Wednesdays have been a black hole for starting pitching options (trust me, I’m here every week) but tonight is different. We have numerous viable options and 8 of the 10 starters that I have listed here have swinging-strike rates at or above 10%, and the pricing is such that we’ll be able to spend up and grab two of these plays for Wednesday’s 9-game slate. Any other questions about the slate? You can find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan. Let’s dig in.
Top 5 Pitchers
#1) Gerrit Cole – PIT vs. SEA – $8,100 – – Gerrit Cole is still slightly under-priced and will be making his third start since his extended stay on the disabled list. He hasn’t been the elite fantasy stud that we saw last season but there’s nothing in his stat line that should make us think he’s not the same guy. Seattle has been excellent against right-handed pitching this season but could be without Nelson Cruz, who left the game early on Tuesday night with a leg injury. That lineup is a lot less frightening without the Boom Stick in it.
#2) Yu Darvish – TEX vs. OAK – $11,300 – – We’ve only see 26 innings from Yu Darvish this season, but man they’ve been loaded with fantasy goodness. His strikeout upside, even against an A’s team that’s better than average in terms of contact, is off the charts and the best on the slate. He’s not cheap but I get why you’d want to spend up on him.
#3) Lance McCullers – HOU vs. NYY – $10,100 – – Lance McCullers has been one of the most consistent pitchers in terms of strikeouts this season, but the walks can be damning which has been a huge part of his downfall. His .382 BABIP against would make you think he has some positive regression coming his way in the second half, but his success is tied to his command from start to start. The Yankees have been one of the worst teams in the league against righties this season, entering play with the fourth-worst wRC+ against them this season.
#4) Matt Shoemaker – LAA vs. KC – $10,400 – – The Royals are ranked among the bottom in wOBA, wRC+ and isolated power against right-handed pitching, a surprise turn from 2015’s World Series title team. They’re also striking out a lot more than in years past as well. That pairs well with the new version of Matt Shoemaker who doesn’t walk anyone and strikes out 7-10 batters every time out.
#5) Jon Gray – COL vs. BAL – $10,500 – – There’s not a ton of cash game appeal with Jon Gray tonight in Baltimore, but it’s about as GPP-friendly as it gets. Gray’s huge strikeout rate up against the Orioles top-3 offense against right-handed pitching – yet their 23% whiff rate is one the largest in the game. Getting outside of Coors is good for any pitcher, but Camden Yards is one the A.L.’s best hitter’s parks. If Gray is able to keep the ball on the ground (48% ground ball rate), he’ll be successful.
#6) Danny Duffy – KC vs. LAA – $8,900 – – What we’ve seen from Danny Duffy this season is really amazing. In years past he’s been a $5,000 pitcher who we’ve targeted when choosing our bats but this season he’s a big-K, low-walk starter who’s a viable option every fifth day. His upside is capped a bit here due to the Angels success against left-handed pitching (league-low 14.7% strikeout rate) but Duffy is in play at this price.
#7) Jason Hammel – CHC vs. CWS – $9,300 – – The Cross Town Classic, The B.P. Cup…whatever it is we’re calling this north versus south side game these days has gone well for the White Sox this week, but that might change today. Jason Hammel and the Cubs are the biggest favorite on the board at -230, so you have to consider Hammel a cash game option against the lowly White Sox offense. He doesn’t possess the upside of anyone else on this list but the matchup is solid and he’s a good bet for a quality start.
#8) Adam Wainwright – STL vs. NYM – $10,900 – – This new version of Adam Wainwright looks a lot like the old one, and that’s a good thing for Cardinals fans and DFS’ers alike. It’s starting to get a bit pricey though, which is the only reason Wainwright is 8th on this list tonight. His nearly $11,000 price tag makes it difficult to for him to return a ton of fantasy-point-per-dollar value but I get why you’d use him for safety. He’s missing bats lately and the Mets have a solid 22.2% whiff rate against right-handers that’s worth exploiting.
#9) James Paxton – SEA vs. PIT – $7,600 – – James Paxton is the cheaper, left-handed version of Jon Gray tonight. His opponent has been one of the best in the league against lefties, with a top-10 wOBA and 112 wRC+, but they’ve also struck out 24.5% of the time. That gives James Paxton plenty of upside and appeal at just $7,600.
#10) Masahiro Tanaka – NYY vs. HOU – $9,700 – – It’s difficult to have an 11.2% swinging-strike rate AND below average 7.2 K/9 at the same time, but here we are. I need to look into this further because it’s quite an anomaly at first glance. One thing I failed to mention early when looking at this McCullers/Tanaka battle is home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus is one of the least pitcher-friendly umps in the game, so proceed with caution.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is RyanFix) 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.