It's already tricky enough navigating the abbreviated Monday docket, but this one is even more challenging, with literally no hurler standing out as a safe, reliable option. On the other hand, this takes worrying about ownership in daily fantasy contests out of the equation, making it a fun night to fade cash games and focus on taking down a tournament in DFS.
Max Scherzer is one of the handful of hurlers landing in the solid tier despite the Coors Field factor. The dominant righty has largely shaken the homer woes that plagued his first half, but as a fly ball pitcher, the home runs could always to return in Denver. Paying up for Scherzer in cash games is a big risk, so he's best left for GPP where his strikeout upside is in play.
Drew Smyly makes a cameo in the elite tier, buoyed by an intriguing matchup as well as pitching more like the guy we expected for the past month or so. The San Diego Padres visit St. Petersburg for an interleague set in Tropicana Field. The Friars are quietly effective against southpaws, with the fourth-best weighted on base average (wOBA) in the league with a lefty on the hill, but they also have the second-highest strikeout rate in that scenario.
After a span of five starts in which he allowed four or more runs, Smyly has strung together four quality starts, allowing two or fewer tallies in each. There are not many warm-and-fuzzy cash options on the card, but Smyly is among them. For GPP action, he tops the list.
With the reminder that Drew Pomeranz is off the board in most DFS contests in the afternoon affair, the Red Sox lefty will be tasked with slowing down one of the game's hottest offenses. The Indians do most of their damage versus right-handers, but using Pomeranz is still a risk. With the Tribe sending Josh Tomlin to the Progressive Field hill, there could be afternoon fireworks by Lake Erie.
Considering Felix Hernandez has averaged 218 innings per year for the past 10 seasons, it's not alarming to see a drop in velocity and dip in strikeouts. However, it's surprising (if not shocking) that he's walking hitters at a career-high rate. Facing a team that's hit right-handers hard for the past month in the Los Angeles Angels, The King can't be recommended for DFS play.
Speaking of too many walks, Matt Moore seemed to have things together before the 15 free passes over his past three outings, spanning 18 2/3 innings. The walks didn't hurt him, but if he continues to be so generous, he'll eventually suffer. Next up is a Pittsburgh Pirates squad that's coaxed the third-best walk rate in the league with a lefty on the hill. If Starling Marte is out again, the San Francisco Giants' southpaw becomes a GPP candidate for this AT&T outing, but the walks render him too risky for cash games.
Fresh off of a weekend beating in Fenway Park, the sliding Arizona Diamondbacks are glad to be back in the desert for a series with the New York Mets. Robbie Ray will take the ball for the Snakes, and he is a nice GPP option with plenty of strikeout upside against a Mets squad with above-average swing-and-miss guys in their lineup.
Hopefully you're not looking for that under-the-radar gem to kick off your head-to-head week. As vapid as the solid tier is, the streamers are even less attractive. That said, everyone is dealing with the same inventory, so it's all relative. If you want a little more analysis on anything pertinent to this manic Monday slate, please don't hesitate to post in the comments below or send a tweet to @ToddZola.
Ryan Vogelsong has pitched well in a pair of August starts after missing several months recovering from an injury, tossing 12 frames with six hits and one earned run allowed, while whiffing 11 with just a pair of walks. Don't expect that many whiffs against the Giants, but the Pirates' veteran right-hander is likely to be in a pitcher's duel with Matt Moore, giving solid innings to help buffer your ratios and possibly sneak away with the victory.
The good news is that Bartolo Colon has allowed more than three earned runs only four times this season. The not so good news is three of those have come in his past seven outings. Still, the Mets' right-hander is in play for his date with the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
In the off chance Luis Perdomo is a regular reader of the Daily Notes, I'd like to apologize personally for picking on you so much over the first half of the season. It turns out you're not quite as bad as I portrayed. I still don't think you're very good, but with a visit to Tropicana Field against a Tampa Bay Rays squad that can't hit righties, I'm going to recommend streaming you. Please tap into the strikeout upside facing a club that fans at a 24 percent clip against right-handers. Thanks in advance.
With Giancarlo Stanton out and Marcell Ozuna in a funk, Brandon Finnegan is in play for his fourth straight quality start. He's tossed six stanzas for three straight outings, allowing a total of 12 hits with 14 whiffs. The first two were scoreless efforts, followed by a three-run outing in his last appearance, largely due to walking six. If Finnegan can harness his control, he'll be in good shape.
The Toronto Blue Jays open a series in the Bronx against the New York Yankees. R.A. Dickey is always in play, assuming you can stomach the risk of the occasional blow-up intrinsic to knuckleball artists. With Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin all likely to play, the matchup is even more appealing as these young hitters are likely not experienced with a big league knuckler.
Even with the caveat that a pitcher's skills tend to decline about 17 percent moving from the bullpen to the rotation, David Phelps's 11.0 K/9 is more like a hitter an inning, that's plenty sufficient to be in play as the Miami Marlins take on the Cincinnati Reds in the Great American Ballpark. Keep in mind the GAB actually plays neural for runs. It's reputation as a hitters' park stems from being so homer-friendly. Phelps does a good job keeping the ball in the yard, so while there's still risk, it's not enough to scare me away.
After witnessing the Red Sox destroy Zack Greinke, it seems prudent to leave Josh Tomlin on the bench. Tomlin can be frustrating if his pinpoint control is on the mark, but his margin of error is thin. Against a squad like Boston's, the risk outweighs the reward.
The Washington Nationals have scuffled versus southpaws over the past month, but that's not nearly sufficient to back off from using them against Jorge De La Rosa in Coors Field. Trea Turner and Jayson Werth set things up at the top of the order. Wilson Ramos and Anthony Rendon are the best candidates to drove them home. Bryce Harper returned to the lineup on Sunday and is in play as well, especially if paying the Coors tax is mitigated with a reduced salary from being in a slump and not enjoying the platoon edge. Chances are De La Rosa will leave early enough to give Harper a couple of cracks facing a weak bullpen, possibly a right-hander.
The likelihood of a slugfest in Cleveland was discussed earlier, but isn't in play since it's an afternoon delight. However, the scoreboard operator will also be asking for hazard pay in Arlington with the Oakland Athletics sending Ross Detwiler to the Globe Life Park hill to face the Texas Rangers. The right-handed Rangers are in the spotlight, beginning with the struggling but still dangerous Ian Desmond, Adrian Beltre and Jonathan Lucroy. There's a chance newly activated Drew Stubbs gets a start with a southpaw on the hill and if so, add him to the list.
In the other dugout, the right-handed hitters of the A's are also in a great spot, facing lefty Martin Perez. The platoon-happy A's can send up a largely righty-swinging unit with Marcus Semien and Jake Smolinski starting things off, followed by a couple of guys that feast on lefties in Danny Valencia and Khris Davis. Lesser-priced options include Ryon Healy and Brett Eibner, assuming they're in the lineup.
Most likely to hit a homer: Homer-prone Ian Kennedy has done a good job keeping the ball in the yard as lately, but he hasn't been dealing with particularly powerful lineups. The Detroit Tigers welcome Kennedy to the Comerica Park hill with J.D. Martinez a favorite take him deep.
Most likely to steal a base: While a Matt Moore vs. Ryan Vogelsong matchup doesn't feel like a typical pitcher's duel, the game should be close, so manufactured runs will be important. Denard Span is no longer a burner, but he still has the wheels to take advantage of the Bucs' inability to control the running game.