Tuesday is kind of a tough slate. There are only two pitchers with a projected Game Score of 60 or better, but I don't really trust either of them. There aren't any obvious arms out there, and on the other end, you could reasonably look to stack quite a few offenses or at least pick and choose a bat or two from them.
The Rangers demoted Kyle Lohse and called up Nick Martinez to start today's game against Oakland, Jared Sandler of the Rangers Radio Network reports.
It's been only four of his 18 starts, but Danny Salazar has been improving his walk rate lately. Through his first 14, he had a 4.5 BB/9, including four or more walks in five outings. Over his past four, he has just four total walks en route to a 1.4 BB/9 in 25 innings. He has had an increase in first-pitch strike rate, but that is not exactly commensurate with the cut in walks. In other words, I'm not sure the lowered walk rate is here to stay, especially in a tough matchup against the Nationals. They have the sixth-best walk rate against righties, at 9 percent. Of course, curbing walks hasn't exactly yielded more success. Salazar has a 3.96 ERA in his past four starts, compared to 2.40 in those first 14. He fans a ton, and he's tough to hit, so he's always an elite option.
Kyle Hendricks couldn't be more different than Salazar, in terms of strikeouts and walks. Hendricks has a 7.8 K/9 (Salazar at 10.1) and just 2.4 BB/9 (Salazar's season mark is 3.8), but that hasn't stopped him from putting up a fantastic 2.27 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 111 innings. Hendricks has been worse on the road (3.63 ERA/1.30 WHIP), though this isn't a normal road game, as he's pitching in his home city against the crosstown rival White Sox. The Sox are reeling after an electric 23-10 start. They have gone 25-40 since, and their .705 OPS against righties is 24th in the league.
Chris Tillman has regularly been one of those guys who outruns his component numbers for a better ERA. He has consistently held a FIP between 4.01 and 4.42 since 2012, yet he has a 3.72 ERA in 800 innings over that time. He usually has solid-but-unspectacular strikeout and walk numbers, and 2016 is no different, with a 7.6 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9, but he's really difficult to square up, which is why he has held a .268 BABIP since 2012, including a .262 this year, which is tied for 16th-best with that Clayton Kershaw dude. The Rockies offense has just a .708 OPS against righties on the road, which is 21st in the league.
Felix Hernandez's return from the DL didn't exactly inspire confidence, as he allowed five runs on 10 hits in five innings with just a pair of strikeouts. He allowed six in six just before hitting the disabled list too. His ERA has been somewhat misleading all season, and his meager 2.0 K:BB ratio (thanks to a career-low 7.6 K/9) suggests it could be headed even higher as he inches toward his 4.25 FIP. His 2.89 road ERA looks great, but a 1.43 WHIP, 6.4 K/9 and 1.3 K:BB ratio tell a different story. I imagine his history influences the 61 projected Game Score, but we aren't seeing Vintage Felix right now.
Even with a couple shaky starts to open July, Steven Wright holds the AL lead in ERA, at 2.67. Those shaky starts were really just one bad inning apiece, as seven of the nine earned runs came in the final inning of those starts. More importantly, he has 23 strikeouts and a 3.8 K:BB ratio in his 25 July innings. Wright is going to have tough starts, like any pitcher, but I don't think we're going to see the bottom fall out on him, which is what we might have been waiting for when this run started.
Gio Gonzalez has righted the ship a bit in July, with a 3.06 ERA in three starts, but the 13 strikeouts and nine walks in 17.7 innings put a damper on perceived improvements. He has allowed three homers in July (1.5 HR/9). In other words, he's still scuffling a bit. However, I'd entertain using him because the Cleveland Indians haven't been particularly good against southpaws this year. The AL Central leaders sit 26th in OPS against lefties, and they struggled badly in a three-game set at Baltimore, with just six total runs.
Spot starters and streamers
After three straight five-earned run outings to open June, Ervin Santana has allowed just nine earned runs in his past six starts combined (2.03 ERA). His 5.9 K/9 in that time isn't exactly awesome -- in fact, it's outright bad -- but his 3.3 K:BB ratio is solid. Honestly, we haven't seen much from him in the strikeout realm since a 2014 spike, so I wouldn't expect much more than something in the low-6s going forward, but he will have a solid strikeout game every once in a while, and facing the Braves gives him a chance for one. Atlanta's .655 OPS against righties is easily the worst in the league, as is the team's .117 ISO.
Jaime Garcia has been far from special this year, with a 3.98 ERA and 1.36 WHIP with an elevated (for him) walk rate. His 3.2 BB/9 is his highest since 2010, and he has walked at least two in each of his past six starts. That said, three of those starts have been gems, and only one was a true disaster, so he can still succeed, even with the increased free passes. He's catching a chilly Mets team too. They have scored just 2.6 runs per game over their past 12 and failed to top five runs in any of them.
I know Jerad Eickhoff allowed five earned runs in five innings against the Marlins in his previous start, but Miami has a league-average offense at best, and I wouldn't ignore him just because of that bad start. The Marlins are also one of those teams that don't get a real home-field advantage. Their .714 OPS against righties at home is much lower than their .755 on the road. Home runs have been one of Eickhoff's issues this year (1.1 HR/9), so going to Miami helps him, as Marlins Stadium has the 25th-ranked home run park factor.
Marcus Stroman's volatility is underscored perfectly with his Game Scores of late: 62, 17, 37, 65, 73, 24 and 68. The Padres aren't a complete walkover these days, and while they do their best work against lefties, they have scored 3.6 runs per game against righties since June 1, ninth in the league, and their 3.8 percent home run rate is sixth.
When Bartolo Colon is off, he'll end your DFS night, but those off-days are rare for him. He has allowed more than three earned runs just three times this year (two such instances have come this month). Those two duds were against the Cubs and Nationals, two quality offenses. He gets another quality offense on Tuesday, so it's no slam dunk -- especially because he almost never gets many strikeouts -- but if you're looking for an inexpensive SP2, he's a good option.
I have a hard time eyeing Chris Archer as a top-flight option these days, and that isn't just this year. He sputtered into the finish line last year, with a 5.81 ERA in six September starts, and the struggles have continued with a 4.60 ERA in 21 starts this year. He has been particularly problematic on the road, with a 6.37 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in 11 starts. He has allowed four or more runs nine times this year, and seven of those have come on the road. I'm nervous about a trip to Los Angeles.
There are seven offenses with at least a 7 rating, and all of those have favorable ratings on both sides of the dish. This should yield a lot of unique lineups.
Boston's offense is elite enough to consider against just about anyone, but every team starts licking its chops when it gets to face someone such as Mike Pelfrey. Righties have an .835 OPS against him, while lefties are up at .916, so everybody is in play: Mookie Betts, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, a resurgent Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley and even Travis Shaw, who has bounced back (.818 OPS in July) after a chilly June (.586).
Nick Martinez has been called up to replace Kyle Lohse for the Rangers, but the advice here remains the same against the subpar right-hander. Josh Reddick is the best bet here as a lefty, but even righties such as Khris Davis, Danny Valencia and Marcus Semien might be worth a look.
Even lefties are smashing Patrick Corbin this year, with a career-worst .889 OPS, which might make him a worthwhile pitcher to stack against on Tuesday, even with an average Brewers offense. They sit just 17th, with a .733 OPS as a whole, but plucking their best could yield strong results: Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, Jonathan Villar and Chris Carter.
In fact, this entire game could be quite fruitful, with Matt Garza toeing the slab for the Brewers. As with Corbin, righties and lefties alike are obliterating Garza these days, which brings any worthwhile Diamondback hitter into focus. Jake Lamb will likely be in many lineups, but you can also take a look at Paul Goldschmidt, Jean Segura, Welington Castillo and Tuffy Gos ... wait, no, not Tuffy Gosewisch. Sorry, Tuffy Gosewisch.
It'd be great to stack against Matt Cain, but he's facing the Cincinnati Reds, so there aren't that many options. Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Adam Duvall are clear plays, but with such a rich pitching slate to pick on, I'm not sure you're dying to go further with Reds and slot in Brandon Phillips, Eugenio Suarez, Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton.
Anytime the Baltimore Orioles are at home, they will be a heavy consideration. Actually, that's the case any time they play. Chad Bettis, unlike his rotation mates, has been just as bad on the road as he has at Coors. Trying to turn that corner won't be easy at Camden. He also has a reverse platoon split, so the righty-heavy Orioles could go off. I'll be looking at Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop from the right side, as well as Chris Davis and maybe even Pedro Alvarez from the left side.
He could be auditioning for his opponent, but Andrew Cashner in Toronto against the Jays could get ugly. He is coming off back-to-back gems in St. Louis and home against the Giants, but he's still holding a 4.79 ERA after those starts, so I'd definitely be considering Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders. Maybe he survives, but I'd be incredibly surprised if he makes it out unscathed.
Most likely to go yard: Edwin Encarnacion
Like I said, I can't really see Cashner getting out unscathed, even if he holds up fine. Encarnacion has hit 17 HRs since the start of June, with a 1.100 OPS in 188 plate appearances.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Eduardo Nunez
He's been chilly, with just a .519 OPS in his past 76 PA, but he's still running and has stolen five bases in that time.