We have a slate with seven games starting at noon and three late games starting at 7pm that we will analyze separately. 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
Edinson Volquez vs. Chicago White Sox ($7200) – Volquez has gone at least 7 innings with at least five strikeouts in all three of his starts. He has not walked more then one batter per game or given up more than five hits. He currently sports an ERA of 1.99 and a WHIP of 0.75. He gets a Chicago team that is currently in the top five for strikeouts per game and the bottom fifth of the league for runs scored. Volquez always pitches deep into games, so if he can get the extra few strikeouts the White Sox tend to yield and limit the low scoring offense to a few runs, he could easily return value or more in this one.
Alfredo Simon vs. Cleveland Indians ($5600) – This is still way too cheap for a guy who has been very good in his last two starts. The Indians are 24th in the league for runs scored and strikeout over seven times per game. Alfredo Simon is 3-0 on the year with 12 strikeouts in 20.2 innings of work. He has an ERA under 2, a WHIP under 1, and one of the most potent lineups in baseball backing him up. I do not think he is going to be the highest scorer on the day, but as far as points per dollar of cost go, he should be one of the better options here again at his rock bottom price.
Anthony Descalfani vs. Chicago Cubs ($6900) – Descalfani has been a breathe of fresh air for the Cincinnati rotation. In 21 innings of work, he has 16 strikeouts. He only allowed four walks, nine hits, and two runs while turning those stellar numbers into a pair of early wins. The Cubs are currently the MLB’s Clubhouse leaders in times being struck out, and he has a solid matchup with the righty dominate lineup they have been rolling out. The Total here is only seven runs and he is a slight underdog at +105. Still, at his price he would have returned four points per $1000 in each of his last two starts and if he picked up a win in his first start, where he only gave up two runs, it would be 3 for 3.
Middle of the Pack
Jake Arrieta vs. Cincinnati Reds ($9300) – The Cubs true ace has been good to start his year. He is currently 2-1 with 19 strikeouts in just over 20 innings pitched. He gives up less then a base runner per inning on average and has an ERA of only 1.74. He faces a Reds team that is sitting seventh in the league for most strikeouts. In fact they have the seventh worst batting average in the league and strikeout at about a 23% clip against right-handed pitching. Arrieta is a -115 favorite in a game with only seven runs expected. He will need to get the win in order to have a shot at paying off that lofty salary and even that might not be enough. If his price was a little bit lower he would be with the Cream of the Crop, but at $9300, he is not the elite play.
Trevor Bauer vs. Detroit Tigers ($7800) – The case for Bauer goes like this. He has been dominant to start the season. He has pitched 19 innings and only allowed two runs on 8 hits and 11 walks. He does have an elite 26 strikeouts though, which includes an 11 K no hit performance through six innings in his opener. He gets a Tigers team that is tenth in the league for strikeouts currently, but here is why he ends up in the Middle tier. He goes up against a Tigers offense that is seventh in the league for runs scored and has the second highest batting average. While he is tough on right-handed batters, those right-handed tiger bats hit right-handed pitching pretty well. Despite all his early season success, he is still a +115 dog to Alfredo Simon in a game with a higher total of 8. Plus he never really goes past six innings with his strikeout or walk style, which tends to drive up his pitch counts early. Low innings, higher than normal runs against, and no probable win all make me think he could be a bit expensive today, despite his high K upside.
Stephen Strasburg vs. Miami Marlins ($10000) – Strasburg has been very Jekyl and Hyde in recent years. Some games he looks great and other games he gets roughed up. So far this year alone, his fantasy score are 5, 8, and 28. Of course the 28 was against the Phillies so you have to take it with a grain of salt. Miami has a solid offense, but also strikes out the fifth most of any team. A high K game is likely, but so is giving up a few runs. One will likely offset the other a little and at his price, that would mean falling short of value.
CC Sabathia vs. New York Mets ($8400) – Sabathia has not been great, but he has not been horrible either. His price is pretty reasonable for a guy who is pitching at home. He struggles some with right handed bats, but the ballpark tends to downgrade guys from that side of the plate anyway. The upside is he has 20 strikeouts through 20.2 innings so far, but he has been roughed up for almost 1.5 base runners per inning and a few runs each game. Again, while he has strikeout upside, he also will likely give up a few runs which will hurt his chances for meeting and exceeding value at his price.
Rest of the Field
Matt Harvey vs. New York Yankees ($10300) – If this was any series against any other team, MAtt Harvey would likely be skipped in the rotation. The young Ace of the Mets staff has a mild but uncomfortable ankle sprain that will undoubtedly affect his performance tomorrow. Harvey is pretty expensive and playing on the road in Yankee stadium. At 100%, I would not mind either of those things, but against a left-handed dominant lineup in a lefty hitter’s dream park on a bum ankle, I doubt he pitches his best game. He was tagged for three and four runs in each of his last two and if he only goes six innings and does that again, he will be woefully short of making value.
Scott Feldman vs. Oakland Athletics ($5900) – Feldman is the only real pitcher left that goes more than five innings in most of his starts. By default that makes him next up on the list. He is not a high K guy, so he has upside limited to innings and hopefully a win. He has to face a solid hitting Oakland team who will be no easy task for him. It’s probably not worth it to roster any of the guys below $6000 today and that list would include him on it.
Daniel Norris vs. Tamp Bay Rays ($5900) – Norris has not been good to start the year. He rarely makes it to the sixth inning and he has given up some walks, hits, and runs. He also is a pretty high strikeout pitcher and gets a very weak hitting opponent in the Rays. He is one of the guys who could have some sneaky upside based off his minor league track record and his status as a highly touted prospect. It’s one of the best matchups a pitcher can currently have, so there is a chance for upside, but temper your expectations for a lot of innings or a sure win.
Tom Koehler vs. Washington Nationals ($5600) – Koehler really has limited upside, but he does get a good matchup against a team struggling with the bats. He does not pitch deep into games or get many strikeouts, nor is he expected to win vs. Strasburg on Saturday. Still he is very cheap and can get 10-12 points if that is all you really want at his price.
John Danks vs. Kansas City Royals ($5200) – The Royals have the highest batting average in the league, are third in runs scored, and last in the league in strikeouts. That really dampers any enthusiasm for using Danks today. He has not been going deep into games, he should give up more hits and get less strikeouts than he has so far and he really has not even reached near the 15 point mark.
Kendall Graveman vs. Houston ($4900) – In his defense, the best start of the season for him came against this same Houston team. They tend to strikeout a lot and he is not exactly a high strikeout guy. He also does not pitch deep into games, but he is slightly favored in this one.
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($4500) – Toronto has a few good bats and Erasmo has been lit up in two of three appearances. He also is a relief pitcher making spot starts for two or three innings. If he doesn’t go five, there’s no win bonus. I do not know if he is stretched out enough yet to even make five, but is he does it’s not something I would have ever been on anyway.