Sunday's MLB slate is interesting, as there are no truly elite pitching options. But with quite a few solid pitchers in good spots and some teams with great hitting matchups, there will be plenty of options for season-long and daily fantasy players. See what gems have been unearthed, along with a surprising set of hitters to target, in Sunday's daily notes.
Kyle Hendricks is getting some buzz for the National League Cy Young Award, primarily driven by a league-leading ERA among qualified pitchers. Some are pointing to an average strikeout rate along with a FIP and xFIP significantly higher than his ERA as reasons he doesn't deserve to win.
I have another issue, which is the same shortcoming he incurs in fantasy: not enough innings. To be fair, Hendricks ranks 21st in innings per start. Still, to be considered the best, I want that higher. This is obviously speculation, but if Hendricks had been left in a few games longer, chances are he'd have given up a few more runs, softening the Cy Young argument. That said, Hendricks has been DFS cash-game gold all season, owning one of the more stable floors in the league. However, with the lack of top pitching on Sunday, and considering his matchup with the strikeout-prone Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field, Hendricks also checks in as a GPP option.
Drew Pomeranz has registered a 2-5 record with a 4.60 ERA since being acquired by the Boston Red Sox. However, in 11 starts, the southpaw has allowed two or fewer runs seven times, three tallies once, and in three outings surrendering five scores. He's also fanned 62 over 58 2/3 Beantown innings. Those who picked up Pomeranz after the trade are no doubt disappointed in the results. However, the game log shows he's capable of solid efforts, which is what matters to DFS gamers. Sunday's date with the New York Yankees at Fenway Park isn't ideal, and the guests produce at a below-average level facing left-handers. Pomeranz sets up better for cash but is defensible in tourneys as a contrarian option.
Ivan Nova is the anti-Pomeranz in that his numbers have markedly improved since he was shipped across leagues, landing in the Steel City. His true projected game score landed him in the streaming tier, but the algorithm carries over much of his time with the Yankees. To be honest, the adjustment could have, and perhaps should have, lifted Nova above Pomeranz. The Pittsburgh Pirates' right-hander takes the hill at the Great American Ball Park to face a Cincinnati Reds squad that has hit righty pitching well since the break -- the reason Nova is just below Pomeranz. There's isn't much strikeout upside here, so normally Nova would be relegated to cash action, but on the weak docket, he's in play for tournaments.
On a ledger like this, you need to dig deep for any actionable edges. For instance, over the past month, the Philadelphia Phillies sport the lowest-weighted on-base average (wOBA) versus righties in tandem with the worst -- by far -- strikeout rate in this scenario. Granted, Andrew Cashner has been extremely inconsistent, but a date at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies thrusts the Miami Marlins' right-hander into GPP contention.
Here's another instance of a team running cold, as the Los Angeles Dodgers carry a meek .225 wOBA and bloated 29 percent whiff rate versus southpaws into Chase Field as they wrap up a series with Robbie Ray and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Calling Ray an emerging ace is aggressive, though it's quite fair to suggest that if he can hone his control and display more consistency, the soon-to-be 25-year-old can attain that level. For now, he's a great GPP play.
One guy has a 3.05 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 171 punchouts in 192 innings, while the other sports 3.12/1.00 ratios with 167 whiffs in 201 innings. The former is playing out the string while the latter is among the favorites for the American League Cy Young award. The second, of course, is Rick Porcello and his 20-3 record.
The other is Jose Quintana, who's taking a 12-10 mark into Kauffman Stadium for the finale of an AL Central set between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. The home team has been whiffing at a 23 percent clip versus lefties the past month, rendering Quintana an option for both cash and GPP action.
Squaring off with Quintana is fellow southpaw Danny Duffy. The 27-year-old's quest for Cy Young contention has been curtailed by the long ball, as he's surrendered seven homers in his four most recent outings. Still, Duffy also can be safely used in all DFS formats.
A whopping 18 arms fall in the streaming range, with all but one, Trevor Bauer, owned in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN leagues. This being the last day of most head-to-head scoring periods, context dictates absorbing the risk of the lesser options. Below are the better choices. If you'd like a little more analysis on a name not featured, please take advantage of the comments section or fire a tweet to @ToddZola.
Using Chad Bettis for a home tilt is obviously dangerous for ratios. However, the Colorado Rockies' righty is in a great spot for strikeouts and a win facing the San Diego Padres and their 25 percent whiff rate versus right-handers for the past month.
It's been only two starts, so to say Jose De Leon is homer-prone is premature, especially since two of the three he's served up in his initial two outing came at Yankee Stadium. Still, it's a little comforting that the Diamondbacks are just average in power, even if the matchup is at homer-friendly Chase Field. It's risky, but De Leon has shown enough to be in play for those in need of a late push.
Daniel Norris is permitting a lot of baserunners but has yet to allow more than three runs in a start this season. Coming off a couple of starts in which Norris fanned 18 in 12 1/3 innings, the Detroit Tigers' lefty is a risky but viable streamer against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Some consider chasing wins a fool's errand, but if that's what you need to win, you play the matchups and hope for the best. Colby Lewis and the Texas Rangers are favored over Ross Detwiler and the Oakland Athletics in Arlington. The A's aren't especially potent, but with Lewis just recently returning from injury, there's some risk to ratios.
Only four hurlers fall in the automatic avoid range, and three certainly qualify as "desperate times require desperate measures." Jarred Cosart at Coors Field, Gabriel Ynoa taking Jacob deGrom's spot at Citi Field and Ross Detwiler at Globe Life Park are scary.
Normally, Wily Peralta would be included, but he's been impressive lately, so if the Cubs don't field their best lineup, the Brewers' righty could be a sneaky play, even in DFS.
The only starter ranked above the automatic tier that really worries me is Wade Miley, who's taking the hill in Camden Yards against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have been crushing southpaws lately, which doesn't bode well for the Baltimore Orioles' left-hander.
It's usually good to assume that when a game at Coors Field doesn't lead the hitting section, it's an opportunity to fade that contest for better matchups elsewhere. Today is not one of those days. Cosart will take the ball for the Padres in Denver, so the Rockies are the top hitting options on Sunday. Lefty swingers Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, David Dahl, Gerardo Parra and Daniel Descalso are the primary targets, but don't be reticent about getting differentiation by eschewing the platoon edge with DJ LeMahieu or Nolan Arenado -- like you need a reason to use Arenado.
The place to go instead of Denver is Arlington, with the Rangers squaring off with Detwiler. Here it's best to stick with the platoon edge, meaning Carlos Gomez, Ian Desmond, Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre and Jonathan Lucroy are front and center.
Finally, we'll wrap up Week 24 with a nod for the Rays against Miley. The lefty has serious home run issues and Tampa has ample right-handed power in their lineup. In fact, upon further review, this is the best swerve from the chalk that is Coors Field. Tampa has many interchangeable parts, so be sure to check the lineup. Evan Longoria is the mainstay with Logan Forsythe, Steven Souza Jr., Richie Shaffer, Mikie Mahtook and Nick Franklin the chief targets.
Most likely to hit a home run: I'm not a fan of riding streaks, but I do like good hitters locked in against lesser pitchers, so let's task McCutchen with taking Straily deep.
Most likely to steal a base: He needs five more to accomplish the feat, but you have to think Brian Dozier has his eyes on a 40-homer, 20-stolen-base campaign.