Welcome back to the DraftKings Playbook Daily Pitcher Rankings. After a 10-game slate on Monday, we’re back to a full 15-game evening slate here on DraftKings. 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 when choosing your bats. If you’re new or if you have any last-minute questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
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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
Jose Fernandez vs. Washington Nationals ($12,700)
Any doubts surrounding Jose Fernandez’s health have been squashed pretty quickly here. He only has 26 innings under his belt so far this season, but they’ve been electric (2.77 ERA/1.57 FIP). It’s difficult to miss as many bats and limit hard-hit contact when you work in the zone as often as Fernandez does. His first-pitch strike rate is extremely high (66.7%) and he’s striking out 11.08 batters per nine innings so far this season. He’s in play no matter the opponent.
This is a nice spot for Noah Syndergaard (2.81 FIP) and I suspect he’ll be a very popular cash game play tonight. The Padres have struggled against right-handed pitching this season, (29th in wOBA with a .290) and San Diego’s right-hand heavy lineup should be no problem for Thor, who’s held right-handed bats in check all season long (.274 wOBA).
Jordan Zimmermann @ Miami Marlins ($7,700)
Jordan Zimmermann hasn’t been particularly sharp of late, but he’s $1,000 cheaper here than he was in his last start and the matchup couldn’t be any better. If you don’t fall in love chasing the win here, you’ll be ok. Yes, he’s going head-to-head with Jose Fernandez, but focus on the pitcher and his skills over the odds that he and his team win the game. The Marlins are one of the league’s worst teams against right-handed pitching (81 wRC+) and they have the lowest isolated power mark in all of baseball. Don’t fear the fish.
James Shields @ New York Mets ($9,100)
Despite an offensive outburst of sorts this weekend, the Mets are always a sight for sore eyes when you’re making your starting pitcher selections. They’ve struggled all season long (89 wRC+ against right-handed pitching), and their 20.1% strikeout rate fits with what Shields does best (10.23 K/9). Shields has struggled against left-handed bats all season long (.389 wOBA) but the Mets don’t have a ton of guys that make me nervous.
Sonny Gray @ Los Angeles Dodgers ($10,400)
I love Sonny Gray (2.30 ERA/2.96 FIP) in tournaments tonight. He’s been so consistent this season, and his ability to limited damage to both right-handed (.254 wOBA) and left-handed bats (.234 wOBA) makes him an option against any opponent. The Dodgers success against, well everyone, will likely keep most players off of Gray with the other top options available in Gray’s price range.
Middle of the Pack
It’s not often that you’ll find the slate’s highest priced starter in the “Middle of the Pack” section, but there are a few things that scare me off of David Price tonight. Tampa Bay does strike out a ton (22.3%) so he’ll likely be able to miss some bats, but the Rays have hit left-handed pitching extremely well of late, and enter play with the 6th best wOBA (.321) and wRC+ (111) against southpaws on the season. The human element is at play here as well, as you have to wonder how the former-Rays starter is faring with all of the trade talk that’s been swirling about lately.
Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Atlanta Braves ($7,200)
The Braves will be much better with Freddie Freeman in their lineup, but they still aren’t going to be very good. They’re tied with Miami for the league’s lowest isolated power mark, and have a 90 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season. It’s unusual to see Jimenez with a first-pitch strike rate north of 60, but he’s there right now and in turn, we’re seeing fewer walks from him this season. Often when a pitcher improves like this we’ll see a dip in strikeout totals, but Ubaldo’s 8.89 K/9 is actually up over last season’s output. The Braves don’t strikeout a lot (17.6%), but it’s enough to make Jimenez a viable SP2 tonight.
Trevor Bauer vs. Kansas City Royals ($8,700)
I’m always hesitant to fire up a starter against Kansas City. It doesn’t mean I’m always right, they’re not some sort of offensive juggernaut that can’t be defeated, obviously. The issue that I have is that their 16% strikeout rate is the lowest in the league, and that typically caps any upside that a starter may have because we want as many punch-outs in our lineup as possible. With that said, I kind of like Trevor Bauer a bit tonight. Strikeout are why you roster him, and walks are why you stay away. The intriguing part of this matchup is that the Royals are ultra-aggressive and rarely walk, taking away a large chunk of the risk that’s associated with Bauer on most nights. If you’re looking for a high risk/high reward pitcher who’s likely to have suppressed ownership totals, here’s your guy.
Brett Anderson vs. Oakland Athletics ($6,700)
Brett Anderson is back on the mound after straining his Achilles a few weeks back, and the left-handed ground ball machine (66.8%) hosts his former squad, the Oakland A’s. Anderson is an SP2 at best due to his lack of strikeouts (6.42 K/9), but he’ll keep the Dodgers in this one and the A’s have scuffled against left-handed pitching all season long (93 wRC+). I worry about how deep Anderson is allowed to go in this one, but he’s a fairly safe cash game play.
Wade Miley vs. Chicago White Sox ($6,400)
It’s difficult to feel confident about rostering Wade Miley, but he’s pitched pretty well of late and he couldn’t possibly have a better matchup. The White Sox are atrocious against left-handed pitching. They are last in the league in wOBA, wRC+, and isolated power versus lefties, and it’s not even close. The have a high whiff rate as well, (22.3%) and their 5.1% walk rate is also last in the league. There’s really no silver lining here for the White Sox, and all these factors make Miley an intriguing SP2 tonight.
Jeff Samardzija @ Boston Red Sox ($8,500)
Maybe it was the whole Shark Week thing, I don’t know…
Outside of his outing against Kansas City last week, Jeff Samardzija has averaged 30 DraftKings points in his past three starts. Perhaps he’s motivated by the trade rumors, who knows, but it’s not likely to be quite as easy here against the Red Sox (.316 wOBA/98 wRC+). Boston’s been swinging it well of late, and their low strikeout rate limits a bit of Samardzija’s upside here tonight.
Jaime Garcia vs. Cincinnati Reds ($9,600)
Jaime Garcia is back off of the DL after missing most of July with a groin injury. Though he’s produced well when healthy this season, I don’t want to pay this price for Garcia. He threw five innings in his last minor league rehab start, so expecting him to work deep in to this one is a bit of a stretch. The Reds are right about average offensively (99 wRC+) against lefties, but it’s difficult to think that you can’t spend your money more wisely tonight.
Jake Odorizzi vs. Detroit Tigers ($8,600)
I’d love to see the Rays let Odorizzi work deeper into the game every once and a while, but perhaps tonight isn’t the best night to start that. The Tigers have destroyed right-handed pitching all season long, with or without Miguel Cabrera in the lineup. Their 110 wRC+ is one of the best marks in the game, and while on paper they aren’t quite as lethal without Miggy, they haven’t missed a beat. Odorizzi has big-time swing-and-miss stuff, but he’s given a bit of a back in order to improve his command. It’s a trade that I’m sure the Rays are ok with, but from a fantasy perspective it makes him a bit less appealing.
Julio Teheran @ Baltimore Orioles ($7,500)
Julio Teheran is one of my favorite pitchers to stack against. The general public still believes that this is a top-of-the-rotation starter and well, they’re wrong. A 4.49 ERA (4.37 FIP) leave a lot to be desired, and left-handed bats have feasted on him this season (.378 wOBA). I haven’t noticed him having particularly strong ownership totals, but he’s perceived to be good enough to avoid using bats against on most nights, but I don’t believe that to be true.
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($8,300)
It has been a less than stellar return from injury for Hisahi Iwakuma (4.50 ERA/5.14 FIP) and while I believe he’ll get it turned around eventually, you’ll need to pay up full pop dog here to own him today. No thanks. Let’s wait and see if he can correct what’s wrong first, because $8,300 against Paul Goldschmidt and the Diamondbacks is an expensive price to pay if you’re betting on him turning this around. I don’t see anything statistically that screams ‘unlucky’.
C.J. Wilson @ Houston Astros ($8,400)
The Juice Box plays favorably to right-handed power, which is something that can be an issue for C.J. Wilson (3.59 ERA/3.71 FIP). He had a nice little stretch back in May, but since then has reverted back to what we’ve grown accustom to over the past few seasons. The occasional high-strikeout game, mixed in with short outings due to command issues. For as often as the Astros strike out, they walk quite a bit as well, so stay away from Wilson when his opponent’s have solid plate discipline.
Collin McHugh vs. Los Angeles Angels ($7,900)
Collin McHugh’s slider continues to be a problem. He has a lot of success with it last season, so he’s dialed it up more frequently this season and the returns have been far less fruitful. In particular, he’s struggled against right-handed bats (.354 wOBA), and that’s bad news when you’re facing Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.
Matt Cain vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($8,200)
Matt Cain is always interesting at home, where his fly-ball heavy ways don’t get him in trouble as often because AT&T park plays favorably for home runs, and he’ll jump up the list even more if the Brewers aren’t at full strength. Adam Lind’s name is floating around in trade rumors and Ryan Braun miss last night’s contest with an achy back. There could be some SP2 appeal here.
Mike Leake @ St. Louis Cardinals ($7,300)
Mike Leake seems to be using the trade speculation to fuel him, as he’s pitched quite well of late. From a DFS perspective though, there’s not enough strikeout upside here (6.09 K/9) to make him a viable option against the Red Birds. The Cardinals aren’t a big slugging or ISO squad, but they’ve been above average against right-handed pitching all season long (103 wRC+).
Charlie Morton @ Minnesota Twins ($5,300)
Charlie Morton is dirt-cheap tonight, but I’m not sure that’s enough to find his way on to my roster. His 4.59 ERA (4.57 FIP) leave a lot to be desired and as is the case with most of these low-level starters, there’s not enough strikeout upside to fire him up. He’s struggled against left-handed bats all season as well (.387 wOBA), and the Twins are feisty enough to give Morton trouble.
Chris Young @ Cleveland Indians ($5,600)
I never know what to make of Chris Young. He seems to always avoid major blow-ups, but rarely offers anything that makes him worthwhile from a fantasy perspective. I haven’t used him but have also had very little success in rostering bats against him. The heavy fly-ball rate is appealing to target, especially since he’s not over-powering, but he manages to do just enough to keep his club in the game.
Rest of the Field
Wily Peralta @ San Francisco Giants ($6,200)
As I often point out, the Giants offense is better than you think. Their 114 wRC+ against right-handed pitching is one of the league’s best, and they have enough left-handed bats to give Wily Perlata fits (.380 wOBA).
Felix Doubront vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($5,000)
The Phillies have been playing some decent baseball since the break, and for the season have a respectable .312 wOBA and 97 wRC+ against left-handed pitching this season. We’re seeing much better command from Felix Doubront this season, but there’s no strikeout meat on this bone, eliminating any shot that he’d have at being an SP2 tonight.
Martin Perez vs. New York Yankees ($5,200)
The Yankees enter play with the 4th best wOBA and wRC+ in the league against left-handed pitching, and Martin Perez has a higher walk rate (4.91 BB/9) than he does K-rate (3.27) this season. No thanks.
Dallas Beeler vs. Colorado Rockies ($6,000)
Don’t overreact to the Tulowitzki trade and think that you’re going to get cute with Dallas Beeler tonight. I’m not debating Tulo’s presence in the lineup, but he’s been far from his normal self this season, and the Rockies have the highest wOBA in the league against right-handed pitching. Wrigley isn’t playing nearly as run-friendly as it has in the past, but it’s not enough of a bump to consider Beeler.
Zach Godley @ Seattle Mariners ($5,100)
A pitcher who lacks strikeouts and has extreme platoon splits is an easy pitcher to avoid. A below average 6.52 K/9 doesn’t make sense when you look at this big right-hander that can pump it up to 95+, and his .385 wOBA against left-handed bats makes him unrosterable (new word!), even as an SP2.
Yohan Flande @ Chicago Cubs ($4,000)
The Cubs are only worth targeting when we have a big swing-and-miss pitcher on the mound. They’re not nearly has potent offensively against lefties are they are against righties, but Flande’s below average strikeout rate won’t hold up here.
Chris Capuano @ Texas Rangers ($4,100)
The Rangers have struggled against left-handed pitching this season (80 wRC+) but I’m not a believer in older, soft-tossing lefties. Capuano has been decent in his spot duty this season, but he’s not worth considering here tonight.
Mike Pelfrey vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($4,600)
Nothing good ever comes from having a strikeout rate (4.29 K/9) that resembles your ERA/FIP (3.94/4.15). Pelfrey has managed to get a ground ball or two when he needs them, but it’s not enough to make him a viable option in DFS.
Adam Morgan @ Toronto Blue Jays ($4,300)
Adding Troy Tulowitzki to this Blue Jays lineup? Haha, good luck, kid.