MLB DFS: Max Scherzer, Corbin Burnes Top Optimal Pitchers for Saturday

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HIGHEST OPTIMAL PROBABILITY PITCHER: MAX SCHERZER

Max Scherzer takes the crown as the top pitcher on our optimal board for tonight’s slate ahead of his matchup against the Washington Nationals. Scherzer has been spectacular all season for the Mets and highly reliable. He has pitched a minimum of six innings in 17 of his 19 outings and rarely gives up more than a few runs. His strikeout upside is still present, with his seasonal rate sitting north of 30% while sporting the fourth-best WHIP in baseball (min. 120 innings). The bonus is that he also has limited the long ball at the lowest rate in his career this year. 

He’ll face his old squad tonight for the third time this season. Over those first two outings, Scherzer was solid but not necessarily spectacular, as he allowed a combined five runs over 12.2 innings pitched. Not the end of the world, but when we expect a pitcher to be owned above 60% as we do with Scherzer tonight, it would be appreciated if he gave us a near-scoreless outing with a floor of eight to nine strikeouts. Even though the Nationals are the worst team in baseball, they have not been that bad at the plate lately, as they are in the middle of the pack in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ over the past two weeks. Yes, the Nationals still stink, but in a slate loaded with high-caliber pitchers, paying up for Scherzer at $10900 on DraftKings, who is expected to see absurd ownership, might not be the safest play of the night. 

BURNES LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK

Corbin Burnes joins Scherzer near the top of the optimal board as he’ll face the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight. Burnes has had a strong season for the Brewers as the reigning Cy Young as they chase down a spot in the NL Wild Card. He has an expected high strikeout upside as his seasonal rate approaches 31% while not being too vulnerable to power. Both his real and expected ERA and FIP are around 3.00, which makes it clear to us that he has been performing as advertised. He is in a bit of a slump by his standards, as he has allowed 12 earned runs over his last three starts, but we shouldn’t read too much into it since two of those three starts were against the Dodgers.

The Diamondbacks have been swinging the bats pretty well lately, as all they can do with the rest of the season is play spoiler. Over the past two weeks, we see them in the top nine in wOBA and wRC+, with an ISO still in the league’s top half. More importantly, Arizona has struck out at the lowest rate in baseball during that stretch which certainly impacts the strikeout upside we rely on with Burnes. We anticipate Burnes ownership falling below 10% at a $9600 salary on DraftKings. Taking a shot on the reigning Cy Young Award winner to regain his momentum is always understandable, but how well the Diamondbacks have been avoiding strikeouts lately is worth a little trepidation. However, Burnes is one of a few pitchers in baseball capable of breaking that.