This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
There are limiting pitching options given the quality of pitchers as well as games taking place in a lot of hitter's parks. Add in the possibility/probability we lose a game or more due to weather and the field may be further narrowed. Keep a close eye on the forecast before lock.
Nathan Eovaldi ($9,500) has been inconsistent across his last seven starts, ranging from poor to mediocre to incredible. That makes it a bit uncomfortable to pay up for him on the slate, though there many great alternatives. Among the pitchers on the slate, Eovaldi maintains the fourth-highest strikeout rate, fourth-lowest walk rate, and third-lowest HR/9. Add in a soft matchup against the Rangers - who are among the league's worst-hitting lineups - and Eovaldi should be one of the highest points-per-dollar options today.
Adam Wainwright ($9,300) represents another pitcher in the same salary range. His skills are subpar compared to Eovaldi, but he's absolutely demolished Pittsburgh this season with a 0.60 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, and 15:1 K:BB across 15 IP. Though that small sample isn't predictive, it does illustrate how great the matchup is.
Steven Matz ($8,200) has struggled to pitch deep into games of late, but he's effectively prevented runs having only allowed only two earned runs in 15.2 innings over his last three starts while striking out 17 and walking seven. That's not an ideal skill set, but also not bad relative to other options on the slate and to value. Detroit is also a very favorable matchup for left-handed pitching considering they've struck out at a league third-highest 26.2 percent clip while also posting a bottom-third ISO.
There are three value options I'd be willing to consider, but each have concerns attached. Vladimir Gutierrez ($8,000) has been remarkably consistent, earning between 18.3 and 23.3 DK points in all of his last five starts. At his salary point, that will play. The main concern is his home park, as he's produced drastic home-road splits due to the incredibly hitter-friendly nature of Great American Ballpark.
Steven Brault ($7,500) has gotten more stretched out since returning to the mound Aug. 4. He's also extremely affordable, but lacks strikeouts and carries a low win probability.
Finally, Carlos Hernandez ($5,900) gained buzz with a string of three performances between late July and early August. He was brought back to earth by Houston in his last outing, though that can be forgiven given the way that team has hit all season. Hernandez walks way too many batters but limits the long ball fairly well, so he can survive the free passes. Given the value and a matchup against the Cubs, he's worth a shot to open up salary.
Vladimir Guerrero ($6,200) has slumped a bit in August, but there's no reason to overthink this. Guerrero draws a matchup against Drew Hutchison, who has no business being on a major-league mound in 2021. Hutchison was blasted in his only prior appearance this season and has surrendered six runs across 1.2 innings of work.
To balance out the Guerrero pick, our next preferred bat will be on a bit of the value end. Avisail Garcia ($4,300) has hit well for much of the season, but particularly so against left-handed pitching. In 102 plate appearances against southpaws, he's posted a .274 ISO, 1.058 OPS, and 177 wRC+. Sean Nolin may not pitch deep into the game, but Garcia is at a salary point where he can pay off his value with one at-bat.
Tommy Edman ($3,500) isn't known for his power production. But of his 42 extra-base hits this season, nearly one-third have come against lefties. That's good for a .250 ISO, a surprisingly strong mark given Edman's lack of power profile. Even without massive pop, he can deliver on his salary thanks to Brault's lack of strikeout stuff. Edman is among the best at getting the ball in play – he's struck out at only a 12.9 percent rate this season – a combination which could mean he reaches base multiple times today with the chance to come around to score and/or steal bases.
Luis Robert ($3,800) isn't among the bargain players on the slate, but his valuation is still far too low. He's produced as expected since coming off the injured list (.172 ISO, 141 wRC+), averaging 8.6 DK points for the season and 10.3 across his last 10 games. For context, Cesar Hernandez is $3,700 with incomparable skills.
Corey Dickerson ($3,100) has gotten more run with George Springer sidelined and draws the same matchup as highlighted above for Guerrero. While he doesn't offer the same gaudy numbers of Vlad, Dickerson still knows how to capitalize on the handedness advantage and has hit particularly well since joining the Jays.
Stacks to Consider
Reynaldo Lopez has put together an impressive stretch since being recalled by the White Sox in mid-July. He's delivering on prospect pedigree that fantasy managers have waited on for many years. However, I'm willing to rely on sample size over this short run of success. For his career, Lopez has produced a walk rate of 8.9 percent while surrendering 1.5 HR/9. That's a perfect combination for a stack, and the Rays lineup has enough punch to take advantage. Brett Phillips remains a nice bargain hitter to include where the salary of the stack is prohibitive. However, there's enough spots to save salary that it shouldn't be all that difficult to jam in elite hitters.
This stack won't sneak up on anyone. Even so, it's worth mentioning because it contains all the components of a massive game for production, including strong hitters, poor pitching and a hitter-friendly park. There are a few value bats and perhaps a way to pivot away from the chalkiest constructions by including Dickerson, Randal Grichuk ($3,700) and/or Alejandro Kirk ($3,700).
The Mariners offer intrigue in a large-field tournament. Valdez is the top pitcher on the slate, which is likely enough of a reason for many to roster him and not stack against. However, he's posted a double-digit walk rate and a below-average 11.5 K-BB%. Valdez has been able to limit the long ball well this season, but if things fall the right way the rest in a single matchup of his profile is largely poor. There aren't many different combos I'd want to play from the Seattle lineup, but both salary and popularity dictate it shouldn't be hard to build a unique lineup with a Mariners stack while also being able to gain strong leverage on the field.