Fantasy daily notes for July 6
It's an interesting conundrum atop the rankings on this abbreviated slate. Which prevails, superior talent or the better matchup? Chris Sale's streak of eight consecutive games with double-digit strikeouts is in jeopardy as the Toronto Blue Jays and their paltry 17 percent whiff rate against left-handers visit U.S. Cellular Field. In comparison, Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians entertain a Houston Astros club that fans at a bloated 26 percent clip versus righties. Both offenses sport a better than average weighted on base average (wOBA) in the respective scenarios, though the edge goes to Carrasco due to the better pitching venue. Based on the matchup, selecting Carrasco is perfectly defensible. However, forced to choose, until his historic streak comes to an end, Sale is the man. In fact, since the matchup points towards Carrasco, that could keep Sale's ownership percent down to the point he's the contrarian option. That said, on a bang-for-the-buck basis, there will be better choices discussed below.
Earlier in the season the narrative was how Dallas Keuchel's low strikeout rate kept him out of the elite tier. After checking in with a 5.4 K/9 in April, Keuchel upped that to 7.7 K/9 in May then jumped it to 8.9 in June. OK, you win, you're elite. Note his seasonal mark is 7.8 K/9 -- far from elite but he's demonstrated the ability to generate punch outs which is fantasy gold. In the 'timing is everything department', he's facing the Cleveland Indians, a team with the third fewest strikeouts when facing southpaws. Still, a deal is a deal and Keuchel gets elite recognition, with the asterisk not to expect a huge strikeout game.
A.J. Burnett has a great chance to solidify his first All-Star berth as the San Diego Padres kick off a series in PNC Park. The visitors tote a 22 percent whiff rate against right-handers along with a low .295 wOBA. The combination of high floor with strikeout upside renders Burnett a DFS cash game and tournament option and depending on cost, he could be the best play of the day.
Chris Heston is on a spot almost identical to that of Burnett. Both are at home in great pitchers' parks. The small difference is Heston faces the New York Mets who fan just a little less than San Diego. But like Burnett, Heston is perfect for cash and tournament double-duty, at a cost less than what you're paying for Sale and his potentially dangerous matchup.
Before moving wading into the streamer, an argument can be rendered for Juan Nicasio (facing the Phillies) and Edinson Volquez (facing the Rays) as both are at home against weaker offenses. Volquez also has some strikeout potential. Former teammates Jon Lester and John Lackey hook up and while both should pitch well, in terms of DFS potential, there are better options. Hisashi Iwakuma makes his long-awaited return but even without Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers are too dangerous to risk. In fact, sitting Iwakuma in seasonal formats is defensible.
To be honest, the only starter with a game score below 50 not worth starting on the first day of most head-to-head scoring weeks is Sean O'Sullivan with Mark Buehrle being a slight risk since the Chicago White do have some right-handed pop. So with the overall umbrella that everyone is worthy of a spot start, here's a blurb on the better options.
Wei-Yin Chen had a solid June and began July with an eight-inning effort in a victory over the Texas Rangers. The Minnesota Twins are league average when facing southpaws which is certainly not a deterrence from using Chen and his 58:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last 66 innings, covering 10 starts.
James Shields is going through an uncharacteristically wild stretch. Facing the impatient Pittsburgh Pirates should help get the San Diego right-hander back on track. Against righties, the Bucs sport the third-lowest walk rate in the league.
Don't expect a ton of strikeouts but if you're looking for some solid innings and a chance for a win, Doug Fister and the Washington Nationals squaring off against Anthony Desclafani and the Cincinnati Reds in Nationals Park is your guy.
Four Royals on ASG team, but Blue Jay tops all
Nats put Strasburg on DL with left oblique strain
Santana stars in return, but Twins fall to Royals
Ortiz gets first start at 1B in AL game since '06
Cubs activate Soler, demote Szczur to Triple-A
Umpire Culbreth leaves game after foul off chest
Olney: Greinke dominating at just the right time
Royals walk off and salvage split
Baseball Tonight Spotlight: Eric Hosmer drives in Lorenzo Cain in the ninth, helping Kansas City beat the Twins 3-2 to earn a four-game split between the AL Central contenders.
Royals dominate All-Star starters
The Baseball Tonight crew discusses four Royals being named as starters to the All-Star Game and Josh Donaldson receiving the most votes.
Matz, Mets shut out Dodgers
Steven Matz strikes out eight over six scoreless innings, and the Mets blank the Dodgers 8-0.