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
Corey Kluber vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($10,900) – Despite being the most expensive pitcher on the slate, he also has the best combination of matchup and talent. The Rays have the sixth highest K% against right-handed pitching at 21.3% and the third lowest batting average at .237. Kluber has one of the highest strikeout of any pitcher in the league at 28.4, so the matchup could not look any better for strikeout upside. He has only failed to go at least seven innings once in his last nine starts and he has allowed 3 runs or less in seven of his last nine. Kluber is a -135 favorite in a game with only 6.5 runs expected as well, so the win is looking likely, while the damage should be minimal.
Jacob DeGrom vs. Chicago Cubs ($10300) – DeGrom vs. Arrieta is a great pitching matchup, but I think DeGrom has the better fantasy game. For starters, he is the favorite at -120 in a game with only 6.5 runs expected. He faces off against the team with the second highest K% at 24.8%. The Cubs do have some power and score some runs, but they have the fifth worst batting average and do make a lot of outs. DeGrom has been really good over his last few starts. He has been between 25 and 42 points in eight of his last ten games. That is consistency and upside rolled into one. As a favorite against a high strikeout team, it is definitely justified to pay up for him here.
Middle of the Pack
Jake Arrieta vs. New York Mets ($10600) – The New York ets have the second worst batting average against righties and the 10th highest K%. On most days that would be enough to push Arrieta into the cream section, but there’s a few hold ups here. The Mets have been bad on offense, but they do have a good deal of lefty bats to throw at Arrieta. Arrrieta is an underdog here as well. The Matchup for DeGrom should yield more strikeouts on paper. finally he is more expensive. It is tough to pay up over the favorite with more strikeout potential for your cash games. That may be a way to get a good player though at low ownership for a tournament. Most people will click DeGrom and gloss over Arrieta for all the reasons mentioned, so he does make a great play to swerve off the likely chalk if you feel strongly that the Cubs beat the Mets today.
Fransisco Liriano vs. Detroit Tigers ($9200) – This is not a very soft spot for Liriano at all, but he does have the recency bias on his side. The other options here are all coming off injuries (Cain, Fernandez, Moore), so Liriano is probably the safest guy life in terms of pitch count and innings. In terms of matchup though, he faces a Detroit team that has the third best batting average vs. Left-handed pitching, but also the 7th highest k% at 23.5%. The strikeout upside and longevity are what gives Liriano a nice probable floor. This is not a soft spot for him, he has a ballpark downgrade, and is coming off a rough one. Despite all those negatives, he is still someone to look towards for a tournament on this small slate.
Rest of the Field
Jose Fernandez vs. San Fransisco ($9600) – Fernandez is the first of three guys coming off the DL that are starting today and easily the most talented. This is a guy who has dominant stuff and the ability to shut down offenses and rack up Ks. The problem here that leaves him on the bottom rung is that he has not pitched in awhile and there is a chance is will be kept on a pitch count. Pitch counts mean less innings, less chances to rack up Ks, and a lot less fantasy points overall. At his price, there is little justification to take him this time out. Down the road he will be a guy to use, but if he is limited today, there’s no way he pays off the sky high asking price.
Matt Cain vs. Miami Marlins ($7300) – Cain is a solid pitcher when healthy. Coming off the DL for this start though, has me worried about his innings as well. Cain has good stuff, but nowhere near the strikeout upside of a Jose Fernandez, which is why he is further down the list. Fernandez is a big -150 favorite over him as well, so the win is in doubt. With low innings expected, less strikeouts, and a low win probability, it is tough to use him today even with the discount of over 20% off of a guy like Fernandez.
Matt Moore vs. Cleveland Indians ($7600) – Moore is the third of the returning starters today and has a little more strikeout upside than Cain does. He faces an Indians Line up that is left-handed dominant and has good numbers against southpaws. They have the second lowest K% in the league and the 8th highest batting average. With Moore also likely to be on a pitch count, there is not much to like here. Moore is the underdog, faces a team that profiles well against him, will likely pitch less innings then normal, and will have a tough time racking up Ks. When you look at the picture that way, it’s tough to see how he gets enough fantasy points to be rosterable.
Kyle Ryan vs, Pittsburgh Pirates ($4200) – Ryan is easily the worst pitcher on the mound for the early late. The Rookie has allowed 16 baserunners and nine runs over his last 10 innings of work, which spans three starts. He has thrown up negative numbers in both of his last two appearances, so there is no price, no matter how cheap where he makes a lot of sense to use.