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.
Good Luck to the Finalists playing for $1 Million tonight out at the Wynn in Las Vegas. Follow along HERE.
Cream of the Crop
Johnny Cueto vs. Los Angeles Angels ($10600) – Cueto was marvelous in his first home start for his new team. He threw a complete game and absolutely dominated the Tigers with a four hit, eight strikeout performance. The Tigers have better numbers than the Angels do, so he should be in a nice spot here too. His matchup with Shoemaker favors him and the right-handed dominant lineup of the Angels does not profile well against him either. Trout is one of the best in the game so there is nothing to really knock there. Pujols had a great run a month or so back, but has since slumped a lot and watched all his numbers come down with it. Outside of those two, there is not much to worry about. Cueto is not a huge strikeout guy, but he can dial them up. His price is a discount to other top options today as well, which makes him my favorite play based on price and matchup.
Justin Verlander vs. Houston Astros ($7200) – With Cueto and Verlander leading the way, it seems like we are stuck in a time warp, but based on how Verlander has looked lately, he may have found what he had lost. Verlander has returned at least 3 points per thousand of cost in four of his last six. He faces the team with the second highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitching, so he should have a nice floor based on strikeouts. At only $7200, he needs about 21 points which is a number he has blown past in two of his last three, so this is a solid play in tournaments and cash games.
Jose Quintana vs. Chicago Cubs ($8000) – This looks like a great spot for Quintana. The Cubs have the third highest strikeout rate against left-handed pitching. The two biggest bats are both lefties and Quintana has been nearly unhittable to same handed batters. He struggles with right-handed bats, which the Cubs do have a lot of. The problem is the Cubs right-handers do not have good numbers at all against lefties. Dexter Fowler has the best numbers and he only has a .351 wOBA with a .109 ISO. Bryant is probably second on this list and he is currently sporting a .337 wOBA with a .214 ISO against lefties. Quintana is routinely around 20 points and has flashed 30 and 40 point upside. As a tournament option at this price, he makes a lot of sense. Even for cash, his high teens floor would not kill you at only $8000.
Middle of the Pack
Chris Archer vs. Texas Rangers ($11200) – Archer is really solid and a good cash game option for safety. He has thrown up 20+ fantasy points in all but one recent start. The problem with Archer is at this price, he needs to throw a gem to be tournament worthy and that is a big if. He has the ability to do so as he went on a run of 30-40 point starts with 10+ Ks in each earlier in the year, but he will face a pretty solid offense in a hitter’s park in this one. I do expect him to pitch well, but probably not be the top scoring option
Chris Bassitt vs. Baltimore Orioles ($6400) – Bassitt has started to figure it all out. He has about 4.5 to 5 points per thousand in his last two starts and about 3 point per in the third start before it. The Orioles are not a tough matchup as they have the third highest strikeout rate in the majors against right-handed pitching and are bottom ten in batting average. Bassitt had a rocky beginning, but his numbers now look really good. He struggles most with left-handed bats, but the only one who really scares me on the Orioles is Chris Davis. Bassitt is a good cheap option based on the matchup and his recent performances. He also profiles pretty well against this team, so he is definitely an option for a tournament.
Jimmy Nelson vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($8500) – that is six straight starts where Nelson has basically been at 20 or more fantasy points. He has gone about 7 innings in each and struck out 6 to 7 batters while in the process. Nelson seems to be putting it all together and is still a little cheaper than many of his peers despite similar numbers and a decent matchup. Philly is not a high strikeout team, but with Franco injured, they are a weaker lineup now minus the top hitting option they had recently. Nelson has upside and the consistency recently to make him useable in cash or tournaments today.
Patrick Corbin vs. Atlanta Braves ($7300) – Corbin has been up and down in his few starts this year, but has a good matchup on paper. The Braves do not have a lot of guys who own good numbers against left-handed pitching this season and their best player is on the DL. Somehow they have managed to outperform in recent games though, which gives me some pause despite the fact I can not figure out how they are doing it. Corbin has huge strikeout upside with at least one per inning being his average. He does not tend to pitch deep into games though, which limits the overall upside for him. I would love to push him up even higher, but after the Braves have burned people targeting them all week, I am a little more cautious here despite the numbers pointed to Corbin as a really good play.
Jake Arrieta vs. Chicago White Sox ($11600) – Arrieta is a very good pitcher and has been almost untouchable lately. In his last two starts, he has gone over 7 innings in each and only allowed 6 total hits with no earned runs. only has 11 in those 14.2 innings. While all of that is great, at a price of $11600, he needs to do way more. Arrieta is not a huge strikeout guy and the White Sox are not a huge strikeout team. The White Sox also are middle of the road in batting average so while it is not a tough matchup, it does not really stand out either. Overall I like Arrieta and think he is in a decent spot, but I just can’t see him having a 35 point outing here and making value.
Jonathon Niese vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($7700) – Niese is no longer a cheap guy we can joke about starting for the first time ever in DFS, which was a popular sentiment before his last outing. This matchup is infinity harder although he will be aided by his pitcher friendly home park. Niese has allowed Righties to hit about .270 against him this year. The Pirates have a slew of guys with good numbers against lefties. Marte, Cutch, Cervelli, and Kang as a group have feasted on them all year. That group has a combined wOBA of just short of .400 and an ISO score north of .200.
Gio Gonzalez vs. San Fransisco Giants ($9200) – The San Fransisco offense struggles both against left-handed pitching and at home. Buster Posey has the best advanced numbers against left-handed pitching on the team and even he is only sporting a .354 wOBA with a .174 ISO number. The Giants are not a high strikeout team which will limit the upside for Gio or he would be much higher on this list. San Fran is a great ballpark to pitch in and I doubt we see a ton of runs here, but at $9200, without a lot of strikeouts he won’t reach his value for tournaments. He could be a solid cash game option that does get close to 20 points if you are ok paying over $9000 for that.
Jon Gray vs. San Diego Padres ($5200) – This is a really trick one to figure. Gray is a big prospect and has some talent. He showed that last out by throwing up almost 20 fantasy points. His first and only other start was at home in Colorado and was less than spectacular. He has about the easiest matchup he could ask for today as a right-hander. The Padres had the fifth highest strikeout rate and are 26th in batting average against righties. We have seen a lot of big games put up by right-handers against this Padres team so Gray should at the very least be a decent option here.
Brad Hand vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($4300) – If you want to throw some big bats in a tournament roster today, Brad Hand is the cheap guy who makes sense to target at only $4300. The St. Louis Cardinals are fifth worst in the league for batting average against left-handed pitching and have the fifth highest strikeout rate. Randall Grichuk at .355 and Jhonny Peralta at .346 are the only two decent wOBAs on the Cardinals against lefties and nether of those numbers are great. Hand has struggled more with right-handed bats too as they have hit .276 against him, but the Cards without Holliday are really lacking in quality ones. I would not expect Hand to be the top scoring option on the entire slate, but on a points per dollar basis, he very well may be in a matchup that favors him this much.
John Lackey vs. Miami Marlins ($9200) – Lackey is another solid, yet unspectacular option here. He is a guy who always keeps his team in a game, but lacks elite fantasy upside. His game log points to a consistent performer who gets about 20 fantasy points per contest. That is a solid cash game option against a weak hitting Marlins team, but nothing that is likely to lead to a tournament win. The MArlins have a lot of left-handed bats to throw at him and Lackey does not have a huge strikeout.
Colby Lewis vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($7400) – I would have loved to use a red hot Colby Lewis in this matchup at a cheap price. We did not get a cheap price on him here though. Tamp is bad against right-handed pitching and has a high strikeout rate which are both positives. Lewis has been good recently too, so he has some upside. It is a bad pitcher’s park though and he has been pitching well above his season totals. I do not see this as a surefire game for his regression to come, but I als am not very confident he continues to pitch well. At best I can say he makes for a good tournament play as he has flashed upside and faces a bad team, but there is no where near enough certainty to make him a viable option in cash games.
Matt Shoemaker vs. Kansas City Royals ($7100) – Shoemaker is the epitome of a tournament play. He has sandwiched starts of single digit numbers around a three start size from 7/21-8/04 where he had 30 points per start and was winning a ton of money for his backers. The Royals are the one team that DFS players are warned to stay away from targeting against. The Royals put the ball in play, have a high batting average, and are the stingiest team when it comes to strikeouts. Shoe’s biggest problem has been the homerun ball, but the Royals at Kaufman are not a high homerun team. I know it’s grasping at straws but I had to try to play devil’s advocate.
Rest of the Field
Colin McHugh vs. Detroit Tigers ($7800) – McHugh is not a bad pitcher, but this is not a great spot for him at all based on the numbers. McHugh has been a reverse splits guy this year with a .307 batting average and 10 homers in 37 innings of work. The Tigers have a very righty dominant lineup, but those bats mash right-handed pitching. Miguel Cabrera is back in the mix and JD Martinez has always been a stud in righty on righty matchups. The Tigers also have a ton of homerun power up and down that lineup and Houston is a very homer friendly place. McHugh has been pitching better recently, but it also took him 121 pitches to get through six vs a struggling Oakland team. That is way more pitches than he has thrown in his other starts and a warning sign that regression may be on the horizon here.
Andrew Cashner vs. Colorado Rockies ($5800) – Cashner is by far the most talented pitcher on the bottom rung here, but he belongs. He has not had a game where he put up 2 points or more per thousand of cost in his last 3 starts. Add to that he faces a Colorado team loaded with left-handed bats in Coors field and things look bleak. Cashner has allowed left-handed bats to hit .297 with 12 homers in 57 innings of work. Guys like Blackmon, Paulsen, and especially Carlos Gonzalez should feast in this spot. Many of the other pitchers here do not have the talent to be higher on this list. Cashner does, but the matchup is way to tough for this to be the game to look for a bounce back.
Charlie Morton vs. New York Mets ($6300) – Morton has really only had one great start in his last nine with a 30 two games back. Every other game was about two points per thousand at best. He does pitch in a good pitcher’s park here, but the Mets have been playing decent baseball and do have some really good left-handed bats to lean on. Guys like Granderson and Duda should be good against a guy in Morton who has allowed a .307 average with a 1.72 WHIP to left-handed bats. Morton may not get rocked here, but I also doubt he has a huge upside game coming here.
Miguel Gonzalez vs. Oakland Athletics ($6100) – He has had three bad starts in a row. He has a pretty decent matchup here, but he is a tad pricey to really look for upside. As bad as the As have struggled, Gonzalez has as well. He struggles most with left-handed bats and with the homerun ball. The Athletics only have two guys who have over a .360 wOBA and both are slumping. Reddick and Vogt have both seen those wOBAs drop about 40 basis points in the last three weeks. The As have a weak offense, but Gonzalez is only averaging about 5 innings with seven hits and four runs recently, so there is no upside to using him.
Brett Anderson vs. Cincinnati Reds ($6500) – Anderson has some good stuff, but it has not translated to good numbers this year. Right-handed bats are hitting .277 with 10 homers 89 innings of work and lefties are hitting .272. The Reds have a ton of bats who do well against left-handed pitching. Frazier has a .400 wOBA and ISO, Suarez is at .395, .293, Byrd is .377 wOBA and .273 ISO, and even Votto as a lefty/lefty matchup has a wOBA of .404 and a .175 ISO number. That’s a lot of favorable matchups up near the top of that order for the Reds and a lot of bad news for Anderson. It is a good ballpark as LA is a pitcher friendly park, but I still do not see the upside for using a guy like Anderson.
David Holmberg vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($4600) – The young lefty is likely to stay in the rotation after being pretty solid in two of his first three outings. He faces a Dodgers team that is ninth in batting average against left-handed pitching and has the 20th highest strikeout percentage. It is definitely not an easy spot for him. Holmberg has no real upside, but he has returned about 3 points per thousand in two of his first three starts. I think he will have a hard time doing it here and even if he does, that really does not give you much upside.
Jerome Williams vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($4000) – Jerome Williams is really cheap and coming off of two solid starts. He faces a Brewers team that has the tenth highest batting average against right-handed pitching and the 18th highest strikeout rate. Left-handed bats are hitting .311 against him and right-handed bats are hitting .322 with 16 homers in 54 innings. The Brew Crew has some big power hitting right-handed bats like the red hot Khris Davis and Ryan Braun. Despite the recent struggles, I think it still is a tough spot for Williams and would not even use him at this incredibly cheap price.
Mike Foltynewicz vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($5300) – This is a horrendous spot for Foltynewicz. He has allowed a .326 batting average with 7 homers in 33 innings to left-handed bats and a .289 average with 7 homers in 39 innings to right-handed bats. Arizona has some solid bats against right-handed pitching like Goldy, Castillo, and Pollock. Even the Lefties like Inciarte and Peralta are all in good spots, so this is not a good place to roll him out.
Tyler Duffey vs. Cleveland Indians ($4500) – Duffey got shelled by the Blue Jays in his first and only big league start. He gets to come home and gets a much lesser lineup for this one. Duffey had great numbers in AAA this year. He had an overall batting average allowed of .220 with neither side hitting over .238 against him. He pitched 85 innings and only allowed one homerun. He gave up two homers in Toronto in his first start, so maybe it was just a hiccup against a great offense in a great hitter’s park. Either way, I do not see him going more than maybe 6 innings here, so even if he was lights out, what is the upside?
Josh Tomlin vs. Minnesota Twins ($4800) – The twins as a team do not do well against right-handed pitching. They have the 8th highest strikeout rate and the are 23rd in batting average. Tomlin also has not been good though as right-handers are hitting .314 against him this year at AAA before going on the DL.He has not pitched in over a week and I would not expect him to go deep in this one no matter how well he may pitch, although I doubt he pitches all that well.