Tonight is going to be a bit tricky when we go to choose our pitchers. We have a number of weather issues potentially throwing a wrench into any plans you may have, so we’ll have to keep an eye on that. This list is complied as if no weather issues are present, so please take that into consideration. As always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Cole Hamels – TEX vs TBR – $11,100- Tonight is going to be interesting when it comes to how highly owned Hamels ends up being. If even half of these weather problems end up coming to fruition, Hamels will the top option on the night and rightfully so. Hamels hasn’t looked great as of late, but I can certainly attribute it to a somewhat tough schedule, facing the Orioles and the Rockies at Coors. His match-up against the Rays is not nearly as difficult, because the Rays own a .301 wOBA against lefties with a 25.2 K% and just a .307 OBP. Hamels has seen his strikeouts go down a bit compared to last season, but he’s still sitting on an 8.5 K/9 on the season. Pitching in the friendly Tropicana Field will drive his popularity up, as it ranks as the worst ballpark for hitters tonight.
2) Zack Greinke – ARZ vs. SDP – $8,800 – This is quite a nice bounce back spot for Greinke after he got completely shelled in his return start against the Red Sox. Thankfully, he gets a MUCH easier start tonight against the Padres, who are just downright awful when it comes to facing right-handed pitching. Rostering Greinke at just $8,800 gets you a start against a team that owns the lowest wOBA in the league against righties at .297, to go along with a .298 OBP and a .389 SLG. When you sprinkle in the 24.1 K%, ranked third in the league, you have quite the enticing matchup for Greinke. I’d love to say his last start will scare people off, but I doubt it. Expect a lot of people to be on Greinke tonight.
3) Rick Porcello – BOS vs. DET – $11,400
I really have a love/hate feeling about this start for tonight because it truly is going to go one of two ways. Let me start with what I love Porcello has been VERY consistent this season. Porcello has pitched at least six innings in nine of his last 10 starts and has gone seven or more in his last four. Porcello has also averaged at least 20 fantasy points per game in eight of his last 10 starts. That certainly is an impressive feat. Now for what I don’t like here- only three of those starts have come on the road and they were against the Rays, Mariners and Angels. The Tigers hit well at home and own a .333 wOBA with a .333 OBP and a .447 SLG. Porcello may have a little extra incentive facing his former team tonight, so I do like that small narrative going as well.
4) Adam Wainwright – STL vs. PHI – $6,600 – Believe me, I’m not thrilled about throwing Wainwright this high, but the pitching options drop dramatically after the top three. Wainwright will take on the Phillies for the second time this season, and he pitched six innings in the previous starts allowing three runs on five hits with a 4:1 K:BB ratio. Wainwright certainly isn’t the pitcher of old, but he can grab a decent score at times and tonight his salary at $6,600 is hard to pass up. The Phillies have been one of the worst hitting teams in the league since the All-Star break, owning a .302 wOBA with a .310 OBP and a .386 SLG to go with a 22.2 K%.
5) Michael Fulmer- DET vs. BOS – $9,800 – No way around it, it’s tough to feel good about a pitcher going up against the Red Sox. Fulmer was cruising in his first start against the Sox earlier this season, but the wheels came off a bit near the end and he ended up allowing three runs on seven hits in 7.2 innings with a 3:0 K:BB ratio. The Red Sox don’t strikeout much at all, limiting the upside Fulmer could have here. He’ll be low owned for sure, which certainly bodes well if he is able to perform.
6) Tanner Roark – WAS vs. ATL – $10,600 – When conversations come up about pitchers having a fantastic 2016 season, how often does Roark come up? I feel like he never does, which is a shame because he’s quietly having a fantastic season. He faces the Braves on the road tonight, where Roark is allowing a .290 wOBA with a .362 SLG and has a K/9 of 6.8. The strikeouts are what kills Roark here tonight, in two starts against the Braves he’s only been able to grab six strikeouts in 14 innings. Do some quick math, and that amounts to a 3.7 K/9, which is certainly not going to win you any of the money tonight and limits his upside. Another potential red flag is that Roark is induced just nine swinging strikes in these two games, which is on the lower end compared to other teams he’s faced. Roark can most certainly limit the damage done by the Braves, but I don’t see a high score here.
7) Julio Teheran- ATL vs. WAS – $8,400
I’m always a bit skeptical of pitchers coming off the DL, so here is my not so keen endorsement of Teheran. He’s facing the Nationals for the third time this season, with both of those previous starts coming in April. What worries me here is how Tehran hasn’t nearly been as effective as he was earlier this season he ended the month of July with a wOBA of .325, the highest mark of the season. I’m also a bit concerned that two players in the heart of the order, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, have hit him extremely well over his career. Teheran is a boom or bust type play that could pay off handsomely due to his low salary.
8) Wade LeBlanc – SEA vs. MIL – $7,100 – This is one of those starts where I feel like the matchup is screaming right in my face as a sneaky play on the night. LeBlanc is most certainly not someone you expect to go out and shut down the opposing offense, but when you’re facing the team with the number one K% in the league against lefties at 26.5%, you may have found a hidden gem. In his last start against a fairly tough team to strikeout in the Oakland Athletics, LeBlanc grabbed seven K’s to go with 12 swings and misses. He gets the Brewers tonight in Safeco Field where he owns a 6.8 K/9 over five starts. Believe me, it’s not mind blowing, but at just $7,100, LeBlanc is worth consideration.
9) Johnny Cueto – SFG vs. NYM – $11,900 – It’s still a bit early, but I’m starting to sense a trend here with Cueto. Just like last season, it’s starting to look like Cueto is completely running out of gas in the second half and the numbers seem to back it up. In 35.1 innings in the second half, Cueto has allowed 20 runs (19 earned) on 41 hits with six home runs. For reference, in the first half of the season, Cueto allowed six home runs in 131.1 innings with 38 runs allowed. Even against a Mets team that’s struggling at the plate and in AT&T Park, I can’t really trust Cueto to live up to this $11,900 salary. With respect to his first half, I’ve included him on here, but it’s a tough sell.
10) Trevor Bauer- CLE vs. TOR – $7,000 – I’m interested in this start for Bauer from a strikeout standpoint, but I don’t exactly have high expectations. He faces a Blue Jays team that ranks second in the league in K% against righties with a 24.6% to go with a .332 wOBA and a .445 SLG. The offense here is capable of putting up some crooked numbers quickly, but a .314 wOBA and .308 OBP since the All-Star Break has me somewhat hopeful for Bauer. He has been extremely hit or miss this season and I’ve certainly been part of the “disappointed Bauer” fan club this season. Nonetheless, $7,000 is a very friendly salary tonight if you can take the stress of rostering him.
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