WATCH: FRESH ARMS TAKE THE MOUND IN ATLANTA
Since Major League Baseball just had its All Star break last week, only six teams are taking this Monday off leaving owners 24 starting pitchers to pick from for their fantasy baseball lineups. Since most teams used their top pitchers for the weekend series, we’re toward the back end of most rotations, but there are still some nice options to consider. Here are my top five for this Monday, July 17:
1. Lance McCullers Jr. – HOU vs. SEA – $11,500
McCullers is by far the most expensive arm in play tonight, and there are lots of reasons to spend big on the Astros’ right-hander tonight. McCullers has the Astros lineup behind him which has been on fire this month, and he has been excellent all season at home. He is 4-0 with a 2.34 ERA in his seven home starts while limiting opponents to a .206 average.
McCullers has a very high ceiling due to his strikeout rate. On the season, he has 106 strikeouts in 91.1 innings and has 54 strikeouts at home in 42.1 innings. The only stat not in his favor is recent form since he did get knocked around by the Blue Jays in his only start this month. I think he’ll be able to bounce back tonight against the Mariners, though, especially since he is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 15 Ks in 11 innings against Seattle this season.
2. Jason Vargas – KC vs. DET – $8,800
Even though he seems lined up for regression in the second half, Vargas is the second-best starting pitcher on tonight’s slate since the other options all come with major risk factors. Vargas did stumble a bit at the end of the first half, but he still is an impressive 12-3 with a 2.62 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.
He has been especially excellent at Kauffman Stadium where he is 7-1 with a 1.84 ERA. He’ll take the mound at home tonight against the Royals’ AL Central foes from Detroit who he has yet to face this season. Even though he doesn’t have the strikeout rate to offer a high ceiling, he’s a nice option tonight based on his consistency and lower risk than the other options on the board.
3. Eduardo Rodríguez – BOS @ TOR– $8,200
After a six-week stay on the disabled list, Rodríguez will return to the mound for the Red Sox tonight in Boston. He hurt his knee during warmups against the Orioles and got knocked around in that start dropping to 4-2 and seeing his ERA jump to 3.54. However, he was pitching very well before that start and had posted at least 16 DKFP in six of his previous seven starts.
Rodríguez will be making his first start against Toronto this season although he did throw an inning of shutout relief against them. Before his trip to the DL, he was especially effective at Fenway Park where he was 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA in three games. Given his strong performance at home and overall, he’s worth a look tonight even with the added risk of this being his first start off the DL.
4. Adam Wainwright – STL @ NYM – $9,100
It has been an uneven season for Adam Wainwright who has managed to keep some fantasy value despite an unsightly 5.20 ERA. Wainwright has been horrible when he is off and excellent when he has been dialed in over the last few months mixing disastrous starts with solid outings.
He has won each of his last three starts to improve to 10-5, and he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his last 10 starts. In each of the other three starts during that span, though, he has been lit up allowing at least six runs. Tonight, he’ll make his second straight start against the Mets who he held to just one run on five hits in 5.2 innings last Saturday. He finished that game with 28 DKFP at home at Busch Stadium, but tonight’s game will be on the road which definitely raises his risk since he is 3-4 with an 8.36 ERA in eight road starts.
5. Brent Suter – MIL @ PIT – $6,200
The best bargain play of the day on the mound is the Brewers’ Brent Suter who has looked sharp in his two trips to the mound this month. While helping to fill in for the injured Chase Anderson, Suter has made two starts against the Orioles and Yankees producing 30.5 DKFP and 16.7 DKFP. He has thrown a total of 12.1 innings in those starts allowing only two earned runs, striking out 13 and walking just two
The sample size for Suter is extremely small, but the lefty should be lined up for another strong outing in Pittsburgh. He’ll face a lineup that has struggled to produce all season and has particularly had issues against southpaws. As a team, they’re hitting just .232 against lefties and have scored the seventh-fewest runs in the Majors this season and since July 1st. Being at home hasn’t helped the Pirates’ bats either; they have averaged only 3.75 runs per game at home which is the third-worst average in the Majors.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) 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.