Fantasy daily notes for May 3
The day's starting pitchers will be divided into three tiers: Elite (game score greater than 65), Solid (GS 50-65) and Streamers (GS under 50). Unless otherwise discussed, those highlighted in the Elite and Solid are safe to start in traditional fantasy formats. The order and analysis has a DFS tilt. The Streamers are intended more for traditional fantasy players looking for a safer spot start or an under-the-radar DFS option. For those wanting more in-depth DFS coverage, check out our strategy blog, which has continually updated lineup notes and detailed player tips.
While not a conventional statistic, innings plus strikeouts is integral to DFS, and to this point of the season, Johnny Cueto sits atop this mythical category. Further, he's been very pitch-efficient, despite so many innings and whiffs, averaging 100 pitches over his five outings. The Atlanta Braves won't be pushovers, as they're pesky to fan and are top-five in the league in home runs. Still, if you're going to make up a stat and decree it DFS-relevant, the current leader deserves top billing.
If Sonny Gray were working at home, an argument could be made that he's a better daily option than Cueto, but alas, the contest is in Arlington. That said, the Texas Rangers are in the bottom quarter of the league with regard to both runs and home runs, so there's nothing wrong with using Gray in DFS. Just be aware that despite not being an offensive juggernaut, the Rangers strike out below the league average rate.
We should probably just rename the solid tier after Shields, half of the letters are already there. Shields' strikeout rate has spiked well over his career average, part of which is due to a league switch, but don't expect him to carry an 11.9 K/9 all season. In fact, today's opponent, the Colorado Rockies, fan less than average so the descent could be sooner than later. This renders Shields more suited for multiple-pitcher DFS sites.
Michael Wacha, on the other hand, is an intriguing GPP play. Unlike Cueto, Gray and Shields, who are all a decent bet to pitch at least into the seventh inning, Wacha can't be counted on to toss more than six, unless he's on his game with a low pitch count. The punchout-prone Pittsburgh Pirates close out a series in Busch Stadium affording Wacha the chance go deep into this contest while racking up the whiffs. This is the perfect recipe for a tournament anchor.
If you conveniently ignore Jason Hammel's first five starts with the Oakland Athletics following the past season's July swap, you've got 28 starts of a 3.07 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 8.35 K/9 and 1.59 BB/9. Obviously, those missing five starts can't be struck from the record, but this does suggest to let go of any residual ill will if you absorbed the 7.15 ERA and 2.07 WHIP from that quintet. If you need more prodding, Hammel and the Chicago Cubs close out a series with the offensively challenged Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. The visitors have picked it up the past couple weeks but still sport the second lowest weighted on-base average (wOBA) in the league along with a top-five worst strikeout rate.
Sunday is the last day of most head-to-head weeks, so let's begin the tradition of identifying streaming options for those needing to make up some ground. Unless otherwise noted, anyone with a Game Score 50 and above is fine to stream. On today's ledger, Trevor Bauer and Jimmy Nelson are GPP options for those dabbling in DFS.
Drew Hutchison's strikeout potential makes him the top streaming option for those a bit desperate. The matchup isn't all that favorable, as the Cleveland Indians are very tilted toward the left side, which plays right into Progressive Field's tendency to increase left-handed power. Still, when in the groove, Hutchison is capable of accruing double-digit strikeouts in any given game.
Anytime Jarred Cosart works at home, he's a viable streaming option; when the opposition is the team sporting the league's poorest wOBA, he's a DFS option as well. Cosart might not pile up strikeouts, as the visiting Philadelphia Phillies fan at a clip below league average, but innings, limited runs and a good shot at the win are in play.
The Baltimore Orioles get last ups as the home team, but the game will be contested in pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field. This makes Nate Karns a decent streaming option.
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