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
Clayton Kershaw ($14500) – Clayton Kershaw is one of the more dominant pitchers in all of baseball and the Mets are currently one of the worst batting orders. They are likely without Michael Cuddyer too, who was one of their biggest bats from the right side against a lefty. That is not saying much as he has not had a good year, but it is telling of the team’s overall lack of success. The Mets have a lot of left-handed regulars who Kershaw profiles well against. If they choose to sit them, the right-handed bench players they bring in will be overmatched. The game is also in Citi-Field which is statistically the worst park for hitter’s this season. It’s a perfect storm for Kershaw, so he is definitely in play. The only question you have to ask is, how do I build a team around a guy who sucks up 30$ of the salary cap?
Mike Fiers ($7700) – Fiers has the strikeout upside to always be a tournament option. He has a good chance to flash that upside today against a team who has the seventh highest strikeout rate against right-handers in MLB. He is favored at -120 in a game with a high total of 8.5 in a hitter’s park. Fiers has actually been better on the road this year as his ERA is a more than a point less. Arizona has a few guys to worry about, but the lineup gets very weak after the tough four or five hitters. That leaves a lot of strikeout potential for him at the bottom of the order and his price is user friendly today at only $7700. Vegas likes him for the win too, which means he should be in a good spot when you add the seven innings he has been going lately with a probable win and a high K total. He does give up a few negative events, but as long as he doesn’t completely get shelled, he should return nice value.
Middle of the Pack
Fransisco Liriano ($10,300) – Liriano is a huge favorite here at -170 in a game with only 7 runs expected. He was scratched just minutes before his last scheduled start with a neck issue. Many players were burned as the news broke late and right as the games were getting ready to start. The word is that he is fine now though, so all we can do is take the information we hear. He faces a Nationals team that is right in the middle of the league for both batting average and strikeout percentage against left-handed pitching. The only bat they have this year with a Woba over .345 or an ISO score over .190 against lefties is Bryce Harper and while he hits everybody, his preferred split is with right-handers. Liriano’s biggest risk today is that he is not 100% healthy. He could aggravate it and get pulled early or it could bother him and he may turn out to be ineffective.
Trevor Bauer ($8700) – Bauer faces a White Sox team that is 23rd for batting average against right handed pitching and has the 15th highest strikeout rate. He is favored at -135 and the game is expecting 7.5 runs total. Bauer had been really solid most of the season, but threw up a clunker against Cincy last time out. He had a 9 strikeout 32 fantasy point performance the game before, so he is capable of big things. The White Sox have struggled to score all year, so he’s an intriguing option in this one with his high K upside and the White Sox lack of offensive firepower.
John Lackey ($8400) – I really like Lackey and he has thrown up some good starts recently, but it’s so tough to take any pitcher against this Royals team. They have the lowest Strikeout rate in the league and are bouncing around amongst the top 4 in batting average as well on a daily basis. Lackey is favored, he is at home, and he does have good stuff. At his price though you need him to pitch one of his better games this year and not many pitchers have been able to do that against a solid, patient hitting Royals team. He is not a gas can, so I would not be looking to target many Royals bats against him, but he is also not likely to shut them down completely and turn in a high strikeout game where he pitches deep into it.
Wade Miley ($6400) – Miley has sandwiched a few gems around a clunker against the Yanks recently. The Lefty has struggled with Right-handed bats this year as they have hit .268 against him with 8 homeruns. The Houston team is a high strikeout squad, but they also hit lefties much better. Altuve had over a .400 batting average last year vs. left-handed pitching and Carlos Correa currently owns a WOBA over .400 and a ISO score near .300 against them. Miley gets a negative park bump in a game with a higher total and is the underdog today. While he could rack up a higher than normal strikeout game, he is also likely to allow some negative events. He is not the worst start at this price, but he is more of a tournament play if you are going to use him anywhere.
Lance McCullers ($9300) – McCullers has been really good this year as evidenced by his 2.54 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. One of his worst starts that yielded only a single digit fantasy score was two games back against this same Red Sox lineup though. McCullers is a solid pitcher with strong strikeout upside. He does have a decent matchup here against the Red Sox who only have a few guys doing well against right-handed pitching. The problem is they do not strikeout a ton and McCullers had a low strikeout game against them last time with only 3. Without the strikeouts to boost his score, he will have a tough time making value at an inflated $9300 price tag.
Jeff Samardzija ($9000) – Shark Week is over and this is not the greatest spot for Samardzija. The Indians have a very low strikeout rate against right-handers and some really solid left-handed regulars on top of that order. Samardzija threw up two 30 fantasy point games in his last 3, so he has been pitching better. His strikeout numbers are down a little as he pitches to contact more, but that has also allowed him to go a little deeper into games. His price has come up to reflect his recent successes, so that makes him a much tougher start for those seeking cash game value or upside for a tournament. At $9000, the risk far outweights the probable reward.
Chris Young ($6000) – Young is a solid pitcher, who is better in real life than he would be in fantasy. He consistently gets about 12-18 points a start, which does not kill you. It also does not help much though in either cash or tournaments. He has a tougher matchup today though as the Cardinals have a lot of left-handed bats and hit much better as a team against right-handers. The ballpark aids pitchers, which is why the run line is only 7. Young is the underdog though here and while he should pitch solidly, he likely will not have a lot of strikeouts and without the win, he will fall short of value again.
Tyson Ross ($9100) – Ross is a popular name being thrown around today, but his stats do not inspire confidence. He has only gone over 6 innings in one of his last ten starts. Only struck out over 7 in one of those starts as well and only reached value at his price today in two of his last ten. The Marlins have been a team everyone has targeted since Stanton went down, but they have done an admirable job of clawing a few runs out each game and not being a doormat. It’s not an offense that has huge upside, but if they get two runs and Ross doesn’t get past the sixth as has been the case in 9 of his last 10 starts, than he has little chance mathematically of paying off a $9100 price tag. He would need to completely shut down the Marlins and go at least seven or eight innings with 8 or 9 strikeouts to be viable and he has not done so at all lately.
Rest of the Field
Doug Fister ($5000) – Fister is an underdog that is going up against the Pirates who own the 13th highest batting average and the 10th highest strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching. Fister is not a big strikeout guy though, so that is not something you can exploit. He has also struggled in his recent starts and has been unable to get out right-handed bats which are hitting .366 against him this season. McCutchen is the only guy with really good numbers against righties as his WOBA is .378 and his ISO score is above .200. Fister should pitch his normal game, which is about 6 or 7 innings with a 3 or 4 strikeouts. His 1.80 WHIP against righties means he should have some negative events and while he is unlikely to get lit up, he is also unlikely to shut the pirates down. With a win also being unlikely, it’s hard to see how that all adds up to more than 12 fantasy points which is not enough tomake him a playable option, even at the low price.
Bartolo Colon ($7200) – The VooDoo magic Colon had used for the last year and a half to get batters out seems to have alluded him recently. He has not pitched well in about a month now. He faces a team that has smashed right-handed pitching so far this year and has some of the best power hitting stats against righties in all of baseball. The Dodgers have a lot of left-handed power bats as well as professional hitters like Turner and Kendrick who hit right-handers well. They are healthy and have a very lengthy lineup of tough outs. I would not be surprised to see Bartolo out of this game before the seventh inning starts and with his strikeout numbers down, thee is no way he comes close to value if that is the case.
Tom Koehler ($7400) – I know San Diego has not been hitting well, but paying $7400 for Koehler is crazy. Koehler strikes out nobody, so his entire score will be dependent on going deep into the game, getting a win, and completely limiting negative events. He normally pitches only about 6 innings, gives up about two runs, and over a hit/walk per inning. Those numbers do not add up to him reaching anywhere near value today. At $7400, he is not on my radar.