MLB DFS: Max Scherzer, Aaron Nola Top Optimal Pitchers for Monday

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Pitchers with the highest optimal probabilities: Max Scherzer, Aaron Nola

Max Scherzer enters tonight as the top pitcher on our optimal board in his second appearance since returning from the injured list. In his first start in nearly two months, Scherzer tossed six scoreless innings where he only allowed two hits to go with 11 strikeouts. Night in and night out, we anticipate his dominant poise, ability to limit the opponent’s power, and a high strikeout ceiling. Expecting anything less would be selling Scherzer short. Tonight, he’ll go up against a potent opponent in the Atlanta Braves, who have been one of the league’s best offenses, ranking in the top three in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ since June 1.

Understandably, Scherzer will be DraftKings’ most expensive arm on the slate, with the anticipation of him seeing pretty high ownership. Backing Scherzer on any slate, especially given how he bounced back from injury in his return start, is always enticing given his immense upside. However, we would feel more comfortable if Scherzer was facing a lesser opponent, especially at that ownership. Regardless, there is always a potential upside to be had when Scherzer steps on the mound.

Aaron Nola joins Scherzer at the top of the optimal board as he faces the St. Louis Cardinals. Nola has put together a solid season thus far, featuring a sub-3.00 xERA and xFIP to go with his usual high strikeout production. He has reduced the power he gives up as well, but most notably, he has the second-lowest BB% among all qualified pitchers. Over his past six starts, Nola has thrown a minimum of seven innings in every outing, which gives us confidence in an extended outing tonight. He is fresh off a questionable All-Star snub, so he should be coming in with an extra chip on his shoulder.

The Cardinals’ bats have slowed up lately to the point where they are in the bottom six in baseball in wOBA and wRC+ with a pretty weak ISO position over the past two weeks. They have also increased the amount they strike out to a top seven mark during that same span, which should have Nola licking his chops. We are not expecting to see Nola be too overly owned as he projects to be owned at a third of Scherzer’s expected clip. While Nola is not the pitcher Scherzer is, when Nola is on his game, he can be nearly unhittable with a very high strikeout ceiling. The Cardinals have been slumping lately, so playing Nola when he looks to be under-owned is a high-floor, high-ceiling play.