PITCHING DUEL: IWAKUMA VS. MANAEA
Here are my top-five pitchers for tonight’s 15-game slate:
1. Justin Verlander – DET @ MIN – $10,300
Verlander may have a 5.71 ERA, but this is skewed by one bad start. He was great in his first two starts, giving up just two runs in 13.1 innings, but then he got blasted in Cleveland, which can happen to anybody. Verlander had a ton of success against the Twins last year, going 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA. He averaged over 30 DKFP per game against Minnesota. The Twins have been a middle-of-the-road offense so far this year, but they have really struggled in recent games. They have scored just eight runs over their last four games. They have also scored over five runs just once in their last 12 games, which makes them very safe to utilize pitchers against.
2. Corey Kluber – CLE @ CHW – $10,800
Simply put, Kluber has not been very good to start this year. He has a 6.38 ERA and his 5.48 FIP suggests that his poor start has not been luck related. However, it is worth noting that three starts are an extremely small sample size when we consider the length of an MLB season. We have enough data on Kluber being an elite pitcher over the last few years that I tend to think Kluber will be able to turn his season around. The positives are that he is still striking out about a batter per inning and is generating swing-and-misses on 10.1 percent of his pitches. Kluber should also benefit from playing against the White Sox who are ranked 29th in the MLB with a .265 .wOBA against right-handed pitchers. They are also striking out at the fifth-highest rate in baseball against righties at 24.7 percent.
3. Jon Lester – CHC @ CIN – $10,600
Lester has pitched better than the two pitchers ahead of him on this list, but he also has the most difficult matchup of the group, which bumps him down behind Verlander and Kluber. Lester has been very strong thus far with a 1.00 ERA and a 2.03 FIP. He also has not yet given up a home run. Lester made five starts against the Reds last season, which was more than he made against any other team. He went 2-1 and posted a 3.03 ERA. Lester doesn’t have the strikeout upside of some other pitchers on the slate, but he is an extremely safe play, which makes him appealing for cash games. He has scored over 17 DKFP in each of his three starts.
4. Drew Pomeranz – BOS @ BAL – $6,700
Many people may look to avoid Pomeranz tonight due to his matchup against the Orioles. While it is true that the Orioles have an elite offense, they don’t hit left-handed pitching nearly as well as they hit righties. The Orioles’ top right-handed sluggers (Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, Manny Machado) are all reverse platoon split hitters who performed better against righties last season. This has been the same this year as the Orioles are just 20th in .wOBA against left-handed pitchers and are also striking out in 27.7 percent of their at-bats. Pomeranz has had some struggles this year, but he has been racking up strikeouts. He has 16 Ks in just 10.1 innings. Pomeranz had 24.5 DKFP when he pitched against Baltimore earlier this year.
NOTE: Jacob deGrom was scratched from his start with neck soreness. Matt Harvey ($7,900) will start in his place.
5. Jacob deGrom – NYM vs WAS – $10,200
DeGrom is my least favorite pitcher of the high-priced aces in a vacuum. However, I expect him to garner less ownership than the other similarly priced pitchers, which makes rostering him a good way to differentiate your lineups. There is also a chance that this matchup is better than it appears on paper. Trea Turner is expected to be activated, but Dusty Baker said that he will likely come off the bench for his first game. In addition, Daniel Murphy was scratched last night with leg stiffness and appears likely to miss tonight’s action. Jayson Werth is also questionable with a groin injury. If all of these guys miss tonight’s game then the Nationals’ potent offense could actually become a decent matchup for deGrom to exploit. Washington managed to score just three runs against a washed-up R.A. Dickey last night, which can be attributed to its banged-up roster.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) 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.