This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
This slate is difficult to parse from a pitching perspective. Though there are a number of notable names, the combination of salary, matchup, and skills don't often align. That leaves me with a limited pitcher pool to focus on finding the right high-valued stack. Two options stand out in particular, so let's jump in.
This is a very interesting slate with respect to pitching, as three of the four top hurlers – Yu Darvish, Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray - have suffered from recent struggles. Darvish ($10,500) narrowly missed a quality start in his last outing and will now draw a matchup against Miami, who have logged a bottom 10 wRC+ against right-handed pitching while also striking out at the seventh-highest rate. Though a bit uncomfortable, Darvish should be a fine play.
Zack Greinke ($10,000) is a strong cash game play, as he offers a nice floor. However, his relative lack of strikeouts (18.5 K%) and the Rangers' ability to make contact (11th highest strikeout rate) gives him a limited ceiling. Tarik Skubal ($8,200) actually faces a similar matchup in that the Royals make a lot of contact, but do little with it (.152 ISO against LHP). Skubal enters with the sixth-highest strikeout rate on the slate and fared well in his last start against KC. While he offers a lesser floor, his ceiling should be higher than Greinke's.
Caleb Smith ($7,400) isn't typically a pitcher to recommend based on his 11.4 percent walk rate and 1.4 HR/9. However, typically more attractive pitchers such as John Means and Zach Thompson face difficult matchups. Under that scenario, I'd prefer to pay down as much as possible while blending the skill level of the pitcher with matchup and salary. The Cubs have struggled against left-handed pitching all season and Smith's 25.7 K% represents the seventh-highest on the slate – a combination which provides him some upside.
Yuli Gurriel ($4,600) doesn't carry the highest value point, but he's done plenty of damage against lefties all season with a .231 ISO, 147 wRC+, and .909 OPS. While Taylor Hearn won't pitch deep into the game, Mike Foltynewicz is projected to pitch multiple innings and has surrendered 2.6 HR/9 on the campaign. Both pitchers can be targeted, and Gurriel is among the best to target among Houston hitters.
Triston McKenzie has managed an extreme profile in nearly all aspects. He's generated the highest strikeout rate on the slate, but has also walked batters at a 17.5 percent clip and given up 1.7 HR/9. That makes all Rays attractive (more on that in the stacks section), but Brandon Lowe ($4,800) stands out as he should hit at the top of the order. While he's been horrific against left-handed pitching, he's demolished righties for a.529 slugging percentage over 680 plate appearances since 2019.
Jesse Winker ($4,600) and the Reds have the benefit of a favorable matchup and strong hitter's park. Winker has been among the best hitters in the league against right-handed pitching by stacking up a .279 ISO and 1.006 OPS. Johan Oviedo hasn't been particularly prone to the long ball, but has walked opposing hitters at an 11.7 percent rate and has logged several short outings where he's surrendered multiple runs.
Jaime Barria is a pitcher to target, as he's been exceptionally homer prone throughout his career while also allowing plenty of contact. But with Nelson Cruz gone, it's difficult to locate exactly where the production will come from in the Twins' lineup. In that scenario, I'll save some salary to a player with plenty of upside but with lesser opportunity cost. In this instance, that player is Brent Rooker ($3,100). Rooker was promoted after the departure of Cruz and delivered a .386 wOBA and .307 ISO across 265 plate appearances with Triple-A St. Paul.
Daniel Lynch suffered a disastrous start to his major-league career, and it's unclear just how likely it is he'll be better in his second opportunity. Robbie Grossman ($3,500) won't carry the platoon advantage, but has been among the best Tigers' hitters against southpaws. The combination of his ability to get on base and hitting high in the order makes him a strong option, regardless of whether he is able to deliver power production.
Stacks to Consider
As already mentioned, McKenzie is the prime pitcher to target thanks to the fact he walks batters and allows homers at a prolific rate. In contrast to the Twins, the Rays lineup appears extremely dangerous since the acquisition of Cruz. If the above players don't fit in a stack due to salary, Ji-Man Choi ($3,900) and Joey Wendle ($4,300) are also both strong options to consider.
As is usually the case, Houston is both a strong stacking option but also a pricy one. Like McKenzie, Hearn has both a high walk and homer rate and the Astros will be able to take advantage. He may not make it more than two to three innings, but the Rangers bullpen will be under distress in that scenario. Their relievers have surrendered a 4.47 ERA on the season, so Houston should thrive regardless who's on the mound. It's also worth noting Kyle Tucker has hit fairly well against lefties and is only $3,600. Though the Astros will likely be highly-rostered, Tucker should fly under the radar and offer savings.