We are in the thick of the "dog days of summer" and daily fantasy players are not only getting a good feel for which pitchers are for real, but which teams represent good DFS matchups.
Here are the top daily fantasy pitching options for the coming week:
Tuesday - LHP Chris Sale, Red Sox (at Royals)
You're probably rolling with Sale no matter how strong the slate is, but with Tuesday's schedule looking positively barren, there is no other reasonable option here. Sale is rolling again after going through a bit of a swoon in may, and is coming off an eight-inning, 10-strikeout performance against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Royals continue to rank among the league bottom-feeders in several offensive categories, and aren't expected to make much of an impact against the best pitcher in the American League.
Wednesday - RHP Jeff Samardzija, Giants (at Braves)
This choice is more of a contrarian play, forcing you to bypass options like Max Scherzer and James Paxton. Samardzija is coming off a dismal showing at Colorado, where he was tagged for eight run on 11 hits over six innings. But nearly every starter struggles at Coors Field - and if anything, that showing might just make Shark more affordable heading into a much better matchup against the host Braves. Samardzija has 104 strikeouts against just 13 walks this season, and while he has just two wins, a third is well within reach Wednesday.
Thursday - RHP Carlos Martinez, Cardinals (at Phillies)
Martinez still hasn't developed the kind of name recognition that makes him an automatic daily fantasy play, but you can use that to your advantage. While other players opt for the more established hurlers, you should absolutely roster Martinez against the lowly Phillies. The hard-throwing right-hander has quality starts in nine of his last 10 outings, including a pair of complete-game shutouts - one of those coming against Philadelphia. He has also racked up 107 strikeouts, giving him a huge floor to go with a sky-high ceiling.
Friday - RHP Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (vs. Reds)
Strasburg is one of those elite names referred to above - and more times than not, he'll return value on his high salary. The Reds aren't exactly a slam-dunk matchup for a K-heavy pitcher like Strasburg, but with the way he has pitched of late - allowing two or fewer runs in five of his last six starts - you really can't go wrong by inserting him into your daily fantasy lineups. The strikeouts have been consistent, and aside from a three-homer clunker against Atlanta on June 12, he has done a masterful job keeping the ball in the park.
Saturday - LHP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (vs. Rockies)
I could simply type "Clayton Kershaw at home" 20 times to fulfill my word count requirements, but you're probably looking for a little more insight than that. And stunningly, two of Kershaw's last three home outings have been duds. But he remains one of the top pitchers in baseball, and will have no trouble rebounding from allowing six runs over 6 1/3 innings to the New York Mets on Monday night. He still had 10 strikeouts in that game, and is capable of putting up double-digit Ks against any team in baseball - including the hard-hitting Rockies.
Sunday - RHP Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks (vs. Phillies)
Greinke has an eventful week ahead, making his first start against the Rockies in Colorado before returning to much friendlier confines on Sunday - and facing a much more accommodating opponent, as well. Greinke has had a sensational season to date - and has been especially dominant at home, going 6-0 with a 2.77 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 52 innings over eight starts. The Phillies are a train wreck this season, posting a 72 wRC+ on the road that ranks last in the majors. Roll with Greinke in all formats this weekend.