MLB Pitcher Rankings: April 18th

We have a slate with eight games starting at night and one early game starting before noon that we will skip for this analysis. This breakdown will concentrate on the late slate of games. Those with start times after 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

Jake Arrieta vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($9500) – This is the cream of the crop section, but I honestly do not love Arrieta tomorrow. He;;s the best house on a bad block though, so he is the one to recommend. Pitching looks ugly today and Arrieta is one of the few studs we have going who has a chance for a high 20’s score. He dazzled against St. Louis first out, then struggled against the Reds in his second start. He gets a pirates team today that averages over 8 strikeouts per game and is one of the highest in the league in that department. They also rank 21st in batting average vs. right-handed pitching, so they are in the bottom third there. They do have some big bats like Marte and McCutchen who have had a little success against him in a small sample size, but overall I think he has the best combination of stuff and matchup for Monday.

Alfredo Simon vs. New York Yankees ($5300) – This is how bad the pitching is today. Simon at $5300 has the next most upside on this slate. He is a -134 favorite against the Yankees and is coming off a great start last out. He put up 24.2 DraftKings points and that would be one of the best value plays on the day if he could do that here. There is some concern with the number of left-handed bats the Yanks can throw at him, but it is less of a concern in Detroit than it would be in Yankee Stadium. Simon is not a strikeout pitcher, so he will need to go deeper into the game and get the win to really pay himself off, but at only $5300, that is not a tall order to get 16 DK points.

Edinson Volquez vs. Minnesota Twins ($6600) – Volquez pitches at home and is the second biggest favorite on the day. He has two solid starts that if repeated, would give him over three points per thousand of cost based on his cost today. He has gone 15.2 innings over his first two starts with twelve strikeouts and an ERA of only 2.30. His WHIP currently sits at .70, so he has been mowing guys down with efficiency. The Twins have the fourth worst batting average currently against right-handed pitching, so that trend should continue. He is very cheap and a large favorite on the day. I definitely think he is worthy of inclusion for cash and GPP teams.

Trevor Bauer vs. Chicago White Sox ($7100) – Bauer has been a stud in his first two turns and gets a decent matchup to try and make it three in a row. So far he has averaged 6 IP, 2 hits, 4.5 walks, 1 run, and 9.5 strikeouts through his first two starts. He is a slight underdog tomorrow against John Danks, so he may fly under the radar. The White Sox are in the bottom third for runs scored against righties, but also do not strikeout much and have a top 10 batting average against them. There’s ups and downs to his case, but at $7100 he is a good value. His strikeouts may be lower, but if he goes six again and gets five of them with a win while allowing three runs or less, then he should pay off his salary.

Middle of the Pack

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Houston Astros ($8800) – He is the largest favorite on the day at -175. He has not looked good so far this season, but does get to pitch at home in his pitcher friendly park. He has not thrown over95 pitches yet and has not gone past six innings in either start. That is what concerns me most. He is a decent strikeout pitcher, but usually less then a K per inning. If he is only going to go five or six and strike out three or four batters, then there is no way he pays off the salary unless he blanks them to that point. The Astros have the sixth most strikeouts and the sixth worst batting average against right-handed pitching and get a park decrease going to Seattle. Still I do not love the upside for fantasy from him. I think Iwakuma is a good pitcher to have on your favorite baseball team, just not on your fantasy baseball team.

AJ Burnett vs. Chicago Cubs ($8200) – He is fairly priced today for what he brings to the table. He is favored at home by a slight margin against another top shelf pitcher in the aforementioned Jake Arrieta. He has averaged only 6 innings per start, but also only 1.5 Runs, a WHIP of 1.17, and 7.5 strikeouts. The Cubs have the fifth most strikeouts against righties so far this season and are in the bottom quarter of the league for batting average. I think more people will look at Arrieta than Burnett too, so he makes sense in GPPs. For cash games though he is too volatile for me as a Yankee’s fan (his former team) to trust him.

Anthony DeSclafani vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($6200) – He has been awesome in his first two starts and really a pleasant surprise for the Reds. He has gone 13 innings with eleven strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.77 with only two runs allowed. He gets a Milwaukee team that is right-handed dominant and struggling a bit with a bottom third batting average against right-handed pitching. He is a +117 underdog, so he will go low owned as well. There’s upside at his price and the Brewers have struggled, so this is an interesting one to consider.

Odrisamer Dispaigne at Colorado Rockies ($5600) – He was great in his last start and the price remains depressed, but this is not an easy spot for any pitcher. Despaigne relies on changing arm angles and keeping hitters off balance. That works great in his home pitcher park, but his lack of finishing pitches may haunt him in Coors. He is not a high strikeout guy, so you really need him to pitch deep into the game and get the win.He is a slight underdog tomorrow in the game with the highest total, so it’s not a great spot. His price is cheap though, so their is hope he reaches value.

Matt Shoemaker vs. Oakland Athletics ($8200) – Shoemaker has been solid in two attempts so far this year. He has averaged six innings, three runs, and six strikeouts over his first two starts. He gets an As team today that has been pretty good though. Shoemaker has a chance for a solid start, but probably has a low ceiling and his price is a tad high. If he was cheaper I may have moved him up on the list, but as it stands, I can not do that.

Rest of the Field

Wily Peralta vs. Cincinnati Reds ($7000) – Despite being a small favorite, I have Peralta down here on the list. He has averaged 5 DK points per start so far. He averages one strikeout per four innings and struggles with left-handed bats. Guys like Hamilton and Votto are lefty sticks on top of that order and both could be trouble for Peralta. If he was closer to $6000 it would be a much tougher decision, but at $7000, off getting blown up in his last start, I think it’s a no brainer.

CC Sabathia vs. Detroit Tigers ($8300) – There is a lot to digest here and none of it is good for CC. He has been decent in two outings for fantasy. He is giving up a lot of runs along with some walks and hits, but has a high strikeout rate which has given him a nice floor. The problem here is he has a horrible match up against the Tigers. From the 2 hole on in that order he faces Kinsler, Cabrera, Martinez (Victor and JD), and Yeonis Cespedes. That’s five all star caliber right-handed bats in a row. He is the underdog in a high total game, so it’s not a spot I would look to pay up for him even if he was not $8300. At that price, he is too expensive for the matchup and pitcher he has become.

Asher Wojciechowski vs. Seattle Mariners ($4400) – So there’s very little to separate these last five guys, but I put Woj ahead of them becasue his three strikeout per game average is almost twice as many as all the other guys left. Seattle has a lefty dominant lineup and some big righty bats as well. Woj has the benefit of a pitcher’s park as well, so I would not use him, but he’s a better, cheaper option than those below him.

Jorge De La Rosa vs. San Diego Padres ($6800) – He makes his debut at home in Coors and gets a revamped San Diego team that has some quality right-handed bats. There’s more guys I want to target on San Diego because he is pitching than people I would stay away from. He’s up here because he has a little bit of strikeout upside, but I doubt it will be enough to keep hid DK score much above the zero mark.

Kendall Graveman vs. Los Angeles Angels ($5300) – He had one horrible start and one solid one to begin the season. He faces a tough lineup in this one and has very little upside. He is not a high strikeout pitcher, so he will have trouble finishing these veteran Angels hitters off. He is a slight favorite, so if he can squeeze out six innings and not get shelled then he has a small chance of paying his price off with a win. Still I think a no decision or a lot of runs and a loss is even more likely, so I stay away despite the low price.

John Danks vs. Cleveland Indians ($5300) – The lefty has really been nothing special for a few years now. He does not pitch deep into games, strike people out, or limit the other team to a few runs. None of that is positive for his fantasy score. He is a slight favorite in a high total game tomorrow, but I still do not think he reaches double digit DK points, so I can not use him.

Kyle Gibson vs. Kansas City ($5300) – Kansas city batters rarely strike out, which is good because Kyle Gibson also rarely strikes out anybody. He is one of the biggest dogs on the day at +150 and the total here is high. He is another guy who does not go deep, does not strike people out, and is prone to getting tagged for multiple runs. Nothing about that is appealing to me for his fantasy prospects.