We've been blessed with some healthy pitching slates the past couple of Tuesdays. We are always going to get a full slate of games on a Tuesday, but there are no guarantees that it will be pitching-rich like this. There are a handful of bona fide aces, but also plenty of viable mid-tier options if you play a two-pitcher slate or prefer to spend big on hitting. We have some quality arms with tough matchups which only further pushes me toward the top tier.
Not only do we get to pick from four arms with a projected 60+ game score, but they are all at home, too. If we're being honest, there is a division between them with Jake Arrieta and Jose Fernandez being trust-anywhere-at-anytime arms while Steven Matz and Corey Kluber fall a little short of that distinction right now. Although Matz might be pushing toward that level. He has just a 1.13 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in his last seven starts. He has allowed six earned runs in the 48 innings of work after allowing seven in 1.7 IP to open his season.
The other day at Fangraphs, Paul Kastava tabbed Fernandez as this era's Nolan Ryan thanks to his obscene strikeout rate and elevated walk rate, though he's trimmed the walks his last two times out with just one in each after a string of seven straight with multiple free passes. Fernandez had an uncharacteristically high ERA through six starts at 4.28. He has quickly remedied that by reeling off four starts of a 1.00 ERA and WHIP with 43 Ks in 27 innings. He's obscenely good. Good luck, Pittsburgh!
It'd be cool if Arrieta's last outing in St. Louis (5 IP/4 ER) had some folks leaning away from him, but I doubt it will. When this is what qualifies as a bad start, you've reached unquestioned beast status. And for those a little worried -- and that word probably overstates it -- about his strikeout rate, he's notched 41 in his last 37 innings (10.0 K/9) after 26 in his first 31. The Dodgers are pretty weak against righties for a perceived good team, sitting 19th in wRC+.
Kluber has been up and down this year with four outings of four or more ER on his ledger leaving him with a high-3.00s ERA coming into this start, but he's riding hot of late with back-to-back 60+ game Sscore outings at the Red Sox and White Sox. He's almost the kind of ace that I'd prefer in season-long because he's going to get his numbers by season's end, but any given start could be shaky for DFS purposes. He's been better on the road this year, but that runs counter to his career so I wouldn't bank on that as a true split.
Gerrit Cole's skills this year haven't been ace-worthy yet or at least on par with his results as evidenced by his 2.53 ERA and 3.15 FIP. But I still see a true stud with mid-90s heat, three bankable secondary pitches and multiple ace-quality starts, including eight shutout at the Cubs and six stong in St. Louis -- the NL's top offense against righties. I have no problem paying up for him in Miami, especially since he's coming cheaper than $10K at DraftKings.
Hisashi Iwakuma isn't in the same class as these arms by raw talent or skills, but he gets the offensively inept Padres, which boosts anyone up a level or three. It's a day game, though, so you'll need an all-day slate to take advantage of this.
Facing Philly is almost as beneficial as getting the Padres so Joe Ross gets a bump, too. He actually has similar skills to Iwakuma this year. The second-year starter has been impressive through nine starts, allowing more than three ER just once. He hasn't quite shown the strikeout prowess we saw last year (from 22 percent to 19 percent with his K rate), but he still has the ability to go off on a given night, especially in a favorable matchup like this.
I wasn't sure if Aaron Nola would maintain his elite called-strike rate from last year to keep his strikeouts high. Not only has he done just that, but he's also added to his swinging strikes, yielding a very impressive 27 percent strikeout rate. Like the Dodgers, the Nationals are a lot worse against righties than you'd expect from a good (and currently first place) team, as they sit 25th in wRC+. DFS sites have adjusted to Nola and now you have to pay top dollar for him, but that's not necessarily a deterrent from rostering him.
Home runs have really plagued Drew Smyly over his last four starts, as he's allowed two in three of them and raised his ERA from 2.72 to 3.92 in the process. Surprisingly, the fourth of those starts was Toronto and he managed to keep them in the yard, but they ran up 101 pitches in five innings to cut his outing short. I was going to drop him a level lower than his projected game score normally merits, but the Royals are pretty punchless (.114 ISO v. lefties) and that was before they lost half their lineup -- OK, not quite half, but Moustakas, Gordon, and Salvy (he's day-to-day after collision) -- to injury. You're on notice, though, Drew. Tighten it up with the longball!
Lance McCullers was ripped in his season debut at Boston, but who would come out of that alive? He has fanned 17 in 11 innings against Texas and Baltimore since then. He did walk six Orioles but only allowed a single hit. He's in the only other day game on Tuesday so he won't be available in the main slates, or else I'd give you a deeper dive on him.
Spot starters and streamers
James Shields has quietly gotten back on track with a 2.33 ERA in his last six starts and just three homers allowed. He also has six or more strikeouts in each of his last four starts. He allowed 1.5 HRs per nine innings last year, which led to his near-4.00 ERA, but he's trimmed it to 1.0 this year -- more in line with his career mark. The Mariners are third in wRC+ against righties at 117, so Shields is more of contrarian play than an A-lineup guy. Let's be honest, he's never really an A-lineup guy anymore.
Matt Wisler has run off five straight quality starts this month (2.25 ERA) with seven strikeouts in each of the last three. He has not only improved his platoon split, but he's actually been better against lefties (.588 OPS) than righties (.639) this year. Lefties dropped a .986 on him last year. The problem for Wisler and any Braves pitcher is getting the win. They're just so bad. If you play on a site that heavily favors the pitcher win, you just can't pick a Brave ... ever.
They often say "water finds it level" when discussing players with a lengthy track record who are far off their level, for better or worse. Mike Leake had a 6.03 ERA after six starts this year, but his skills weren't too far from his established level set in his first six years, so it's not too surprising that he's reeled off four straight gems and now his 3.90 ERA is in line with expectations. Even at his best, he's a modest DFS option because he doesn't get enough strikeouts and allows too many homers. A secondary option at best.
I love Kevin Gausman's skills, but there is no reason to mess with anyone against Boston in DFS.
I'm excited for Eduardo Rodriguez's return, but a trip to Baltimore is almost as bad as McCullers getting a trip to Boston to start his season. Let's sit out this one, but keep a close eye on him.
I wanted to give CC Sabathia a shoutout for four-straight quality starts, including just one ER in his last three combined, but I still can't use him at Toronto even with its offense down from last year. He did stifle the Jays last time out in New York (7 IP/2 R -- both unearned) with just two hits allowed and seven strikeouts, so if you're feeling adventurous, you can take the plunge. He is back on my radar, just not for Tuesday.
The Cardinals will be a popular stack against Wily Peralta and frankly, they should be. He's been a nightmare this year against righties and lefties. Stephen Piscotty and Matt Carpenter will be my top targets while also eyeing Matt Holliday, Matt Adams (they have a lot of Matts), Aledmys Diaz and Randal Grichuk.
There's a game in Coors, so that will obviously be super-popular. Jon Moscot has been smashed by lefties so Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and Gerardo Parra will be the top picks, but I wouldn't sleep on Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story just because Moscot has a decent OPS against righties. It is still Coors, after all.
I like Jon Gray quite a bit skills-wise, but he has been a nightmare at home with a 7.93 ERA since debuting last year. The Reds aren't exactly loaded with premium options, but I'm still looking at Adam Duvall, Jay Bruce, Zack Cozart, and yes, even Joey Votto. Maybe Votto can use a trip to Coors as the jumpstart his numbers badly need.
The Phillies only drew a 3 overall rating, but their lefties get an 8 because Ross has a 159-point platoon split. I wouldn't go full stack with Philly because I like winning, but Odubel Herrera is almost an everyday play for me, especially in lineups where I'm favoring floor over ceiling.
Dillon Gee has been passable for the Royals (3.86 ERA in 35 IP), but he has a 240-point platoon split favoring lefties. The Rays' lefties aren't exactly great, but I'd consider Corey Dickerson or Brad Miller at the backend of a lineup. Logan Morrison is running hot with a 1.156 OPS in his last 12 games, but first base is just too deep for me to fit him into any lineups.
Most likely to go yard: Xander Bogaerts
Going a little unconventional here with Bogy. Kevin Gausman has regularly allowed the longball (1.1 HR/9 for his career) and 23 of his 38 homers have come from righties so I'm going with Bogaerts to keep his hit streak going via a homer v. Gausman.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Billy Hamilton
Maybe Coors is what Hamilton needs to actually get some hits as he's actually been a worse hitter than his disastrous 2015. Neither Tony Wolters nor Dustin Garneau is scaring him from running so we really just need him to get on base once.