Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Friday’s 15-game evening slate on DraftKings. We’ve also got projections derived from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, rankings of the top plays at each position and some sample lineups for you to consider.
Starting with the most expensive pitchers of the day ($9,000+), Jose Fernandez ($10,200) has been excellent in his first two starts back with 15 strikeouts and no walks. I imagine plenty will be on him in a very safe matchup against the Phillies, and it’s hard to argue with him in cash games. But I can see fading him in tournaments given the likelihood that his ownership percentage will be through the roof. My model actually has him being a bit overpriced, and there are three pitchers with lower price tags who my model has projected higher than Fernandez, so I may not use him as much.
The two expensive pitchers my model likes the most are Masahiro Tanaka ($9,500) and Lance Lynn ($9,200). A big factor in that is their solid matchups against the Mariners and Mets, respectively. The Mariners have the fourth highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitching, so Tanaka may have more upside; the Mets have the fourth worst wOBA against right-handed pitching, so Lynn may have the higher floor. Lynn also has the added benefit of pitching at home. Tanaka is at home as well, but that’s not a good thing for pitchers.
In the mid-price range ($7,500-$8,900), my model loves Julio Teheran ($8,100). He has the best value grade of the day, and his projection is higher than Lynn’s. Again, matchup is the driving force here as the Cubs continue to trail only the Astros in strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. But I’m admittedly a little skeptical given Teheran’s 4.18 xFIP this season. The game is in Atlanta, which helps quite a bit, but I can’t promise you Teheran isn’t going to blow up.
Outside of maybe Colin McHugh or Anibal Sanchez, my model isn’t big on anyone else in Teheran’s price range. In the bargain bin, Chris Young ($5,100), Drew Hutchison ($6,700) and Wade Miley ($6,300) have solid value grades. I can’t abide by Young given his heavy fly ball lean when he’s pitching in Chicago. But I do think Hutch has some good starts in him in the second half. His strikeout and walk rates are both above average, but he has been held back by a .358 BABIP. Some of that is Hutch’s fault because he allows hard contact at a rate much higher than league average, but .358 is still unsustainably high. He’s a gamble, but every one is in this price range.
As for Miley, his xFIP is 4.29 for the season but 3.94 over his last six starts, so he’s been a bit better of late. Walks have been his biggest problem this season, and that’s a problem that can end a lot of starts early. But his matchup against the Angels is virtually average, and he’s getting a positive park shift away from Fenway, so he could be worth a roll of the dice.
Here are our projections for today’s starters. You’ll see each starter’s salary, the average number of fantasy points the starter is projected to score per game and how far above or below average his projection is compared to his salary in the value column. You’ll also see adjustments being made for matchup and ballpark. As for the colors, they rank as follows from good to bad: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, burgundy.
The Vegas lines really aren’t giving us much to work with tonight. There’s not a game with a total that opened over 8.5, and several of the games with a total of eight have fairly even money lines. But there are two games with a total of 8.5, and that’s where we’ll start.
The first is the Rays at Jays game. At the Break, the Blue Jays have scored 77 more runs than any other team. That makes them an option for stacking virtually every night. Tonight isn’t the best set of circumstances given that they’re quite a bit better against left-handed pitching and facing a right-hander tonight. And it’s a good right-hander in Jake Odorizzi. But on a night with no super-obvious stack candidates, the Blue Jays have to remain in consideration.
The other game with an 8.5 total is Young and the Royals visiting the White Sox. The Royals are the favorites, and for good reason with John Danks on the hill for Chicago. All the KC right-handers are worth a look today, and Rios, Morales and Perez have good value grades. Lorenzo Cain is a bit pricey at $5,000, but he’s been great and this is a great matchup for him. On the other side, Young allows 55.6 percent of batted balls against him to be of the fly ball variety, which makes White Sox candidates to dong. Left-handed Adam Laroche may be the best candidate to do so, and he’s very reasonably priced.
And finally, the Astros are interesting against Martin Perez, who is making his first start back from Tommy John surgery. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis and Chris Carter are all solid options tonight. They’re also all quite reasonably priced, so they make plenty of sense as a stack option.
Wait, one more quick one. I was doing my rankings below and quite a few Indians left-handers showed up in the rankings. Vegas doesn’t really love them, but they have one of the better matchup adjustments in my projections today with a matchup against Mike Leake in Cincinnati. Leake has been pretty friendly to left-handers this year and last. My one concern is that he keeps the ball on the ground a lot, so the Indians could end up with a low run total if they can’t elevate much.
You can view and download our hitter projections here. These projections are an average of what each hitter is projected to do on a per game basis according to the ZiPS rest-of-season projections. The projections have then been adjusted for splits, quality of the opposing starting pitcher and ballpark.
- Buster Posey – $4,100 – San Francisco Giants
- Salvador Perez – $3,900 – Kansas City Royals
- John Jaso – $3,900 – Tampa Bay Rays
- Adam Laroche – $3,700 – Chicago White Sox
- Anthony Rizzo – $4,800 – Chicago Cubs
- Chris Carter – $3,700 – Houston Astros
- Jason Kipnis – $4,200 – Cleveland Indians
- Jose Altuve – $4,400 – Houston Astros
- Ben Zobrist – $3,500 – Oakland Athletics
- Carlos Santana – $3,900 – Cleveland Indians
- Jake Lamb – $3,700 – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Manny Machado – $3,900 – Baltimore Orioles
- Carlos Correa – $4,100 – Houston Astros
- Alcides Escobar – $4,200 – Kansas City Royals
- Francisco Lindor – $3,00 – Cleveland Indians
- Mike Trout – $5,300 – Los Angeles Angels
- Michael Brantley – $4,100 – Cleveland Indians
- Hunter Pence – $4,100 – San Francisco Giants
- Adam Jones – $3,800 – Baltimore Orioles
- Alex Rios – $3,900 – Kansas City Royals
- Adam Eaton – $3,700 – Chicago White Sox
- Brandon Moss – $3,700 – Cleveland Indians
- Lorenzo Cain – $5,000 – Kansas City Royals
- Masahiro Tanaka – $9,500 – New York Yankees
- Lance Lynn – $9,200 – St. Louis Cardinals
- Julio Teheran – $8,100 – Atlanta Braves
- Jose Fernandez – $10,200 – Miami Marlins
- Drew Hutchison – $6,700 – Toronto Blue Jays
- Wade Miley – $6,300 – Boston Red Sox
Every day I play DFS, I take the projections you see above and run them through Fantasycruncher.com, a lineup optimization tool. Basically, it just tell me what the maximum number of projected points is that I can get into a lineup under the cap. Below is the optimal lineup it spit out for tonight using my projections.
See? My projections love the Indians. Normally I use the first lineup the optimizer spits out primarily for cash games given that the lineups rarely end up stacking from one team. But given my concerns about Leake’s ground ball ability, this might be more of a GPP lineup for me. Here’s a better example of something I like for cash today.
And finally, here’s a GPP option with some Blue Jays and some cheaper pitching.