The week begins with an 11 game slate of games tonight. We have a good amount of solid pitching taking the hill, so I’ll go through my top 10 for this evening. As always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Jose Fernandez – MIA vs PHI – $13,800 – Well, this one could be ugly. Fernandez and the Marlins get the nod for the heaviest favorites tonight against the Phillies in Philadelphia. It’s no surprise that Fernandez is the most expensive pitcher on this slate tonight at $13,800, which is $1,600 more than Chris Sale. The upside for Fernandez is always the huge strikeout appeal here, as his 12.9 K/9 on the season, which dips ever so slightly on the road to 12. At Citizens Bank Park this season, the Phillies own a .268 wOBA with a .279 ONP and a .348 SLG. The cherry on top of all of this, is the 25.1 K%, which ranks 4th in the league.
2) Jon Lester – CHC vs. NYM – $9,400 – Lester feels extremely cheap tonight at just $9,400, but the discount isn’t unwarranted. Over his last two starts, Lester has looked horrible against the Mets, who he faces again tonight, and the Pirates. In those two starts, Lester has allowed 13 runs in 4.1 Innings on 13 hits with a 5:4 K:BB ratio. Those two starts now leave him with a 3.01 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP on the season. Call it what you want, but I think Lester rebounds nicely in this matchup. On the season, the Mets own a .317 wOBA against lefties with a .421 SLG and a 24.3 K%, which ranks second in the league. A nice nine day rest for Lester will hopefully help him get back on track tonight.
3) Chris Sale – CWS vs. SEA – $12,200 – Sale is coming off what could be easily called an embarrassing start for him against the Braves. Before the All-Star break, Atlanta tagged him for eight runs on 10 hits in five innings with a 5:2 K:BB ratio. He takes on the Mariners in Seattle tonight, which is always a cozy spot to pitch. Before that start against Atlanta, Sale has essentially been lights out, holding opposing hitters to no more than a .286 wOBA on the season. On the road has been the sweet spot for Sale, as he’s averaging 26.1 FPPG with a 2.33 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. The Mariners aren’t a huge team for strikeouts against lefties with a 21.1 K%, but Sale has been showing all season that he doesn’t necessarily need double-digit strikeouts to pull out a nice score. He’s a bit pricey tonight, but he should be in a good spot in Seattle.
4) Corey Kluber – CLE vs. KC – $11,900 – Don’t ask me why, but I’m ALWAYs skeptical of Kluber. I rarely roster him, and I feel like when I do, he has a dud of a game. He takes on the Royals, which is a decent matchup for him, but not one that I love. Kluber has faced them twice this season already, pitching 11 innings allowing eight runs (five earned) on 10 hits with a 13:3 K:BB ratio. His last game against them was the best of the two, scoring 27.1 fantasy points in that one. The Royals have been striking out more as of late, which certainly helps the upside for Kluber, but the Royals also hit at home very well. Owning a .337 wOBA with a .445 SLG and a .342 OBP has me a bit skeptical that Kluber will be able to pull out a solid game here. He has the potential for sure, I just don’t know if he can execute on it.
5) Mike Leake – STL vs. SD – $8,200 – Leake is coming off the best start of the season in a seven inning effort against the Brewers. Leake allowed one run on six hits with a 10:0 K:BB ratio. The 10 strikeouts were by far a season high, as his previous was six, which he had done three times. Leake is not usually a big strikeout guy, as he owns a 6.1 K/9 on the season and has reached double digit strikeouts just three times in his six year career. However, the intriguing aspect we have here is that the Padres are another team that strikes out a ton. Against righties, the Padres own a 27.1 K% on the season. At $8,200, Leake is once again an intriguing option on this slate, but you also need to have the right expectations in mind.
6) Steven Matz – NYM vs. CHC – $8,700 – I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of this matchup for Matz at all. Facing a team that owns a .347 wOBA against lefties with a .354 OBP and a .451 SLG most certainly is one to fear if you’re taking the hill against the Cubs. Now we add in the fact that they don’t strike out much either, with a 19.4 K%, and this start becomes rather difficult for Matz to be successful. This will be the second time Matz takes on the Cubs, and that start was mediocre at best. Matz earned 12 fantasy points allowing three runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings with a 3:2 K:BB ratio. I think a similar line is in store for tonight, which wouldn’t exactly excite anyone. However, his price tag at $8,700 make him an intriguing GPP option tonight, as a solid game would certainly put you in a great position, as I expect he will be low owned across the board.
7) Nick Tropeano – LAA vs. TEX – $7,900 – I love this price for Tropeano tonight at just $7,900 taking on Texas at home. For as good as the Rangers have been, the numbers on the road simply don’t add up. The Rangers own a .304 wOBA with a .300 OBP and a .409 SLG, topping things off with a 20.9 K%. Tropeano has faced this team once already and pulled off a stellar start in Texas. Tropeano went 6.2 innings allowing no runs on four hits with a 6:1 K:BB ratio. With this start in L.A., you have to imagine he can potentially pull off something similar tonight. I’m not saying he can score 28 points like last time, but a 17-19 point range certainly feels like it’s possible.
8) Christian Friedrich – SDP vs. STL – $6,400 – Friedrich intrigues me, a lot. His price tag is about as friendly as you’re going to get on this slate, and he faces a Cardinals team that is missing some key players in Matt Carpenter and Brandon Moss. When you take those two out of the mix, the Cardinals are actually one of the worst hitting teams against left-handed pitching. On the season, they own a .304 wOBA with a .304 OBP, a .400 SLG and a 20 K%. Friedrich has been great on the road this season, averaging 15.9 FPPG with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP with a K/9 of 8.2.. I’m not saying go crazy with Friedrich here, but pairing him with the likes of Jose Fernandez may be a unique pairing that not many will be on. He won’t blow you away with a high score, but he may be able to get you just enough.
9) Aaron Nola – PHI vs. MIA – $8,300 – I refuse to believe that Nola is really as bad as he’s been lately. I mean, over his past five starts, Nola is averaging -0.3 fantasy points. You read that correctly, -0.3 fantasy points. Nola had a month of June he’d love to forget, owning a 10.42 ERA with a .462 wOBA and a .581 SLG. Truly, that’s about as bad as you can get. Even in this matchup against the Marlins, who are average at best against right-handed pitching with a .318 wOBA and a .330 OBP, Nola feels a bit overpriced at $8,300. If anything, you should get a very under owned pitcher that has a decent matchup in front of him. That’s about as far as I’ll go on Nola tonight.
10) Wade LeBlanc – SEA vs. CHW – $7,100 – I haven’t really seen enough of LeBlanc to form an opinion, but he’s been great at home in two of his three starts. He’s made two starts at home against the Orioles and Cardinals and pitched a combined 12 innings allowing two runs on six hits with a 8:2 K:BB ratio. LeBlanc won’t blow you away with his performance, but he could be a sneaky play tonight in Safeco Field.
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