MLB Pitcher Rankings: April 13th

We have a split slate with  two games starting at 1PM EST and four more going off later in the day. DraftKings is offering early, late, and all day slates for Thursday, so we will group those six games together. Just be mindful that if you play the late slate, you lose the pitchers from the Royals, Twins, Brewers, and Cardinals as options.

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.

Cream of the Crop

John Lackey vs. Milwaukee ($7900) – Lackey was pretty solid in his first outing against the Reds minus two long balls he gave up to Joey Votto. Besides those two mistakes, he only allowed two cheap singles over 6 innings of work. He did only throw 67 pitches and have one strikeout, so he was cruising through the rest of the lineup. Milwaukee is a team devoid of many solid left handed hitters, which is where Lackey usually struggles. The line up is weakened further by Carlos Gomez leaving the last game early with an injury, so he could get a righty dominate line up without one of the biggest bats today. He’s also the second biggest favorite on the board at -160 and gives the best price break of the top end options.

Cole Hamels @ Washington ($10000) – Washington is batting .190 against left-handed pitchers to start the year. This game has a total runs of only 6 and is being played in a pitchers park. The Park switch from the bandbox in Philly is a bump up for Hamels who went seven innings of one run ball, striking out five, and allowing only four base runners last time out against these same Nationals bats. He is the underdog here, but that has more to do with his putrid offense than his pitching. Hamels is a guy who goes deep into games, strikes people out, and limits the negatives of walks, hits, and runs. He will likely go somewhat under owned as an underdog too, with most people gravitating to Madison Bumgarner in this price range.

Middle of the Pack

Madison Bumgarner vs. Arizona ($10500) – His price and his recent performances are the two drawbacks of using Bumgarner on Thursday. He is the biggest favorite on the day, playing in his pitcher friendly home park, and in the game with the lowest expected run total at only 6. The Diamondbacks have actually been pretty solid against left-handed pitchers to start the season as well, so this is no walk in the park. The upside though is  when he is right, Bumgarner is one of the best pitchers in the league and Arizona is one of the lesser offenses, playing on the road, and in a pitcher’s park. He is not elite today due to price and match up, but he is still far from being a guy you want to target against.

Mike Fiers @ St.Louis ($8900) – The Brewers young star struggled in his debut this season. He gave up five runs on seven hits and one walk over five innings, but did have 8 strikeouts in typical Mike Fiers fashion. He gets a park bump moving from Milwaukee to St. Louis, but will see a ton of quality left-handed bats in that line up. Still his K potential is too juicy to ignore in fantasy and he should be the top strikeout guy on the day. He is a big underdog though and might lack run support, so it’s not an elite level play.

Archie Bradley @ San Fransisco ($6400) – The rookie was really good in his first start and will look to build on that here. He projects as a future top of the rotation type guy, so you know his stuff is pretty nasty to be mentioned in that way. He gets to pitch in one of the best pitchers park on Thursday and is in the lowest total game at only 6. He should be locked up in a pitchers duel with Madison Bumgarner and is cheap enough to make value even without picking up a win. He has the most upside of the cheap options, but is not favored to win and doesn’t have a huge track record. Still, I like his chances for value more than the other lower end options.

Jason Vargas @ Minnesota ($6700) – The Southpaw gets a matchup with the worst team in baseball statistically through the first week and a half. They hit .202 so far against lefties and are striking out in around 22% of their at bats. He is a slight favorite at -115, but his offense has one of the highest on base percentages in baseball and the defense behind him was the reason they made the World Series last year. While Vargas has some risk, he also has more upside than many others at his low price point.

Dillon Gee vs. Miami ($7100) –  Gee could be a sneaky play as a -114 favorite in a game with a total of only 7. He is at home in Citifield, which is a great pitchers park and he gets a Marlins team that is in the bottom third of the league for batting average and the top third for times they struck out. Gee does struggle some with lefty bats, but most of the Marlins lefties are not power hitters, so he should be able to contain the damage. He is kind of cheap on the day, but hopefully he can get more strikeouts this go or he will be no where near reaching value for a second straight start.

Chris Archer @ Toronto ($7500) – Really like everything about his start today except for the line up and park he will have to contend with. He’s a -115 favorite today coming off an absolute gem against the Marlins. He gets a price cut and is very reasonable in that middle level, especially with the strikeout upside he has. The Toronto bats can do some damage in that ballpark though, so that is why it is a riskier play.

Doug Fister vs. Philadelphia ($7700) – Fister is coming off one of his best year’s as a pro, but the problem is his style. He is a guy who indues ground balls and pitches to contact. While that is great in real life, it is bad for daily fantasy. Fister has no problem walking a guy and hoping for a double play ball, but that’s a negative move for fantasy. The lack of strikeouts is also a killer as innings and strikeouts are really the two ways to get more points. He is the favorite to win, so that is a positive, but at his price, it’s tough to justify with little to no K potential to help his upside and bolster his floor.

Rest of the Field

Tommy Millone vs. Kansas City ($5500) – Millone threw a gem in the first game. He went seven innings, struck out seven, and only allowed four base runners. The problem for me is that he is not really known as a high strikeout guy. He’s also not known for pitching shut outs, so there’s going to be some regression here. Kansas City does not strike out much anyway and they have a lot of guys that are good contact hitters. Millone is also a slight dog in a game with a high total, so it’s not the ideal spot for a guy who usually does not get a lot of strikeouts.

Jared Cosart @ New York Mets ($6600) – So the upside is he is cheap and did not get lit up in his first start. The downside is he got lit up a lot last year and still struggles to finish off batters. One strikeout was enough in his first start, because he was able to induce 12 ground balls, but everything went right for him there and he still only finished with 9.9 DK points. Citifield is pitcher friendly, but he is a dog on the day. I don’t see him pitching deep into this one, striking out multiple batters, or picking up the win. Therefore I do not see a reason to roster him in fantasy.

Aaron Sanchez vs. Tampa Bay ($5600) – The young righty got shelled in his first start. He gets his second start in the Rogers Centre which is one of the best hitters parks in baseball, which only makes it worse. To top it off, they were expecting him to start the year from the bullpen so he is still being stretched out. He only threw 61 pitches in his first start and I would think he stays below 80 again here today. Low pitch count equals low innings, low strikeout total, and maybe even not qualifying to be eligible for the win. He should yield some walks, hits, and runs in one of the Majors best parks for hitters and a high number of negatives with few positive events could create a low single digit score here again. Even with the price savings, I would not do this.