MLB Pitcher Rankings: April 18th

We have a split slate with  six games starting at 1PM EST and eight more going off later in the day. This breakdown will concentrate on the early slate of games. Those with start times before 7 PM est.

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

Anibal Sanchez vs. Chicago White Sox ($8200) – Sanchez is a high strikeout pitcher. He has 15 K’s through his first 13 innings to start the season with only two walks. He got touched up by the Pirates in his last start for 5 runs, but I think he bounces back today against the team with the least amount of runs scored so far in the entire league. He is favored over Chris Sale in this one and with the right-handed dominant Tigers Line up, I think that is a safe bet for some run support despite how good Sale is. He consistently goes 6+ innings with a K per inning. If you add in a win bonus and he can limit them to three runs or less, that will be around 24 DK points returned and make him great value.

Carlos Martinez vs. Cincinnati Reds ($6800) – Martinez is not an elite pitcher, but he is that Saturday based on price and matchup. He was very good last time out against this same lineup in Cincy. He went six innings of 2 run ball on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts. He gets the switch from a hitter friendly park to his home pitcher friendly park for this one, which should help. Vegas has him as a solid -145 favorite on the day and his strikeout upside alone is enough to give him a solid floor at this price. He’s one of the bigger favorites on the day and yet one of the cheapest pitchers on the slate. Add in the strikeout upside and this is a guy who should be on a lot of rosters.

Middle of the Pack

Chris Sale vs. Detroit Tigers ($10500) – Sale is one of the best pitchers in the league. He has the ability to shut down opposing offenses and rack up fantasy points as he strikes out hitter after hitter. His stuff is nasty. With that being said, he is a lefty going up against a very right-handed dominant Tigers batting order. In fact he could see 7 straight right hander to start the game and many of them are or were all star caliber talents. I still think he pitches well tomorrow and should lock up in a duel with Anibal Sanchez. My concerns are his high price and the bad splits match up he is in. Even with most of those batters being right-handed, his bad splits to righties still only topped out at .214 average in 2014, so it’s not like he should get pounded. Still it’s not an easy match up and his price is pretty high. Due to the anemic offense he plays in front of, he is also an underdog on the day. If he had a better match up, he would be up in the cream of the crop section, but I still would not argue with anyone who wants to use him.

Jordan Zimmerman vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($8700) – Zimmerman got shelled against Boston his last time out. Today’s match up is much easier on him, plus he gets the benefit of playing in his pitcher friendly home park. Philly averages the least amount of runs per game in the Majors right now and is 29th overall in runs scored ahead of only Chicago (with two extra games played). The Phillies are also in the top half of the league for most times striking out. Zimmerman is also a big favorite at -188 according to Vegas. A high likelihood of a win, high likelihood of a lot of strikeouts and a low likelihood of giving up runs all create the perfect storm for fantasy. If I was not a little weary of his last start, he’d be a guy on the top of the list based off matchup and ballpark tomorrow.

Tyson Ross vs. Chicago Cubs ($8400) – Ross is an underdog on the road against the Cubs, but that makes little sense to me when he is opposite Kyle Hendricks. Ross was obviously better at home last year as he pitches in the best park in the majors, but he was not horrible away from Petco either. He has twelve strikeouts through twelve innings of work this season and faces a Cubs team that is in the bottom third of the league for batting average against right-handed pitching and the top third for most strikeouts so far in 2015. He is a slight underdog in this one, but I think he has a better chance of keeping the Cubs off the board than Kendrick does of limiting the Padres. A chance for a win with a bunch of strikeouts and a low hit total all should equate to a decent score for him.

Rest of the Field

Danny Salazar vs. Minnesota Twins ($7700) – Salazar was recalled from triple A to take the roster spot left open by Zach McAlister’s injury. He was in the show for parts of the last two seasons and has been very up and down. He flashed some high strikeout upside on numerous occassions and followed it up by getting shelled in his next outing. Minnesota is not a great hitting team and they were shut down by his teammate Corey Kluber last night. Salazar is no Kluber though, so this is not a slam dunk. We could see a guy who goes 6 innings and strike out nine or a guy who gets yanked early after giving up a bunch of walks and hits. The inconsistency is the reason he finds himself low on the list.

RA Dickey vs. Atlanta Braves ($8000) – Dickey is not a horrible option, but his price, ballpark, and recent performance all suggest he is overpriced. He is a -140 favorite on the day, but has averaged only six innings and five strikeouts so far. If he wasn’t walking four batters per game and giving up a few hits and runs in each, he might be worth the price. As it stands now though, that kind of performance will leave him short of making solid value for you in this one. I don’t see him going 8 innings or striking out 8 batters, so even if he does pitch well, there is really no upside to him.

Alex Wood vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($8600) – The young lefty is a very solid pitcher. He has 11K’s though the first 11 innings and has kept his team in the game for both his starts. Today he sees a righty dominant power hitting Blue Jays team in Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Given that he is a left-handed pitcher, it is really the worst possible matchup in the worst possible place. In better spots he failed to score more then 17 DK points, so I would not expect a huge improvement today in a tough spot.

Phil Hughes vs. Cleveland Indians ($7900) – Hughes is just too overpriced for me to consider him as an option today. He has not gone past 6 innings or struck out more than six in either of his first two starts. At $7900, you would need at least 20 DK points to justify taking him and I do not even think he reaches that minimum threshold. He is a -115 favorite in a high total game, but based on the number of walks and hits he has given up recently, I do not see how he improves enough to pay off that lofty salary.

Aaron Harang vs. Washington Nationals ($6400) – Harang has not been bad to start the year, but he has limited upside. He struck out eight in his first start, but that was the outlier base off his recent campaigns. He only had one strikeout against the Mets in his second start, but so far has only allowed one earned run to start the season. I feel regression is ready to set in with him and despite the Nationals lack of offensive fire power, I think they can still put a few runs up on Harang. He is a big underdog, but gets a break with a pitchers park. My concern is that with a win unlikely and 8 strikeouts again being even more unlikely, how is he going to score fantasy points if he no longer pitches deep into games?

Kyle Hendricks vs. San Diego ($7000) – Hendricks was solid after his call up late last season, but he is having a rocky start to 2015. I mean that literally and figuratively as the Rockies lit him up in Coors first out. I think he does have a good chance to improve off of that, but he was a 12-18 point a game type of pitcher in 2014. I think he is a tad overpriced here and going up against a solid revamped offense in San Diego. If I had more faith in his bats vs. Ross I would move him up, but I think the win, Strikeouts, and more than six innings pitched are all long shots to happen.

Homer Bailey vs. St. Louis ($8500) – Bailey got lit up in his triple A rehab start last out. While he does play in a pitcher friendly park for his debut this year, he is not 100% healthy. I think he will be on a limited pitch count and not as effective as he is when at full strength. Even at full strength I would struggle to take him at $8500, so there is no way I am doing it first out off an injury as an underdog on the road.