The baseball season is more than a month old and daily fantasy players have a pretty good idea of which pitchers are for real and which ones aren't living up to their DFS price tags. Here are the top pitching options on FanDuel for the coming week:
Tuesday - LHP Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks (vs. Tigers)
Ray was one of the most frustrating players in daily fantasy last season, capable of racking up double-digit strikeouts in a given start but rarely able to last long enough to do so. The strikeouts are still there in abundance this season, but he's rocking a modest 3.49 ERA while doing a good job of keeping the ball in the park (four homers allowed over 36 1-3 innings). He has struggled at home, but the Tigers come into the week with a 21.3 percent strikeout rate and can be exploited. Lean on Ray as a tournament option.
Wednesday - RHP Yu Darvish, Rangers (vs. Padres)
Darvish was slightly less irritating than Ray last season, though control issues often capped his daily fantasy upside despite being one of the top strikeout pitchers in the majors. Darvish has looked much better so far in 2017, throwing seven or more innings in three of his first seven starts. The walks are still a niggling issue, but he should have no trouble corralling an overmatched Padres team. Darvish will cost a mint, but he's playable in all formats as one of the top options on the slate.
Thursday - LHP Jason Vargas, Royals (at Rays)
On a night when Clayton Kershaw toes the rubber, did you ever think six weeks ago we'd be recommending fellow left-hander Vargas instead? Kershaw is a hard fade Thursday as he tangles with the Colorado Rockies at hitter-happy Coors Field, while Vargas looks to continue his incredible early season run against a Tampa Bay team that enters the week with the third-highest K rate in the league. Vargas might not have tournament-level upside, but he's the safest cash-game play of the day.
Friday - LHP Danny Duffy, Royals (vs. Orioles)
Sometimes, your best bet is to ride a starter who has been pitching well - and other times, you might be inclined to take a hurler whose struggles have resulted in a lower price point. Duffy fits the latter category, having dropped three straight decisions while compiling just 12 strikeouts over his previous four starts. The Orioles have the league's fourth-lowest wOBA against left-handed pitching, so Duffy should at least be in good shape for a win. Trust him in cash games, but not in tournaments.
Saturday - LHP Chris Sale, Red Sox (vs. Rays)
This is the easiest choice you'll have to make all week - at least, with regard to your daily fantasy starting pitcher. Sale is off to an incredible start to the season, racking up double-digit strikeouts in six consecutive games while giving up just a pair of home runs over his first 51 2-3 innings. The Rays are only league-average versus lefties so far this season, but were held to a run on three hits over seven dominant innings the last time they faced Sale. Spend up for him in all formats.
Sunday - RHP Max Scherzer, Nationals (vs. Phillies)
This is a dream matchup for Scherzer, who is coming off a terrific seven-inning performance against Arizona (7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 12 K) last time out. Scherzer cruised past the Phillies in their first meeting of the season, striking out seven over 6 2-3 innings. And, while he has surrendered five home runs over his previous three starts, he shouldn't be threatened against a Philadelphia lineup boasting the league's second-lowest wOBA versus right-handers. He is suitable for rostering in both cash games and tournaments.