To get started, I need to do my best Al Sleet impersonation here and talk about the weather. Thunderstorms and rain will be an issue all over the place today, primarily across the Midwest and up and down the east coast. Please be diligent today and ensure that your starters are in action prior to the start of their game. It’s not ideal to play without one of your pitchers, I’m not sure if you knew that or not, but it’s true. Unless of course that’s your thing and hey, I’m not here to judge you. We have baseball all day, with the first pitch set for 3:05 EST in Baltimore.
Today’s daily fantasy baseball pitcher rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings MLB salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each pitcher.
To determine the best values in today’s daily fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, I run projections that include opponent’s strength, betting situation, handedness, park factor, power/finesse pitching tendencies along with ground-ball/fly-ball tendencies. We leave no stone unturned here. Let’s see who’s on the bump today. If you have any last minute questions you can find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
Gio Gonzalez @ Philadelphia Phillies ($9,000)
What’s not to love here? Gio Gonzalez checks all the major boxes here today. He’s a plus strikeout pitcher (24.8%) facing a primarily left-handed hitting lineup (Gio’s lefty) in a game that he’s the heavy favorite. He’s hard to bypass today, especially in cash games.
Collin McHugh @ Texas Rangers ($7,000)
Collin McHugh is the real deal and is a perfect SP1 in a GPP today. The Rangers lineup isn’t one to fear like it’s been in years past, and I’m more concerned about this park effect in June and July than I am in mid April. McHugh gets a lot of ground balls and misses bats at a near elite clip too, and that’s always something that I want in my lineup. This may be the cheapest we’ll see McHugh for quite a while.
Mike Fiers Pittsburgh Pirates ($8,300)
My projections really like Fiers today, and while I was exceptionally high on him coming into the season, I have a little bit of trepidation in rostering him in this spot. I want to see that his spring shoulder soreness is completely behind him, and then I can feel better that his control issues this spring where due to his injury and not something else. He showed strong command last season, so I’m optimistic.
Taijuan Walker @ Oakland Athletics ($7,300)
I have a feeling that Walker may have one of, if not the highest ownership in some contests today. Whenever a top tier prospect has the spring that Walker’s coming off of, they gain some serious helium heading into the season. It’s difficult to not be impressed with the young right-handers 27 spring innings with a 0.67 ERA and a 26/5 strikeout to walk ratio. The upside is here, despite the somewhat high asking price.
John Lackey @ Cincinnati Reds ($7,800)
John Lackey is the antithesis of Taijuan Walker. There are a few other ‘boring’ arms on this slate, but as far as legit options go, no one is excited about owning John Lackey. That makes him an even better play today. In similar fashion to the aforementioned Arlington, Texas, I’m more concerned about fading Cincinnati in the summer when it starts to play like a little league park. Also, the Reds were 28th in the league last season in wRAA (weighted runs against average) when facing right-handed pitching last season. Their -63.8 means that they scored 63.8 runs fewer than the average team in this situation. Yikes. Votto will impact that number this season, but they’re still worth targeting right now.
Middle of the Pack
Drew Pomeranz vs. Seattle Mariners ($6,400)
Drew Pomeranz falls just outside of the top-5 today, but it was close. His price point is appealing, and he’s coming off of a hot spring that saw him strikeout 29.8% of the batters he faced. Now you might be laughing at a small sample size from the spring, but according to the fine folks at FanGraphs, there’s a predictive element to strikeout and walk rates transition from spring to in season. I like the young lefty here.
Jon Niese @ Atlanta ($7,500)
Jon Niese is John Lackey without the strikeout upside. Ugh. Read that sentence again. What Niese has going for him though is he’s facing the Atlanta Braves, a team that struck out the in the third highest percent of at-bats in the majors last season. Niese may only have a 15 point ceiling, but he’s a fairly safe play.
Nathan Eovaldi vs. Boston Red Sox ($6,600)
Nathan Eovaldi is strictly a tournament play in my opinion, and the fact that we’re already at tournament only plays tells you about the players have yet to be mentioned. He possesses the upside that you want because he throws gas, and he showed signs of improvement this spring. All in all though, I don’t want to target the Red Sox offense very often this season.
Wade Miley @ New York Yankees ($6,300)
Wade Miley’s ability to induce above average ground ball rates slightly mitigates the environment here, and I’d rather use a left-handed pitcher in Yankee stadium, all things being equal. His slider has improved and he’s leaning on it more, and he’s seen a spike in his strikeout’s as a result.
Zach McAllister vs. Detroit Tigers ($4,200)
This one’s not for the faint of heart. The Tigers have been scoring in bunches to start the season, and have a bit of familiarity with the Indians right-hander. The strides in fastball velocity that McAllister has shown all spring are encouraging, and he’s expanding his secondary offerings after moving back into the rotation this season. At this point we’re looking for upside, which is why McAllister falls in the “Middle of the Pack” in today’s daily fantasy baseball pitcher rankings.
Rest of the Field
While we have 30 options tonight at starting pitcher, I’m struggling to make a case for most of the remaining pitchers. The rest of this list is littered with SP5′s and injury replacements. I’ll be very interested to see if any of these guys make it into more than 10% of a cash game.
Derek Holland vs. Houston Astros ($6,800)
The Astros propensity to strikeout is negated by their ability to mash left-handed pitching. They were 5th best in baseball with a wRAA of 23 against lefties last season. Holland is someone worth tracking for matchups later this season, but today I’d chase the K’s elsewhere.
Brett Anderson @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($6,200)
I think Brett Anderson has some sneaky SP2 upside this season, but more so when he’s in Los Angeles. His heavy sink arsenal plays well in Arizona, one of the best hitter’s parks in the game. Vegas has the Dodgers as a solid favorite here, but chase skills, not wins.
Jason Vargas @ Los Angeles Angels ($7,000)
Boy, this seems like an excessive price for a replacement level arm. Angels Stadium suppresses runs, but the Angels offense is solid enough that I’ll stay away unless the pitcher is elite. Jason Vargas is a useful back of the rotation starter for the Royals, but he’s rarely, if ever, a DFS option.
Mark Buehrle @ Baltimore Orioles ($6,300)
Mark Buehrle is still going, but it’s mostly smoke and mirrors at this point. There are plenty of reasons to stay away from Buehrle today, and the fact that Baltimore feasts on left-handed pitching is enough for me. There’s some BvP fun here too, if that’s your thing. Buehrle has been around for so long there are a lot of hitters with 30-40+ career at-bats against him.
Hector Noesi vs. Minnesota Twins ($5,500)
The Twins aren’t very good, but they’re better than how they’ve started this season. If the main reason for starting someone is that you expect it to be cold and sloppy out, then you should move along. Noesi had a decent spring, but that’s not enough to run him out in U.S. Cellular, even against the 0-3 Twins.
Bud Norris vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($7,400)
So, Bud Norris is $7,400, aka, the most expensive pitcher in the early slate. This will probably be his greatest and most surprising accomplishment this season. He sacrificed velocity and strikeouts for control last season, and his control still isn’t that great. So there’s that. It’s not a long flight, but it’s worth noting that Toronto played a night game in New York last night and now have a day game to start the day. That can’t be ideal.
Hector Santiago vs. Kansas City ($6,500)
Kansas City is just slightly above average against left-handed pitching, and again, Anaheim plays as a pitcher’s park. As is the case with all of the remaining pitcher’s, there just isn’t the upside here to justify the selection.
Dan Haren vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($6,400)
If this game wasn’t taking place in Miami’s spacious park, I’d likely have Haren even lower on this list. He’s just not fooling anyone these days. This smells like Mat Latos 2.0 to me.
Jeff Locke @ Milwaukee Brewers ($5,700)
Soft tossing lefties don’t fare well against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Even without Ryan Braun in the lineup, there’s too much right-handed offense here to use Locke.
Tim Lincecum @ San Diego ($7,600)
Any potential value that we could have with Lincecum pitching in San Diego is built in to his price. He’d be much more appealing at $6,600 instead of $7,600.
Tom Milone @ Chicago White Sox ($5,800)
A lefty in the Cell that doesn’t miss many bats and carries a ground ball rate under 40%? Nope.
Alfredo Simon @ Cleveland Indians ($5,300)
Few pitchers out pitched their peripherals deeper int the season than Alfredo Simon managed to last season. Of course, when it blew up it wasn’t pretty. I’m hoping to see him in some contests today, for my opponents. I’ll take the Indians LH hitters, please.
Eric Stults vs. New York Mets ($5,800)
Why would you? Seriously, please tell me why.
Jason Marquis vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($4,600)
The Ghost of Jason Marquis takes the mound…wait, what? I’m being told this is actually the same Jason Marquis that used to be below average 10 years ago when he pitched for these Cardinals. #NarrativeStreet.
Chase Anderson vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($5,300)
The Dodgers are swinging some hot sticks, and no one’s hotter than Adrian Gonzalez. Chase may get chased early in this one.
Jerome Williams vs. Washington Nationals ($4,900)
The Nationals lineup will likely look more formidable as the season progresses and everyone gets healthy, but they’re still strong enough to avoid here. I also expect very little offensive support for Williams here today.
Steve Geltz @ Miami Marlins ($4,200)
The Rays are starting
Matt Andriese (update: first Ramirez, than Andriese, and the final answer is Steve Geltz) today against Miami. That can’t be a good feeling if you’re a Rays fan. They’re anxiously awaiting the return of Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly.
Brandon Morrow vs. San Francisco Giants ($7,200)
Really? $7,200 for Brandon Morrow? Am I a sucker in 2009? Don’t answer that. Truth be told, I was a sucker for Morrow’s skills back in 2009 when he broke out, but since then he’s just been broken. Similar to his opponent here, Tim Lincecum, you’re paying for his top level upside here.
Tyler Matzek vs. Chicago Cubs ($4,900)
This game is in Coors. Cubs right-handed hitters will be popular today.
Travis Wood @ Colorado Rockies ($5,300)
Rinse, and repeat. Thanks for taking a look at today’s daily fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, and I hope these rankings help you out when creating your DraftKings lineups.