We are in the thick of the "dog days of summer" and daily fantasy players are not only getting a good feel for which pitchers are for real, but which teams represent good DFS matchups.
Here are the top daily fantasy pitching options for the coming week:
Tuesday - LHP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (vs. Diamondbacks)
He's baaaack! After an uncharacteristically bad outing against the New York Mets on June 19, Kershaw has rebounded with vigor, allowing zero earned runs over 13 innings in consecutive gems against the the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels. That stretch includes just seven hits against and 18 strikeouts, making it clear that Kershaw is back in Cy Young form. The Diamondbacks have already fallen victim to an eight-inning masterpiece from Kershaw this year; he's easily the top pitcher on this slate.
Wednesday - RHP Lance McCullers Jr., Astros (at Braves)
McCullers is so tantalizingly close to being one of the top starting pitchers in baseball - but he has had a lot of trouble going deep into games. The talented right-hander has failed to go past 5 1/3 innings in four of his past six starts, though he has managed to be a daily fantasy star even in limited action, striking out eight hitters in four of his previous five turns. The Braves have the third-worst team ISO in baseball coming into the week; if McCullers can go 6+ innings in this one, he could win you a tournament.
Thursday - LHP Chris Sale, Red Sox (at Rays)
Sale has wreaked havoc in his first season in Boston, leading the majors in strikeouts by a significant margin while limiting foes to a .197 batting average in his first 17 starts. The Rays know full well what the lanky left-hander is capable of, having whiffed 24 times over 14 innings in their first two meetings of the season. Sale will almost always be the most expensive player on his schedule, but if you don't roster him, you risk being left behind in both cash games and tournaments.
Friday - LHP Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks (vs. Reds)
Ray is the ultimate risk-reward pick - capable of racking up double-digit strikeouts on any given night, but also susceptible to both the walk and the long ball. Indeed, Ray has been tagged for five home runs over his previous three starts while surrendering at least four free passes in four straight outings. But that should suppress his salary heading into a favorable home matchup with Cincinnati - and if you want a big-time tournament option, you could do a lot worse than Ray.
Saturday - RHP Luis Severino, Yankees (vs. Brewers)
Severino hasn't been the most consistent starter in the majors, but he has produced the kind of strikeout totals that make him an intriguing daily fantasy option every time out. And while Milwaukee has the booming bats to make a sloppy pitcher pay, the Brewers are one of only four teams to come into the week with a team K rate above 25 percent. And with Severino having racked up at least seven strikeouts in seven of nine starts, you can bet he'll have a nice safe points floor in this one.
Sunday - LHP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (vs. Royals)
There's no harm in double-dipping this week, especially with Kershaw and his 2.04 career ERA at Dodger Stadium enjoying a pair of home starts. You don't need a rehashing of Kershaw's recent accolades, but what makes Kershaw particularly appealing at the end of the daily fantasy week is a matchup with a Royals lineup that has an 86 wRC+ entering the week, the fifth-worst mark in the majors entering Monday. Kershaw at home against Kansas City? Don't even consider taking another pitcher.