Welcome back to the DraftKings Playbook Daily Pitcher Rankings. It’s Full Slate Friday! 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
Clayton Kershaw vs. New York Mets ($13,100)
Don’t be fooled by Clayton Kershaw’s 3.20 ERA. We’re still talking about one of best pitchers in the game. His 2.59 FIP (2.09 xFIP) are better reflections of Kershaw’s true talent, he’s just struggled a bit with the long ball and his walks are up a tick. Once his strand rate gets back in line with his career mark (up 10% over last season) we’re likely to see an even better version of 2015 CK. The Mets (18th in wOBA vs. LHP) are not a team to be scared of here.
The best head-to-head matchup of the night takes place in New York, as Masahiro Tanaka and Chris Archer battle in the Bronx. Tanaka is slightly more expensive, but has the much better matchup here. The Rays are 25th in wOBA against right-handed pitching, and their 21.5% strikeout rate plays well with Tanaka’s 9.45 K/9. When Tanaka is off he falls victim to the long-ball, but that’s not something that Tampa does well.
Chris Archer @ New York Yankees ($10,100)
Pitching in New York, versus Tampa Bay for instance, is a negative park shift for Chris Archer here. The fact that the Yankees are so strong offensively (4th in wOBA vs. RHP) takes a bit of the buzz off of Archer as far as cash games are concerned, but he’s been sooo damn good. His ability to limited damage by left-handed hitters (.250 wOBA) has been a key to his success, and a 10.98 K/9 will play in any park.
Michael Wacha vs. San Diego Padres ($9,900)
We’ve seen sporadic stretches where Michael Wacha (7.06 K/9) isn’t getting nearly as many strikeouts as you’d expect for someone with a repertoire like he possesses, but a matchup against the Padres is a solid bump for anyone. They’re striking out 22.3% of the time against right-handed pitchers, and that number will only climb if they keep giving Melvin Upton regular at-bats. The Padres are extremely right-handed, and Wacha’s success lies in his ability to limit damage against right-handed bats so far this season (2.82 FIP).
Garrett Richards @ Texas Rangers ($9,400)
If you’re going to be a legit option in Arlington in early July, you better be able to miss bats and keep the ball on the ground when it’s put in play. Well hello there, Garrett Richards. His 54.5% ground ball rate is elite, especially when you consider his strikeout upside. The SwStk% (11.1%) hasn’t translated in to the strikeout totals that we were expecting from Richards heading into the season, but the skills are not a question. Richards ability to handle left-handed bats (.264 wOBA) will need to continue if he’s going to have success here.
Middle of the Pack
Jason Hammel vs. Miami Marlins ($7,100)
Jason Hammel and the Cubs have a day game against the Marlins today, which is really disappointing. What I mean is that I would love to roster Hammel in this spot today, at a suppressed price against the anemic Marlins offense. I don’t quite understand why he’s so cheap (down $2,200 in the last month). His 2.92 ERA is validated by a 2.90 FIP. He’s handled batters on both sides of the plate extremely well (.252 wOBA vs. RHB, .272 vs. LHB), and his 9.31 K/9 is backed up with an outstanding 11.2% swinging-strike rate. I may get in the early action just to get some Hammel shares today.
Jesse Chavez vs. Seattle Mariners ($7,000)
Jesse Chavez continues to be a pleasant surprise, duplicating his dazzling 2014 first half. His strikeouts (7.76 per 9) are a slight tick above average and they get a bump here against the Mariners who are striking out 22.6% of the time against right-handed pitchers. They’re just 28th in wOBA as well, making this a solid spot to roll out Jesse Chavez. Any concern about facing the right-handed power of the Mariners is mitigated by Chavez’s .253 wOBA against them.
Why is it so difficult to trust Ubaldo Jimenez (3.09 ERA/3.12 FIP)? It’s a somewhat rhetorical question, but one I’ve found myself asking at various times this season. Here’s why I think you can trust him. He’s basically cut his walk rate in have, down to just 2.78 per nine, and his first-pitch strike rate is at an all time high. He’s done this without losing his strikeout ability (9.17 K/9) and limiting the damage that right-handed bats have done to-date (2.58). The White Sox are 24th in wOBA against right-handed pitching, and their strikeout and walk rates are both worst than league average.
Noah Syndergaard @ Los Angeles Dodgers ($8,700)
One of the other highlight pitching matchup’s today is in Los Angeles where Noah Syndergaard faces off against Clayton Kershaw. Syndergaard has been extremely impressive in his debut season, entering play with a 3.59 ERA and 2.77 FIP. His 9.06 K/9 plays well too, but unfortunately this is a difficult spot against the Dodgers. They lead the league in wOBA against right-handed pitching and Vegas has the Mets as a pretty significant undergod (+231) here.
Drew Hutchison @ Detroit Tigers ($7,300)
Drew Hutchison has been hit hard at times this season, but I’m still encouraged by his long-term profile. His .336 BABIP is one of the highest marks in the league, and his 3.77 FIP is more than a run better than his 4.99 ERA. A K/9 of 8.25 shows that there’s enough upside here to keep an eyes on him. I wouldn’t play him in cash against the Tigers (.323 wOBA), but he’s one of many intriguing tournament plays today.
Andrew Cashner @ St. Louis Cardinals ($7,200)
I think the Cardinals season-to-date numbers (6th in wOBA) are skewed a little bit because they aren’t nearly as strong without Matt Holliday. The loss of Holliday is clearly impacting Matt Carpenter as well, who’s been scuffling ever since Holliday went down. Padres starter Andrew Cashner is a sneaky option today for tournaments. His strand rate and BABIP are way off his career marks (and league average marks) and his 8.34 K/9 offers enough upside to make him intriguing.
Julio Teheran vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($8,000)
I think the Phillies factor is going to drive Julio Teheran’s ownership levels way up today, and I think it’s a mistake for a few reasons. I don’t want to argue that the Phillies aren’t ‘that bad’, because they are, but they don’t strike out a ton and strikeouts aren’t a strength of Teheran to begin with (7.04 K/9). He’s really struggled against left-handed bats this season (5.70 FIP), as well.
Anibal Sanchez vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($8,300)
The Anibal Sanchez that I used to know would be a decent play here against the Blue Jays. While it’s always risky to start a pitcher against the Jays and their high octane offense, they can whiff at a decent clip against a good pitcher. THIS current version of Anibal Sanchez interests me very little here against Toronto. He’s not having the same type of success with his change-up as he has in season’s past, and he’s profile more like a fly-ball pitcher than the high-K-high-ground-ball pitcher that we’ve seen when he’s been one of the AL’s best at times in the last few seasons. His struggles against right-handed bats (.342 wOBA) are also a bad mix against this Blue Jays team.
Adam Morgan @ Atlanta Braves ($4,500)
The Braves are just a shell of themselves offensively without Freddie Freeman, who now appears to be out through the All-Star break. They’re 29th in wOBA against left-handed pitchers, and a 73 wRC+ means they’re 27% worst then the average team is when facing a southpaw. Adam Morgan isn’t a world beater, but pitched well in his debut last time out. This is as much about the opponent as it is about the starter’s talent.
Mike Fiers @ Cincinnati Reds ($7,700)
A 9.62 K/9 will always grab my attention, but I don’t love this spot for Mike Fiers (4.14 ERA/3.68 FIP). He’s a fly-ball pitcher, pitching in Cincinnati which is a park that’s known for it’s homer-friendly ways, and he’s had difficulty keeping left-handed hitters in the yard this season (.360 wOBA). His BABIP won’t always be .347 this season, but I don’t think this is a spot that we can assume that is starts to correct itself.
Gio Gonzalez vs. San Francisco Giants ($7,900)
This Nationals and Giants contest also starts a bit earlier than the rest of the main slate, but Gio Gonzalez is an easy pitching to avoid today regardless. His ground ball game (57.9%) is strong, and he’s been on the receiving end of some bad BABIP luck so far, too (.354). The Giants are just strong enough to stay away from, striking out at a below average rate, while entering play with the best offense on the road this season.
Trevor Bauer @ Pittsburgh Pirates ($7,600)
If you turn on a Trevor Bauer start and watch the entirety of it, there will be moments that you’ll be convinced that he’s both the best and worst pitcher in the league. His arsenal is exceptional, but he has difficulty harnessing it well at times. His command goes awry at times (4.15 BB/9) but his big time strikeout upside is always appealing in tournaments. The Pirates seem to be picking it up offensively though, so I’d limit my exposure and would recommend staying away in cash.
J.A. Happ @ Oakland Athletics ($6,800)
J.A. Happ is essentially an average pitcher, in every sense of the word. His ERA and FIP are right around the league average mark, and so is his strikeout rate. His fly-ball tendencies play well at home in Seattle, and that’ll be the case here in Oakland as well. The A’s aren’t nearly as effective offensively against left-handed pitching (21st in wOBA) as they are against right-handers, but I’m not sure that’s enough to give Happ the green light here.
Rest of the Field
Tom Koehler @ Chicago Cubs ($6,600)
As mentioned earlier, the Cubs and Marlins are playing an early game this afternoon in Chicago, taking Tom Koehler out of the mix for tonight’s largest contests. Let’s not pretend that he’s a serious option anyways. The Cubs have too much fire power offensively, and are only worth targeting when you have a high upside strikeout pitching who’s able to exploit their weaknesses. Tom Koehler (6.49 K/9) is not that guy.
Jake Peavy @ Washington Nationals ($6,900)
There isn’t enough upside here with Jake Peavy who’s returning to the rotation after spending the past 2 months on the DL. The Nationals are just middle of the pack in terms of how they fare against right-handed bats (.318 wOBA), but it’s enough to stay away from Peavy on the road.
Chase Anderson vs. Colorado Rockies ($5,300)
Chase Anderson is a much better roto/season-long fantasy asset then he is in DFS. There’s not much meat on the bone here in terms of strikeouts (5.44 K/9) and his home park is always prohibitive. The Rockies have fared well against right-handed bats (.336 wOBA), even on the road, while Anderson has struggled a bit against RHB’s all season (4.51 xFIP).
Charlie Morton vs. Cleveland Indians ($5,900)
Mat WithOneT Latos has pitched better than his ERA would indicate (3.61 FIP), and he has an above average K-rate and a great home park here tonight. The problem is, the Giants are one of the best teams in the league against right-handed pitching, and by far the best road offense (116 wRC+) this season. If the matchup was better than Latos would have some sneaky GPP appeal, but not for me here against San Francisco.
Dan Straily @ Boston Red Sox ($5,500)
The A’s were excited about their young rotation heading in to the 2014 season, and Dan Straily was a part of that. He never got started, getting hurt during spring training, and has since been traded to the Cubs and now the Astros. He’ll take the ball today at Fenway after starting the season in AAA for Houston, but I think a wait-and-see approach is best served here.
Justin Masterson vs. Houston Astros ($5,100)
For some reason the Red Sox have allowed Justin Masterson to get back in to the rotation. His inability to handle left-handed hitters has plagued him his entire career, and that continues to ring true this season. Left-handed bats have a .379 wOBA against him, with a 4.99 FIP. You can fire up some cheap left-handed Astros today.d
Chi Chi Gonzalez vs. Los Angeles Angels ($5,200)
Getting 2 points for strike outs is a huge play here on DraftKings, and you’re leaving points on the board if you target lower tiered strikeout pitchers. Even if you think Chi Chi (2.59 ERA/4.72 FIP) can keep the Angels under wraps, his 3.72 K/9 offers little to no upside whatsoever. If you punt your SP2, it has to be for K’s.
Michael Lorenzen vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($4,400)
Michael Lorenzen is way out in front of his skies right now, with an ERA more than two runs better than his 5.64 FIP. Right-handed bats have hit him as well are lefties have, and his K/9 is nearly the same as his BB/9. These…these are not good things. The Brewers could be a sneaky stack today.
John Danks vs. Baltimore Orioles ($6,600)
This is a dangerous spot for John Danks. He hasn’t been good this season (5.38 ERA/4.88 FIP), or really any season in the past 5 years, and his homer-prone ways tend to be an issue for him at home. The Orioles can mash left-handed pitching (6th in wOBA at .323) and can go extremely left-handed heavy against a pitcher that struggles to keep right-handed bats tamed (.398 wOBA).
Tommy Milone @ Kansas City Royals ($6,400)
Tommy Milone hasn’t pitched quite as well as his 3.19 ERA would indicate (4.79 FIP) and a fly-ball pitcher with a sub 6 K/9 is a bad mix for targeting the ultra-aggressive Royals.
Jeremy Guthrie vs. Minnesota Twins ($4,900)
Individual skills that I value in my starting pitchers: a) the ability to limit base runners, b) the ability to strike batters out at an above average clip, c) high ground-ball rates.
Jeremy Guthrie does none of these things. Oh, and lefties crush him (.411 wOBA).
Kyle Kendrick @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($4,000)
You can make a pretty strong case for Kyle Kendrick being the worst starter who’s taking the ball every fifth day for his team. His 6.18 FIP against left-handed bats is slightly better than his 6.38 against right-handers. So…yeah!