WATCH: PITCHER TO CONSIDER – LUIS SEVERINO
We have a full 15-game slate tonight, and there are a number of solid pitching options to choose from. Below I’ll break down my top-5.
1. Max Scherzer – WAS vs CHC – $13,000
Prior to the start of the season, it would have seemed crazy to say anybody other than Clayton Kershaw was the best pitcher in the National League. However, Scherzer is performing at such an incredible level that the debate of him being number one has to be entertained. He is striking out 12.12 hitters per nine innings with an equally ridiculous 2.09 ERA. This has lead to Mad Max being the highest scoring player on DraftKings this season at 30.87 DKFP per start. He is also currently on a run of posting six consecutive games of at least 30 DKFP. The Cubs are extremely beat up right now and are missing a few of their best players including Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist. For the season, they are ranked 24th in baseball with a .311 wOBA against right-handed pitching.
2. James Paxton – SEA vs PHI – $8,700
Paxton hasn’t been quite as dominant since returning from the DL with a forearm strain. He started the season on fire but has cooled off considerably. Paxton has not been able to complete six innings in any of his five starts since returning. His walk rate has spiked, which has limited his ability to pitch economically, but there is reason for optimism. Paxton looked much sharper in his last start against the Tigers, who are one of the best offenses in baseball, and he was able to punch out eight hitters over 5 1/3 innings. He draws a far better matchup tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies who own the worst record in baseball and are ranked 21st against left-handed pitching with a .301 wOBA.
3. Justin Verlander – DET vs KC – $8,400
It is fair to question if Verlander has been totally healthy this year. He had to leave a start early against the White Sox due to a groin injury and then struggled in a follow-up start against the Red Sox. I think there is a good chance the groin injury has been nagging him for a little while and has limited his ability to perform. He finally looked right in his last start against the Mariners, and per the velocity charts on Fangraphs, Verlander had his best fastball velocity of the season. He pitched a perfect game into the sixth inning but wasn’t able to complete the inning, and he finished with a season-high 11 strikeouts. Hopefully, he is able to carry over that strong performance into tonight’s game against the Royals, who are the lowest scoring team in the American League.
4. Drew Pomeranz – BOS vs MIN – $7,200
This price point is much too cheap for Pomeranz’ production this year. He needs just 14.4 DKFP to meet salary expectations, which he has done in 10 of his 14 starts. He also went over that mark in six of last seven starts, which included some brutal matchups in Houston and New York. He has a ton of upside and is among the leaders in the American League with 10.11 strikeouts per nine innings. He may have a 4.89 ERA at home, but he has a 3.37 xFIP at Fenway, so most of his ERA can be attributed to bad luck. The Twins have been slightly below average with a 93 wRC+ against left-handed pitching this year.
5. Sean Newcomb – ATL @ SD – $6,700
Sean Newcomb is a really interesting prospect not only for real life but for DraftKings purposes as well. In AAA ball he struck out 11.55 hitters per nine innings, which is in line with his career whiff rate across the different minor league levels. He is only generating 6.38 strikeouts per nine innings at the major league level; however, he has a 10.1% swinging strike rate, which suggests he should have more strikeouts. He has only pitched 18 innings, so this is most likely just a sample sizing issue. The Padres have a 24.9% strikeout rating against left-handed pitching, so this seems like a good matchup for Newcomb’s strikeout numbers to correct themselves. San Diego is also last in baseball with .277 wOBA against lefties.
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.