Fantasy Daily notes for Aug. 4
It's challenge time as Chris Sale and Max Scherzer head up the Tuesday docket. After a ridiculous stretch where Sale was striking out double-digit hitters every game for two months, he's scuffled in two of his last three outings. But, don't be concerned, the first was against a pesky Kansas Royals squad that does a great job of putting the bat on the ball and the second was versus the Boston Red Sox where he was bludgeoned with bloops and bleeders. Scherzer also incurred a couple of blips after throwing his no-hitter and threatening to toss a second. Still, both are among the top five skilled pitchers in the game so we'll call that a wash. Their respective opponents profile similarly as Sale faces the Tampa Bay Rays at home while Scherzer is also home for a date with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Neither opponent whiffs excessively while both are a tad above-average in terms of weighted on-base average (wOBA) in their respective scenarios. When it's this tight, the tie goes to the National League, especially if the American League tilt is in a hitters' park -- which it is. Scherzer versus Sale, playing one lineup and that's it, Scherzer is the man.
Consistency and reliability are traits that define a cash game anchor in DFS. One of the best examples of a pitcher fitting the mold is Jake Arrieta. If you get a combined 13 innings plus strikeouts from your cash game hurler, you're in good shape. Arrieta has reached that goal in 13 of 21 starts. Despite being on the road, the Chicago Cubs right-hander's in a good spot to make it 14 of 22 as he takes the hill in PNC Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The hosts are an average squad at home which should pave the way for Arrieta to do his thing, which is average 6 2/3 innings an outing, fanning seven along the way.
If Arrieta is the cash game choice for those fading Scherzer and Sale, Carlos Carrasco is his tournament equivalent. In tournaments you're looking for upside, almost always in the form of strikeouts. Carrasco sports an impressive 9.9 K/9 along with an equally-as-sparkling 1.9 BB/9. This is important since high strikeout pitchers run up pitch counts rapidly, but if they're not walking many, they can still work deep into games. It may not be a huge boost but Carrasco's foe, the Los Angeles Angels, fan at a slightly above-average 21 percent clip against righties at home.
Chris Archer again warrants elite-tier status as he's shaken off the drubbing bestowed upon him right before the All-Star break by the Kansas City Royals. However, his inclusion comes with a couple of warnings. The first is more general: He's on the low end of innings pitched per game, checking in at 6 1/3 frames, which is 29th among pitchers with ten starts. Second is his opponent: The Chicago White Sox offense has heated up lately, scoring at least six runs in eight of their last 11 games. Recent performance is important, but since baseball is a game of streaks, seasonal numbers are a better predictor, and Archer should be able to keep the White Sox in check, even at U.S. Cellular Field. Still, the risky nature of this contest tilts it more to a tournament than cash game variety.
Though he still needs to shave a bit off his walk rate, Jimmy Nelson is showing signs he could be a solid mid-rotation starter. Along with the occasional control issues, he's not dominant enough to be a front-of-the-rotation anchor. However, facing the San Diego Padres in Miller Park, Nelson is in a good spot to have a solid game, as the visitors whiff at an above-average clip against right-handers.
The Philadelphia Phillies are another team whose bats have awoken lately. For the season, they're averaging a paltry 3.7 runs a game, but over their last 17 that's jumped to 5.1 per contest. Recently-acquired Alex Wood is tasked with keeping the Phillies in check as he takes the hill in Citizens Bank Park. Despite their hot streak, the hosts are vulnerable to left-handers, as they're whiffing at a 22 percent rate in this scenario. Along with the whiff potential, the southpaw's run support should pick up after being acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers last week. All totaled, Wood is a decent tournament swerve, especially on DFS sites necessitating more than one pitcher.
While it's too early to discern if it will last, since rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Patrick Corbin is throwing a little harder and his strikeout rate has spiked. Helping matters is he's taking on a Washington Nationals squad that whiffs more than average versus righties. The one player streak that research supports as being real is pitchers on a roll, and Corbin has certainly excelled in the inaugural 28 innings of his 2015 campaign, punching out 29 while walking just five. The win is a risk facing Scherzer, but that will also keep his ownership low if that's part of your DFS decision-making process.
Jake Peavy is doing what he usually does -- pitch decently between disabled-list visits. He'll be taking the mound in Turner Field against the Atlanta Braves, so if you're looking for an early week win, Peavy is a great candidate.
J.A. Happ hasn't pitched well lately but he has swing-and-miss stuff. The Pittsburgh Pirates saw enough to acquire him for their playoff push. He has a date with the strikeout-prone Cubs, so if you want some punch out to kick the week off, Happ is a latent candidate. He's facing Arrieta so the win will be tough, but he also has the comfort of PNC Park helping mitigate their power.
Two rookies are making their long-awaited debut, as Jon Gray and Henry Owens have been called up by the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox, respectively. Both are starting in hitters' parks, Gray at home in Coors Field, Owens in Yankee Stadium. Normally it pays to be cautious with rookies but this season has been punctuated by a plethora of first-time successes. Using either is a risk, Gray more so than Owens but not by much. If the venues were more favorable it may be worth the risk this pair follow in the footsteps of their rookie brethren, but the downside is just too steep.
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