Few aces are in line for two starts in Fantasy Week 4 (April 16-22), which means you may need to relax your standards a little when setting your lineups.
Questionable options like Jon Lester (made such by a matchup at Coors Field), Kevin Gausman, Aaron Sanchez and Danny Duffy are all probably a go, and you could stretch it to include Yonny Chirinos (RP-eligible!), Ian Kennedy, Zack Wheeler, Trevor Williams and Hyun-Jin Ryu in points leagues.
After that it gets dicey. Marco Estrada and Brandon McCarthy seem like reasonable choices at first glance, but each left his last start with an injury, which raises the question whether either will actually make two starts.
Among those owned in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues, Nick Pivetta and Mike Foltynewicz are the top plays, both ranking well above the cutoff for either points or categories.
We have a large 12-game MLB DFS slate on Tuesday night that features a game in Coors Field, a few high-priced pitchers, as well as a bunch of great mid-range sleeper pitching options in FanDuel and DraftKings contests. You’re going to want to spend up on a few bats in the Padres-Rockies game, which has the highest total of the slate at 10.5 runs, a full 1.5 runs higher than the next closest game.
Chris Sale is also on the mound tonight in an interesting spot against the Yankees, who, while having one of the best lineups in baseball, also strike out at an extremely high rate. A sneaky tournament team stack to look at is the Angels who face perennial gas-can Martin Perez in hitter friendly Globe Life Park.
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MLB DFS Picks: FanDuel, DraftKings values for Tuesday, April 10
Aaron Nola, P, Phillies vs. Reds (DK: $8,200, FD: $8,500)
The SP1 conversation tonight will likely revolve around Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom, and Stephen Strasburg, but the guy who I like the most is Nola, who draws a home start against the strikeout-prone Reds. Nola’s home/road splits quite clearly favor him when he’s pitching in Philadelphia, so I like him to bounce back tonight after two subpar starts to start the season. Nola posted an absurd +15.2 plus-minus in his home starts in 2017, and the Reds have the second-lowest team total on the slate at 3.4 runs.
The Angels are an interesting team stack tonight in a prime matchup with LHP Martin Perez, and Upton is in a great spot batting at the heart of the Angels lineup. Upton smashes lefthanded pitching, and there’s a good chance that he takes Perez deep tonight after he gave up 21 home runs to righthanded batters last season. Upton has a wOBA of .529 against lefties over his past 50 at-bats against them.
Frazier is an excellent value option at third base in a great matchup with Marlins LHP Caleb Smith. Frazier loves hitting lefties and has huge power upside, evidenced by his .348 ISO against LHP last season. The Mets have one of the higher projected team totals on the slate at 4.6 runs and will likely be lower owned than the other teams with projected high run totals due to playing in a pitchers park in Miami.
Scott Kingery, 2B, Phillies vs. Reds (DK: $3,400, FD: $2,900)
Kingery is one of the talented young Phillies players who are starting to break through, and I’ll look to ride both him and the rest of the Phillies until the public starts to catch on about how improved their offense is in 2018. Kingery hit his first home run of his career last night and is in a great spot again tonight against Reds RHP Homer Bailey. It’s doubtful that Bailey will pitch deep into this game, which opens up huge upside for the Phillies against the Reds bullpen that is still one one of the worst in baseball.
Texas’ Keone Kela is one place to look if you’re suddenly in need of saves following the injury to Corey Knebel.
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For those seeking saves in Corey Knebel‘s absence, who are you looking to as a widely available replacement?
For a full look at the ninth-inning climate, check out our closer chart.
Tristan H. Cockcroft:Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader seems like the guy to get if you had Knebel rostered, but I’d be just as apt to take a chance on Nate Jones of the Chicago White Sox, available in 87.5 percent of ESPN leagues (an additional 10 percent more than Hader). While Jones isn’t considered the White Sox’s official closer right now, his ascension to the role should arrive in the near future, considering his filthy combination of a 96-plus-mph fastball and slider, which have helped him post a 27.1-percent strikeout rate in his 241 career big-league appearances. It’s that categorical skill that should be most attractive for teams seeking help in Knebel’s stead, as Jones’ strikeout potential is greater than other widely available options like Fernando Rodney, Keone Kela or Brad Ziegler, though it’s difficult to imagine Jones matching Rodney’s saves total if that’s your greater need.
If Joakim Soria continues to show diminished fastball velocity and similar difficulty keeping the ball down that he exhibited in his mediocre 2011 and 2016 seasons, Jones could sneak ahead of Soria in the pecking order. Who’s to say that Jones can’t register the most saves of any pitcher in the currently-available-in-more-than-half-of-ESPN-leagues group?
AJ Mass: Just a few days before the season started, there was still a bit of mystery remaining in Arizona as to who Torey Lovullo would name as his closer. Most fantasy managers who had to make the call themselves in drafts that took place prior to the Diamondbacks skipper announcing his decision thought it was going to be Archie Bradley, as evidenced by his ADP of 195.7, No. 20 among relief pitchers.
However, Lovullo instead went with Brad Boxberger, whose ownership has grown over 20 percent since Opening Day, but still sits at just 58.9 percent headed into action on Friday. With the injury to Knebel, expect Boxberger to find a lot of new fantasy homes. It’s easy to forget that Boxberger was once an All-Star, because when he saved 41 games back in 2015, it was with Tampa Bay in its first season post-Joe Maddon, and few were paying attention.
With four scoreless innings, three saves in three chances and a 13.5 K/9 rate, Boxberger has done everything to assure Lovullo he made the right choice. He’s shown in the past that he’s more than capable of handling the job for a full season, and there’s no reason to think he won’t still be getting the ninth-inning call come September.
Eric Karabell: Since Arizona’s Boxberger and San Francisco’s Hunter Strickland have become so popular and are rostered in more than half of ESPN leagues, it doesn’t leave much for immediate saves. I like the Rodney more than anyone should, but he can’t replace Knebel for strikeouts, ERA or WHIP. Texas Rangers closer Kela still qualifies, with 11 strikeouts per 9 innings in his career and the likelihood he will continue earning saves because the rest of the bullpen lacks better options. He is actually somewhat comparable to Knebel in that he should have been saving games for a few seasons.
Kyle Soppe: When seeking saves, you generally have two options. You can speculate on an iffy situation for a good team or you can scoop up the current closer on a poor team. In most formats, I prefer the latter, as I tend to chase saves on the wire. What better way to do that than to acquire someone currently finishing off games?
Yes, I understand that there are fewer opportunities for bad teams, but is it really as bad as you think? There were eight teams that won fewer than 75 games last season, and there were an average of 33.8 converted saves for those teams. That’ll work. Shane Greene‘s 2017 campaign was largely underrated, and that is even more the case if you subtract a poor four-day performance in June. Without those dreadful 2.1 innings (and I get it, you can’t do that if you rostered him, but bear with me, I’m proving a bigger point), he posted a 1.65 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. That looks a lot like the closer you are currently trying to replace. Knebel broke out last season with a 1.78 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Greene struck out three White Sox on his way to his first save of 2018 last night, and while I think the Detroit Tigers are just as bad as you do, there are still saves to mine here, and they appear to be Greene’s for the foreseeable future.