Here are the top daily fantasy starting pitchers of the week:
Tuesday – RHP Carlos Carrasco, Indians (vs. White Sox)
As long as Carrasco is healthy, he’s one of the most dangerous starting pitchers in the American League. And with Carrasco looking well, he should be in for a great game against the kind-of-rebuilding White Sox. Carrasco racked up seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings in his first start of the season, and Chicago represents a much more favorable matchup; that said, both Jose Abreu (8-for-27, 2 HR, 8 RBIs) and Melky Cabrera (9-for-26, 2 HR, 8 RBIs) have hit him hard. He’s a tournament-only play.
Wednesday – RHP Max Scherzer, Nationals (vs. Cardinals)
Mad Max was close to mid-season form in his first start of 2017, limiting Philadelphia to a pair of runs on four hits while fanning seven over 6 2/3 solid innings. But it’s the immense upside that makes Scherzer a must-start Wednesday; he’s capable of 10+ strikeouts in any given start, even against a Cardinals lineup that entered the week in the middle of the pack in Ks. Scherzer’s salary will send some people looking elsewhere, but you should spend up here.
Thursday – LHP Madison Bumgarner, Giants (vs. Rockies)
Some days, you just have to swallow hard and accept the reality that you’re spending 20 percent or more of your budget on one player. Because when Bumgarner is the player in question, you’re in terrific hands. Opposing hitters batted a paltry .195 against Bumgarner at AT&T Park last season, where he posted a sparkling 2.14 ERA with 124 strikeouts over 117 2/3 innings. He also posted a 1.40 ERA in three starts against the Rockies in 2016. He’s as trustworthy as they come.
Friday – LHP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (vs. Diamondbacks)
Those who trusted Kershaw at Coors Field were stung by a rare off-night – but don’t expect a similar result in Kershaw’s return to Dodger Stadium. He was masterful there in his first start of the year, giving up just two hits while striking out eight in a win over the Padres – and that’s really not much of a surprise, given that he posted a 1.08 ERA at home last season and a 1.67 mark there in 2015. He’s the best pitcher on the planet – and if he isn’t in every one of your lineups, you’re doing it wrong.
Saturday – LHP Chris Sale, Red Sox (vs. Rays)
You have a bevy of decent starting pitchers to choose from on Saturday, but Sale deserves to be listed a cut above. He has posted a pair of sensational outings to open his Red Sox tenure, allowing just eight hits while fanning 17 over 14 2/3 innings – and has been rewarded with exactly one run of support, the primary reason for his 0-1 record. Tampa Bay has a number of left-handed impact bats that will be neutralized by Sale, and could struggle to do much of anything against him. Fire him up everywhere.
Sunday – LHP James Paxton, Mariners (vs. Rangers)
Paxton was a popular sleeper pick in season-long formats, and is going to see a precipitous rise in daily fantasy ownership after opening his 2017 campaign by hurling 13 shutout innings with 13 strikeouts. Granted, both of those outings came against a Houston Astros team still looking to find its form, but there’s no denying that Paxton has been terrific. The visiting Rangers present a slightly larger challenge, but pitching at his home park should give Paxton a sufficient edge to return value even at his higher price point.