It's almost all day games on tap, with every game except for the Los Angeles Dodgers-New York Mets tilt kicking off by 5:05 p.m. ET. It is Kershaw day, as he goes in the aforementioned nightcap, so let's dig into the best ways to approach things Sunday.
Don't do it. Don't overthink and fade Clayton Kershaw -- especially in DFS cash games -- just because he's too expensive. The Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw takes the Citi Field hill to challenge a New York Mets club that is fanning at an accelerated 27 percent clip against left-handers. As long as Kershaw can keep slugger Bartolo Colon in the park, run scoring should be low.
Chris Sale was looking like his old self -- up until his last time out, that is, when the Cleveland Indians chased him after just 3 1/3 frames. Seasonal owners need not be concerned, he'll be fine. DFS enthusiasts, however, would be better served looking elsewhere, despite a matchup against the injury-riddled Kansas City Royals in Kauffman Stadium. The temptation will be to use Sale as a contrarian option, with Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon sidelined, but if you're going to spend big, pay up for Kershaw and differentiate elsewhere.
If your heart's set on fading Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg is your best bet. He doesn't have it easy, as the dangerous St. Louis Cardinals will step into the Nationals Park batter's box to face the big righty, but that said, Strasburg has whiffed at least nine in six of his 10 outings, and he reached double digits in half those games.
Rich Hill caps off the elite tier with an affair against the Detroit Tigers in O.co Coliseum. To date, Hill has thrown twice as many innings on the road as he has at home, in part because he has started two more away games but also because of a couple early season scuffles at home. This is sample size noise, though it's encouraging that the 36-year-old veteran is pitching well on the road, as the home numbers are sure to improve. The Tigers are a decidedly right-handed outfit, so put this in the high-risk, high-reward category.
Taijuan Walker is supporting last season's control gains with an impressive 1.6 BB/9 in 2016. Lately, however, he has a case of gopher-itis, having allowed a homer in four straight outings. This is less of a concern with the Minnesota Twins closing out a set in the Pacific Northwest; the visitors' power is largely right-handed, and Safeco Field suppresses home runs for righties. Walker isn't overly dominant, but with an 8.5 K/9 facing a lineup with a 23 percent strikeout rate in that scenario, he's in play for both DFS cash and GPP action.
David Price is a high-risk, high-reward option, especially because Craig Kimbrel will likely be unavailable after he threw 39 pitches en route to blowing the save (and win) on Saturday in the Toronto Blue Jays' come-from-behind (twice) victory. Price appears back on track and is in line for a big strikeout total. He's facing a squad sporting a 23 percent whiff rate against southpaws, but that group is composed of some of the premier power hitters in the league.
John Lackey has become the best non-elite cash game option for DFS. He's virtually assured of tossing seven stanzas with as many punchouts. At home against the pedestrian Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs right-hander again lines up as a safe and reliable hurler.
Nick Tropeano is neither safe nor reliable, but with the free-swinging Houston Astros wrapping up a series in Anaheim, the Los Angeles Angels right-hander has some intriguing strikeout upside. The visitors fan at a generous 26 percent pace against righties, though Tropeano brings an unimpressive 8.8 K/9 to the Angels Stadium hill.
Jimmy Nelson's 2.92 ERA is no doubt aided by Lady Luck, as evidenced by a 4.42 FIP and 4.20 xFIP. However, he's doing a better job keeping the ball in the yard, having surrendered just a pair in his past four outings after opening the season with six in his first four efforts. The Cincinnati Reds have some power, but they also carry a 24 percent strikeout rate against righties into Miller Park. This renders Nelson a GPP candidate.
The Tampa Bay Rays are no pushover -- just ask Michael Pineda or his fantasy owners. The New York Yankees send Nathan Eovaldi to the Tropicana Field bump to enact some revenge. In his favor is a 29 percent strikeout rate by the Rays when facing righties. Add Eovaldi to the list of high strikeout-upside GPP options.
Mike Clevinger is owned in fewer than 2 percent of ESPN leagues, so if you need some punchouts to bring it home in your head-to-head league, consider using the Cleveland Indians right-hander at home at Progressive Field. The opposition is the Baltimore Orioles and their 23 percent strikeout rate with a righty on the hill.
Tom Koehler is on a roster in a scant 3 percent of ESPN leagues, thanks in large part to a 5.7 BB/9. It won't be easy, as the Atlanta Braves oppose Koehler with their best in Julio Teheran, but if you're trolling for wins, you can do worse than streaming against the club with the league's worst home record by far.
Jimmy Nelson was recommended for DFS play, though with some risk. Nelson draws Brandon Finnegan, who profiles as a high-risk, high-reward option, as the Brewers whiff at a 23 percent clip against southpaws.
Chris Tillman's projected Game Score is still pulling from last season's off-year, as it should. That said, he has fanned nearly a batter an inning -- with an above-average walk rate. If you're pretty safe with your ratios, Tillman is in play for punchouts and a possible win facing Cleveland Indians' rookie Clevinger.
Archie Bradley returns to the Majors with a much easier task than facing the Colorado Rockies in Coors, which was the case the previous time he was summoned. This time, the Arizona Diamondbacks righty tangles with the San Diego Padres and their 0.766 wOBA and 24 percent strikeout rate against right-handers. Bradley is only 2 percent owned; that number should rise for this Chase Field affair.
Let's keep to the point: Everyone but Chris Rusin is in play if you're desperate.
Top billing goes to the Pittsburgh Pirates and their interleague date with Martin Perez and the Texas Rangers in Arlington. The young southpaw's 5.5 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 do not sync well with a Bucs attack bringing a 0.366 wOBA into Globe Life Park. Jordy Mercer has been leading off against lefties and is an intriguing salary-saver. Andrew McCutchen, David Freese, Jung Ho Kang and Starling Marte are the other chief candidates.
Stacking against a knuckleball artist can backfire, but the way the Boston Red Sox have been swinging the bats, some exposure is warranted. Handedness doesn't matter against R.A. Dickey. Maybe the best plan is to build a main stack elsewhere and try to find a spot for a couple Bostonians with Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez and, of course, Big Papi leading the way.
The Seattle Mariners are in a good spot with Minnesota right-hander Ricky Nolasco taking the ball in Safeco Field. Nolasco sports a high 1.2 HR/9, which renders Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager solid plays.
Picking on Mike Pelfrey has become Pavlovian for DFS grinders. The Oakland Athletics don't boast enough power for a full-on pig-pile, but any time a right-hander is on the hill, Stephen Vogt is in play; this is especially nice on a Sunday, when many catchers have the day off. Because Vogt was on the bench Saturday with southpaw Matt Boyd on the hill, he'll be back in his familiar three-hole. Other deep GPP options include Yonder Alonso and Chris Coghlan.
No, we didn't forget Coors Field. Go ahead and stack against Johnny Cueto if you want -- it's just not recommended. Stacking against Chris Rusin, on the other hand, is always wise, regardless of venue. The only issue is the San Francisco Giants get the bulk of their damage with a barrage of body blows and not the knockout blow. Homers take down tournaments, while steady production cashes, so it depends what you're looking for. Matt Duffy, Hunter Pence and (assuming he plays) Buster Posey enjoy the platoon edge. If Posey rests, reserve receiver Trevor Brown is a no-brainer.
Most likely to go yard: David Ortiz seems to be swinging for the fences (and succeeding) a lot in his farewell season. You know he'll let it fly against Dickey.
Most likely to swipe a bag: With Jimmy Nelson on the hill, it has to be Billy Hamilton.