The baseball season is almost two month old and daily fantasy players are not only getting a good feel for which pitchers are for real, but which teams represent good DFS matchups as well and this week, the Padres are our whipping boys.
Here are the top starting pitching options on daily fantasy for the coming week:
Tuesday - LHP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (vs. Cardinals)
It really doesn't matter how prolific his opponent is - you should always take Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. The future Hall of Fame left-hander struggled in his previous home start against the San Francisco Giants, but with an ERA of 1.54 in his own park from 2014-16, there isn't a more difficult challenge for opposing hitters in the majors. The Cardinals' .326 wOBA ranks 10th in the league entering Monday's action, but their .161 ISO ranks 19th - and with most teams unable to string together hits against one of the most dominant starters in baseball, the Cards will need to take Kershaw deep. Don't bet on it happening.
Wednesday - LHP Chris Sale, Red Sox (vs. Rangers)
Speaking of sensational southpaws, Sale finds himself in rarefied air following an eighth consecutive double-digit strikeout effort last time out against the Oakland Athletics. Sale has a comfortable lead in the major-league K race with 95 through 65 2/3 innings, and is clearly back to mowing down hitters rather than pitching more to contact. The Rangers come into the week with the eighth-highest strikeout race in the majors (22.5 percent), while their 94 wRC+ ranks a mediocre 21st. Those stats don't bode well for the Rangers against Sale, who should be in line for a ninth consecutive double-digit whiff performance.
Thursday - RHP Jacob DeGrom, Mets (vs. Padres)
Sometimes, you select a pitcher based solely on how dominant that hurler is - and other times, you focus on the opponent. In this case, you can comfortably weigh in both. DeGrom has been up-and-down for the majority of the season, but has amassed nine or more strikeouts in five of his previous seven starts. He's also coming off seven shutout innings against the Dodgers, a game in which he allowed just three hits while striking out nine. The Padres have the second-worst wRC+ in the majors (76) while sporting the fourth-highest strikeout rate. The stars are aligned for DeGrom in this one; roster him in all formats.
Friday - RHP Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (vs. Padres)
We never shy away from a positive trend when it comes to picking slam-dunk FanDuel starters - and this is one of the best yet. The Padres have a brutal stretch of games over this span, facing DeGrom and Strasburg back-to-back (and let's not ignore their next opponent, which we'll focus on Saturday.) Strasburg had struggled with strikeouts over a four-start span but was back in control last time out, fanning 11 Atlanta Braves over 7 2/3 innings of a 3-2 Washington victory. For all the reasons listed above, we recommend Strasburg in both cash game and tournament play as a high-floor, high-ceiling option.
Saturday - RHP Max Scherzer, Nationals (vs. Padres)
Wow. Sorry, San Diego. While this slate does feature other solid options, none shine as brightly as Scherzer, who has racked up 76 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings while maintaining a WHIP below 1.00. Scherzer is still one of the most homer-prone aces in the majors with nine home runs allowed - including multiple homers in four starts - but San Diego ranks just 21st in ISO for the season (.152) and strikes out more than 25 percent of the time on the road. Scherzer won't have to be perfect to retain plenty of cash-game value, though you could probably do better in tournaments given his penchant for allowing the long ball.
Sunday - RHP Carlos Carrasco, Indians (vs. Royals)
Health was the only thing standing between Carrasco and stardom, according to preseason prognosticators - and so far in 2017, Carrasco has proven them correct. Despite struggling last time out, the hard-throwing right-hander has yet to allow more than six hits in any start this season. And while he has yet to top eight strikeouts in any outing, he's still at a K per inning coming into the week. The Royals' offensive struggles have been well-documented, as they enter Monday ranked 28th in the majors in both ISO (.137) and wRC+ (76). Carrasco should cruise in this one, making him a solid choice in all formats.