Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Today’s main slate is packed with 12 games, meaning 24 pitchers to be considered. I’ve taken five who are considered to be among the best values for the night to determine which pitcher I’ll trust in my lineup tonight, and there are a couple that are clearly head and shoulders above the rest. This does not include the likes of Clayton Kershaw, who has been underwhelming this season by his standards, and many other pitchers who often make these lists as mid-range options were also omitted tonight due to the crowded slate and plethora of good options. There isn’t much separating some of the guys who will be on the mound tonight, but hopefully we can find distinguishing factors that will point to a truly underpriced option.

High Salary Plays

Zack Greinke, ARI (8-5, 3.41 ERA) vs STL – $10,100

Greinke has been consistently good but not great this year. His strikeout numbers are close to the best he has posted in his career as he has averaged just over one per inning and is consistent with that in almost every game. Additionally, he can almost always be counted on to give six to seven quality innings. Going against a St. Louis team that is just about league average in every important statistical category for fantasy (runs scored, strikeouts, team OPS), Greinke will be challenged but should still be able to produce around his normal output. He has been one of the better pitchers in the league this year, averaging over 35 Fanduel points per start. In his last two starts, he has not given up a run over 13 innings of work. Of minor concern is the fact that he had his lowest output of the year against the Cardinals back on April 7 with 15 points, but I am not going to worry too much about this; three months, a different stadium, and more of a rhythm into the season are more than enough to change Greinke’s luck. His ERA is almost two points lower at home than on the road this year. He will be unaffected by weather conditions because the game is being played indoors on a scorching day in Arizona. Historically, Greinke has pitched well with Bill Welke as the umpire, but has a lower K rate than normal; this is consistent with Welke’s overall statistics of having a tight strike zone. Ultimately, that is the biggest factor that will have me alter his projection for tonight; I am on the low side with projecting 36.1 points, 3.57 points/$1000. I expect him to get through six innings with modest strikeout numbers and a low run total, so his floor is relatively high and his ceiling is relatively low. If you want a sure thing, I would go with Greinke tonight.

Zach Eflin, PHI (6-2, 3.02 ERA) vs BAL – $9100

Eflin has been good this year through 10 starts. His lowest output since the start of June is 30 points, which is very impressive. He has been even better at home than on the road this year, which only points even more strongly towards a solid performance tonight. He has been blessed with a matchup against the lowly Orioles, almost a guaranteed win. I would be shocked if he doesn’t put up a tremendous output tonight in such a favorable spot. He should be able to pitch deep into the game whilst racking up strikeouts. That being said, the wind is blowing out to left field at game time, and an extremely hot day will not serve to help him either. Ultimately, I am predicting 37.5 points, 4.12 points/$1000, with a high floor and a high ceiling.

Mid-Range Plays

Anthony DeSclafani, CIN (3-1, 4.45 ERA) vs CWS – $6800

DeSclafani is certainly a good option tonight in a great matchup against the White Sox. In the exact same position as Luis Castillo was last night, DeSclafani will hope to follow up with another gem for the Reds’ rotation. The White Sox definitely make that an easier proposition than most teams in the league due to their terrible plate discipline. DeSclafani will be further aided by the absence of Jose Abreu from the White Sox lineup tonight. On the season, DeSclafani has averaged over 27 points per game (5 starts). His lowest output was in his debut with 18 points, and since then he hasn’t been lower than 25. The umpire, Eric Cooper, is unlikely to have any substantial effect on strikeout rate. The wind blowing in softly could potentially help him, but the high temperature will offset that effect by helping the ball to carry. Ultimately, I have him scoring 32.3 points, 4.74 points/$1000, with the distribution of the outcomes being relatively narrow.

Jack Flaherty, STL (3-3, 2.92 ERA) @ ARI – $8000

Flaherty is a guy who has a lot of boom or bust potential. When he’s on, he can certainly pile up the strikeouts, and he usually ends up with at least one per inning pitched. He has one of the best strikeout rates in the league at 29.1%. He got roughed up by a good Indians team in his last time out but still was able to manage 15 points on Fanduel. With an average fantasy point total of 31.5, Flaherty is a strong option, especially given his relatively low price tag. He will likely be locked in a pitcher’s duel with Greinke tonight, so it may be tough for him to get the win. He will be unaffected by weather conditions because the game is being played indoors on a scorching day in Arizona. Similar to Greinke, umpire Bill Welke’s tight strike zone will lower the rate of strikeouts that Flaherty records in this one; that being said, Arizona’s high strikeout rate as a team means that Flaherty still may be near his season average of 6 per game. The umpire assignment has caused me to lower Flaherty’s projection to 32.1, or 4.01 points/$1000. He is expected to produce tonight, however proceed with caution; his distribution of outcomes is far wider than some of the other options on the slate tonight.

Shane Bieber, CLE (3-0, 2.22 ERA) @ KC – $8200

Bieber has made four starts this year, and all of them have been solid. With a 27:4 K/BB ratio so far this year and just two runs allowed in his past three starts combined, Bieber has proven himself to be a great fantasy option. Going against Kansas City tonight, Bieber is in a decent spot to have a good game. Kansas City ranks dead last in the majors in runs scored, but also second to last in strikeouts which could inhibit his point total in tonight’s game. Additionally, there is a very strong wind blowing out to left field tonight coupled with hot temperatures which will hurt his productivity. Umpire Chris Conroy’s strike zone is unlikely to affect Bieber’s point total. He is projected at 30.5 points, 3.72 points/$1000, and I am expecting little variance from this number due to his strong and consistent recent performances.