DAILY MATCHUPS: Sale and Carrasco headline strong Sunday group

As a way to preview the day's games, the 2018 Daily Matchups column will provide a list of all SP scheduled to start that day as identified by the HQ Pitcher Matchup tool (also available as an 8-day scan). It will group the day's SP into strong starts, judgment calls, or weak starts and will provide an analysis of the most noteworthy SP along the way.

For additional DFS coverage collected in one place, see our Daily Dashboard page. Also reference our three-year ballpark factorsteam indicator pages, and SP Buyers Guide columns to help you optimize your SP utilization.


Today’s schedule overview: Sunday's starters are an excellent group. This slate includes multiple aces, effective starters with solid matchups and some streaming options among the middle tier.


Strong Starts (top tier starts rated >1.0; starts in 0.50-0.99 range also favorable)

  Chris Sale BOS @BAL   3.69 3.85 3.57 4.17 3.18 5 4 5 4 4
  Carlos Carrasco CLE @CHW   2.74 2.68 2.31 3.01 2.97 3 4 3 5 3
  Noah Syndergaard NYM @MIA   2.23 1.51 2.52 2.71 2.18 2 1 2 3 5
  Max Scherzer WAS @CHC   2.14 3.28 1.67 2.50 1.12 3 3 5 3 4
  Zachary Godley ARI @CIN   1.24 2.03 1.62 1.22 0.07 4 2 3 5 5
  Joey Lucchesi SD vPHI   0.90 0.67 1.27 1.22 0.43 4 2 3 0 2
  Trevor Cahill OAK @LAA   0.74 1.16 0.45 0.13 1.23 2 2 1 3 4
  Luis Castillo CIN vARI   0.69 0.87 1.28 1.19 -0.57 1 0 4 5 0
  Joe Musgrove PIT @SF   0.65 0.19 0.99 0.86 0.54 2 3 2 3 3
  Matt Boyd DET vMIN   0.65 0.85 0.40 0.91 0.43 3 4 3 5 1
  Tyler Glasnow TAM @TOR   0.59 1.53 0.95 -0.03 -0.09 3 3
  Luke Weaver STL @KC   0.56 0.44 0.76 0.84 0.18 4 1 2 1 2

Chris Sale (LHP, BOS) is primed for a memorable return from the disabled list when he tangles with the Orioles on Sunday. The left-hander has been arguably the most effective starter in baseball this year (2.04 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 13.2 K/9 rate) and should feast on an Orioles lineup that is among the lowest-scoring outfits in baseball.

Carlos Carrasco (RHP, CLE) can give Sale an excellent run for his money in terms of DFS supremacy on Sunday. The right-hander has posted a 2.03 ERA in four second-half starts, and he is set to face a White Sox lineup that ranks 24th in baseball in OPS vs. righties (.709) and has struck out more often than all but one team (1,111 times).

Noah Syndergaard (RHP, NYM) has not logged a PQS score higher than 3 since returning from the disabled list on July 13, but he can still present a strong case to be one of the top DFS options on Sunday. After all, fantasy owners are aware of the right-hander’s outstanding skill set, and they will see his potential for a dominant road start against a nondescript Marlins lineup that ranks near the bottom of the league in OPS at home (.645) and OPS against righties (.674).

Trevor Cahill (RHP, OAK) struggles to stay off the disabled list, but he has been an impactful fantasy asset (3.12 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 9.0 K/9 rate) for the 13 times in which he was healthy enough to take the ball this year. In fact, the 30-year-old has performed so well that he should be an automatic start for anything beyond the most difficult matchups. And although the Angels have been effective against righties (.768 OPS), they are much less imposing now that Mike Trout (OF, LAA) is on the disabled list.

Luis Castillo (RHP, CIN) needed until the end of July to push his ERA below 5.00, but he finally accomplished the feat by allowing a total of nine earned runs in his past six starts. And although he struck out more than three batters in just three of those six outings, he also walked a total of just six batters across that stretch. Facing a D-backs lineup that has struggled against righties this year (.696 OPS), Castillo can be used in most leagues.

Matt Boyd (LHP, DET) labored last time out, but he had previously allowed a total of three runs across his previous trio of starts. And while his 4.33 ERA is an unimpressive mark, the southpaw has shown enough skill (1.17 WHIP, 2.8 K:BB ratio) to count this as a breakout season where he has become a consistent mixed-league factor. Boyd can stay active in virtually all leagues for a home start against a mediocre Twins lineup that lost two key members (Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar) in the second half of July. Boyd will head into this start with a 2.93 ERA at home this season.

Luke Weaver (RHP, STL) continues to have an inconsistent season, allowing two runs across six or more innings in four of his past six starts but finishing four or fewer frames on the other two occasions. But the right-hander’s next start should be one of his better ones, as he is set to face a Royals lineup that is the lowest-scoring outfit in baseball.


Judgment Calls (Overall ratings from -0.50 to 0.50)

  Rich Hill LA @COL   0.41 1.15 0.00 0.11 0.36 3 3 5 2 2
  Dallas Keuchel HOU vSEA   0.24 -0.71 0.58 0.24 0.86 2 5 1 1 3
  Marcus Stroman TOR vTAM   0.23 0.22 0.76 0.36 -0.41 1 5 3 3 3
  CC Sabathia NYY vTEX   0.20 0.99 -0.29 0.03 0.08 0 1 2 0 4
  Jake Arrieta PHI @SD   0.19 0.29 0.46 0.16 -0.15 3 1 3 5 3
  Jakob Junis KC vSTL   0.04 0.21 0.22 0.42 -0.68 0 3 0 1 3
  Cole Hamels CHC vWAS   -0.07 0.78 0.16 0.30 -1.53 0 4 1 4 1
  Sean Newcomb ATL vMIL   -0.18 0.65 -0.40 -0.86 -0.09 0 1 2 5 3
  Chase Anderson MIL @ATL   -0.23 0.24 -0.62 0.13 -0.66 0 3 3 3 0
  Dereck Rodriguez SF vPIT   -0.26 -0.20 0.00 0.19 -1.04 3 5 2 4 5
  Wei-Yin Chen MIA vNYM   -0.42 0.35 0.10 0.26 -2.38 0 4 1 0 2
  Adalberto Mejia MIN @DET   -0.49 -0.19 -0.52 -0.32 -0.93 1 0 2 3

Dallas Keuchel (LHP, HOU) has been more good than bad in recent weeks, allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his past 10 starts. Still, the lefty faces a formidable challenge on Sunday, when he faces a Mariners lineup against whom he has posted a 4.98 ERA in three starts this year. Additionally, Keuchel has been less successful at home (4.16 ERA) in 2018. But on a positive note, he could benefit from handing the ball off to a relief corps that leads the majors with a 3.03 ERA.

Marcus Stroman (RHP, TOR) has found is form of late, posting a PQS of 3 or higher in each of his past four starts. And although the right-hander lacks the strikeout skills of a true impact player, he can limit scoring (career 3.84 ERA) when things are going well. Stroman should be active in most leagues for a home start against a Rays lineup that ranks 23rd in baseball with a .711 OPS against righties.

CC Sabathia (LHP, NYY) posted a surprising stat line last time out, punching out 12 batters across 5.2 innings of one-run ball against the White Sox. And the 38-year-old could post a strong strikeout total for a second straight start when he faces a Rangers lineup that leads the majors with 1,122 whiffs. With a 3.49 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and solid strikeout potential, Sabathia can be used in most leagues on Sunday. He could also benefit from handing the ball off to arguably baseball’s deepest relief corps.

Jake Arrieta (RHP, PHI) has been excellent of late, going 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA in seven starts since the calendar flipped to July. However, he is still struggling to compile whiffs (6.6 K/9 rate since July 1) and is instead thriving through favorable batted-ball luck and limiting long balls. Still, Arrieta’s hot streak should last at least one more turn, as he is set for a favorable matchup against a Padres lineup that ranks 29th in the majors in OPS vs. righties (.660) and 27th in OPS at home (.678).

Jakob Junis (RHP, KC) got off to a promising start this season before massive troubles with homers (1.9 HR/9 rate) caused him to struggle mightily. The right-hander gives up too much hard contact and too many fly balls to have consistent success, and he last logged a quality start on June 3. Junis should stay out of the lineup in mixed leagues for a home start against the Cardinals, who could benefit from adding the DH spot at an American League venue.

Cole Hamels (LHP, CHC) is off to a great start with the Cubs, logging a 0.82 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP across his initial two outings. And while his ERA with Chicago will obviously soon rise, he dealt with awful batted-ball luck during his final weeks with the Rangers and is a strong candidate to post respectable results in the Windy City. Hamels can be used in most leagues for a home start against a Nats lineup that has been roughly average against lefties and on the road. And he could benefit from working in front of a Chicago squad that ranks among the best in the majors with a .707 defensive efficiency ratio.

Chase Anderson (RHP, MIL) continues to be one of the most fortunate starters this season, posting a 3.81 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP on the strength of a .233 BABIP.  Wise owners will see his 4.66 xERA and continue to use him with caution. Overall, Anderson can be used in 15-team leagues and some 12-team formats for a road start against a Braves lineup that has been average against righties this year.

Dereck Rodriguez (RHP, SF) has been one of this summer’s best fantasy finds, going 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP across 13 appearances (11 starts). And while some regression is likely in his future (.266 BABIP, 3.92 xERA), the rookie is too hot to be benched in most leagues at the moment (PQS 4 or 5 in three of his past four starts). Rodriguez should deliver solid results when he faces the Pirates at his pitcher-friendly home park.

Wei-Yin Chen (LHP, MIA) has logged disappointing results this season overall (5.48 ERA, 1.43 WHIP), but he has allowed one or fewer runs in four of his past seven outings. And the left-hander could enjoy one of his better appearances of 2018 when he works at his pitcher-friendly home park against a Mets lineup that has been the worst in baseball (.628 OPS) against southpaws this year.


Weak Starts (Overall ratings -0.51 and below)

  Martin Perez TEX @NYY   -0.64 -0.47 -0.77 -0.73 -0.58 3 0 1 1 1
  Casey Lawrence SEA @HOU   -1.21 -2.17 -0.97 -0.30 -1.39 0
  Chad Bettis COL vLA   -1.30 -0.75 -1.73 -1.32 -1.39 1 1 2 2 0
  Alex Cobb BAL vBOS   -1.35 -0.86 -0.58 -0.17 -3.79 3 2 1 2 3
  Deck McGuire LAA vOAK   -1.68 -1.13 -1.76 -2.09 -1.73 0 4 0 0
  Dylan Covey CHW vCLE   -2.47 -1.62 -2.36 -2.43 -3.47 2 4 0 1 4

Quite simply, no member of the bottom tier should be used in an AL-only league on Sunday. Still, Dylan Covey (RHP, CHW) may be the best of a bad group. The 26-year-old has logged a PQS 4 in two of his past four starts, and he is set to work at home against an Indians lineup that has been less imposing (.726 OPS) on the road.



Our Starting Pitcher Matchup Scores algorithm has been completely revamped for 2018. Based on this research piece from Arik Florimonte, we now calculate a pitcher's individual Matchup Score for a single start by first calculating an individual score representing his potential performance for each rotisserie category, and then rolling those into an overall rating for the day's start. 

This rating assesses each starter's outlook on a given day, taking into account the pitcher’s inherent ability, recent performance, strength of defense, ballpark, and opposition’s offense recent history.

There are roughly 150 starting pitchers in MLB rotations at any given time. For different league sizes, we can estimate the number of SP in the useable pool, and then determine the overall ratings that correspond to worst, 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile SP.

                               Overall SP Rating
                   SP       by SP league percentile
League size       Pool*     .00    .25    .50    .75
==============    =====    ====   ====   ====   =====
12-team “only”     120     -.73   -.22   +.22   +.74
10-team “only”     110     -.54   -.11   +.30   +.79
20-team mixed      110     -.54   -.11   +.30   +.79
15-team mixed      105     -.46   -.05   +.34   +.82
12-team mixed       80     -.07   +.22   +.55   +.97
10-team mixed       60     +.22   +.46   +.74   +1.12

So if you’re in a 12-team “only” league, the median start should have a rating of about 0.2. The 120th start is around -0.7. In a shallower, 15-team mixed, the median start is 0.34 and a top pitcher +0.82.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.