Pros: Cole is the best starting pitcher in baseball at getting strikeouts. He has struck out 39.1 percent of hitters this season. He has also only walked 6.0 percent, giving him an outstanding 33.2 percent K-BB percentage. He also has an exceptional 2.70 SIERA. Cole is facing the Seattle Mariners, who have a 2.8 implied run total. Seattle’s active roster has the third highest strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching this season at 26.0 percent. There are seven left-handed hitters in Seattle’s projected lineup and Cole has struck out 42.5 percent of lefties this season.
Cons: Cole is the most expensive pitcher on the slate by a wide margin and there is a ton of opportunity cost at the position.
Overall Thoughts: My exposure to Cole will depend on ownership projections. He is my top projected pitcher, but there are plenty of pitchers on the slate that have monster ceilings for less money. My preferred approach will probably be to take the savings on a less expensive ace but, if Cole’s projected ownership is lower than those other aces, it will be tempting to get to him in tournaments.
Pros: Clevinger has been dominant this season and he has a favorable matchup against the White Sox. He has struck out 34.7 percent of hitters this season, which is third on the slate. He also has a 3.26 SIERA and 27.1 K-BB percentage. Chicago’s active roster has the fifth highest strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching this season. There are five righties in Chicago’s projected lineup and Clevinger has struck out 41.7 percent of righties this season.
Cons: Clevinger is more expensive than Max Scherzer on DraftKings and FanDuel, which makes it tough to prioritize him.
Overall Thoughts: Clevinger is more affordable than Cole tonight but he is still expensive. I would rather roster Scherzer in cash games but Clevinger makes for a nice GPP pivot if Scherzer is getting substantially more ownership.
Pros: Scherzer is surprisingly affordable tonight as he is the third most expensive pitcher on DraftKings and the fourth most expensive pitcher on FanDuel. He is the second most expensive pitcher on Yahoo, but it still isn’t tough to find the money for him. Scherzer has struck out 34.8 percent of hitters his season with a 30.0 percent K-BB percentage and 2.96 SIERA. He threw 109 pitches in his most recent outing, so he appears to be fully recovered from his injury.
Cons: Scherzer is facing the Philadelphia Phillies. Philadelphia’s active roster ranks 12th in strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching this season so the strikeout matchup isn’t as favorable as Cole’s or Clevinger’s.
Overall Thoughts: Scherzer is the number one or two pitcher on the slate factoring in salary.
Pros: Flaherty has been dominant since increasing his slider usage halfway through the season. From the start of the season through the end of June, Flaherty struck out 26.3 percent of hitters with a 4.07 xFIP over 85.1 innings pitched. He had a 21.0 percent strikeout percentage against lefties. Since the start of July, Flaherty has a 32.5 percent strikeout percentage and 3.42 xFIP over 97.0 innings pitched. He has also struck out 25.7 percent of lefties over that time. Flaherty is facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have an 86 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season and are missing Ketel Marte.
Cons: While the Diamondbacks are a below average offense, they don’t strike out much. They rank 24th in strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching this season.
Overall Thoughts: Flaherty is affordable at $9,800 on DraftKings and $52 on Yahoo. He is less affordable at $11,000 on FanDuel. It will be difficult to prioritize him on DraftKings or Yahoo, however, because of Scherzer being relatively inexpensive and Noah Syndergaard being one of the most underpriced pitchers of the season.
Pros: Syndergaard faces the Miami Marlins tonight, which is one of the best matchups in baseball for a right-handed pitching. Syndergaard is incredibly cheap across the industry as he sits at just $9,000 on DraftKings, $8,200 on FanDuel and $44 on Yahoo. Syndergaard has a 24.1 percent strikeout percentage this season. He also has a 4.10 SIERA. While those numbers aren’t great, they are good enough for his current salary. Miami’s projected lineup has seven right-handed hitters, including the pitcher. Syndergaard has struck out 27.4 percent of right-handed hitters this season compared to 20.4 percent of lefties.
Cons: None at his salary.
Overall Thoughts: Syndergaard joins Scherzer as one of the top two pitchers on the slate relative to salary in my opinion.
Pros: Bumgarner is pitching in San Francisco against a Colorado team that has been awful outside of Coors this season. Bumgarner, not surprisingly, has been much better at home than on the road this season. In San Francisco, he has held opponents to a .253 wOBA compared to .349 on the road. He has struck out 25.1 percent of hitters at home compared to 22.3 percent on the road and he has allowed 0.93 home runs per nine at home compared to 1.59 on the road.
Cons: Bumgarner doesn’t project as well as Syndergaard in the same price range. Other than that, there are none in this spot.
Overall Thoughts: Bumgarner is my second favorite mid-range pitcher behind Syndergaard.
Pros: Bundy has a respectable 23.2 percent strikeout percentage this season. He is facing the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto’s active roster has the sixth highest strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching this season. Bo Bichette is out with a concussion and Lourdes Gurriel was scratched from last night’s game so he could be out as well.
Cons: Toronto has been the best park for home runs this season and Bundy has allowed 1.63 home runs per nine innings. His overall strikeout percentage is misleading because he has struck out 28.8 percent of right-handed hitters but only 17.1 percent of lefties. Toronto’s projected lineup only has three left-handed hitters tonight.
Overall Thoughts: Bundy would be useful in this spot on some slates with weaker pitching. Given the options that we have tonight, however, he isn’t a priority for me.
Pros: Keller has struck out 28.6 percent of hitters since being called up to the Pirates this season. One of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Keller has a 70-grade fastball and a good curveball. He has a 7.74 ERA with the Pirates, but that isn’t backed up by his 3.77 SIERA or 3.47 xFIP. His 21.7 percent K-BB percentage is better than all but four pitchers on tonight’s slate (Cole, Scherzer, Clevinger and Flaherty).
Cons: Keller has a tough matchup against the Cubs. Chicago’s active roster ranks 14th in strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching and they have a 103 wRC+ and .200 ISO.
Overall Thoughts: Keller’s salary is too cheap for his talent level and ceiling. He is especially affordable on Yahoo at $26 and FanDuel at $6,100. There is a ton of opportunity cost at pitcher tonight which keeps him from being more of a priority, but I prefer him to Bundy and he is my favorite pitcher available for less money than Bumgarner.
Pros: Hoffman is a DraftKings-specific option because he is only $4,800 against the Giants in San Francisco. Hoffman has struck out 21.8 percent of hitters this season and he gets a great park shift pitching in San Francisco.
Cons: San Francisco ranks 11th in strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching this season and their lineup is a bit stronger than it has been for much of the season.
Overall Thoughts: Since Keller is $7,100 on DraftKings, there is a huge gap between the two and Hoffman comes into play as a value SP2. On Yahoo and FanDuel I would rather just roster Keller if I need a cheap pitcher.
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