favorable Safeco Field, and should be able to take advantage of Seattle’s struggles against right-handed pitching (28th in wOBA with a 22.8% K-rate).
Middle of the Pack
This is a good spot for Kyle Hendricks tonight, taking on the Twins (29th in wOBA against right-handed pitching) in Minnesota. There isn’t a huge amount of upside in Hendricks game, but he limits walks and is right around the league average in terms of strike outs. The Twins help, striking out 21% of the time as well. With so many options tonight I suspect Hendricks ownership totals will be very low which is ideal for tournaments, but I wouldn’t mind him in cash games as well.
James Shields @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($9,300)
The move to the NL has been great for James Shields fantasy value, but tonight he’s in Arizona which is a major park shift from his new home in Petco. The fantasy value bump has been tied to his rise in strikeouts, particularly against right-handed hitters (33.9%). The problems have arose when Shields faces lefties, though. His .380 wOBA against LHH’s is one of the worst marks in the league, and while Arizona doesn’t have the lefty thumpers to scare you away necessarily, his struggles combined with the friendly run-scoring environment in the desert is enough to temper my expectations.
Anthony DeSclafani vs. Miami Marlins ($6,300)
I’m still of the mindset that Anthony DeSclafani could be on the verge of busting out a bit. At first glance, his K/9 (6.14) and FIP (3.61) don’t jump off the page as exceptional, but a closer look shows an underlying skill set that’s encouraging. His SwStk% is 8.8%, which typically yields a K/9 that far exceeds his current 6.14 rate. Miami has the lowest ISO mark in the league, despite the presence of Giancarlo Stanton. Playing this game in Cincinnati tempers my expectations a bit, but DeSclafani has some tournament appeal tonight.
Matt Shoemaker @ Oakland Athletics ($7,900)
Matt Shoemaker (4.44 FIP) continues to be over-priced in my opinion. I have little to no interest in rostering him at this price due to his limited upside both in terms of strikeouts and his ability to work deep into games. He hasn’t seen the 7th inning in his past four outings, failing to top six strikeouts in any of those contests, as well. He’s facing an A’s team (4th in wOBA at .325) that continues to rake against right-handed pitching. So in short, A’s bats > Shoemaker tonight.
Chris Heston @ Los Angeles Dodgers ($7,300)
I like $5,500 Chris Heston a lot more than $7,300 Chris Heston. If you read my stuff often, you know I’ve been high on Heston on most nights, including having him as a top play the night he no-hit the Mets at $5,500. A no-hitter will definitely inflate your price, and while Heston will continue to have value, I can’t advise paying full retail price for him tonight against the league’s top offense (.345 wOBA) against right-handed pitching. Until he figures out left-handed bats (.372 wOBA), he’ll be a second tier option if he’s north of $7,000.
Eduardo Rodriguez @ Kansas City Royals ($6,600)
After being the Bell of the Ball in his first three starts, Eduardo Rodriguez had his magic slipper fall off in his last outing against the Blue Jays. It was a good example of why it’s important to trust stabilized season-long stats (the Blue Jays dominate LHP) over short-term recent success (Rodriguez’s first three starts). Let’s trust the stable numbers again here, and that keeps me off of Eduardo tonight against Kansas City. The Royals are 7th in wOBA against left-handed pitching, and their lack of strikeouts (league best 14.3%) make them even more difficult for DFS purposes.
Phil Hughes vs. Chicago Cubs ($7,200)
My philosophy when looking at a pitcher who’s up against the Cubs (or Astros, really) is quite simple: If there’s big-time strikeout upside then I’m interested, otherwise I’m out. So with Phil Hughes, I’m out. Right-handed hitters have owned him this season (.367 wOBA) and his strikeout numbers are nowhere near what they were last season. The Cubs are a nice contrarian offense to target tonight, since Hughes is considered above average.
Rubby De La Rosa vs. San Diego Padres ($6,000)
Rubby De La Rosa has some serious platoon splits going on right now. He’s terrible against left-handed hitters, allowing one the league’s worst wOBA’s (.423) against them. On the other hand, he’s been exceptional against right-handed bats (.253), striking out 28.3% of the righties that he’s faced. I’d really like Rubby if this game were taking place in San Diego, but note that the Padres are a RH dominant lineup.
Tyler Lyons @ Philadelphia Phillies ($6,800)
The Phillies are a tad bit better against left-handed pitching then they are against righties, but not by much. Either way, it’s not enough to avoid the Phillies, it’s just a matter of whether or not you’re buying the early returns for Tyler Lyons. While I am to an extent, I still don’t think there’s a need to roster him tonight.
Mike Bolsinger vs. San Francisco Giants ($7,400)
Mike Bolsinger has been a welcomed addition to the Dodgers rotation. He’s been able to get the occasional punch out, while succeeding by keeping the ball on the ground. This slate is too good to consider Bolsinger though. The Giants don’t strike out very often (just 16.9%), and they’re the best offense in the league on the road this season.
Justin Verlander @ New York Yankees ($8,200)
This is easy in my opinion. I want to see more from Justin Verlander before I use him, and he’s in no way an option tonight against the Yankees in the Bronx.
Rest of the Field
Roenis Elias @ Houston Astros ($6,700)
I mentioned the Astros earlier and I’ll say it again: if the pitcher has strikeout upside then use him against the Astros (and Cubs). Otherwise, stay away. Roenis Elias is right around league average in terms of punch outs, making him an easy fade today.
Colby Lewis @ Chicago White Sox ($6,800)
I can’t make a sound case for Colby Lewis tonight, even against the scuffling White Sox club. His fly-ball tendencies don’t pair well with U.S. Cellular Field and as poorly as the White Sox have played lately, they don’t strike out a ton. Even if they did, Lewis doesn’t have big swing-and-miss stuff to capitalize here.
Marco Estrada vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5,600)
If I don’t think it’s a valid play, it’s difficult for me to go in-depth as to why I’m staying away. Some times it’s just simple. There are way too many legit options tonight, even some priced within a similar range of Marco Estrada tonight. The Orioles are 5th in wOBA against right-handed pitching, and can ‘go yard’ with the best of them, something they’ve been doing quite frequently this week.
Matt Wilser vs. New York Mets ($6,100)
Matt Wilser has a promising career ahead of him, but there’s no need to roster him tonight. The Mets aren’t a bad matchup for the young Braves pitcher, but I don’t anticipate Wilser working deep in to this game.
Jorge de la Rosa vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($6,200)
The Brewers have struggled against left-handed pitching all season, but is Coors Field really the place that you won’t to double down on that? There’s no need to go there tonight.
Nate Karns @ Cleveland Indians ($6,400)
Nate Karns can bring it, particular against lefties (29.4% K-rate) but walks are an issue at times. As you know, walks extend innings and drive up pitch counts which is a no no in DFS. We want our pitchers to work deep into the game, something Karns can’t do when he’s walking nearly 4 batters per 9.
Adam Warren vs. Detroit Tigers ($5,100)
Adam Warren’s ERA is about a run lower than his FIP, his strikeout and walk rates are both on the wrong side of the league average benchmarks, and he’s facing a Tigers team that can hang a crooked number on anyone, especially in a ball park like Yankee Stadium.
Dan Haren @ Cincinnati Reds ($7,000)
This is a severely negative park shift for Dan Haren tonight, and his ERA (3.22) and FIP (4.46) might start moving closer to each other after this one. His suddenly extreme fly-ball tendencies will not play well here tonight.
Mike Wright @ Toronto Blue Jays ($4,400)
You just aren’t starting a pitcher like Mike Wright in Toronto, no matter how big or small the slate is. The matchup, ball park, all have him working upstream here tonight.
Taylor Jungmann @ Colorado Rockies ($4,700)
Taylor Jungmann takes the ball for the Brewers in Colorado tonight and…
Wait. We’re good here, right?
Philip Aumont vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($4,000)
We’ll see the Phillies bullpen early in this one. Walks are an issue for Philip Aumont and he’ll be lucky to get through five innings here tonight.