A pitching-rich lineup leans toward the afternoon slate, but neither slate will leave you empty-handed. Be sure to get your Coors Field fix on Wednesday afternoon because the Rockies will be on the road for a week after wrapping up their current series with the Yankees.
What can I really say about Clayton Kershaw at this point? He has been so clearly the league's best pitcher for such an extended period of time that it's hard to compare him to anyone else. Stephen Strasburg, Chris Sale and Noah Syndergaard all have tremendous resumes worthy of top-five status, yet they're all still a full level below the Dodgers' lefty. Both Kershaw and Strasburg are on the day slate, and Sale, Johnny Cueto and Corey Kluber highlight the evening.
Both Sale and Strasburg face tough offenses in the Tigers and Cubs, respectively. Sale has had long-term success against his division mates with a 3.16 ERA in 116⅔ innings over his career, but the Tigers have come back against him more recently with his ERA against Detroit rising each year since 2013: 1.83, 2.25, 3.93 and 5.68. That last figure comes in just one start this year, so it's even less reliable than the 18-20 innings pitched samples in 2014-15. The biggest single-season sample was 39⅓ innings in 2013, when Sale posted the 1.83 ERA.
Cueto is a cut below Kershaw and Strasburg in points per game at DraftKings, but you might be surprised to learn that he's right by teammate Madison Bumgarner and actually ahead of Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Sale and Syndergaard. Cueto sits at 24.6 PPG while the others range from 23.5 to 24.3, so the margins are slim but Cueto doesn't always get associated with that upper tier even though he should. Kluber has been a little inconsistent this year and sits at just 21.4 PPG for the season, though he's up at 24 flat over his last 10 outings (including 27.1 versus Kansas City).
We're always waiting for the other shoe to drop on knuckleballers. It's not fair, but it just happens. Steven Wright has been brilliant this season, but it always seems like a disaster is waiting just around the corner. (Though I'd guess that the split between a knuckler's likeliness for a blowup and that of a "normal" starter isn't far off.) BaseballHQ.com has a measure called pure quality starts (PQS) which rate starts on a 0-to-5 scale based on their quality, with 0s and 1s being "disasters" and 4s and 5s being "dominant." And from there they put together a DOM%/DIS% split where at or above 60 percent is good for DOM% and at or under 15 percent is good for DIS%.
R.A. Dickey is the best analog for Wright and he's at 59/15, 65/9 and 52/12 over the last three seasons, respectively. Wright is at 67/8 this year. For a couple of other reference points, Sale is at 69/15 and Kluber is at 62/15. Kershaw is comically at 85/0. There is a chance that Wright will have a blowup soon, but he has been pitching well enough for long enough to not be a major threat to disintegrate Wednesday.
Honestly, I might have more fear about a Marco Estrada collapse than one from Wright. I didn't think Estrada could keep up his 2015 numbers and instead he has improved upon them with an impossible .189 BABIP driving his success. His 6.7 H/9 led the AL last year, and this year he's pacing the league with a 5.4 mark. He seems to be trading walks for homers, but the homers are up in his last six games without any reprieve on the walks. He has a 1.3 HR/9 in these last six with a 4.0 BB/9. If these two skills continue and some more hits start falling, he's in for some trouble. However, that's unlikely to start against Philly, so I'd be open to using him Wednesday.
Fair or not, Jason Hammel feels like a ticking time bomb right now. He has been really good in three of the last four years, but each time he started to falter a bit in the summer -- often related to an injury. So when his hamstring gave him some trouble in his May 30 start against the Dodgers, it was hard not to have a feeling of déjà vu. Of course, the one-game part of DFS enhances or maybe just sustains his value, whereas season-long players should probably get him on the block and sell near peak. Since the hamstring flare up, he has had one good and one "meh" start. He draws only a 52 projected score heading into Washington so he's hardly a must-use, but I like him better than the projection and would definitely choose him ahead of Nate Karns, Drew Smyly and Collin McHugh, all of whom draw higher projected scores.
Adam Wainwright takes a 5.21 ERA into his Wednesday start, but it's down to 3.03 over his last five starts with good supporting skills. The strikeout rate is up at 8.0 per nine with a 4.8 K/BB ratio in 32⅔ innings of work. He looks more like the old Wainwright during this run, but it's only five starts. I think we will see these runs of vintage Wainwright throughout the season; he just needs to avoid the eight starts of 6.80 ERA that he started off with this year.
If you're in need of statistical support to justify using Sonny Gray, look to the fact that his two starts since returning from the DL have included his top-two average fastball velocities (93.9 and 93.5 mph, respectively). His previous high was 93.1 back on April 22. Further, the velocity jump wasn't just cosmetic; his fastball was beaten around the yard to the tune of a 1.084 OPS before his DL stint, but it has been at .480 in 30 PA during these two starts (2.13 ERA in 12⅔ innings). It's a small sample to be sure, but the burden of proof for Gray is much smaller than the flavor of the month burning up the waiver wire.
Spot starters and streamers
Overall, I'm probably in more of a wait-and-see mode with Anthony DeSclafani, but I can't ignore a trip to Atlanta for the capable 26-year-old. Let the price be your guide here, though. Some outlets have taken to inflating pitcher prices against these known doormats (understandably), but it cuts the value (obviously).
Nate Karns sustains his fantasy value via the strikeout (9.1 K/9), but I think it ends up overrating him in DFS. Sure, he fans a batter per inning, but a lot of guys with similar rates regularly go seven-plus innings with double-digit strikeouts. Karns has completed seven only once and has yet to log 10-plus strikeouts in a game this year.
Lost in the fact that Jimmy Nelson has cut into his platoon split against lefties is that he has been hit a lot more by righties. The end result is a composite OPS higher than last year's mark. He hasn't pitched to a 3.43 ERA and it's hard to see it sustained with these skills (2.0 K/BB ratio). The Giants are more of a nickel-and-dime offense, so they're unlikely to punish his 1.3 HR/9 -- but I still don't like this spot for him.
I don't have any real confidence that Drew Smyly is fully healthy. He has given up two homers in three of his last four starts, and was skipped in his previous time through the rotation. Meanwhile, we can't sleep on the Mariners' offense. Its best work is against righties, but it still ranks eighth in wRC+ against lefties.
Ian Kennedy's home run issues returned with a vengeance about a month ago and turned him back into the mediocre arm we'd unfortunately gotten used to. He gave up three homers in his first 38 innings (0.7 HR/9), but has given up that many in two different games since then, totaling 11 in 33 innings (3.0 HR/9).
The Blue Jays' offense appears to be heating up. As such, you couldn't pay me to use Jeremy Hellickson in Toronto.
Hector Santiago drew a positive score at 52, but even as I realize he can't be this bad, I just can't find a situation where I'd be willing to trust him. He has only one quality start in his last nine. The rest have been horrible, yielding a 7.59 ERA in 40⅓ innings.
Like I said, there's a game in Coors ,so that will be a focus. But it will be a focus of the day slate and those are never as popular as night games.
Night-slate players have Tyler Wilson heading into Boston, Mike Pelfrey in U.S. Cellular and Patrick Corbin hosting the Dodgers with his league-high 39 percent hard-contact rate. Wilson hasn't been awful, but the Red Sox are just so good that it's hard to find a matchup where you don't like them. Heck, I might roster Jim Rice just in case. Big Pelf is the kind of guy who puts forth his best start when you stack against him, but it's a numbers game and I'm always going to be confident going against a guy with a 1.2 K/BB and 1.4 HR/9.
One of Corbin's best starts this year was actually against the Dodgers (6 IP, 1 ER), but that was all the way back on April 12. Since then he's been getting consistently smashed and just doesn't look as crisp as the guy we saw in 2013 or when he returned from Tommy John surgery in 2015. I don't think we can rule out the surgery still having an impact on Corbin, so I'm keeping a close eye on him for the second half -- but for now I have no issues picking on him with a couple of bats every fifth day.
Another day-slate treat could be out in Petco where Justin Nicolino and Luis Perdomo are set to square off. Nicolino has a whopping 3.4 K/9 in 125 career innings, and Perdomo has allowed an outsized 38 earned runs in 36 innings.
The beauty of this slate is that it's a haves-and-have-nots situation, so while seven teams draw a 1 rating, eight are at 7-plus. And there's still a ripe middle market where you can pick a guy or two from several lineups. You'll have to nail the pitching to find success Wednesday because some of these aces will definitely go off.
Most likely to go yard: Carlos Santana. Eleven of his 12 homers have come against righties and, as outlined above, Kennedy has given up lots of homers over the last month.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Ben Revere. He has gone 12 for his last 30, and collected two stolen bases Monday. Look for him to stay hot.