Welcome back to the DraftKings Playbook Daily Pitcher Rankings. It’s a full 15-game evening slate tonight, and it’s always more fun when all 30 teams are in play. Upper-echelon pitchers are few and far between tonight, with just seven starters priced above $7,500. My goal is to help you make the right decisions when choosing your pitchers, but to also help you target the ones that are likely to struggle, making it easier for you to choose your bats. If you’re new or if you have any last-minute questions, please 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. To determine the best values in today’s rankings, I run projections that include opponent’s strength, betting situation, handedness, park factor, projected Game Score, power/finesse pitching tendencies along with ground-ball/fly-ball tendencies. We want to take everything into consideration when making our pitcher choices, because they’re the backbone of the lineup.
Cream of the Crop
Stephen Strasburg vs. San Diego Padres ($10,000)
Stephen Strasburg has been sharp since his return from the DL, spinning 20 innings over three starts with 25 strikeouts and just two walks. He was hit hard earlier this season, but his 4.22 ERA is more than a run higher than his 3.08 FIP, driven by an inflated BABIP (.333) and strand rate (just 66.1%). His strikeout upside gets a boost from San Diego’s 21.5% K-rate, making him a viable option for both cash and tournaments tonight. Vegas likes him as well, with the Padres coming in with the lowest implied-run total of the night (3.1).
Jake Arrieta has been consistently strong this season, and gets a sizable park factor boost tonight in San Francisco. The Giants have been strong offensively against right-handed pitching this season (110 wRC+), but I like this spot for Arrieta. His 54.2% ground ball rate helps limited the damage that’s done against him, and AT&T Park is where fly balls go to die. He has elite swing-and-miss stuff (9.11 K/9) and has managed to control both left-handed (.237 wOBA) and right-handed (.268) bats this season. Cy Arrieta.
Noah Syndergaard @Philadelphia Phillies ($10,900)
The young buck has stumbled a bit of late and will look to get back on track tonight against the Phillies. Braves’ Hall of Famer and former Met, Tom Glavine, was a notoriously slow starter as well. The narrative was if you don’t get to him in the first inning then you missed your best chance. That’s been Noah Syndergaard’s story so far this season and he’ll try right the ship tonight against a Phillies squad that knocked Jacob deGrom around last night. Vegas is a fan, as Philly’s implied-run total opened at just 3.4 runs.
Dallas Keuchel @ New York Yankees ($11,000)
Few pitchers are better suited to survive the Bronx than Dallas Keuchel and his 63.1% ground ball rate. He’s been death to left-handed bats (.158 wOBA!) and right-handers haven’t fared much better (.271). The 3.8 implied-run total for the Yankees is a bit higher than I would have expected, but the Yankees have been one of the better offenses against left-handed pitching this season (114 wRC+/.337 wOBA). The matchup feels more like a tournament play tonight.
James Shields ginormous handedness splits usually keep me off of him, but he’s priced well for cash games tonight. Bryce Harper scares me since Shields has allowed left-handed bats to smash him this season (.375 wOBA), but he’s neutralized right-handed bats (.290) and has huge strikeout upside against National League squads. His 13.2% SwStk rate will be trouble for the free-swinging (21.5%) Nats.
Middle of the Pack
Nate Karns vs. Minnesota Twins ($8,300)
Pitching at home in the Trop is a boon for Nate Karns and the Rays tonight. The Twins have some thunder, most notably Miguel Sano, but they have just a 3.5 implied-run total tonight. Karns has the strikeout upside that we want as well, whiffing 8.80 batters per nine innings, with neutral splits that limited his blow up potential.
Jaime Garcia @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($9,500)
There’s always a pitcher or two who’s able to really out-pitch his peripherals each year, and Jaime Garcia feels like one of those arms in 2015. He’s a talented pitcher, but he’s not a sub-2 ERA pitcher. His 3.13 FIP is quite a bit higher than his 1.79 ERA, and even that’s inflated by his .234 BABIP and 82.6% strand rate. He doesn’t have the strikeout upside to validate a $9,500 price tag, and the negative park shift to Arizona seals his fate in my eyes tonight. I’m going to keep investing in regression by targeting his opponents.
Jesse Chavez @ Seattle Mariners ($7,500)
Jesse Chavez has had three solid outings in a row against strong offenses (LAD, HOU and TOR) and looks to continue that trend against a far inferior opponent tonight in Seattle. His ceiling isn’t that high due to his league average strikeout rate, but the park is favorable to his skill set and his ability to keep right-handed hitters in check (.266 wOBA) helps.
Charlie Morton @ Miami Marlins ($7,100)
I want to like ‘Ground Chuck’ tonight, but my model disagrees a bit. Perhaps it’s the extreme handedness splits that are an issue, as he’s struggled against left-handed bats this season (.368 wOBA). The matchup against the Marlins in Miami is a plus though, as the Marlins are dead-last in wOBA against right-handed pitching, and Morton’s 58% ground ball rate plays well everywhere.
Wade Miley @ Chicago White Sox ($6,800)
The White Sox have been incredibly bad against left-handed pitching this season, with a league-worst .275 wOBA and 71 wRC+ this season. Miley can survive the homerun-friendly U.S. Cellular Field by keeping the ball on the ground (49.7%), but he’ll need to successfully navigate right-handed bats in order to work deep in to this one.
Mike Montgomery vs. Oakland Athletics ($5,300)
Mike Montgomery’s appearance this early on the list is more a result of the slate than Montgomery’s recent performance. He’s just too cheap tonight. Oakland hasn’t had much success against left-handed bats this season, with a .295 wOBA and limited power. I like Montgomery’s 52.2% ground ball rate, and he’ll likely have a solid start if he keeps his walks in check (3.65 BB/9).
Jose Quintana vs. Boston Red Sox ($7,400)
As bad as the Red Sox have been at times this season, they enter play on Tuesday with the fourth best wOBA (.330) against left-handed pitching this season which is bad news for Jose Quintana and the White Sox. The Sox don’t strikeout much either, limiting the 7.54 K/9 upside that Quintana has on most nights. He’s too good to have a .336 BABIP all season, but I’m not sure this is the spot to bet on regression.
Matt Cain vs. Chicago Cubs ($5,100)
‘They aren’t building million dollar hotels in Vegas because they’re wrong all the time.’
It’s one of my favorite sayings when it comes to considering Vegas info in to my DFS analysis, and that’s why the Cubs 3.5 implied-run total against Matt Cain has my attention. It’s a small number especially when you consider how well the Cubs are swinging it and how poorly Cain has been pitching. He’s been crushed by left-handed bats since returning from the DL (.433 wOBA), but his fly ball tendencies play well in spacious AT&T Park.
Robbie Ray vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($6,700)
Robbie Ray was slated to pitch on Monday, but was pushed back and instead will take the ball tonight for the Cardinals in Arizona. Ray came off the DL in June and put together a nice stretch of starts, but he’s been less than stellar of late. His overall numbers are decent though (3.38 ERA/3.30 FIP), with strikeout and walk rates that are basically league average. The Cardinals get a positive park shift here, but they’re a different club when facing a lefty, striking out 22.8% of the time with just the 23rd best wOBA in the league at .298.
Ervin Santana @ Tampa Bay Rays ($4,700)
Similar to Robbie Ray, Ervin Santana returned in June and had a couple exceptional starts. It’s been a steady decline from there. He worked his way up to $9,400 after his dominant performance against the Angels, and now finds himself under $5K in a plus matchup against the Rays in Tampa. There’s a bit of tournament appeal here if you’re looking to get exposure to some expensive bats. Santana has struggled with home runs and left-handed power, two things that Tampa Bay lacks.
Josh Tomlin vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($5,700)
It’s wise to temper your expectations of Josh Tomlin, but the right-hander has had back-to-back solid outings since his return from shoulder surgery, including seven innings of two hit ball in Yankee Stadium in his last start. If he can continue his current trend he’s extremely under-priced tonight, but I’m a bit hesitant to rank him as if he will. This slate has a plethora of cheap, high-risk/high-reward starters for tournaments and Tomlin is in that mix.
Alex Wood @ Cincinnati Reds ($6,600)
Alex Wood has yet to get it going in Dodger Blue. Earlier this season it was clear that Wood was focusing on his command, limiting his strikeout upside in place of better control and fewer walks. Lately we’ve seen more walks and even fewer strikeouts, making Wood difficult to roster right now. He has actionable splits as well, with right-handed hitters knocking him around with a .344 wOBA. The young southpaw has flashed exciting skills in the past, but we just aren’t seeing that right now.
Mark Buehrle @ Texas Rangers ($6,300)
The enigma that is Mark Buehrle rolls on. He’s an excellent back of the rotation starter and continues to get the job done for the Blue Jays. He constantly throws stirkes, works quickly, and keeps the ball down in the zone. The problem is from a fantasy perspective, we want SOME strikeouts, and Buehrle offers little to nothing in that department. The run prevention (3.45 ERA/4.08 FIP) isn’t good enough to ignore the lack of punch outs, and the matchup in Texas is less than ideal.
Ivan Nova vs. Houston Astros ($6,500)
Perhaps I’m selling Ivan Nova a bit short here, but his 5.90 K/9 isn’t the profile I’m looking for when trying to exploit the Astros heavy swing-and-miss ways (24.2%). I do like his ability to induce ground balls and he’s been good against right-handed bats thus far, so I’m likely to avoid both he and the Astros tonight.
Rest of the Field
Wily Peralta @ Cleveland Indians ($5,400)
There used to be a bit of upside to Wily Peralta’s game, but that’s disappeared this season. There’s very little strikeout meat on the bone at just 5.14 per nine, and he’s allowed both left (.364 wOBA) and right-handed (.343) batters to tee off on him this season.
Alfredo Simon vs. Los Angeles Angels ($6,100)
The Big Fettuccine hasn’t been nearly as good (i.e. lucky) as he was last season, but he’s had some decent outings due in part to his ability to neutralize right-handers (.265 wOBA). The other side of the platoon split is ugly though, as left-handed bats have a .371 wOBA against him thus far. The Angels that scare me the most are right-handed, but that’s not enough to make Simon a viable option here.
Chad Bettis @ Atlanta Braves ($6,200)
Getting out of Coors is good for any pitcher, but not necessarily good enough to make him a viable fantasy asset. Chad Bettis’ struggles have been related to walks this season (3.57 BB/9), and he has a bit of a reverse split in terms of who’s hitting him the hardest. Right-handed bats have a .359 wOBA against the right-handed Bettis.
Jered Weaver @ Detroit Tigers ($6,400)
A fly ball pitcher who doesn’t miss bats is about as unappealing as it gets in the world of DFS. That’s Jered Weaver circa 2015 for you. I won’t go long on Weaver here, but I expect the Tigers will tonight. Hey oh!
Miguel Gonzalez @ Kansas City Royals ($5,900)
If you’ve read my work before here, you know I typically avoid the Royals. Yes, they’re a good offensive club, entering play with the 7th best wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season, but it has less to do with that and everything to do with strikeouts. Or a lack thereof. Their 15.6% whiff rate (and league-low 6.2% walk rate) takes away any pitcher’s top end upside because they pull the ball in play so frequently.
Derek Holland vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($6,700)
What the Blue Jays are doing to left-handed pitching is just not fair. Their .356 wOBA and 127 wRC+ are both far and away the best marks in the league, and their 9.9% walk rate shows that they’re patient, as well. This does not bode well for the finally-healthy Derek Holland tonight, who’s likely to have his hands full early and often.
Mike Foltynewicz vs. Colorado Rockies ($4,600)
I’m a believer that down the road Mike Foltynewicz will be a solid major league pitcher, but the young right-hander is struggling to find his footing right now. He’ll need to develop some off-speed pitches that can induce grounders because his current 32.1% ground ball rate won’t cut it. His 6.06 ERA is inflated with a high home run rate and .357 BABIP, but his struggles have come against both lefties (.416 wOBA) and righties (.369) this season. I like the natural gas that he has, and it’s playing itself out in his 8.16 K/9, but he has a long way to go.
John Lamb vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($5,200)
Vegas has the Dodgers with one of the highest implied-run totals of the night at 4.7 runs as the face off against John Lamb in the Great American Ballpark. Lamb can miss bats, but his propensity to give him a ton of fly balls and hard contact do not bode well for his chances of success tonight.
Danny Duffy vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5,000)
The Orioles have a pretty high whiff rate against left-handed pitching (21.7%), but Danny Duffy is not the guy to take advantage of that (5.31 K/9). I don’t like heavy fly ball pitchers like this against teams with big power potential.
Brad Hand vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($4,000)
The Pirates are rolling right now, winners of 14 of their last 18, and Brad should give them a hand in making it 15 of 19. Ah yes, hand puns.
Jerome Williams vs. New York Mets ($4,200)
‘No Home’ Jerome gets the unenviable task of taking on the suddenly fierce Mets offense tonight. The Mets home run barrage could continue tonight since Williams has struggled to keep the ball in the park this season and the Mets are crushing right-handed pitching right now.