Lance McCullers

Houston Astros
Pos: SP | Hand: R
Status: Active
player props
FPTS SAL $7.2K $7.5K $7.8K $8.1K $8.5K $8.8K $9.1K $9.4K $9.7K $10K
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  • SAL: $7.5K
  • SAL: $8.3K
  • SAL: $10K
  • SAL: $7.5K
  • SAL: $7.8K
  • SAL: $7.6K
  • SAL: $7.5K
  • SAL: $7.5K
  • SAL: $8.8K
  • SAL: $7.4K
  • SAL: $7.5K
  • SAL: $7.2K
  • SAL: $6.9K
  • SAL: $8.3K
  • SAL: $8.4K
  • SAL: $9.1K
08/24 08/26 09/26 09/28 10/07 10/19 10/20 04/02 04/13 04/16 04/27 04/28 05/04 05/10 05/16
Date Opp DKSAL FDSAL DKFPTS FDFPTS k ip ab sho w hra l er cg ha 3ba bba sba ibba whip hbp qstart 1ba k/9 2ba
2024-05-15 vs. OAK $9.1K $7.5K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2024-05-10 @ DET $8.4K $7.5K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2024-05-04 vs. SEA $8.3K $7.5K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2024-04-28 @ COL $6.9K $7.5K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2024-04-27 @ COL $7.2K $7.5K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2024-04-15 vs. ATL $7.5K $7.5K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2024-04-12 vs. TEX $7.4K $7.5K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2024-04-01 vs. TOR $8.8K $7.5K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-10-20 @ TEX $7.5K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-10-18 @ TEX $7.5K -- 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-10-07 vs. MIN $7.6K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-09-27 @ SEA $7.8K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-09-25 @ SEA $7.5K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-08-26 @ DET $10K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-08-23 vs. BOS $8.3K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-08-18 vs. SEA $7.5K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-08-14 @ MIA $10K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-08-12 vs. LAA $7.5K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-08-05 @ NYY $7.5K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-08-02 vs. CLE $8.3K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-07-29 vs. TB $7.5K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-07-14 @ LAA $8.2K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-07-09 vs. SEA $8.3K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-07-06 vs. SEA $7.5K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-07-02 @ TEX $7.5K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-06-23 @ LAD $7.5K $8.4K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-06-19 vs. NYM $7.5K $8.7K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-05-10 @ LAA $8K $8.7K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-05-03 vs. SF $8.7K $8.7K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-04-22 @ ATL $7.8K $8.7K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-04-15 vs. TEX $10.2K $8.7K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023-04-10 @ PIT $38 $8.7K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2022-11-01 @ PHI $8.4K -- 1.55 7 5 4 20 0 0 5 1 7 0 6 0 1 0 0 1.62 0 0 1 10.38 0
2022-10-23 @ NYY $7.5K $10.7K 11.25 24 6 5 25 0 0 0 0 3 0 8 0 1 0 0 1.8 1 0 6 10.8 2
2022-10-15 @ SEA $9.4K $10.5K 25.1 43 7 6 22 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 0.67 0 1 2 10.5 0
2022-10-03 vs. PHI $10.3K $10.6K 17.3 34 5 6 22 0 0 1 1 1 0 6 0 1 0 0 1.17 0 1 4 7.5 1
2022-09-21 @ TB $9.5K $10.2K 26.95 49 8 7 29 0 1 1 0 2 0 6 0 2 0 0 1.14 0 1 3 10.29 2
2022-09-15 vs. OAK $9.7K $9.9K 27.9 49 11 6 24 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 4 0 0 1 0 1 1 16.5 1
2022-09-09 vs. LAA $9K $8.8K 24.75 43 6 7 26 0 1 1 0 2 0 4 0 1 0 0 0.71 0 1 2 7.71 1
2022-09-02 @ LAA $8.8K $8.4K 20.75 38 7 5 27 0 1 0 0 2 0 6 0 4 1 0 1.77 0 0 5 11.12 1
2022-08-26 vs. BAL $9.7K $9.2K 11.05 21 2 5 21 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 3 0 0 1.4 0 0 3 3.6 1
2022-08-19 @ ATL $9.4K $8.9K 11.25 24 6 5 25 0 0 1 1 3 0 7 0 3 0 0 2 0 0 5 10.8 1
2022-08-13 vs. OAK $8.3K $8.6K 23.9 43 5 6 21 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 0 0 1 0 1 1 7.5 1

Lance McCullers Daily Fantasy News, Rankings, Projections

Recent Strikeout and Groundball Spike for This Top Priced Pitcher

A 12 game Tuesday night slate includes five $10K pitchers and two more exceeding $9K on both sites. The most expensive pitcher on either site, Lance McCullers Jr. has struck out 19 of his last 53 batters and spiked a 68.4 GB% in his last start to get up to 48.1% on the season. He’s up to a 26.0 K% with just 4.7% Barrels/BBE (33.6% 95+ mph EV), but still has a 12.1 BB%. Hasn’t stopped him from throwing 20 innings over his last three starts with just two runs in each. However, with an 85.8 LOB%, all estimators are more than a run above his 2.38 ERA, ranging as high as a 4.08 SIERA. Houston is a negative run environment roof closed or open, while the Diamondbacks have been nearly average (96 wRC+, 21.8 K%, 12.5 HR/FB vs RHP). We should certainly be encouraged by the recent uptick, but McCullers projects outside the top five overall and as a bottom half of the board value. That might actually make him a great GPP play. For a detailed breakdown of every pitcher costing more than $9K on both sites, including the top projected pitcher and value on the slate, check out Tuesday’s PlateIQ Live Blog.

Marginal Top of the Board Enhanced by Great Matchups

This time it’s FanDuel adding the extra game and starting forty minutes earlier on a six game slate (five on DraftKings) that doesn’t include a single $10K pitcher on either site, but three reaching the $9K price point on both. Most expensively, Lance McCullers Jr. has struck out 13 of his last 53 batters (12.9 SwStr%) to bring him up to a 21.7 K% (10.8 SwStr%) through five starts, but he’s faced some of the most strikeout prone offenses so far (Angels twice, O’s, A’s, Braves) and the velocity has been in decline. He’s also walked 12.5% with a much lower ground ball rate (43.6%) than usual. That said, he is facing the A’s again here (84 wRC+, 23.8 K% vs RHP), who have been atrocious against 50% of his arsenal, sliders (-1.05 wSL/C) and curveballs (-0.84 wCB/C), since the break. The combination of a strong matchup in a negative run environment (assuming roof closure) on a small slate pushes this risky pitcher’s projection to the top of the board, by no small margin either. McCullers also projects as the top FanDuel value by a wide margin (second on DraftKings). If ownership projections should become overwhelming, he’s a pitcher players could consider coming in underweight on.

Carlos Carrasco looked much better in his second start back from the IL in Miami (six strikeouts, one run) than he did in his first against the Nationals (16 batters faced, five runs). He actually has five Quality Starts over his last eight and only two of those with more than a single run. He may no longer be the co-Ace of his Cleveland days, but a 16.1 K-BB% with all estimators within half a run of his 3.80 ERA is fine for the back end starter the Mets are asking him to be. There’s no use going through his pitch mix because the Pirates (83 wRC+, 25.0 K% vs RHP) have been awful against every pitch except splitters since the break. In a great spot in a great park, Carrasco is the second best projected pitcher on the board and the better FanDuel value (second best) for $400 less. He’s a top half of the board projected value on either site (just 10 pitchers on DraftKings tonight).

Eight strikeouts in his last start were the most for Miles Mikolas since June, but it was the Pirates. He generally adheres to the St Louis adage that the defense (15 Runs Prevented, 20 Outs Above Average) and park will take care of most things, just don’t walk anybody (4.6%). The great control gives him an above average 14.1 K-BB% and the defense and park keep his 3.42 ERA a bit below estimator ranging from a 3.79 xFIP to a 3.98 SIERA. He’s completed eight innings in three of his last six starts. He, too, has a strong home matchup against the Reds (84 wRC+, 23.5 K% vs RHP), projecting him as the third best pitcher and value on either site at $9.2K or less. Considering the marginal quality atop the board tonight, you may be considering paying down for pitching tonight, but that may not be a great idea either because nobody on the slate (either site) reaches a 25% strikeout rate and the most expensive pitchers have the best matchups.

Unexpected Off Day Allows for Pitching Upgrade

Lance McCullers pitched exactly six innings in six straight starts to end the season. Positives include a 27 K%, 56.4 GB%, 5.8% Barrels/BBE and second best defense in the league behind him (+34 Runs Prevented). The biggest negative is an 11.1 BB%. His 3.16 ERA was slightly below estimators ranging from a 3.16 xERA to a 4.01 SIERA that was 0.32 points above any of his remaining estimators. He struck out just four of 24 White Sox in game one, but without a walk (one hit batter) and did not allow a run over 6.2 innings with 12 ground balls (63.2%). The White Sox have a 118 wRC+ at home and 108 wRC+ vs RHP with actual lineup strikeout rates ranging from 20.1% to 25.1% vs RHP this year. McCullers should probably be considered the top pitcher tonight, working on regular rest with his team in position to put the series away, although weather conditions (12 mph wind out to LF) may turn this into a more hitter friendly environment.

Should you not choose to employ McCullers in your lineups, the White Sox are actually tied for the second highest implied run line on the board (4.25) with LHBs (.311 wOBA, .306 xwOBA) faring much better than RHBs (.256 wOBA, .261 xwOBA) against him. Each of the first seven in the Chicago order today exceeded a 115 wRC+ vs RHP this season. Yasmani Grandal (150 wRC+, .279 ISO) had the best season, but drops a spot to fifth in the order today. Luis Robert (135 wRC+, .179 ISO) might be the most interesting RHB with Gavin Sheets (143 wRC+, .289 ISO) costing just $3.1K or less on either site.

Aside from 117 wRC+ (18.3 K%) vs LHP this year (113 wRC+ on the road) we have to be concerned about the sore shoulder that Carlos Rodon has been dealing with. He missed a couple of weeks in August and then was used more sparingly in September, but did have a 27.2 K% (20.7 K-BB%) after returning. However, he hasn’t reached the 90 pitch mark since his first start after the All-Star break. The leash certainly won’t be long today in an elimination game, but if we get the early season, healthy version of Rodon, it could be a dominant five innings, which would have made him a somewhat interesting GPP play on DraftKings ($8.8K), where you have to select two of the six pitchers. A 3.17 xFIP was his only estimator above three this year. Six batters in the projected Houston lineup have a strikeout rate below 15% vs LHP this year, but two of the remaining three exceed 30%.

Batters from either side of the plate were between a .231 and .260 wOBA and xwOBA against Rodon this year. Martin Maldonado (86 wRC+) and Michael Brantley (59 wRC+) are the only two projected batters below a 115 wRC+ vs LHP this season for Houston. Jake Meyers (144 wRC+, .268 ISO) is just above the minimum on either site. The Astros are tied with the White Sox for the second highest team total on the board (4.25 runs).

Tonight's Top Arms in Very Similar Spots

Robbie Ray is the only pitcher to reach the $10K mark on both sites tonight and costs exactly that much on DraftKings at home against the Yankees, who have handled LHP extremely well this year (110 wRC+). Ray has improved on every facet of his game with a 32.5 K%, 6.7 BB% and even a 90.3 mph EV is an improvement on last year. With an 89.6 LOB%, his 2.68 ERA is about half a run below estimators that are tightly packed between a 3.14 SIERA to a 3.41 FIP and xERA. Can we call him the top pitcher on the board? It’s close, along with another arm we’ll talk about below.

Shane Bieber is the only other pitcher to reach $10K on either site, as he does so on DraftKings. Bieber struck out three of the nine batters he faced in his first major league action in over three months, keeping in line with his 33.9 K% this year. We shouldn’t expect too much more here, rendering him untouchable for daily fantasy purposes.

The only other pitcher reaching $9K on both sites on a nine game slate is Lance McCullers Jr.. The enviable parts of his game are a 27.3 K% and 55.7 GB%. The troubling parts, an 11.3 BB% and 90 mph EV, although the heavy ground ball lean has led to just 5.3% Barrels/BBE. While the run prevention isn’t elite and the control issues sometimes prevent him from getting through six innings, he hasn’t allowed more than four runs in an outing since April and has eight quality starts in his 14 attempts. His 3.17 ERA is below estimators that reach as high as a 4.02 SIERA. McCullers actually has a similar matchup (Rays 111 wRC+ vs RHP) in a similar retractable dome near neutral run environment. A quick peak at PlateIQ tells us that McCullers has a two point advantage in projected opposing lineup strikeout rates when averaged. Another small difference is in umpiring assignments with a hitter friendly umpire in Toronto, but a pitcher friendly one in Houston. Considering similar upside, McCullers may be the best value tonight.

The only other arm to reach $9K on either site is Joe Ryan, who struck out 11 of 18 Cubs last time out and 25 of 78 overall with all four starts being against either the Cubs or Indians. Ryan’s 28.2 K-BB% through four starts is actually less than his rate for two different organizations at AAA this year. Only 26% of his contact has been on the ground with five barrels (10%), yet a 2.23 xERA is actually his lowest estimator. A home matchup with the Tigers (90 wRC+ vs RHP) is no step up in competition and five in the projected lineup exceed a 23.5 K%, but Ryan has faced more than 19 batters once with a high of 89 pitches in his first start. He is slightly interesting on this slate though.

Recent Results Under-Value Top Arm Tonight

We still don’t know all the pitchers on tonight’s 14 game slate, but we do know that Walker Buehler is the only one above $10K on both sites, while three more reach that price point on either FanDuel or DraftKings, but not both. Buehler is a leading Cy Young candidate, having remedied early season issues with the contact profile on a fastball with reduced velocity and a mid-season decreased strikeout rate. Buehler is running a 30.3 K% over his last 13 starts with just nine barrels (3.7%) over his last 15 starts. Meanwhile, he’s failed to produce a quality start just three times this season. He gets a dangerous Atlanta lineup (101 wRC+, 16.1 HR/FB vs RHP) at home, though only two projected batters have a strikeout rate below 23% vs RHP this year. Buehler is fine here, but may not be the top pitcher or value on the slate.

The second most expensive price tag on the board belongs to Brandon Woodruff ($10.6K FD). He bounced back from his worst start of the season (and a subpar one before that too) by striking out 10 of 22 Reds over six shutout innings. Strangely, he’s exceed 100 pitches in seven of his last 10 starts, while being pulled with no more than 86 in his other three, running just five quality starts over this span. He carries tremendous upside with a 29.9 K%, 6.3 BB% and just 4.8% Barrels/BBE (85.4 mph EV). Woodruff’s worst estimator is a 3.29 SIERA. Also in his favor, the front of the Milwaukee bullpen (Hader, Williams, Boxberger) have all pitched back to back days, which may force Counsel to push Woodruff an inning or so further tonight. While he gets a park upgrade, a very tough matchup somewhat neutralizes that. The Giants have a 117 wRC+ at home and 106 wRC+ with a 15.8 HR/FB vs RHP, though only two in this projected lineup are below a 23 K% vs RHP too.

Lucas Giolito costs $10.2K on FD. It’s been a volatile ride to get there, but Giolito’s 3.68 ERA is an exact replica of his xFIP. In fact, a 3.36 xERA is his only estimator more than one-fifth of a run removed from his ERA. Over his last three starts, Giolito has struck out 22 of 70 batters with a 22.2 SwStr%, all against AL East contenders and has quality starts in six of his last eight attempts. Weather Edge currently suggests a significant offensive boost in Chicago tonight, but Giolito otherwise has a great matchup. The Pirates have an 82 wRC+ and board low 9.4 HR/FB vs RHP this season. Five of nine projected batters exceed a 24 K% vs RHP. Giolito may be the top value among the $10K pitchers on FanDuel and an even better one for just $8.8K on DraftKings.

Allowing four runs in four of his last seven starts (4.43 ERA), it would seem Lance McCullers Jr. has been struggling since the break, but a 28.6 K% (19.2 K-BB%), 56.1 GB% and 87.3 mph EV with just 4.6% Barrels/BBE during this stretch implies just the opposite. It’s a .337 BABIP and 20 HR/FB that’s done him in with all five of his barrels leaving the yard. All of McCullers’ season estimators are below four with a 3.96 SIERA the only one more than half a run above his 3.32 ERA. Pitching in one of the most negative run environments in baseball tonight, McCullers faces an offense with just a 92 wRC+ vs RHP with four batters in the projected lineup exceeding a 29 K% vs RHP. Recent results have McCullers appearing severely under-valued here, especially for just $9.2K on FanDuel, where he should probably be considered the top value on the board. Heck, he may be the top pitcher on the board tonight overall.

At Least Eight Ks in Seven of His Last Eight Starts

Missing the top of the board recap because he costs just $8.5K on FanDuel ($1K more on DraftKings), Lance McCullers may be the top value on the board. He has fewer than eight strikeouts in just one of his last eight starts, though a .344 BABIP over this span has driven his ERA (3.61) up above his estimators over this run, while keeping 53.7% of his contact on the ground and 86.9 mph EV. Aside from a nearly double digit walk rate, he’s essentially been on fire since the start of July. His 3.22 ERA on the season nearly matches his 3.25 xERA. At home, in Houston, he faces a projected Seattle lineup including six batters with at least a 22.5 K% vs RHP this year and only three above a .315 wOBA.

Slightly more cheaply, Alex Wood’s ground ball rate is a more league average 44.9% with a 90.9 mph EV and 4.50 ERA over his last eight starts, though he’s somehow allowed just five barrels (3.9%) over that span and sustained a 17.9 K-BB%. For the season, more than half his contact has been on the ground (51.6%), which has helped him allow just 5.9% Barrels/BBE, despite 90.2 mph EV. His 4.14 ERA is slightly above all estimators. An above average strikeout rate (24.7%) and most his contact on the ground in a pitcher’s park in Oakland gives Wood a lot of value below $9K. However, the A’s have a 106 wRC+ vs LHP with only two batters in the projected lineup above a 20.6 K% against southpaws this year.

In the same price range is a struggling Sonny Gray. They haven’t all been bad, but he has now allowed at least three runs in four of his last six starts with a 7.22 ERA, 4.46 ERA and 4.14 xFIP over that span. The good news is the estimators aren’t much worse than league average with a 25 K% and 54.3 GB%. A .359 BABIP and 59.9 LOB% are doing most the damage. However, he’s also walked 10.6% of batters faced and has just an 8.7 SwStr% during this run. Things should get better. Season estimators are all still below four, though with just a 10.7 SwStr%, we begin to question the 28.5 K%. The matchup is also a bit of a mixed bag because the Marlins have just a 90 wRC+ vs RHP with five batters in the projected lineup reaching at least a 25 K% vs RHP this year. However, Cincinnati is the most power friendly park in baseball.

For those looking for a cheap SP2 on DraftKings, Austin Gomber seems the clear choice, despite the engagement at Coors tonight against an offense with a 100 wRC+ vs LHP. In five starts since returning from a month long IL stint, Austin Gomber has a 5.48 ERA and 5.09 FIP, but with a 15.8 K-BB%, additional estimators are lower. While we can blame the 17.9 HR/FB for his issues, three of his five home runs came in his first start back, a game in which they were the only hits he allowed (.000 BABIP). The BABIP has been above .350 in each of his last three starts. It’s been a combination of factors, but his season work includes a perfectly fine 4.09 ERA, 4.05 SIERA and 3.63 xERA. Aside from the 100 wRC+ vs LHP, the the projected Arizona lineup tonight includes just one batter exceeding a 20 K% vs LHP this year, but Gomber costs just $5.9K on DraftKings.

Clear Top of the Board Pitching Choice

Ironically, a rare full 15 game slate finds only two pitchers hitting the $10K mark, but both do so on both DraftKings and Fanduel. However, no other pitcher reaches even $9K on both of the sites. Lance McCullers is tonight’s top pitcher and most expensive pitcher, though also probably a solid value in Seattle. Despite last night’s offensive fireworks, it’s one of the most negative run environments in baseball. The bad news is that McCullers’ velocity has been on a steady down slope. The good news is that it doesn’t really matter because he’s barely throwing his fastball one-third of the time. He’s struck out at least eight in four straight starts to push his season rate up to 27.8% with a 54.4 GB% that’s allowed him to generate just 5.7% Barrels/BBE, despite a 90.8 mph EV. Thus, a 3.24 xERA is his lowest estimator an along with his 3.34 FIP, the only estimators within half a run of his 3.04 ERA. The Mariners have a 91 wRC+ and 26.2 K% vs RHP, but since the lineup has had quite a bit of turnover, we can also note that tonight’s projected lineup includes four batters above a 29 K% vs RHP this year.

The Red Sox broke up a string of five straight quality starts with at least six strikeouts for Robbie Ray, when they homered three times against him last time out. While he’s solved his control issues (6.2 BB%), retaining an elite strikeout rate (31.3%), contact profile issues still persist (91.3 mph EV, 10.3% Barrels/BBE), so these kind of things are going to happen occasionally still. His 3.12 ERA is below all of his estimators, but nearly matches a 3.18 SIERA. Including the contact profile brings him up nearly half a run (3.59 xERA) and including just the home run profile generates his only estimator above four (4.06 FIP). Ray faces a number of issues tonight though, the first of which is a rematch with a Boston offense with a 104 wRC+ and 21.4 K% vs LHP. The second is the park downgrade at Fenway with weather conditions that could potentially make it play like Coors, according to Weather Edge with a hitter friendly umpiring situation as well, if it even gets played. That’s because Kevin currently has this game as the only one on the slate in danger of interruption by rain. Ray may be too big a risk tonight. If you’re planning on paying a premium for pitching tonight, McCullers is the better choice.

One Top Arm in a Favorable Spot

On an eight game Wednesday night slate, your top of the board pitching includes four pitchers who exceed $9K on both sites and without a completely clear cut number one guy, a strong argument can be made for Lance McCullers Jr., the most expensive pitcher on DraftKings and only one who reaches $10K on both sites. With a more slider heavy approach, he has rolled over his last four opponents to the tune of 33 strikeouts (105 BF) and just seven runs over 24.2 innings with 52.5% of his contact on the ground. An 11.9 BB% has been his biggest drawback this year and kept some of his estimators around four. The ground ball heavy contact profile though, has allowed him to generate just 6.2% Barrels/BBE on a 91.2 mph EV, good for a 3.46 xERA. With a .255 BABIP, 80.1 LOB% and 9.2 HR/FB, all estimators are quite a bit above his 2.80 ERA, but still on solid ground. In a neutral run environment, he faces a Cleveland offense with just an 88 wRC+ and board low 7.0 BB% vs RHP, which may help solve some of McCullers’ control issues tonight. The projected lineup includes five batters above a 30 K% vs RHP this year.

If Robbie Ray is slightly behind McCullers tonight, it’s simply due to the matchup. He is the only pitcher on the board exceeding a 30% strikeout rate (31.9%) and the fact that he’s done so with a 6.3 BB% has made him somewhat of a fringe Cy Young contender this year, though the contact profile still remains a significant issue (41 GB%, 91.2 mph EV, 18.3 HR/FB, 9.4% Barrels/BBE). As one would suspect, a 3.81 FIP and 3.67 xERA are his worst estimators, though all are above three, a bit higher than a 2.93 ERA (90.7 LOB%). Buffalo is also a somewhat neutral run environment, but the Red Sox have a 105 wRC+ with just a 21.3 K% vs LHP. Ray is most expensive on FanDuel, but $200 behind McCullers on DraftKings.

Julio Urias is interesting for less than $10K. Although the end result is an above average 26.8 K%, Julio Urias’s strikeout totals have had a lot of variance from start to start and just how far he goes generally depends on how exceptional his control has been (5.3 BB%), enabling him to keep his pitch count down. A 3.78 ERA is within a quarter run of all of his estimators and only below his 3.80 DRA. The Giants have a 106 wRC+, 10.9 BB% and 18.1 HR/FB vs LHP. That’s not ideal. They strike out about an average amount against southpaws and Statcast Park Factors suggest that Dodger Stadium is now a somewhat neutral run environment as well. If Urias doesn’t walk anyone, he does have quality start potential (he has nine of them, but more than one walk in just two), which would make him a better value on FanDuel ($9.1K). Kyle Hendricks has the most negative run environment of the four in his favor in St Louis against an inferior offense (Cardinals 85 wRC+, 11.6 HR/FB vs RHP), but a combination of St Louis’s 21.9 K% vs RHP and his own sub-20 K% with estimators well above his ERA makes him overvalued above $9K.

Rounding Into Form

McCullers has been hit or miss in his return from Tommy John surgery, but the signs appear positive now. He was very sharp in his last outing against the Giants, and his other good start this year came against the same opponent he faces today in the Mariners. Seattle's offense is relatively weak from top to bottom, and McCullers offers some of the best strikeout upside on this slate with a 26% strikeout rate for his career. The price tag is mildly affordable, and he's my preferred SP2 on today's slate (or as an SP1 on single pitcher sites if you can't afford Mad Max).

Intriguing DFS Upside

Analysis coming soon.Lance McCullers has shown us just enough in his brief career that we can see tangible upside with him. After all, he has a 26.6% strikeout rate and a 12% swinging-strike rate in 450 career major league innings. The unknown lies in the fact that he missed the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery. The shorter season and the late start should benefit him tremendously, and he had a ton of positive things to say in camp. Throw in a matchup against a Seattle offense that might be one of the worst in baseball this year, and there are all sorts of reasons to be excited with McCullers. I do think that the Astros will be a bit cautious with his pitch count, as they were with Verlander on Friday, but five or six innings might be enough for McCullers to pay off a reasonable price tag. Given the limited upside with some of the other mid-range arms, I’m certainly a buyer on McCullers today. He is playable in all formats but is especially viable in GPPs.