Welcome back to the DraftKings Playbook, and our Daily Fantasy Pitchers breakdown for today’s action. As will be the case on most Friday’s moving forward, every team is in action today. We do have a little matinee baseball today as both Chicago clubs are on the road, in Detroit and San Diego. We do have a few All Day contests to join today, but the majority of the offerings will not include these games. For the sake of this article though, I’ll discuss each and every available pitcher today.
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, power/finesse pitching tendencies along with ground-ball/fly-ball tendencies. We leave no stone unturned here. The pitcher pool is loaded today, so let’s get to it. If you have any last minute questions you can fine me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
Corey Kluber @ Minnesota Twins ($9,800)
There are three starters that’ll cost you more than Corey Kluber will today, and they’re all studs who are playing at home. The defending AL Cy Young award winner is in their class though, and comes at a significant discount today when compared to his peers. He’s facing a Twins team that is off to a terrible start offensively, with a league worst .232 wOBA through the teams first 277 plate appearances. When you factor in where Minnesota’s starter, Mike Pelfry, ranks on this list (coughLASTcough) I like Kluber’s chances to secure a win here as well.
Max Scherzer vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($11,700)
Max Scherzer faced this same Phillies squad his last time out, but his bullpen squandered a late inning lead. Despite his 0-2 start, (#killthewin) the Nationals ace has pitched well to start the season, including a 0.66 ERA and 16 punch-outs through his first 13 innings. He’s $400 less here than he was last time out, and this one is at home. Don’t be afraid to pay up.
Clayton Kershaw vs. Colorado Rockies ($12,600)
I’ll be interested to see what Clayton Kershaw’s ownership numbers look like today. He’s coming off of two non-Kershawsian starts, and his price has gone up. There’s definitely some GPP appeal here. Kershaw is still the best pitcher on the planet, and it’s no secret that the Rockies aren’t quite the same team on the road as they are at home. The heavy left-handedness of the Rockies big bats should keep Kershaw on your radar if you can find the bats to make him fit.
Sonny Gray @ Kansas City Royals ($8,300)
The 2015 season has started well for Sonny Gray, who’s averaged 22.9 fppg through his first two starts, earning nearly 3x his salary in each start. That’s a solid target when looking at your cash game starting pitchers, and at his current price, I like his chances to do that again against the Royals. He doesn’t rack up the strikeout totals that the aces priced above him do, but he keeps the ball on the ground and Kaufman Stadium repressed power, especially for lefties.
David Price vs. Chicago White Sox ($10,100)
As I noted off the top, David Price won’t be available in the majority of contests today because the Tigers play in the afternoon. He’s always on the short list of options though, and if you’re making a lineup for the All Day slate, consider Price here. The White Sox have a number left-handed bats, and Price can pile up the strikeout numbers in a hurry.
Middle of the Pack
Michael Wacha vs. Cincinnati Reds ($8,000)
I’m sold on Michael Wacha making the leap this season and he’s off to a good start. He’s started to develop his secondary offerings after being primarily a two-pitch pitcher when he first came up. His curve is filthy and slow, keeping hitters off balanced when sequenced in with his cutter and change. He pitched well against the Reds last time out, and pitching at home is more favorable than his last outing in Cincinnati. If you’re thinking about using left-handed Reds in this spot, note that Jay Bruce is 0-16 with 8 strikeouts in his career against Wacha.
Josh Collmenter @ San Francisco Giants ($6,500)
There’s a lot to like about Josh Collmenter here tonight. The Giants are not an offense to fear, especially while they’re without Hunter Pence, and this is the best pitching environment in the league. Collmenter hasn’t fared well early this season, but he’s been on the receiving end of a .450 BABIP so far this season. He’s typically a heavy fly ball pitcher, but he’s been getting more ground ball so far this season, which is impacting that BABIP, albeit, negatively so far. He’s throwing his change a lot more this season, and on a usage basis, it’s almost entirely in place of his fastball so perhaps that’s to blame. I’m willing to take a chance on him tonight, and he pairs well with one of the aces above.
Johnny Cueto @ St. Louis Cardinals ($9,700)
There’s no denying the skill here, but I’m not crazy about the matchup for Johnny Cueto. The Cardinals have the left-handed bats that can give Cueto problems, but I don’t expect many runs to be scored in this game on either side. When comparing opponents, I’d much rather face the Twins than the Cardinals, and that’s the decision you have to make when choosing between Corey Kluber and Johnny Cueto today.
Drew Hutchison vs. Atlanta Braves ($7,200)
There are so many strong pitching options today, and we can add Drew Hutchison to the list. His less than stellar start to the season, on the road in New York and Baltimore, should keep his ownership levels low which makes him an appealing GPP option. He’s making his home debut against a Braves team that’ll be a popular DFS target all season. They’ve gotten off to a decent start, but let’s not kid ourselves here. This team is criminally devoid of offensive talent outside of Freddie Freeman, and they’re worth targeting even in the hitter friendly Rodgers Centre.
Jimmy Nelson @ Pittsburgh Pirates ($6,600)
After getting pounded all spring, Jimmy Nelson came out and dazzled in his season debut against these same Pirates. Nelson went seven strong innings, striking out nine and only gave up two hits. Eno Sarris dug in to what was behind his opening day success, and credits the use of a newly harnessed spike-grip curve ball, especially to left-handed hitters. Eliminating major handed platoon splits is vital for any young pitcher who’s looking to improve, and it looks as though Nelson may have figured out a way to do so. His price also makes him one of the best daily fantasy pitchers of the day.
Jeff Samardzija @ Detroit Tigers ($8,700)
I feel as though the pendulum has swung too far on Jeff Samardzija. As the beginning of last season, while still a Cub, I felt as though Samardzija was extremely underrated. He was pitching well but it often went for naught, especially in the wins column. He continued his strong performances last season, but yielded better results and pitched well in Oakland after the mid-season trade. I’m not a huge fan of heavy fly ball pitchers who call U.S. Cellular their home park, and while that’s not where he’s pitching today, I think the helium has raised his price to near elite status and thus, pricing him out of consideration.
Jake Peavy vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($8,200)
Any time a game is played in San Francisco we need to give serious consideration to the pitchers involved, so that includes Jake Peavy today. The only problem here is that Peavy’s upside is capped because his salary is so high. If we’re targeting 2.5-3x salary, we’ll need roughly 22-25 points from Peavy to return the necessary value to make him worth rostering. You can save $200 by going with Michael Wacha instead, or splurge and spend an extra $100 for Sonny Gray.
James Shields @ Chicago Cubs ($8,700)
Wrigley Field is fairly neutral in terms of park effect, but can play to both extremes depending on the weather. It’s definitely not Petco Park though, but it feels as though Shields is priced for a home start here. Most of us won’t need to make a decision on Shields today because he plays in the afternoon, but for the All Day players today I feel there are much better ways to spend your resources.
J.A. Happ vs. Texas Rangers ($6,800)
Seattle plays a bit more neutral than the perception it portrays, and it’s not a terrible place to call home if you’re J.A. Happ. At times Happ can be victimized by the long ball because he gives up so many fly balls, but he’s made improvements here over time, and Seattle is still a pitchers park in terms of both left and right-handed power. The Rangers right-handed bats don’t frighten me whatsoever. If paired with a strikeout pitcher, Happ could be in play today.
Joe Kelly vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5,100)
So, Joe Kelly was really friggin’ good last time out, huh? He dominated the lefty-centric Yankees in Yankee stadium, a park that plays as favorably to left-handed bats as any in all of baseball. He set a career high with eight strikeouts, and held the Yankees to just one hit. He’s always thrown hard, but has never been know to miss bats like this before. A deeper look at his Brooks Baseball page shows that there might be something to this new found success. The development and increased usage of Kelly’s slider had a lot to do with his success. Against the Yankees, Kelly’s slider induced a SwStk% of 44%, more than double his career totals for the pitch. This is a one game sample size of course, but it’ll cost you next to nothing to find out if it’s real.
Julio Teheran @ Toronto Blue Jays ($8,500)
I can’t think of many pitchers that I’d target when they’re in Toronto facing the Blue Jays. If I were to do so, the pitcher would need to be a huge strikeout pitcher, and someone that keeps the ball on the ground at an elite clip. Teheran is serviceable here, but not worth true consideration in my opinion.
Bartolo Colon vs. Miami Marlins ($7,000)
If only we could capitalize on his offensive prowess…
Bartolo Colon has managed to have a better than expected back nine to his career. He doesn’t give up many free passes, and if he can keep the ball down in the zone he can have success on most nights. On a shorter slate I could understand using Colon at home for $7,000, but not here tonight with all of the lower priced options who possess higher upside.
Rest of the Field
At this point, I’ve explored pitchers up and down the pricing spectrum. You have plenty of options if you want to spend up at the position or if you choose to save money. The rest of these players are worth avoiding in my opinion.
Jason Hammel vs. San Diego Padres ($7,000)
Former Rockies starter Jason Hammel pitched well against his former club last time out, but it wasn’t anything to go crazy about. Hammel is in the same boat as Bartolo Colon for me; he’d make sense on a shorter slate but not today with this many options.
David Phelps @ New York Mets ($4,600)
There are times where David Phelps gets enough strikeouts to have some value, but the walks are almost always there to follow. He’s worked out of the bullpen early, but is getting the call to start due to the Henderson Alvarez injury. I wouldn’t expect more than 5 innings from Phelps here today.
Jered Weaver @ Houston Astros ($7,500)
Collmenter, Nelson, and Happ are all in better spots today and can save you $1,000 in salary. If you’re looking for a decent contrarian stack I’d give the Astros a looksie here. Jered Weaver’s continued velocity drop and flat breaking balls are making him an option based on name only.
Ubaldo Jimenez @ Boston Red Sox ($6,000)
The ultimate boom or bust player, there is no middle ground for Ubaldo Jimenez. Against a patient Red Sox lineup, I’m not willing to bet on the boom here.
Yovani Gallardo @ Seattle Mariners ($6,900)
The Nelly Cruz dong party continues here against Yovani Gallardo. The Mariners also have numerous left-handed bats that will likely give Gallardo fits. He’s posted decent strikeout numbers in his first two starts, but his upside is limited here.
Jeff Locke vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($5,900)
At the time of this writing, the status of Carlos Gomez remains unknown, but even if he’s out here, the Brewers are an extremely right-handed hitting team. Locke doesn’t miss enough bats to make him an options here.
Sean O’Sullivan @ Washington Nationals ($5,300)
I bet Sean O’Sullivan loves Guinness, dines at the Cask N’ Flagon and orders the corned beef and cabbage when he’s there. I also bet that you can do better things with your money than spend it on a Sean O’Sullivan start when he’s facing Max Scherzer.
Adam Warren @ Tampa Bay Rays ($4,800)
Adam Warren can find some success if he works down and away which helps him keep the ball on the ground. As a starter he doesn’t fool too many hitters, and fails to get the strikeouts that we’d need to take him seriously as an option.
Kyle Kendrick @ Los Angeles Dodgers ($4,400)
In a battle of #1 starters….ok that’s not even fair. The reality is, both of these players took the ball for their team on opening day, but I’d have to give the edge to Kershaw in this one.
Jeremy Guthrie vs. Oakland Athletics ($5,700)
Jeremy Guthrie really struggles against lefty bats, and the Athletics have the ability to platoon most of their roster to exploit this. At this point, you need to be reading this with ‘who do I stack’ in mind.
Nathan Karns vs. New York Yankees ($5,900)
It was a much better showing for Nathan Karns last time out. The Orioles had a field day with Karns in his debut, but he was able to work into the seventh inning his last time out against Miami. Karns pounded the strike zone early and often, and was able to avoid any serious damage. I’m not sure I’m willing to bank on that luck continuing here against the Yankees.
Roberto Hernandez vs. Los Angeles Angels ($4,600)
Start any and all Angels hitters…
Mike Pelfry vs. Cleveland Indians ($4,000)
…unless you can’t fit them in because you’re already using too many Indians.