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Ace Assessment: Breaking down the week’s top pitching options

Every week, daily fantasy players are faced with difficult decisions regarding which high-priced pitching options are worth selecting. And every week, it’s the same result: some aces meet or even succeed their exorbitant salaries – and some fall flat on their faces.

The challenge is particularly daunting where cash game play is concerned; with nearly every player selecting a high-priced pitching option, winning your money back requires consistently choosing the right aces. If that ace falters, cash game success is virtually impossible.

That said, DFS enthusiasts have a wealth of information at their disposal – and when it comes to separating the real deals from the pretenders, these other stat-based factors can make all the difference. They don’t guarantee victory but they certainly slant the odds in your favor.

Here are the top high-priced pitching options for each day of the remainder of the week:

Tuesday: Scott Kazmir, Astros (at Athletics)

Forget revenge: Kazmir is a sensational Tuesday option not because he was traded by Oakland earlier this season, but because he should tear the Athletics’ lineup to ribbons. Oakland has an uninspiring .300 wOBA in the second half, and should provide little resistance for Kazmir, who has had just one subpar outing since coming to Houston in a July trade. Spend up for him – and enjoy the high ceiling.

Wednesday: Jacob DeGrom, Mets (at Nationals)

This is an interesting matchup with DeGrom facing off against Washington fireballer Stephen Strasburg. But the Mets have shown plenty of offensive punch in pulling away from the Nationals atop the National League East, and DeGrom has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the league. Strasburg is a little more up-and-down, giving DeGrom a slight edge in what should be a fantastic pitchers’ duel.

Thursday: Danny Salazar, Indians (vs. Tigers)

Salazar is the best elite option on a short Thursday slate, dealing at home against a Detroit team that only occasionally puts together a solid hitting performance. One of those came in Salazar’s previous start – he allowed six runs over 3 2/3 innings in a 6-0 loss to Detroit – but the hard-throwing right-hander has proven capable of shutting down any team he faces. He isn’t without risk, but has the highest upside thanks to his high K rate.

Friday: Dallas Keuchel, Astros (at Angels)

The Friday pitching lineup is surprisingly mediocre for a full card, so Keuchel stands alone. The star left-hander has been terrific all season, and is a good bet to extend that run against an Angels team entering Tuesday with a meager .290 wOBA since the All-Star break. Keuchel has pitched well in his other two outings against the Angels this season, and has the highest floor of any pitcher toeing the rubber Friday.

Saturday: Madison Bumgarner, Giants (vs. Padres)

This one could get messy. Bumgarner has racked up 82 strikeouts in 69 2/3 second-half innings, and will host a Padres lineup that has a 21.7-percent road strikeout rate for the season – not to mention one of the most anemic offenses in the league. Bumgarner will cost a sizeable portion of your total salary cap Saturday night, but with a high win probability and double-digit strikeouts likely, he will be worth the pick.

Sunday: Max Scherzer, Nationals (at Marlins)

Yes, Scherzer has been a ghost of the guy that posted 150 first-half strikeouts. And yes, the veteran righty has been tagged for 11 home runs in 52 innings since the break. But if anything, that might actually prove to be a blessing; the guy needed a little salary depression, and should comfortably return value against a woeful Miami lineup. Don’t expect a 15-strikeout game, but Scherzer shouldn’t have much trouble.

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