With no clear-cut ace on the mound tonight, there is likely going to be a large amount of variance in cash games and GPPs (like usual). Below are the four pitching options that I view to be cash-game friendly, ordered from most expensive to least.
John Lackey ($9000) vs LAD
Mr.Lackey (looks like a dad) is the highest priced pitcher on this slate so I feel obligated to at least consider him for cash games. On paper, this matchup doesn’t look too enticing as he toes the rubber against the Dodgers in hitter friendly (especially for lefties) Wrigley Field. However, his numbers at Wrigley Field and against the Dodgers suggest he may actually be a decent option tonight. His last outing against them was in the postseason last year where he gave up only 3 hits over 4 innings pitched and struck out 3. This was his only game pitched against them last season but did face up against a similar Dodger lineup in 2015 that featured Jimmy Rollins but a slightly less effective Corey Seager and without Logan Forsythe. I don’t want to put too much emphasis and thought on this outing but for those curious, he struck out 9 over 7 innings pitched with 5 hits. Looking at his home/road splits, Lackey held a 2.62 ERA in 2016 while batters hit barely over the Mendoza line against him (.206 AVG) at home. He faces up against a very beatable Brandon McCarthy who is coming off a decent outing but against the Padres giving up 2 earned over 6 IP. This matchup features the lowest projected run total on the slate at 7.5 and the Cubs are projected to win. According to the weather report, the wind is blowing in from right field as well which could potentially limit runs.
Marcus Stroman ($8,600) vs MIL
Coming in as the third priciest pitching option on the main slate today, Stroman looks like the guy to target if you are paying up for pitching. While the Brewers have been playing better than expected to start this 2017 season, any matchup against the team who leads the league in strikeouts is always one to look into, especially when the other pitcher is Marcus Stroman. Coming off a disappointing 2016 season when many expected him to breakout, Stroman started off promising with a nice outing against the Rays that yielded him 41 Fanduel points. This is the first time Marcus has ever faced Milwaukee so we will give him a slight edge in that department. Known typically as a groundball pitcher, Stroman should find himself cruising through a Brewers lineup that doesn’t exactly spell disaster for a pitcher. As I mentioned before, the Brewers currently lead the MLB in strikeouts with 95 (half are probably from Villar) through 8 games played which equates to roughly 12 per game if my math is correct. I don’t expect Stroman to have more than 7 Ks but that’s good enough for him to have an effective outing. I see no reason to think he won’t go at least 6 innings with a QS and a win as Toronto is favored to win by a fairly generous margin. I don’t see the Brewers taking Stroman deep tonight like Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton did to Happ yesterday. The only thing that is slightly worrisome with him is his 4.59 home ERA last season and the simple fact that this game is in the Rogers Centre (plays well for hitters) but I’ll chalk the ERA portion up to him just having an “off” season. The Brewers currently don’t have a regular starter batting over .270 so if Stroman can get by the bigger bats in the lineup (Braun and Shaw), he should be rather effective for you.
Vince Velasquez ($8,200) vs NYM
Seeing Vince’s name on a slate always catches my eye immediately and leaves me having to consider rostering him due to his massive K upside. Flashback to April 14th of last year and you will know what I’m talking about as he pitched a complete game shutout yielding only 3 hits and 16 Ks. If you started him on this slate, you likely could have cashed with subpar performances from your hitters. Yes, it was against the Padres but having watched this game in it’s entirety, I’m not sure any team would have been able to touch him, as his stuff was about as electric as it gets. Since this outing, I have been forced to consider him in every slate against any team even though he typically doesn’t pitch deep into games and will have control issues now and again. Velasquez gets the Mets tonight at home whom he has certainly found success against in the past earning a stellar 1.76 ERA with a 1-1 record over 3 games started in 2016. He threw 15 innings through these 3 starts averaging just about 5 innings per outing but also averaged about 7 Ks per. I would be much more cautious with him if this game was at the Mets because his home/road splits last year were pretty drastic but his 2.88 home ERA is efficient enough to not worry about that. Even in his 2 road starts against the Mets last year he threw 11 (5 and 6) innings giving up only 1 earned run on 8 hits while striking out 16. I also think some people may be off Velasquez due to the Mets blowing out the Phillies last night putting up 14 runs and 20 hits, so he may have more of a GPP appeal as well. The O/U is currently set at 8 runs while the Phillies are projected to win according to Vegas. If Velasquez can contain the walks, I think he is a great option tonight in all formats.
Ivan Nova ($7400) vs CIN
*more of a GPP play
To say Ivan hasn’t struggled mightily in the past would not be smart but I am firm believer in this guy’s ability. He obviously didnt pan out in New York but watching him pitch, he always seemed like he was very close to finding it. He has shown spurts of games where he is dominate but that consistency has been lacking which his career 4.27 ERA points toward. Conveniently enough, Nova pitched one of his most dominant performances against the Reds at home, same situation as tonight, on September 8th going a full 9 innings on only 94 pitches, striking out 4 and giving up 1 earned run. However, 10 days later he got absolutely rocked by them, except this time it was in much a more hitter friendly ballpark in Great American. The Pirates face up against Amir Garrett (who??) who just 2-hit the Cardinals so it’s hard to say if the Pirates hitters will give Nova some run support but the Bucs are projected to win nonetheless and this matchup is tied for the 2nd lowest run total on the slate. In addition to all this, Nova is coming off of a promising outing against the Braves at home giving up no earned runs with 4 k’s, no bb’s and the W so it’s possible he is riding some confidence into this game.