Tuesday is a really interesting slate. There is a diverse group of stud arms, some strong facing a dominant offense, and a Coors Field game which takes a lot of originality on offense. Of course, Erik Surkamp and Chris Young are also pitching and the Jays get a righty making his MLB debut so you might not need a full Coors stack to compete. But you almost certainly can't ignore the game, either. I hope Nathan Eovaldi throws eight scoreless. His mid-90s fastball can flatten out badly sometimes, though, so it could really be a long night for him.
A handful of the perceived aces coming into this season have failed to live up to expectations. Madison Bumgarner is not one of them. In fact, he's having his best season yet from an ERA standpoint (1.88) and we barely hear about him unless it's concerning his desire to be in the HR derby. His walk rate is at a four-year high (2.6 BB/9), but his 10.4 K/9 is a career-best. I generally prefer percentages to per nines, but per nines are helpful for DFS, especially at sites that don't penalize for base runners. A K/9 can be deceiving if it comes with a huge WHIP. Bumgarner's is up, but it's still excellent at 1.07. He managed a 1.01 last year.
It feels good to have David Price back. He had an ugly 6.75 ERA through his first seven starts this year, but since his well-publicized tip from Dustin Pedroia, he's been the ace the Red Sox expected when they signed him: 2.55 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 42.3 IP with 38 strikeouts. The Ks are a little light for his normal level, but three of his five opponents (he faced TOR twice) are in the top eight for lowest strikeout rate against lefties. He also got the Astros, who sit 29th, and ran up 12 punchouts. The Baltimore offense generally has us running the other way, but they sit just 25th against lefties in wRC+ (88) despite the bulk of their big bats coming from the right side.
Jacob deGrom's consistently strong swinging strike rate suggested his strikeout rate was coming, even after a 5.8 K/9 through his first six starts. Over his last four, it's up to 11.9 with 7, 7, 10, and 9. The last of those against the Pirates, who he gets again on Tuesday. They Pirates are in a bit of a freefall lately with a 3-9 record and just 3.5 runs per game in June. It's not a walkover lineup even in a downturn, but deGrom is back at his ace level from 2014-15. The Mets offense isn't throwing a ton of support behind their pitchers (just one run for deGrom in each of his last two), but Juan Nicasio isn't exactly steamrolling the opposition (5.34 ERA).
Drew Pomeranz has been a revelation this year for the Padres, especially at home (1.52 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). It's mostly fastball-curveball, the latter of which has been incredible with a .505 OPS and 45 strikeouts in 115 PA. His changeup has quietly impressed as well and he's using it a career-high 11 percent of the time. The result has been a neutral platoon split (.533 v. RHB/.560 v. LHB), a major issue prior to this season. To give you an idea, he still has a 225-point platoon split even with this year's numbers factored in.
How about John Lackey?! He seemed like an easy regression candidate through no real fault of his own and he's actually been substantially better. His base skills looked more like a 3.50ish pitcher, but instead he dialed up his swinging strike and strikeout rates without touching his excellent 6 percent walk rate. He has cut back the fastball usage in favor of his curve and changeup. He only logged nine strikeouts with those two pitches last year in 98 PA. He already has 12 in 50 PA this year. He's only drawing a 53 projected pitch score, but I think he's earned a spot in this tier.
Looked like the league was catching up to Kenta Maeda in mid-May when had three straight 4 ER games, finishing five or fewer innings in all three. But his last three looks a lot more like his first six. He's got a 1.00 ERA and WHIP with 17 strikeouts in 18 innings. He'll have some ups and downs (like any pitcher), but he's a perfectly viable #2 to Kershaw. The Diamondbacks sit 20th in wRC+ and 7th in strikeout rate against righties. Maeda put up six scoreless on them in his second start as a major leaguer in April 12th.
Anyone facing the Phillies or Braves instantly becomes someone of interest on the DFS landscape. We've seen guys far less talented than Brandon Finnegan shut those teams down this year, but the 23-year old lefty could really get loose against Atlanta on Tuesday. They are dead last in wRC+ against lefties at just 58 this year with a 23 percent strikeout (10th-highest) and 6 percent walk rate (2nd-lowest). Finnegan has been inconsistent, but he's flashed some impressive highs with four games of 64 Game Score or higher, including his last start (7 IP/2 ER v. StL).
I was worried that Taijuan Walker might be hurting over his last few starts. He left his May 6th start with neck spasms after two innings and then was tattooed for a 6.26 ERA in five starts that included 9 HRs. It seemed like more than coincidence that his performance dropped off precipitously after the injury, but then he had his best start of the season his last time out. He shut down the Indians for eight innings, allowing just three hits and fanning 11. He likely wasn't healthy for all of those six starts, but hopefully this start is a signal that he's moved beyond it. His 95.5 MPH average fastball was his best in nearly a month (96.2 on May 11th).
Spot starters and streamers
In a season-long league, I don't always focus on win potential for a starter. I wouldn't craft my rotation with the guys from teams expected to be the worst, but I wouldn't run from a talented starter just because of his win potential will be lower. Thus, I stocked up in Julio Teheran this year. And he's pitched very well, aiding my team's ratios with 82 innings of 2.85 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Unfortunately, he's just 2-6 on the season. He's done enough elsewhere to be a passable SP2 at sites using that kind of setup, but even as one of his bigger proponents, it's hard to pull the trigger in one-pitcher setups because you're so rarely going to notch that ever-important win.
Jordan Zimmermann is the opposite of Teheran. His ratios are fine (3.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP), but the support of the Tigers has yielded an 8-3 record and kept him afloat on the DFS radar. At least he's finally priced like an SP2, coming in at $7900 on DraftKings.
I remain extremely concerned about Josh Tomlin's home run rate and how it will impact his ERA the rest of the season, but this isn't a bad spot for him. They've only gotten him for 1 HR in 12.3 IP this year and the Royals have the third-fewest homers against righties this year (37). Oh, and they're missing two of their key power bats in Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon. Gordon isn't a huge power bat on his own, but on that team, he's definitely an upper tier power threat.
Gio Gonzalez draws a healthy 59 projected game score, but that seems aggressive against the Cubs. I just don't see a reason to take on the Cubs in a short slate, let alone a full slate like Tuesday.
Jaime Garcia has been hammered in two of his last four starts, unsurprisingly those are his two lowest fastball velocity games (90.5, 90.4), too. But one of those middle starts included one of his better starts and his second-best average velocity (91.9). Despite Houston's big strikeout totals, this isn't a spot where I'm interested in Garcia. He's made it past five innings just once in his last six after doing so in four of his first six. Health is always a concern any time he goes a little sideways.
Chris Tillman has avoided the wrath of the Red Sox to this point, but you knew he couldn't hide from the AL East monsters all season long. He gets them on Tuesday and it's a firm pass for me.
There's a game in Coors so I'm not sure why I'm even going to bother writing about other teams, but I'm sure some of you are stubborn like me and think you can win without the aid of thin air. (Spoiler: we can't most nights).
The normal Rockies are in play: Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story. Righty Nathan Eovaldi sets up well for Gerardo Parra while right-handed D.J. LeMahieu has been platoon neutral over his career and makes for a decent 2B option, too.
The Yankees get lefty Jorge de la Rosa which cuts off some of their bigger bats in terms of the platoon advantage - namely, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Brian McCann. All three have an 84 or worse wRC+ against southpaws. Carlos Beltran, Starlin Castro, and Alex Rodriguez are the best plays for them. You might consider Didi Gregorius for a punt play at short. He's reversed his platoon split this year, albeit for just 60 PA. I wouldn't normally recommend him on such a scant sample, but Coors changes everything.
Erik Surkamp draws another start for Oakland for some reason. He's essentially a traveling Coors Field as whoever he faces puts up Coors-esque numbers. The Rangers are Tuesday's beneficiaries with Ian Desmond, Adrian Beltre, and Jurickson Profar being the best bets. I can't envision a lineup that doesn't have at least one of them in it against Surkamp. You can't forgo a crack at Surkamp, each one is dangerously close to being our last!
Chris Young's first start since returning from the DL saw him allow another four homers, running his total to 17 this year. He gave those up to the same Cleveland team he'll face on Tuesday and at this point I'd be surprised by a different result. He's been a completely different guy than the very capable arm we saw in 2014-15. Homers have always been an issue, but this year he's giving up a buncha hits to go with the longball. A 25% HR/FB rate is pretty unlucky, especially with his strikeout and walk rates improved from last year. It's not a stretch to see him improving from what he's been so far this year, but he's still worth picking on in DFS, even he meanders back toward a mid-4.00s ERA.
Rookie Zach Eflin makes his MLB debut for Philly on Tuesday and he drew the Blue Jays in Toronto. He's been great at Triple-A this year, but that barely matters against this offense, especially as they appear to be kicking into high gear. Eflin is a strike-thrower (1.4 BB/9 this year), a strategy that might not suit him in Rogers Centre.
Most likely to go yard: Mike Napoli. He has 11 of his 14 HRs against righties this year, including one of the 4 against Young last time out.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Starling Marte. Kevin Plawecki has been a 26 percent caught-stealing catcher in his short career, below the league average of 32 percent. Marte is 2nd in baseball with 19 SBs. He gets his 20th on Tuesday.