It’s the third day of MLB’s Wild Card Round, and a few of these short series have already been wrapped up. Today’s DraftKings slate has just five games left out of a possible eight, with four Game 2s in the National League and one Game 3 from the American League. For today’s analysis, we focus on some of the best starting pitcher options on this slate to help prepare you for today’s DraftKings DFS contests, starting at 12:08 p.m. ET.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s game between the Marlins and Cubs has been postponed due to inclement weather.
Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs, $9,700
The top end of pitcher salaries makes for a choice between two of the best in the game, all-time great Clayton Kershaw, who is still producing at a high level, and the possible NL Cy Young winner this year in Yu Darvish. Darvish was simply the better pitcher in 2020, both in terms of run prevention and fantasy scoring, and he was among the league leaders with an average of 11 strikeouts per 9 innings. Darvish has always been able to generate large quantities of strikeouts, but this year he made significant improvements to his control, and posted a walk rate of just 1.66 per nine innings. Darvish impressively threw the ball in the strike zone more often (48.0%) in 2020 while also allowing less contact (70.8%) than he ever had in his career.
One thing working in Darvish’s favor for today’s game in particular is that he’s facing a weak offense in the Miami Marlins, and also one that’s weaker than normal with Starling Marte out of the lineup. Marte wasn’t great in the latter portion of 2020 after getting traded to Miami, but he’s still probably the team’s toughest hitter, and he likely won’t be playing again in this series after he was hit on the hand by a pitch in yesterday’s game, reportedly fracturing his hand. The Marlins ranked 18th in wRC+ and 21st in wOBA this year, so they were already probably a below average offense to begin with.
Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves, $7,500
A lot of today’s mid tier pitchers are in tough matchups with several good offenses on this slate, but Anderson looks like a value even against a formidable Reds team. It’s somewhat of a surprise to see Anderson produce at a high level, even though he was a third overall draft pick just four years ago, since his 2019 minor league numbers weren’t very impressive. Anderson developed significant strikeout capabilities through his minor league trajectory, but in 2019 in particular he struggled immensely with walks. Pitchers who walk 18 batters in 24 AAA innings don’t usually just figure out their control in the majors, but that’s in part what Anderson has done. The high strikeout rate (11.4 per 9) isn’t a surprise, but the walk rate being somewhat in check (3.9 per 9) kind of is.
For today’s matchup, the Reds also might just be an easier matchup than many people realize. There’s certainly a lot of power here, as the Reds ranked seventh in team home runs and sixth in team ISO, but they were just 17th in wOBA and 23rd in wRC+ in 2020. The reason for this is that the Reds were also one of the most strikeout prone teams in baseball, so even if Anderson gives up a few runs, he should generate enough strikeouts to make him a perfectly viable fantasy option today.
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.