MLB DFS: Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola Top Optimal Pitchers for Thursday


August 25, 2022

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On tonight’s shortened main slate, Jacob deGrom dictates the entire board as the top pitcher on our optimal ahead of his matchup against the Colorado Rockies. In his return from the IL, deGrom has been essentially untouchable for most of his time on the mound thus far up until a little touch-up in his most recent outing against the Atlanta Braves. The biggest takeaway from that outing wasn’t the three earned runs he surrendered, but that he tossed 95 pitches and has seemed to escape the pitch count that was limiting so much prior. His strikeout rate is at a staggering 45.7% rate while we see his WHIP at an unheard-of spot at 0.51! Safe to say, deGrom is must-see TV right now.

The Rockies do not offer much of a threat offensively, especially given that they will be away from Coors Field. Few teams have been worse on the road this year than the Rockies, as we see them in the bottom five in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ away from home, while nothing in their entire body of work from the last two weeks to signal any sort of hot streak. DeGrom shouldn’t have any difficulty with this lineup, and although anything can happen, if any pitcher has earned our trust, it’s this guy. Factor in that he is on seven days after having tossed more than 90 pitches for the first time this season, and deGrom almost feels like a can’t miss tonight. Well, that’s what the public will likely think, as we have him with a 90%-plus ownership projection for tonight’s reduced slate at $10,800 on DraftKings. If you want to be bold and believe that deGrom somehow “lost” something in his last outing since he let up three runs, then you would put yourself in the position for a top optimal lineup if deGrom were to get hurt or shelled. However, this slate either feels like you have deGrom or nothing. 


Aaron Nola is the other guy on this slate, as he’ll go up against the Cincinnati Reds. Nola has had a solid body of work this season for the Phillies with a couple of bumps along the way, including a discouraging start in his last outing where he gave up five earned runs in five innings to the Mets. The silver lining is that his strikeout upside, which we always depend on, didn’t disappear as he racked up nine strikeouts. We see Nola with a near 29% strikeout clip while sporting a sub-1.00 WHIP. He has done a dependable job in limiting power and has the lowest BB/9 rate in baseball among all qualified pitchers. When Nola is on his game, few pitchers in baseball can better him, as he has the fourth lowest xERA and xFIP among all qualified pitchers. 

Despite their record, the Reds haven’t been a total disaster at the plate, as over the past two weeks, we see Cincinnati in the upper half of baseball in ISO, wOBA, and wRC+. They have scored 31 runs over their past five games, even though they only have won two of those outings. At the same time, they have struck out at a rate north of 25% over the past two weeks, which will undoubtedly give Nola’s already high strikeout upside a sweet boost. Nola is priced at $10,000 on this reduced slate and will probably have his ownership fall around 40%. If you are fading deGrom, having Nola is almost a must, but regardless he offers the high upside potential necessary to back up his salary in a favorable matchup. 

Thumbnail photo via Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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