Typically on Tuesday’s we’ll have a full slate of games at our disposal, but today we have just eight games in which to construct our roster from. One would think that despite only having an eight game slate, we’d have a plethora of top shelf pitching options in which to choose from, being that is just the second full day of the season. Well, ‘one’ would be wrong. The good news is that the majority of the ball parks in play today grade out as pitcher-friendly, so there’s value to be had here. It’ll be even easier to mine value once we have more data points to analyze, and we pass some key stabilization points to validate that what we’re seeing is sustainable. For now, let’s dig in and discuss who needs to be on your radar today. If you have any last minute questions you can find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
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
1) Jake Arrieta vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($9,000)
We won’t always see the most expensive option on the board grade out as the top option, but that’s the case today as Jake Arrieta takes the bump for the Chicago Cubs. The strides that Arrieta made last season are real, and the introduction of a cutter to his repertoire were a big part of his success. His reliance on it (28%) is a boon here, as the main threats in St. Louis’ lineup (Matt Holliday, Matt Carpenter, and Jhonny Peralta) all struggle against the cutter.
2) Jesse Hahn vs. Texas Rangers ($6,000)
Jesse Hahn is essentially just a two-pitch pitcher, but one of those pitches is dirrrrrrty. Hahn has one of the best curveballs in the game, and he’s not afraid to lean on it to strike batters out. For context, an above average curve will generate roughly 9.5-10.5% swing strike rate, and Hahn’s is above 20%. His fly ball tendencies will continue to be masked in Oakland, making Hahn a great value at home for just $6,000. Adrian Beltre is the only Rangers hitter that grades out consistently strong against the curve.
3) Zack Greinke vs. San Diego Padres ($8,800)
It’s a bad idea to lean too heavily on 2014 team data right now, but it’s impossible to do for the Padres. They made sweeping changes to the team up and down the lineup, but they still roll out a team full of high strikeout bats, something that we like to target here. Greinke’s high ground ball rates mitigate the sneaky homer-friendly ballpark that Chavez Ravine is. (Dodger Stadium was 27th in runs, yet 5th in home runs last season).
4) Tyson Ross vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($7,900)
I love the pitcher but I don’t love the matchup for Tyson Ross today. With that said, his strikeout upside is intriguing enough to roster him in spots, and his salary is appealing. He’s another high ground ball pitcher, similar to his opponent Zack Greinke, so it’s no surprise that this game opened at 6.5 O/U, the lowest total of the night. Look out for Yasiel Puig here. Ross has a filthy slider and uses it quite frequently, but last season Puig graded out as one of the best hitters in the game when he’s thrown a slider.
5) Mat Latos vs. Atlanta Braves ($8,000)
We’re going to pick on the Braves an awful lot in this space. The quality of the pitcher matters, but on most nights the Braves are going to be like fish in a barrel. Tonight we’re going to use The Fish’s starter, Mat Latos. This isn’t the Mat Latos that was an All-Star during his days in Cincinnati, but he’s still useful when pitching at home.
Middle of the Pack
6) Alex Wood vs. Miami Marlins ($8,600)
Here’s another pitcher I love, but I don’t love this spot for him. The key cogs in the Marlins lineup all fare well against left-handed pitchers, including left-handed hitter and lead-off man, Christian Yelich. Yelich’s weird reverse splits at the top of the order set the table for sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Marcel Ozuna.
7) Lance Lynn vs. Chicago Cubs ($8,300)
Few stadiums offer the wide array of hitting/pitching environments that Wrigley does. If the wind is blowing out, it’s easily one of the better offensive parks in baseball. If the wind is blowing in, it can rival the pitcher friendly experience that the Padres get when the winds come in off of the Pacific and into Petco. With that said, I don’t trust Lance Lynn a whole lot heading into the season. He was the benefactor of quite a bit of batted ball luck last season, and his 12.6 K-BB% leaves a lot to be desired in DFS. He’s not going to out-pitch his xFIP (3.81) by more than a run again this season. (2.74 ERA)
8) James Paxton vs. Los Angeles Angels ($6,600)
James Paxton could be a nice value play at times this season, but against Mike Trout and the Angels in this spot is not one of those times. Paxton has a big, sweeping 12-6 Uncle Charlie, but it’s not something he throws for strikes on a consistent enough basis yet for me to trust him. Walks extend innings and increase opportunities for damage, and the Angels return in 2015 with their core intact, a core that mashed left-handed pitching in 2014.
9) Wei-Yen Chen vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($6,700)
Wei-Yen Chen isn’t exciting, but he’s a serviceable arm on this abbreviated slate. He keeps his walks in check, but his lack of strikeout upside will rarely put him on my radar.
10) C.J. Wilson vs. Seattle Mariners ($7,000)
Remember Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson? That guy was good. This is NOT that guy. I mean, it’s the same person but not the same pitcher. This C.J. Wilson walks a ton of hitters and has a below average strikeout rate. Pass.
Rest of the Field
11) Matt Garza vs. Colorado Rockies ($6,800)
Matt Garza isn’t a terrible pitcher, but this is a terrible matchup. Miller Park isn’t Coors Field, but it’s still a run scoring/home run paradise and the Rockies can rake. Despite Milwaukee opening up as the favorite, I think this game goes over the 8 run total that it opened with, so don’t chase the win. While the Rockies hitters are all still healthy, this team is one to avoid.
12) Rubby De La Rosa vs. San Francisco Giants ($6,100)
There’s a lot of potential in the right arm of Rubby De La Rosa, but April DFS is not the place to try and cash in on it. He has spurts of wildness that make him difficult to roster, and his propensity to serve up the long ball will be an issue for him in the desert this season.
13) Colby Lewis vs. Oakland Athletics ($6,600)
Don’t. Just don’t. Here’s what I’ll say about Colby Lewis. His wFB score, a weighted metric where 0 is average, was -31.1 last season. So his fastball, a pitch he throws more than 55% of the time, was 31 runs below average last season.
14) Ryan Vogelsong vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($5,800)
There may be some days where Ryan Vogelsong is in play as a punt SP2, but only when he’s pitching in San Francisco against a terrible opponent. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Vogelsong, I know. He’s only getting the ball today because Jake Peavy was scratched with back soreness, and I don’t expect him to work deep into the game.
15) Jordan Lyles vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($5,400)
Jordan Lyles has changed his pitch mix quite a bit since moving to Colorado, which is smart. Unfortunately it hasn’t made him a better pitcher. I like the Brewers to bounce back today after getting shellacked on Opening Day.
16) Nathan Karns vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5,000)
Nate Karns has made a few starts previously, but we have very little statistically to go off of here on Karns. We do know that Baltimore was one of the best teams in the league against right-handed pitchers last season, with a wOBA of .324 and this game has the highest total of the day, with Baltimore a slight favorite versus Karns.