It’s a big Friday night of baseball on DraftKings. With several aces at the top of the pitching options, it will be an interesting slate for roster construction. Here are my top-five pitching options to consider when building your fantasy roster on DraftKings
1. Chris Sale – BOS @ LAA – $13,400
Of all the top pitchers on tonight’s slate, Sale has the most favorable matchup. The Angels are ranked 27th in baseball with a .291 wOBA against left-handed pitching. Sale has been the safest pitcher to roster on DraftKings this year. He has scored at least 22 DKFP in 18 of his 19 starts. It is difficult to overstate just how dominant Sale has been this year. The most telling statistic this season is his 16.3% swinging strike percentage, which is way above his career average of 12.5%. The main cause of the increase of whiffs appears to come from an uptick in usage of his slider. The slider is Sale’s best weapon for generating swing and misses and he is using it 31% of the time this year, while he used 24.9% in 2016 and 19.8% in 2015. I am guessing this has been the benefit of working with the Red Sox’s coaching staff, which is considered one of the best in baseball.
2. Max Scherzer – WAS @ ARI – $12,700
As great as Sale has been, Scherzer is actually the top scoring DraftKings player this year with an average of 30.72 DKFP per game. Scherzer has the slightly more difficult matchup, so his price is a bit cheaper. Scherzer should come at lower ownership in DraftKings tournaments, so the combination of this with a lower salary makes him very appealing. Rarely can Scherzer be expected to be an unpopular play. I am not overly concerned with the difficult matchup. Scherzer generates so many strikeouts, that the hitting atmosphere of Arizona gets mitigated. It doesn’t matter how well balls travel at Chase Field when Mad Max is whiffing 12.26 hitters per nine innings.
3. Jeff Samardzija – SF vs SD – $9,100
Samardzija has the weird combination of having a career best strikeout rate, a career best walk rate, but somehow this has equaled a close to career worst ERA. He has a 17.4% HR/FB rate and a .329 BABIP, so is he getting hit hard? Nope, he also has an elite 28.4% hard contact rating, so his struggles have come from a lot of bad luck. Shark is sporting a 3.07 xFIP, so the advanced stats are suggesting that this has been the best season of his career. There is no better way to turn around a season than a matchup against the Padres. San Diego allows the most fantasy points to pitchers out of all the offenses in the league.
4. Aaron Nola – PHI vs MIL – $8,400
Nola has been smashing value recently and I don’t expect tonight to go any differently. He has paid off his price point in seven of his last eight starts, but his price has actually gone down from his last couple of outings. The Brewers don’t have a bad offense against right-handed pitching, but they aren’t a daunting matchup either with a 96 wRC+. However, they have an extremely high strikeout rate. Milwaukee strikes out in 25.1% of the time against righties, which is the highest rate in the league. Nola posted 18.1 DKFP when he faced them last week in Milwaukee. Now he gets to face them at home and Ryan Braun is questionable to play due to injury.
5. Trevor Cahill – SD @ SF – $8,300
If Cahill hadn’t got hurt earlier this year, he would probably be considered the most improved player of 2017. Cahill came into the league as a starter, but he struggled to find consistency and ultimately was moved into a bullpen role. This season he became a full-time starter for the first time in four years and he has cashed in on his opportunity. Cahill has a 3.14 ERA through 10 starts with a career best 11.15 strikeouts per nine innings. Tonight, he is going to be pitching at the second ranked pitchers’ park in baseball, AT&T Park. The Giants have a .290 wOBA against right-handed pitching, which is last in baseball by a pretty wide margin. Cahill scored 27.6 DKFP in his lone outing against the Giants this season.
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.