We have a small two game slate going off in the afternoon, followed by a six game MLB offering that starts at 7PM EST. We will concentrate on breaking down the late slate for this version of the Pitcher Rankings.
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
Chris Sale vs. Minnesota Twins ($11300) – Minnesota is in the bottom third of the league for both components of OPS (on Base + Slugging) against left-handed pitching. They also have the third most strikeouts in 2015 against lefties, which are not good omens for their match up with Chris Sale today. Sale is one of the games best Left-handed Strikeout pitchers, so the match up seems to be perfect for him. He is a -150 favorite in a game with only seven runs expected according to Vegas. He will need to go deep into this, strike out a lot of guys, and limit the damage. The numbers suggest he has a good chance for all three today.
Jacob DeGrom vs. Washington Nationals ($9100) – When looking at DeGrom vs. Strasburg today, you have decide which of the two studs makes more sense. The numbers are pretty even across the board except for a few categories. Both the Mets and Nationals score about the same number of runs per game and are only .002 percentage points away from each other in batting average. The key difference is the number of strikeouts. The Nat’s are striking out at a 25.1% rate to the Mets 20.2%, so that favors DeGrom. Strasburg is the higher strikeout guy with 23 in 24 innings to DeGrom’s 19 in 24 innings, but DeGrom has a much lower WHIP (.30 percentage points lower) and ERA (2+ runs less). DeGrom is also a slight favorite at -108 and the total is only 6.5 runs, so both guys are in play, but I think you have to chose one or the other. The icing on the cake is price, as DeGrom is $9100 to Strasburg’s $10400.
Shelby Miller vs. Cincinnati Reds ($7400) – Miller makes the top list, because his price is too cheap for his floor and upside. He is a -110 favorite in a game with a low seven run total expected. Miller has a 2.05 ERA and a WHIP of 1.09. His strikeout numbers and total pitches per start are down, so there is some room for improvement as well. He gets a Cincy team that has the fourth worst batting average against right-handed pitching in 2015 and strikes out at a 22.2% rate against pitchers of that handedness.
Middle of the Pack
Stephen Strasburg vs. New York Mets ($10400) – We discussed him already, so the questions you need to ask yourself here are, Do I think he wins the game? Can he limit the blowups he has had and keep the damage of walks, hits, and runs low? Can he go deep into this game or get 10+ strikeouts? I do not expect the Mets to put up a huge number on him today and they do strikeout at a 20% clip, so while that is not high, it still means he should get a few. He really needs to go 7 innings with 9 Ks or more for this to make sense and also for him to pick up a win. I like both of the pitcher’s in this game, but I’ll take the favorite and the discount on DeGrom over Strasburg. I can not argue with anyone who decides to do the opposite though.
James Paxton vs. Houston Astros ($6800) – Paxton has a great matchup today against the Astros. Houston has a 27% strikeout rate this year against left-handed pitching. They also have the 22nd best batting average and are in the bottom half for runs scored. They do have a lot of right-handed bats and one in particular up top of the order that smashes lefties, but the numbers here look pretty good. Paxton is cheap. He had one horrific start two back against Texas. If you back that game out, he has 19 strikeouts in 18 innings of work with an ERA of 4 and a WHIP of 1.16. There is risk in him today, which is why he is more of a GPP play, but the allure of added strikeouts and a team who has not been great against lefties puts him in play.
Alfredo Simon vs. Kansas City Royals ($6000) – You may think it’s crazy to take a pitcher against the royals who are one of the better teams for average and on base percentage in the league. Most people shy away from them, because they rarely strikeout and strikeouts are a big part of a pitcher’s score, but Alfredo Simon barely strikes anyone out anyway. What Simon does do is pitch deep into games and limit the damage opposing offenses can cause. He averages just shy of 7 innings per game at an ERA of 1.65 and a WHIP of only 0.95 on the season. While he does not strike out a ton of guys, he also walks only one batter per game on average. His price is low enough where a seven inning performance with a win would pay off his salary as long as the few strikeouts he does get covers the negative for the runs he may give up. He is very cheap today and his righty dominant lineup gets to go up against a lefty who struggles with right handed bats in Danny Duffy, so despite being a slight underdog, he could again outperform his numbers.
Mike Leake vs. Atlanta Braves ($7200) – Leake has been really good so far to start the season. He is limiting hitters to a .202 batting average and has a 1.01 WHIP and a 3.90 ERA to go with it. He is averaging about 7 innings per start so far and has 22 strikeouts over his first 27 innings. Despite his low salary and good numbers, this is not an easy matchup. The Braves have a bunch of quality left-handed bats atop that lineup. Guys like Markakis, Freeman, and Pierzynski have all hit well and have the braves as one of the better teams vs. right-handed pitching. They are in the top 10 for Runs and batting average and are in the bottom ten for strikeouts. Still I think Leake is cheap enough go have a nice score today if he can again get through to the seventh with a few strikeouts and limiting damage. He’s not an elite play today, but he’s better than the bottom tier guys.
Daniel Norris vs. Cleveland Indians ($5900) – Norris is finally starting to look like the stud prospect we expected him to be. He went seven innings of one run ball, while only allowing 8 baserunners and striking out 7 along the way. He faces a Cleveland team that hits only .213 against lefties with the fourth most strikeouts against Lefty Pitchers in MLB. He is a -120 favorite and gets a park boost by being on the road. If Norris is now a six or seven inning guy, instead of the 5inning guy we saw out the gate, than his price is way too low for this one. I do not expect a dominant performance, but he is good enough and cheap enough to make value if they let him pitch for a little bit.
Rest of the Field
Danny Duffy vs. Detroit Tigers ($6500) – Despite being favored here, Duffy has some tough numbers to argue for. He averages less than 6 innings per start, so he does not pitch deep into games. He has only 16 Ks in over 21 innings of work, with no more than five in any start, so he is not a high K guy. He also has a WHIP of 1.43 and an ERA over 4, so he will have some negative points to subtract as well. To top it off, he faces a Detroit lineup that is littered with all-star caliber right-handed bats. They are fourth in runs scored and sixth in batting average against left-handed pitching. While Duffy is a slight favorite today, the run total is high. He is more expensive than Simon who he opposes and will likely be out of the game earlier. Early exits lead to an increased number of no decisions and there’s very little chance he makes value while pitching only 5 innings without a win.
Scott Feldman vs. Seattle Mariners ($5700) – Feldman is probably the best of the rest and this is not saying much. His low price may be his only saving grace today. He has pitched well enough in three of his four starts to pay this off. Feldman tends to go 6 innings with about 4 strikeouts on average. He has an ERA of 4.81, but a WHIP of only 1.19, so he limits baserunners, but gives up runs. He has allowed 5 homeruns in 24 innings so those numbers do make some sense. Seattle has a few power bats in the middle of that order that would be scary for him. Feldman is a favorite at -120, so he is in play as a fringe guy, but only because his price is so cheap.
Trevor May vs. Chicago White Sox ($5400) – May struggled in his opener against a tough royal squad before handling the Indians in a great start next out. He was pitching well in his third start before being yanked after getting a line drive off his upper arm. In his last 9 innings, he has only allowed 3 runs on 8 baserunners with 9 strikeouts. He gets a White Sox team today that is fifth worst in the league for runs scored against right-handed pitching, although they are mid pack in batting average and lower third in strikeouts. He also goes opposite Chris Sale who is the likely winner today, so there’s a small chance of a win, but it’s no where near likely.
TJ House vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($5200) – It’s tough not to like the right-handed heavy Toronto Blue Jays in this one. House has struggled out the gate and being lefty will hurt him in this one. Toronto has a lot of good right handed bats on top of their order and they could all feast on TJ today. Toronto has the third highest batting average against lefties so far and they only have 24 strikeouts in 138 at-bats for a paltry 17.3% strikeout rate. Giving up a lot of hits and runs and not having a lot of strikeouts while being an underdog really leaves us no upside at all on him today. Throw in the fact he doesn’t pitch deep into games and I can not figure how he could even sniff value today, despite his low price.