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
Carlos Carrasco vs. Houston Astros ($10200) – Carrasco is the top pitching option on the day. He is in a pitcher’s duel with Dallas Kuechel today, but has the better matchup of the two. Houston has the most strikeouts in the league against right-handed pitching and Carrasco has one of the league’s higher strikeout percentages. His struggles come more against left-handed bats and the big bats on Houston are mostly right-handed. With Springer out, that lineup loses a little more pop as well, so he draws them at a good time. Carrasco threw a gem in his last outing with 13 Ks in 8 inning against Houston. He has gone eight inning in each of the last two and is now averaging over 8 strikeouts per game. He is not cheap, but you also can not argue based on his recent performances.
Chris Sale vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($12700) – This is a game between the unstoppable force and the immovable object. Sale has been awesome for about a month now. He now has eight straight starts with double digit strikeouts and has allowed 3 runs or less in seven of those eight. He faces a Toronto team that has ht over .300 this year against left-handed pitching and done so with power and a lot of runs scored and a low K%. I do not think Sale is a great tournament play, given the toughness of the matchup, but you can not sleep on a guy who is likely to rack up double digit Ks for cash. The strikeouts provide a nice floor for him and he does pitch deep into games. Even if he gives up a couple runs, those two things should provide enough upside that he does not hurt you. It’s tough to expect upside though at almost $13K. He would need a 40+ point performance and this is not an easy spot.
AJ Burnett vs. San Diego Padres ($9400) – The Padres are one of the worst teams in the league against right-handed pitching and have been shut down by a few middle of the road guys lately. Burnett is still well above average as his 2.03 ERA and 1.05 WHIP will attest to. Burnett is favored at home in a pitcher friendly park and has been good. He has scored at least 14 in every one of his last ten starts, with half of those starts being numbers between 25-35 for fantasy points. In a good matchup like this, he should be towards the higher end of his recent ranges and that would mean about 3 points per thousand of cost. He is a great cash game play, but likely lacks the huge upside at his price to be the top option. If you can afford him though, he has not killed you in any of his recent starts and is a safe reliable guy, especially in a good matchup like this.
Middle of the Pack
Dallas Kuechel vs. Cleveland Indians ($9700) – Kuechel has been awesome this year and dominate over his last two games. He has gone 8 innings or more in each and finished with close to 80 fantasy points combined. He has really raised his strikeout numbers in the last coupe and that has been what is carrying his fantasy scores. Kuechel has struck out almost 20 batters in his last two, including a 12 K game against the Yanks last week. Cleveland is pretty good against left-handed pitching for a team with a lot of lefties and the K% is low. With the uptick in price for Kuechel and the tougher matchup vs. his opponent today, he is one of the top options, but just a tick below the studs.
Mark Buehrle vs. Chicago White Sox ($6800) – Buehrle has found his fountain of youth and looks great lately. He has returned over 20 fantasy points in five of his last seven games, which puts him right in line with his value number here. He faces a White Sox team that has struggled all season and does not have great numbers against lefties. Only Avasail Garcia and Conor Gilespie in limited ay-bats are over .300. This game is in Chicago which is a positive park switch for Buehrle as well and the only drawback is a matchup with Chris Sale who has been the best pitcher in baseball lately.
John Lester vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($9000) – Lester is a tad too pricey to be a top option based off his recent performances. He is a guy who returns a number in the low twenties, but that probably falls a tad short of where he needs to be at this price. The good news is he gets a solid matchup against a team that has struggled with left-handed pitching. The Cards have a low batting average and high strikeout rate, so the matchup for Lester is as good as you can ask for here. He should be closer to the top side of his recent range and that would mean 20-30 points is likely. That would be great value for him, but he would need to go 9 in order to really offer upside and that is unlikely.
John Lackey vs. Chicago Cubs ($8400) – Lackey should be in line for a good game today. He has been solidly returning around 18-24 points which is about what he would need today. He has dialed it up into the high 20s and low 30s a few times, so he has the ability to give you upside. The Cubs have the second highest K% against right-handers, so that should help boost his floor and ceiling today. Of course they also have some big bats that can mash homers, so he may give up a few more hits, walks, and runs which are all negative events.
James Shields vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($8600) – Shields is a solid pitcher, but has come back to earth after his huge start to the season. Shields was striking out a ton of guys early and that was really helping his fantasy scores. With the strikeouts being down, he has failed to reach value in many of his recent starts. He also is better at home, although Pittsburgh is a pitcher friendly park as well. The Pirates bats have hit well lately too, so this is not an easy matchup. Throw in the fact he goes opposite AJ Burnett who has a softer matchup and the win also is not likely. With no win and less Ks, it is hard to justify the upside shields may have. Throw in the good offense he faces and the negatives far outweight the positives for a huge game. He should be able to return a decent number, but will likely be below value for cash or tourney’s.
Chris Heston vs. New York Mets ($6300) – This is one of the more confusing guys on the mound for me today. Heston’s upside is a 40/50 point performance. He has flashed that with a gem against Houston with double digit Ks and a complete game as well as the no hitter he threw against this team a few weeks ago. He also has five of his last ten starts where he failed to get more than 8 fantasy points, which included a couple negative scores. Heston struggles with left-handed bats who are hitting .294 against him with a WHIP of 1.50. The Mets are healthier than the no-hitter game with guys like Murphy back in the mix. Murphy, Granderson, and Duda are some really solid left-handed bats to attack Heston with and you know the Mets want revenge for getting no hit. Heston could throw a gem and is just as likely to get lit up, so this is strictly a tourney play for me.
Alfredo Simon vs. Seattle Mariners ($5500) – This price seems a little too cheap for Simon. He has pitched solid over the last year and a half, so at only $5500, he needs to be considered. He has allowed 18 runs over his last three starts, which is obviously not good. Yet he also has thrown up 4 twenty point starts in the 6 games proceeding this, so he has some upside. The Mariners have been horrid against right handed pitching this year with the third highest K% and the worst batting average in the league. When you check the matchup, they have no left-handed bats over .270 this year against right-handed pitching. Nelson Cruz is the only bat over .270 and he is a righty which is not what Simon struggles with. There is a lot of risk, so it is a tournament play only, but Simon is too cheap not to consider.
Edinson Volquez vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($6700) – Volquez is a solid pitcher at a square price that is taking on a weak offense. His fantasy scores are largely dependent on whether or not he strikes anyone out. When he gets 6 Ks or more, he has easily returned over 20 points and been great value. When he hasn’t though, he falls short and returns a single digit or low teens number. Tampa has been one of the worst teams statistically this year, with a high K %, a low batting average, and near the bottom in runs scored. The game is in Kaufman, which is pitcher friendly and there’s some merit to using Volquez. The problem is his upside is limited unless he finds a way to rack up the strikeouts.
Wei Yin Chen ($7700) – Chen has been pretty good this year and has found himself on a moonshot winning roster on at least three occasions. He faces a Twins team that is surprisingly good against left-handed pitching this year and is not an easy matchup. Chen does not have huge upside, but has been solid enough to expect him not to get blown up either. It’s a tough sell for me, but I do like his chances to go at least 7 and get a win, which should leave him close to value.
Rest of the Field
Phil Hughes vs. Baltimore Orioles ($8000) – The price and his problem with allowing homers are the drawbacks of using a guy like Hughes. Hughes allows about a .280 average to each side of the plate with a high flyball and homerun allowed rate. It has gone on for two or three years now, so there’s a track record of it. Baltimore has some solid bats on both sides of the plate towards the top of that order with power. Machado and Paredes leading off both sport averages around .300 with double digit homers against right-handers. Davis and Jones behind them are big bats and those four alone could make this a tough day for Hughes. His K numbers are not going to provide enough of a floor to save him at a price of $8000, so he is not a preferred option.
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Detroit Tigers ($8300) – When healthy and pitching well, this price is fine. When he is fresh off three rehab starts where he only went 13 innings and is facing a solid offense, it is not. Iwakuma is making his first start back off the DL, so he likely will not go deep into this game. He is not a huge strikeout guy, so the floor of strikeouts will not be large. He also faces a tough offense, who can still score without Miggy. If he was cheap, you could gamble on him, but at $8300, it’s way too expensive.
Jonathon Niese vs. San Fransisco Giants ($7200) – This price seems way too high for Niese. He has not returned 20 points in any of his last 8 starts. He had a really bad run of four games with under 9 points, followed by four games with an average score in the mid teens. At $7200 you need over 21 points for value here and he has not shown he can do that.
Kyle Lohse vs. Atlanta Braves ($5600) – The Braves are actually a pretty solid team against right-handed pitching, and Lohse has been bad to both sides of the plate. Lohse is actually worse against right-handed bats this year as they have hit .321 against him and tagged him for an ERA of 7.29. Atlanta is not known as a great hitting team, especially without Freddie Freeman in that lineup, but Lohse has been bad enough that even at this price he is not a play today.
Alex Colome vs. Kansas City Royals ($5400) – Colome has been ok so far this year, but he’s been hit hard lately. He gives up about a .270 average to both sides of the plate, so he is not horrible, but not great either. His strikeouts have dipped and he faces a very low strikeout team that makes good contact in the Royals today. Colome is usually limited and rarely makes it through the sixth inning. Low innings and low strikeouts will mean a low fantasy score, regardless of how many negative events he gives up.
Sean O’Sullivan ($4200) – The worst pitcher on the board today is still not good value even at this price. In his last six starts, he had 19 points once and the other five yielded fantasy scores of two points or less. Righties are hitting .283 against him and lefties are hitting .368 with 10 homers in only 25 innings of work. The Dodgers have the most homers against right-handed pitching of any team in the league and a ton of lefty bats to attack him with. It’s likely to get ugly for O’Sullivan today.