This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Given the number of injuries sweeping the league, it initially appeared the slate before the All-Star break could feature a number of brutal pitching matchups. While some certainly exist, we'll also get plenty of ace-level hurlers. Given the sheer number, there are plenty of values to choose from and a few are highlighted below. On the hitting side, a few teams are worth focusing on but perhaps a bit narrower scope than a typical slate.
Brandon Woodruff ($10,000) stands out as the top pitching option as he combines the ability to rack up strikeouts (30.7 K%) while also avoiding walks (6.1 BB%) and home runs (0.8 HR/9). In 17 starts this season, he's only allowed more than two earned runs three times. The only downside here is Woodruff's salary as the highest pitcher on the slate.
Robbie Ray ($9,400) isn't much cheaper, but is the second-best pitcher from a skills perspective. He rivals Woodruff in strikeout rate (31.1%) and walk rate (6.3%), but does surrender a significant greater number of home runs (1.9 HR/9). While the Rays may not jump out as a favorable matchup, they strike out at a 27 percent clip against left-handed pitching this season.
Pablo Lopez ($7,300) jumps out as an egregiously misvalued option. Carrying nearly a $3,000 discount from Woodruff, Lopez has maintained a 3.51 SIERA and is the only pitcher today aside from Woodruff and Ray to have a K-BB% greater than 20. Add in the additional security of throwing in a strong pitcher's park, and he's a decent value option.
Moving back up the salary ladder, Luis Castillo ($7,900) is another name worth mentioning. Most importantly, he's back in form from a skills perspective with a 2.16 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 50 innings across his last eight starts. Castillo presents a leverage spot Sunday with Woodruff likely to be the most rostered pitcher. So if Castillo can outduel him in a head-to-head matchup, there is potential for significant salary savings.
Bryan Reynolds ($4,800) has had an incredibly strong performance in the first half of the season, which has resulted in him being named to the All-Star team. A large portion of the damage he's done has come against left-handed pitching with a 167 wRC+ and a .245 ISO. While Thomas Szapucki has very little sample size in the majors to this point, his early results indicate plenty of adjustments need to be made.
Teoscar Hernandez ($4,000) may not carry the salary of a player traditionally in this section and could reasonably be a bargain bat based on the setup for Sunday's slate. He'll draw a matchup against Rich Hill, who has been inconsistent all year. Though he's turned in a number of strong outings, he's also allowed multiple home runs in three starts - including two of his last four. Meanwhile, Hernandez has demolished left-handed pitching to the tune of a 181 wRC+, .441 wOBA, and .365 ISO. Each of those numbers outpace teammate Vladimir Guerrero, who is $2,000 more than Hernandez.
To give one traditional bat at the top of the salary range in this section, we can turn to Bryce Harper ($5,800). Nick Pivetta can be particularly homer-prone – something that will be discussed in more detail later. Harper has posted a .298 ISO against right-handed pitching in 2021, the highest mark on the Phillies by nearly 80 points. That combination makes him an elite bat to target.
The White Sox will rightfully attract the majority of the attention in this matchup, as the Orioles are rolling out little-known starting pitcher Spenser Watkins. However, Cedric Mullins ($3,500) has a startlingly low value point given the way he's produced over the first half. Hitting in one of, if not the best, hitter's parks on the main slate makes him an even more attractive option.
Michael Conforto ($3,300) has yet to get on track this season, but his salary has fallen to the point where he remains a strong option in exploitable matchups. That's the case today with the Mets drawing a matchup against Chase De Jong, who has surrendered 1.6 HR/9 while also walking batters at a 9.3 percent rate.
Eli Morgan has allowed at least one homer in all five of his major-league starts and multiple long balls in three. That makes a number of Royals intriguing one-off rosterable players in the bargain range, highlighted by Andrew Benintendi ($3,400) and Jorge Soler ($3,000).
Stacks to Consider
The Phillies draw a matchup against Pivetta, a pitcher to target with stack tournament contests. When discussing boom or bust pitchers around the league, his name deserves to be near the top of the list. Pivetta's last five outings illustrate this well having conceded no earned runs twice while giving up four and three home runs in two other appearances. Add in spotty command considering he's walked multiple batters in all but one of his 17 starts this season and this is a stack with tremendous upside. Understand the risk that Pivetta could also throw a gem, but the production should be big if it hits. The other nice thing about this trio is that aside from a core piece such as Harper, there are plenty of production bats at reasonable salary points to fit any type of roster construction.
Williams checks off the most important boxes for stackable pitches. His 9.7 percent walk rate is fifth-worst on the slate and his 1.7 HR/9 is fourth-highest. The end result is an inflated possibility that Williams puts runners on base and ultimately gives up a blast, which is the perfect recipe for a successful stack. Like the Phillies, this isn't necessarily an exhaustive list of Cardinals to roster with Dylan Carlson ($3,900) also standing out as a nice reasonably-valued alternative (or addition).