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
Jonathon Niese ($6800) – Niese makes a great play here at this price. Over his last 7 starts, he has one clunker and 6 others between 16 and 28 fantasy points with an average of about 22 per start. That would be a great return for his price today. The Rockies are one of the worst teams in the league against left-handed pitching. Since trading Tulo away, they have no one with a wOBA over .345 or an ISO score over .170 against left-handed pitching left on that roster. The game is also being played in NY, which is a pitcher friendly park. Niese has been good lately, so he makes sense as the best cheap salary saving option on the board here.
Matt Shoemaker ($8400) – Shoe has been dominant in his recent turns on the mound. The big right-hander has 27 strikeouts and zero runs allowed over his last nineteen innings of work. He faces a Chicago team that has cooled off from the runs barrage they scored a week ago. Only Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu have wOBAs over .350 and Abreu is the only real power threat based off the individual ISO scores. The White Sox have a middle of the road K% and batting average, but Shoe has been so good and offers such a discount in price over Sale that he is in play. On a short slate, it might even be worth it to roster both and hope for a pitching duel.
Johnny Cueto ($10300) – Cueto gets to pitch in a very pitcher friendly park now that he has been traded to the Royals. He does draw a tough matchup on paper as the Tigers have one of the higher batting averages against right-handed pitching this season. Most of that was done with a healthy Miggy and Yeonis Cespedes still on the team though, so with guys like McCann, Castellanos, and Davis taking bigger roles, we have seen a dip in those numbers. Cueto has a 2.69 ERA and a Whip under 1 so far this year. He has forgotten what it feels like to pitch in front of a home crowd as he has made an amazing 11 straight starts on the road. Cueto should be amped up to put on a good show in front of his home crowd in his first start there since the trade.
Middle of the Pack
Chris Sale ($12000) – This is a big price, but Sale has big game potential to pay it off. He has been knocked around a little bit in his last few starts, but he is still striking out 7 or 8 batters per turn. He is throwing the same number of pitches, but because he has been hit a little his innings are down. The Angels are not a great hitting team against left-handed pitching with Trout being the one guy who has numbers that stand out, but they also have a very low bottom tier strikeout percentage which may limit his upside as well. If this was not such a short slate with limited pitching options, I could make a case for a fade here, but it is a short slate and he still should be one of the bigger scorers on the day and a staple in many cash game lineups.
Gio Gonzalez ($9100) – Gio has been solid lately, but really lacks elite upside. He has been striking out better than a batter per inning recently, but he also has only been going about 6 innings per start which hinders his upside. Gio lacks elite upside because of the short innings, but has been able to limit damage and rack up some Ks. He is a solid cash game play as he tends to score 16-24 points pretty consistently, but can not be used in tournaments if that his upside ceiling.
Ian Kennedy ($8200) – Kennedy is starting to put it together. After giving up a ton of homers early in the year, he has regrouped and thrown some solid innings recently. He has been between 15-24 fantasy points, which gives him a nice floor and access to his ceiling. The Reds do not K often and have some solid bats near the top of the order, so this is not the best matchup ever, but Kennedy should be able to get you a decent 6 or 7 innings with 5 or 6 Ks. If he limits the runs, which is likely, he can be a decent cash game play here.
David Holmberg ($4700) – This is a really cheap price for a guy who has been solid in his two major league starts and has a decent matchup against a bad team in a good pitchers park. San Diego’s offense does not scare anyone and Holmberg gets a park bump pitching there today. He will likely only go five or six innings with 4 strikeouts, but if he can limit the damage to two runs during those innings, he should be able to return a mid teens number and be in line for the win. It’s not huge upside, but at $4700 that would be decent value.
Jon Gray ($5600) – Gray only went four innings in his debut, but it was not a bad first start for a guy who opened in Coors Field. He goes to the opposite end of the spectrum today and pitches at Citi Field which is one of the leagues best pitcher’s parks. The Mets are not a particularly tough offense, but they have played well lately. They do have some lefty bats to attack him and they had been on a roll although they did stumble this weekend. Overall, I have mixed feelings on Gray, but like him more than those in the rest of the field section.
Rest of the Field
Wei-Yin Chen ($7700) – After a strong run of starts, Chen has fallen off in his last four appearances. He has struggled to even reach double digits in only one of them, so his price is way too high here. Seattle is a good pitchers park and the Ms have struggled at the plate all season, but Chen has not been sharp enough to make me think he can dominant this lineup. He has not made it past six or limited the opponents walks and hits in any of his last four starts, so it will be tough to get the 22-24 points he will need at this rate. Bats like Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez have been hot, so he may give up a few runs here which would kill his score if he does not go deep in this one too.
Rubby De La Rosa ($7500) – Rubby has strikeout upside, but he also tends to get tagged for a lot of runs, especially homeruns. He had one 30 point game recently and the bandwagon got crowded, but he has been unable to come close to it in his other recent starts. He goes about six innings with five strikeouts on average per start. Not huge upside unless he dominants and shuts down offenses which he also has not done. At $7500, that is just not enough points to be a real factor.
Aaron Harang ($5400) – Over his last eight starts, Harang’s high score is 13 fantasy points. He has a few negative events as well and a lot of single digit roster killing scores. He faces an Arizona team today that has hit well, struck out infrequently, and plays in a hitter’s park. None of those things are positive signs for him. His innings are down to only five or six per start and his strikeouts are down to a handful at best. With out the positives, the runs and hits he allows will hurt even more and make it tough for him to give you even a decent return on your investment.
Matt Boyd ($4400) – Boyd was pretty good in two of his starts and absolutely horrendous in the other. I guess that is to be expected from a rookie, even one with a pedigree and a lot of hype. He faces a team that rarely strikes out and has a solid average here in the Royals, so this is not an easy matchup. Boyd has gone deep into games with 6 and 7 innings pitched over the good starts, but he is not a high K guy, so there is no safe floor if he doesn’t. That and the matchup have me staying away from him, although he is a guy to watch in the future.
Vidal Nuno ($4300) – Nuno has not been horrible, but the problem is that he has not been starting all year. Since his trade to the Mariners, they are starting to stretch him out, but he still has not pitched more than 4 innings in any appearance. If he can not at least get to the fifth, he has no shot for a win and little chance at any upside even at a low price.