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DFS Pitching and Monkey Knife Fight Picks for 5/17

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This is one of the most fascinating pitcher articles I’ve written yet. What makes it so interesting is the fact that we have numerous studs facing tough offenses. We’re going to focus on guys with great matchups and fade the horses. The aces we’re going to fade are Max Scherzer vs. CHC and Gerrit Cole at BOS. While those guys are worth using on every slate, there are much better per-dollar plays below… 

Cash-Game Pitcher of the Day 

Jacob deGrom, NYM at MIA  

DK ($11,400)   FD ($12,000) 

You’re either going with Scherzer or deGrom for your cash games and I believe it’s a pretty easy pick. Not only does Scherzer have to face a much tougher Cubs lineup, he also has to pitch in a much harder ballpark. While Wrigley Field is a pretty neutral park, Marlins Park ranks as the best pitching park in the Majors based on park factors. That should help a stud like deGrom, especially when you consider the fact that the Marlins rank last in runs scored, OPS and xwOBA. DeGrom’s numbers are simply ridiculous too, as he leads the majors in FIP and ERA since the beginning of last season while posting a K rate north of 32 percent. Vegas loves deGrom too, as he enters this game as a –260 favorite with Miami projected for fewer than three runs.

Mid-Tier Options 

Frankie Montas, OAK at DET 

DK ($8,800)   FD ($8,800) 

Detroit has become one of the best matchups in the majors and it’s easy to see why when looking at their lineup. What makes them really tempting for DFS purposes is their lack of discipline, with the Tigers ranked 27th in K rate. That’s bad enough, but they also rank 29th in runs scored, 28th in OBP against right-handers and 26th in wOBA. That puts a lot in Montas’ favor and this guy has been pretty special this season. So far this year, Montas has pitched to a 2.78 ERA, 3.25 FIP and .299 xwOBA while posting a 22 percent K rate. That’s why he enters this matchup as a –160 favorite with Detroit projected for less than four runs.  

Joey Lucchesi, SD vs. PIT 

DK ($8,200)   FD ($6,200) 

I wanted to put Lucchesi in the cheap section but this DraftKings price wouldn’t allow it. This FanDuel price simply dropped my jaw, though, and he’s nearly impossible to fade at $6,200. His 4.57 ERA and 1.35 WHIP will scare off some fantasy owners, but his peripherals tell a different story. In fact, Lucchesi owns a 3.37 FIP and .290 xwOBA this season, which are way better indicators of how good he’s actually been. Lucchesi has a 25.4 percent career K rate as well. All of these statistics tell us that Lucchesi is a hell of a bargain on FanDuel and being able to face a Pirates club who ranks 28th in scoring and 25th in wOBA makes him my best value play of the day. Pittsburgh has a putrid .607 OPS against southpaws this season, which is the second-worst mark in the Majors. 

Jordan Lyles, PIT at SD 

DK ($8,100)   FD ($8,500) 

The funny thing about Lyles is that he’s a pitcher I can’t stand. I watched this guy get blown up time after time in Colorado but getting out of Coors Field has obviously done wonders for his career. He truly appears to be in the midst of a breakout season, posting a 2.09 ERA and 1.09 WHIP while striking out 35 batters across 38.2 innings. That’s all you can ask for and it should only get better pitching in San Diego. Not only is Petco Park one of the best pitcher’s parks in the Majors, the Padres currently sit 27th in xwOBA, 23rd in K rate and 28th in OBP. That’s why we’re looking at a total of seven, as I anticipate both of these guys throwing quality starts.   

Cheap Pitchers: 

Trevor Richards, MIA vs. NYM 

DK ($7,200)   FD ($6,400) 

Richards’ ERA and WHIP will scare off most fantasy owners, but there’s reasons to believe that he can provide a quality start here. Most people will look at his 4.46 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 0-5 record and go right past him, but that’s simply not doing your homework. This is a guy who has allowed a .223 average so far this season while posting a .321 wOBA and 23 percent K rate. Those numbers make him an above-average pitcher, but this price would indicate that he’s one of the worst arms in the bigs. Getting to pitch in Marlins Park should help, as that’s currently the best pitching park in the league. That’s why we’re looking at a total of 6.5, with New York projected for only four runs. If Richards allows fewer than four runs like this line would indicate, he’d be one of the bargains of the day. In addition, the Mets currently rank 26th in K rate, which should put Richards squarely in play for at least five Ks to match his quality start.   

Jefry Rodriguez, CLE vs. BAL 

DK ($6,800)   FD ($7,400) 

There’s a lot to like here about Rodriguez and he’s easily one of the best cheap plays on the board. Let’s start with Vegas’ thoughts on the game, as they have Cleveland as a –190 favorite in a total of 8.5. That means Rodriguez is a huge favorite and the Orioles are projected for fewer than four runs. That alone puts Rodriguez in play, but the right-hander has had an impressive year. In fact, Rodriguez has posted a 2.92 ERA and 1.18 WHIP so far this season to pair beautifully with his .284 wOBA. Pitching against Baltimore is simply the icing on the cake, with the Orioles ranking 24th in OBP, 25th in runs per game and 29th in xwOBA. 

Monkey Knife Fight Picks of the Day 

Jordan Lyles and Joey Lucchesi combining for more than 10.5 Ks

This is actually my first-time picking a Counting Ks category, but I absolutely love this play. It’s easy to see why when looking at my previous write-ups and 11 strikeouts combined appears to be the floor between these two. Taking the over 13.5 is possible too but this 10.5 is much easier to accomplish.

Jefry Rodriguez over 4.5 strikeouts 

It’s hard to recommend a guy with a 15 percent K rate to reach any strikeout total but there’s reasons to believe he can do that here. Rodriguez has proven that he can strike out batters at the minor league level, posting a K rate near 24 percent since the beginning of 2017. This Orioles lineup is essentially a Triple-A lineup and the fact that he’s gone at least 5.2 innings in every start he’s made this season makes him a great target for such a low K-total.

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Bonus Pick 

Frankie Montas over 5.5 strikeouts 

Montas has a 22 percent K rate this season and gets to face a Tigers team that sits bottom five in K rate.

I've been playing fantasy sports since I was 12, which means I've been playing for over half of my life. I love DFS and season-long formats and have been writing for nearly a decade. I started my writing career at RotoWire and currently write for FantasyPros, Rotoballer, Razzball and DFSR. I cover NBA, MLB and NFL and follow all major sports. I generally cover primarily DFS but I also do game previews, recaps, player write-ups, injury updates etc.

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