Wednesday brings a full schedule of MLB games, so there are plenty of options for you to choose from when filling out your DFS lineup. Early on, you can expect to find some excellent values as pitchers start to come into their own, and I will try to point out as many April pitching gems as possible heading into May. Let’s hope you can take advantage of those sneaky pitching plays before the rest of the world catches on! Good luck on Wednesday! Tweet me at your own risk: @TheRolyPolyBoy
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) Carlos Carrasco @ Houston Astros ($8,800) – If you’re looking for a money-in-the-bank play, Carrasco is it. Current Astros hitters have only managed 6-for-47 (.128 AVG) against Carrasco, while limiting themselves over the last three seasons to a .094 AVG. Yeah, that’s right, you’re frothing at the mouth, I see. If that doesn’t do it for you, then maybe Carrasco’s 21:3 K/BB rate against the Astros will get you revved up. Mmm.
2) Jordan Zimmermann vs. New York Mets ($9,200) – I have to say that if there’s one pitcher on Wednesday where salary almost doesn’t matter, then Zimmermann is it. While the Mets batters may be slightly improved over last season, I see Zimmermann keeping his pitches low while inducing plenty of ground balls. One great point: Zimmermann racked up a dramatic K/BB increase from 2013 (4.03 ) to 2014 (6.28).
3) Brandon McCarthy vs. San Diego Padres ($7,900) – McCarthy is one of the more underrated pitchers in the game in 2015, and I expect him to show DFS owners right away why that is. Historically, the current Padres roster is only hitting .228 against McCarthy and he’s managed to give up only one HR to the group. McCarthy will thrive at Dodger Stadium this season and I like him to keep the Padres’ bats at bay on Wednesday.
4) Andrew Cashner @ Los Angeles Dodgers ($7,900) – I just plain love Cashner as a whole in 2015 and like low offensive output from the Dodgers hitters in this one. Cashner kept hitters at a .235 BAA clip last year, and he’ll pick up right where he left off; although, we’ll just go ahead and forget about his last start of the 2014 season, won’t we? Ahem.
5) Matt Shoemaker @ Seattle Mariners ($7,700) – The park factor is big for me, with Shoemaker tossing at Safeco Field. He’s also kept current Seattle hitters quite powerless, with only three extra-base hits – all doubles – in 49 career at-bats. Any time a pitcher limits extra-base hits, it’s a major DFS bonus.
Middle of the Pack
6) Michael Pineda vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($7,500) – Remember those April pitching values I was talking about in my intro? Well, here you go. The Blue Jays have two massive power hitters in Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, although combined they have hit 5-for-27, with only one HR, against Pineda over their careers. I like Pineda to keep both in check, along with the other Jays’ hitters.
7) Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Los Angeles Angels ($9,100) – I really wanted to put Iwakuma in my the Top 5, but the blister he’s been battling drops him down to the No. 6 hole. I still like Iwakuma, but I guess I’m leaving myself an out considering the $9.1 K you’ve got to fork over. The risk? Iwakuma just might continue to avoid his split-finger pitch until the blister completely heals.
8) R.A. Dickey @ New York Yankees ($8,000) – If Dickey’s salary was lower I’d likely have him higher in these rankings, since historically over the last three seasons he’s done well against the Yankees (47 IP, 3-2, 2.87 ERA, .208 BAA, 39:13 K/BB). You can do better for the price.
9) Danny Duffy vs. Chicago White Sox ($7,400) – Duffy is a sleeper option for me this season and on Wednesday. Don’t expect a miracle performance, but a six inning game with five strikeouts and a win is not out of the question. Historically, Duffy has held current White Sox hitters to a .206 BAA.
10) Gerrit Cole @ Cincinnati Reds ($8,600) – I was tempted to slot Cole higher, but he hasn’t exactly had a great history against the Reds, albeit a small sampling considering his young career. Still, the Reds have been known to force ground ball pitchers to keep the ball up, and Great American Ball Park isn’t exactly a pitchers park. Look elsewhere, especially if you’re spending $8 K plus.
11) Mike Leake vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($7,000) – Leake only had one win in five games started against the Pirates last season, although he pitched surprisingly well with a 3.21 ERA and 21 K in 33.2 IP. Not bad, but certainly not worth betting the farm on. Leake will keep the game close, he’s just not a clear-cut favorite for solid fantasy points.
12) Rick Porcello @ Philadelphia Phillies ($6,900) – It’s difficult to believe that this is Porcello’s 7th season in the Majors and that he’s only 26-years old. Maybe there’s been too much pressure on the guy to produce, but it’s been nice to see his year-to-year transition. What does that mean for us DFS owners? Consistency. Porcello has given us consistency, with slight improvements each season over the last three years. I wish Porcello would net more strikeouts, although we have to go into the season expecting him to give us six innings and four-to-five strikeouts on average. Look for Porcello to squeak out a win in Philly, while getting very close to his 15.1 FPPG average from 2014.
Rest of the Field
13) Scott Feldman vs. Cleveland Indians ($5,900) – I’d rather take my chances with Feldman than I would the others listed below, mainly due to the lower salary. Feldman had a pretty nice run of games to end to his 2014 season. Over his last 10 games pitched, he managed to put up 18.2 FPPG on average. If I was looking for a “Dud” pitcher to pair with my “Stud” pitcher, Feldman would be it.
14) Scott Kazmir vs. Texas Rangers ($7,400) – Is it fair to look at Kazmir’s career numbers against the current Rangers’ hitters? Normally, I’d say no, since Kazmir isn’t the same pitcher he was a few seasons ago, but even looking at 2014 alone Kazmir struggled against the Rangers. Will the resurgence in his career stick? Possibly, but I’m not taking any chances first start into the 2015 season.
15) Tom Koehler vs. Atlanta Braves ($6,500) – I’m just not thrilled about using a No. 5 starter that barely won the rotation spot, but I do have to point out that Koehler was MUCH better at home than on the road last season. He put up 17.9 FPPG with a 3.00 ERA, but on the road he was miserable with 11.3 FPPG and a 4.63 ERA. If you’re into home/road splits and you need a low-end pitcher, Koehler shouldn’t kill your lineup. I know, not the best sell job… but am I really trying to sell here?
16) Jose Quintana @ Kansas City Royals ($7,700) – While I can get with Quintana on most starts this season, I’m not a fan of him traveling to Kansas City. The Royals worked Quintana over pretty good in 2014, to the tune of an 0-3 record in four starts (4.88 ERA, 34 hits in 27.1 IP for a .315 BAA).
17) Wily Peralta vs. Colorado Rockies ($7,400) – It was a mixed bag for Peralta last season facing the Rockies. His numbers weren’t good on paper, although he did manage to go 2-0 against Colorado. While Peralta’s numbers improved nicely last season from 2013, he’s not someone I’m jumping in with from the onset.
18) Shelby Miller @ Miami Marlins ($7,200) – It’s tempting to go with Miller playing in Miami, isn’t it? We all know the potential he has and the skill set we expected when Miller was a thriving prospect, but he’s a dangerous play so early into the season. I won’t be surprised, however, to see him rack up some strikeouts.
19) Miguel Gonzalez @ Tampa Bay Rays ($6,400) – If Desmond Jennings gets the start against Gonzalez, then the O’s pitcher could be looking at a long night. Jennings tears him up with four HR and seven RBI in 23 AB. Is that enough of a reason to avoid Gonzalez? Not really, but add in his disastrous start (the only one in Tampa) at Tropicana Field in 2014 and his lack of strikeout ability, that leaves him out of my lineups.
20) Jake Odorizzi vs. Baltimore Orioles ($7,400) – This matchup has u-g-l-y written all over it. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. Odorizzi has given up five HR and 11 walks in 23 career innings to the Orioles. Yes, the sample is small, but why take the risk when you don’t have to?
21) Aaron Harang vs. Boston Red Sox ($6,300) – No way does Harang match his fantasy point average from last season. Even in a one day DFS situation, I’m not looking forward to relying upon Harang. The Phillies just aren’t a good club, and Harang gets to face a completely revamped and healthy Red Sox lineup out of the gate. Too risky.
22) Jacob deGrom @ Washington Nationals ($8,500) – The salary just isn’t worth it to me, not when deGrom is highly overrated heading into the season AND he’s on the road facing one of the more potent offenses in the game. No thanks.
23) Jeremy Hellickson vs. San Francisco Giants ($6,100) – I’m sure there’s someone out there willing to take a chance on Hellickson in this game, just don’t let it be you. Not that Spring numbers are indicative of a players regular season performance, but Hellickson is coming off an injury-cut season and now he’s parlayed that into a rough Spring showing, while giving increasingly bad season-to-season numbers since 2011.
24) Eddie Butler @ Milwaukee Brewers ($5,000) – If you roster Butler, don’t expect to see good lineup results on Wednesday. He’s coming off a shoulder injury and he’s facing a decent Brewers lineup in a good hitters park.
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