It’s “get away day” for a lot of the major league teams today and most are throwing starter #3 or #4 in their rotations. The pitching today consists of a few top end options and a lot of young, unproven talent, mixed in with some veterans we know and have loathed for awhile. It is not an easy night to nail your pitching, as at least one of these youngsters should step up, but figuring out which does is the tricky part.
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. Stephen Strasburg vs. Mets ($10500) – There’s positives and negatives for him today, but on a day where most teams are throwing a recycled veteran or an unproven rookie, he is clearly the best option for your cash games. Strasburg came into the league with a ton of hype and lived up to the billing early on. Even on what many consider a down year last season, he had 220 Innings, 240 strikeouts, a 3.11 ERA and a WHIP of only 1.14. Those may not be the Cy young type numbers some expected, but they are still damn good top of the rotation type numbers any team would love to have. The Mets offense has been anemic to start the season and he gets to pitch at home in a pitcher friendly ballpark for his first start. The price is high and he has been working through an ankle injury, so there are risks, but I expect a quality start and around 30 fantasy points out of him tomorrow.
2. Ian Kennedy vs. San Francisco ($7800) – Kennedy gets the ball for the Padres home opener tomorrow and looks to build on a pretty solid season from a year ago. He had an ERA of 3.63 and a WHIP of 1.29 with a little over a strikeout per inning. His spring went pretty much the same way for him, so I expect him to start off strong. The Giants are a decent line up, but PetCo is a great park for a pitcher and the electricity of being at home should help the offense wake up a little bit as well. Kennedy gets in trouble when he allows teams to string a few hits and walks together as he tends to allow more base runners than we would like to see. Still he is a guy with over a K per nine and comes at a severe discount to Strasburg up top.
Middle of the Pack
3. CC Sabathia vs. Toronto ($8700) – I really do not love his chances tomorrow at all, but there’s some slim pickings at SP tomorrow. CC is not the pitcher he once was. His velocity is down, his health is always in question, and he is coming back from a long absence. If I had more faith in some of the rookies or more faith in Harvey going more than maybe five or six innings, he would be very easy to move down this list. I put him in the second tier, because he is no longer a top end fantasy option and despite being third on the day, it’s not an endorsement of his skills. He is third here by default, so do not go using him in every line up.
4- Matt Harvey vs. Nationals ($8800) – The Mets young fireballer is making his first start in over a year due to injury. The drawback to this is he should be on a pitch count. The upside is this guy has a boatload of talent and the mentality to be a star. I expect to see him come right out and start challenging hitters. He will probably only go five or six innings tomorrow, but he could do so with 6 six or seven strikeouts. He gets to throw in a pitcher’s park and will have his teammates amped up to play behind him again. The win is highly doubtful, but he is still one of the better pitchers on the day and could be a great GPP flyer with a high strikeout upside.
5- Shane Green vs. Minnesota ($6000) – This is a guy I think could be the top value guy on the day. Green was solid last year when he came up to the majors. He had over a strikeout per inning in 78 innings of work and kept his ERA under 3.8 in the hitter friendly American League East. He does give up a lot of base runners which came back to bite him a few times, but his ability to strike out batters when he needs to is a huge asset. I like Detroit to win this game and at only $6K, he doesn’t need to do a ton to make value. He had plenty of games in the 18-24 range last year which would be more than enough for me to be happy with him tomorrow.
6- Daniel Norris vs. Yankees ($6000) – Big time prospect finally makes it to the big club. His starting spot in the rotation was probably secured before the Stroman injury, but when Stroman went down it made it a certainty. Norris was really solid in the spring. He pitched 24.2 innings with a 3.28 ERA a WHIP under 1.10 and over a K per inning. He only pitched 5 big league innings last year, so I can not trust him for my cash games, but in a GPP, I think he is definitely in play and would probably have him ranked as my #3 if this pitcher report was GPP only.
7- Kendall Graveman vs. Texas ($5100) – A’s rookie was really good during spring training and finally gets a chance to show what he can do in the bigs. He only gave up 11 hits in 21 innings of spring work, which was good enough to help him land a spot in the rotation to start the year. Texas has not looked great out of the gates this season and Graveman is a big favorite in this one at -146. His price is so cheap that if he can eat up five innings without giving up three runs or more, then he could easily pay it off with a win.
8- Edinson Volquez vs. Chicago White Sox ($6200) – Volquez has never really rounded back into the form he was in when the Rangers traded him for Josh Hamilton a few years back. He had a solid start to his time in Cincy, but has been hurt and ineffective since. Once a top prospect in all of the minor league’s, he is now a back of the rotation guy with a lot of questions. His spring was pretty bad, but Vegas still seems to think he should get the win today as a -140 favorite. He has not been pitching great and I would prefer to take a shot with one of the young guys mentioned, but if you are looking for the win, Vegas expects him to be 1-0 by the end of the night.
9- AJ Burnett vs. Cincinnati ($8000) – Burnett has always been a guy who can dial it up and get you some strikeouts. He has also always been a guy who can blow up and walk a few before giving up a long ball. If he was cheaper today I would have him higher up the list, but he needs to throw a gem to really bring you good value tonight and I just do not see him being able to do that here. He should not be the worst pitcher on the day, but his upside at that price point is very unrealistic.
10. Trevor Bauer vs. Houston ($7200) – Bauer is a slight favorite against the Astros and could have a sneaky good game. Houston has a lot of free swingers, so Bauer could have a few more strikeouts than usual. In his last start vs. Houston in August of last season, he went 6 strong innings of shutout ball. He allowed 7 base runners and struck out 9. That performance earned him 30 DK points and while I do not expect that again, I do think he can top 20 and be serviceable.
Rest of the Field
11. Asher Wojciechowski vs. Cleveland ($4900) – I put Bauer ahead of him because he is a know commodity, but Woj probably has more upside at this depressed price. I’m not expecting him to go out and throw a gem or anything, but $4900 is pretty cheap for a guy who is not favored, but is still a negative number in what should be a close game.
12. Tim Hudson vs. San Diego ($6200) – Hudson is a crafty veteran, which is good in real life and horrible for fantasy. He is not a high strike out guy, but gets through games by inducing ground balls and not allowing himself to get into jams in the first place. He gets a Padres team with a much improved line up and faces a good starter in Ian Kennedy. Low strikeouts and a probably loss will not help his score out and that is why he is a bottom tier guy for me.
13. Justin Masterson vs. Phillies ($6700) – Masterson has flashed potential in his career but has never really put it together for a long stretch of time. He has had some really incredible blow ups in daily fantasy and been the reason more than one stack has paid off on more than one occasion. Still he is favored here and pretty cheap, so maybe he has turned over a new leaf.
14. Anthony Desclafani vs. Pirates ($6200) – Youngster won the rotation spot easily this spring. He was always on track to be up in the bigs this season after getting a taste last year. He was knocked around a bunch to the tune of an ERA over 6 in his 33 innings of 2014. He is cheap today and only a slight underdog against a guy who has some blow up potential. Could be a sneaky source of points for anyone who has the stones to roll him out there. I don’t expect him to go deep in the game or get a ton of strikeouts, so it’s not ideal.
15. John Danks vs. Kansas City ($5700) – Danks was a rising star a number of years ago, but never made it to that elite level. He is a very solid pitcher to this day, but his upside is very limited. He’s an underdog today and rightfully so. While he does tend to eat up some innings, he strikes out about .6 batters per inning, give up 1.5 hits per inning and slightly over a run every two innings.
16. Kyle Gibson vs. Detroit ($5600) – While Detroit has not been scoring a ton here to start the season, they do have a lot of talented hitters in that line up. Gibson averaged about a hit per inning given up last year and his WHIP climbed to 1.31 when you factor in the walks. He is a low strikeout guy with only 107 in 179 innings. He’s probably not going to go into the seventh either and with the win unlikely, I have no idea how he scores points.
17. David Buchanan vs. Boston Red Sox ($5100) – Cheap starter is also not likely to last long in this one. He is an underdog to a guy who was lit up a ton last year, so you know what Vegas expects here. While his ERA was not horrible, he gave up more than a hit per inning. Against a line up as solid as the Red Sox have, that is really a bad situation. I expect a loss, with a low strikeout total, and a lot of hits. None of those things are positive for his fantasy value.
18. Nick Martinez vs. Oakland ($5000) – Another Gas Can being rolled out by the Texas Rangers. The A’s offense is pretty solid. They are patient and put the ball in play. Martinez was a guy in 2014 that we targeted hitters against as often as we could. I see no reason that changes this season. He is an underdog and just not that impressive, so he is my worst pitcher on the night and a guy I would look to target against.