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
Felix Hernandez vs. New York Yankees ($11,600) – King Felix gets a matchup with the Yankees at home in Seattle. The Yankees are middle of the pack for batting average against right handed pitching and have a 21.6% strikeout rate which is a little below the midpoint for that stat. Felix is also the most expensive pitcher on the board which limits his upside as a tournament play. With all that being said, He is still KING Felix for a reason. When he is on, he can make any offense look silly. He gave up batting averages within .003 of .200 to batters of either handedness last year and is actually a little tougher on left-handed bats this year with righties hitting .203 and lefties at .184. Felix already has two complete games. He is leading the league in wins, he has ab ERA under 2, a WHIP of 0.89, and 71 strikeouts in 70 innings of work. There is not a metric to look at including ballpark and his better home splits that makes me think he will not pitch well tomorrow. My only concern is what kind of upside can he offer at this price? Even a gem could fail to net him 3 points per thousand of cost and that means he’s more a cash game play than a tournament option.
Jacob DeGrom vs. San Diego Padres ($9700) – In his last 21 innings of work, DeGrom has only allowed 12 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs, and has 26 strikeouts. He has been one of the most dominate pitchers in all of baseball in the last two weeks. While it was expected against the Phillies, Milwaukee and St. Louis both hit right-handed pitching well and he shut them both down too. San Diego started the season off hot, but is now ranked 20th against right-handed pitching with a batting average of only .242. They also have a strikeout rate of 23.3%, which is good for DeGrom’s floor as the strikeouts should be there. San Diego is a great pitchers park, so that too is a plus for DeGrom today. The run line is low at only 6.5, but he is a slight dog at +110 on the road. DeGrom has been really tough on righties who are hitting only .179 against him. A lot of the San Diego regulars (Norris, Upton, Kemp, Middlebrooks) are all right-handed. That means DeGrom will have the splits advantage over a group of guy who struggle with RHP (except Upton). He makes a great tournament option for me, but remember he is the underdog, so it’s riskier to roll him in cash games.
Clayton Kershaw vs. Colorado Rockies ($10700) – Does it really matter what park Kershaw is pitching in? I mean who cares about the thin air if he strikes everyone out anyway? He was touched up a little bit earlier in this season against Colorado, but check the game logs from 2014 vs. the Rockies. 75 batters faced, 6 hits, 1 walk, and 1 earned run (on a Tulo homerun. Tulo also victimized him in their first matchup of 2015). Blackmon is 7 for 28 lifetime with 10 K’s, so that’s likely a 1-4 with 2 K performance. Lemahieu is 9 for 33 with 10 Ks so that’s 1-3 with a walk and a K. Tulo and Rosario have not fared great against him either and they combine for 25 strikeouts in about 90 ABs so there’s 2 or 3 more. Arrenado has not hit him well, but he also is not a high strikeout guy against him. Cargo struck out in over half his 33 plate appearances vs. Kershaw, so that is another 2 K’s for him. Same goes for Stubbs with 16 Ks in 31 ABs. Nick Hundley’s 10/37 lifetime with only 10 Ks seems to be the best matchup of them all. Add in a few pitcher at-bats and you are looking at a high likelihood of double digit strikeouts here. What I am getting at with these numbers is Kershaw is still likely to pitch deep into this one, limit the negative events, and rack up a bunch of Ks. That is exactly what creates a good fantasy score. You can get him for under $11K and fresh off a dominate performance as well. He’s a -210 favorite and the high run line has way more to do with Kyle Kendrick being opposite him, than it does with expectations of Kershaw getting lit up. While everyone steers clear of him in cash, I think he is not only safer to use there, but would shy away more from him in a GPP, since everyone else seems to be thinking Felix in cash and use Kershaw for the tournaments.
Middle of the Pack
Gerrit Cole vs. San Fransisco Giants ($9900) – I’m not as high on Cole today as a lot of others are and here is why. Yes he is the favorite in a game with only 6.5 runs expected that is being played in a pitcher friendly park. Yes he has been solid with a 2.11 ERA, a 1.09 Whip, and 70 Ks in 64 innings of work, but this San Fransisco team is not an easy target. They are sixth in the league for batting average against right-handed pitching and only have a K-rate of 19%. Plus they had played without there best left-handed bat in Brandon Belt as well as there cleanup hitter Hunter Pence. With guys like Aoki and Duffy on top of that lineup, who batting a combined .310 against righties, followed by the likes of Pagan, Posey, Pence, and Belt, that is a formidable lineup. That does not even include the left-handed pop you get from a Brandon Crawford, which as you can see becomes a very deep lineup to face Cole. I’m not expecting Cole to get lit up, but the matchup for him is tougher than others are making it out to be. I still think he can pitch solid, but there’s no way I can love the upside on a guy like this today, especially at one of the highest prices he has been so far.
Michael Pineda vs. Seattle Mariners ($8800) – If you assume Pineda is unlikely for the win, than to really break him down, you have to look at how many innings and strikeouts he is likely to get in order to project his score. He averages a little over six innings, with a little under seven strikeouts, 2.5 earned runs, and about 7 baserunners. Those numbers would put him at about twenty fantasy points on average. This matchup is slightly above average though as the Mariners strike out at a rate of 25.2% which is very high. They also have the second lowest batting average and fifth least runs scored against right-handed pitching and play in one of the most pitcher friendly parks in all of MLB. All those things point to Pineda outscoring his average of 20 points here. Therefore despite having a low probability of a win against Felix, he makes a solid option to use in cash and a great play for a large field tournament. There is upside to his strikeout numbers and they should provide a nice floor. The Seattle offense has a lot of holes and even the stars are not performing as expected. He is going to need to throw up Zero’s to match Felix and he has a little bit of revenge game going after the Ms traded him to the Yanks for Jesus Montero.
Andrew Cashner vs. New York Mets ($8000) – A typical Andrew Cashner start is not shorter than six innings and not longer than seven. It consists of about a strikeout per inning, with at least a hit per inning on average and either 2 or 3 runs per start. He never has a dominate 9 innings shutout, but he also never gets shelled for five or six in five innings. What he almost never does though is get any run support as his 2-7 record is a travesty when his other numbers are as solid as they have been. He faces a Mets team that has the fourth worst batting average against right-handed pitching, but only a 21.7% strikeout rate. He is a slight favorite over DeGrom here, so that is also a plus.The numbers point to another solid, yet unspectacular start for him fantasy wise. He is probably a good bet for 16-24 points, but it would take the higher end of that range to really be useful in tournaments. He is solid for cash, but again here it makes more sense to pay up for some of the guys around $10K for more safety and upside or go up to Pineda for a few hundred more.
Garrett Richards vs. Tampa Bay ($9500) – There’s a big drop off in safety when you come down below DeGrom, and there’s not enough of a price break on Richards to compensate for that. Therefore he is not one of the guys I would use for cash today. Tampa Bay is a bad offense. They are 21st in the league for batting average, 5th worst for runs scored and have a 23.5% K-rate which is towards the top end. Most of their biggest bats are right-handed as well and despite some inconsistencies this year, he has been better against right-handed batters. He is a -160favorite in this one, but the run line has crept up to 8. It’s nothing against Richards today, but his price seems too high when you can pay up a little more for guys with much better floors and higher upsides.
Jason Hammel vs. Miami Marlins ($7800) – Hammel has done little wrong n his last four starts. He has averaged a tad over seven innings, a tad under 5 baserunners, just shy of two earned runs, and almost eight Ks per start. Honestly the only thing that keeps him off the top tier based on those numbers is the lingering issue with his fingernail that pushed back his recent start. Miami has actually hit the ball ok against right-handed pitching with the league’s tenth best batting average, but they also have the fourth most strikeouts in all of MLB vs. RHP. Hammel is a -130 favorite in a game with 7.5 runs expected.
Jordan Zimmerman vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($8600) – Zimmerman has been pretty good in his last few starts, but unfortunately his price has come up to match the performance. He gets a matchup with a Blue Jays team here in his pitcher friendly home park that is pretty solid. The Blue Jays strikeout at a 23.2% clip and are batting only .249. They are the highest scoring team by a good margin though, so there’s some explosive upside in those big homerun bats. A lot of those Toronto hitters are worse on the road and worse against right-handers, so it’s a mixed bag for Zim. Most of the early money came in on Zim, but all of it was on the over, which caused Vegas to take it down and reassess it. Zim is the favorite and should pitch well, but he has not been doing enough, even in weaker matchups, to really justify using him at his current price.
Clay Bucholz vs. Minnesota Twins ($7000) – There’s a lot to like with Clay lately. In his last 4 starts, he has average about a baserunner per innings, about two runs per start, seven innings, and about five strikeouts. He faces a Minnesota team that has allowed some big games to pitchers. They have the 11th worst batting average and are striking out just shy of 25% of the time. Bucholz put up a decent score of around 16 against them a few days back, and he lost that game. He’s a big favorite today at -160 vs. a gas can in Mike Pelfrey, so a repeat of that game with a win would be nice value for your cash games. I know he has a god matchup and had an eleven strikeout game three back, but that is more the exception than the rule. He does not have the upside for a tournament, but he is priced pretty well and Vegas really likes his chances.
Ryan Vogelsong vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($6100) – Vogelsong has been really good with four twenty point DK scores in his last five outings. He has also been lights out at home with 22 innings pitched in four starts, a WHIP of 1.00, a BAA of .185, an ERA of 1.64, and 17 Ks in 22 innings of work. Pittsburgh is not bad against righties, with the ninth highest batting average and a K-rate of 21.9%. Vogelsong is the underdog here, but the run line is low at 6.5 and he is really cheap at $6100. He is another guy who lacks elite upside, but could be a serviceable option in cash games if he pitches to his recent performances again at this price tag.
Jaime Garcia vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($6800) – This is the sneakiest play of the day for me. The Brewers are dead last in MLB with a .195 batting average against left-handed pitching. They also have a 26.6% strikeout rate to go along with the putrid batting average. Garcia is favored here by a wide margin at -160. Garcia has a decent strikeout rate a high number of hits/walks allowed and has given up a few runs. I don’t see him as a guy who throws a gem and gets a huge tournament winning score, but he could be a safe cheap SP2 with a solid floor in what should be a six or seven inning performance with five strikeouts and about three runs allowed. At his current WHIP rate, that would give him about 14-15 DK points and if you factor in the high probability of the win, he returns 18-19 points and hits his value threshold for you.
Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Houston Astros ($6400) – I do not care that Oberholtzer is favored here, I can not put him ahead of Ubaldo who he goes up against. Ubaldo has at least had an upside game this year, although it was the exception to the norm as he has put up three really good games and six clunkers. Still at least he has some upside and might not be a horrible flyer to take in a tournament. He is too volatile for cash, but as a tournament option, when he is good, he tends to make it through seven innings, give up two runs or less, and strike out at least five batters. At 6400, that would return about 18 points given his Whip and that is before factoring in a win. His upside today and what he has shown in recent starts to be capable of makes him a great high upside play, although it’s a lower probability. Still a guy who can you 30 for $6400 as he has done three times is someone who provides the points and salary savings to help you build a monster tournament winning roster. Of course he can also be the reason you can go to bed early after he gets shelled in the first few innings, so be forewarned.
Rest of the Field
Alex Wood vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($8200) – Wood is one of those guys I just can not see myself playing today. He has a bad matchup with an Arizona team that can get very right-handed against him and has a .271 average against LHP in 2015, which is the seventh best in the league. They have a 21.6% strikeout rate, which is a tad low, and they are favored over Wood in a game with a run line of 8. Guys like Goldy, Trumbo, and Pollock on top of that order have absolutely crushed left-handed pitching this season, and the game is a park bump down for Wood moving away from Turner Field. The nail in the coffin today is his high price. With all those negatives it is not hard to stay away from him today in all formats.
Mike Fiers vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($8500) – The Cards hit right-handed pitching pretty well with the second highest batting average in the league at .275. What is more important for me here though is they only strikeout at a rate of 20.5%. Fiers is a high strikeout pitcher, and because of that he rarely goes deep into the game. Therefore in order for him to really give you a nice return for starting him, he tends to need a high strikeout game. His only really solid score all season was the 12 strikeout game against the cubs and even then he only went six innings. Against a team that does not strikeout much, like the Cardinals, he is a horrible bet to make value. He rarely goes past six and has given up a good amount of walks, hits, and runs. Therefore anything short of a dazzling 10 strikeout performance over that span will leave him far short of a good start. DK has Fiers listed as the starter, but some Vegas sites have Garza, so make sure you take a look and see which is going, although the analysis stays the same since both are right-handed pitchers.
Mike Pelfrey vs. Boston Red Sox ($4600) – He’s cheap at only $4600. Pelfrey has actually been pretty damn good lately and a nice surprise for good value at his depressed price. He has only given up 4 runs in one start so far. He has four starts where he went seven innings. He has returned at least two points per thousand in seven of his nine starts, and at least 4 times in 4 of nine. He had two other starts where he returned about five points per thousand and one other where he was close to seven. He is another guy who has the chance at his price to really get a high multiplier on his salary. It’s not a high probability, so he remains in the bottom tier, but I would kick myself if I did not mention it.
RA Dickey vs. Washington ($7200) – RA Dickey is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. He could throw a gem for 28 fantasy points like he did two games back, or he could get rocked for 5 or more runs as he did in the other three of his last four. Either way at a price of $7200, there’s other cheaper options with the same upside and more consistency with less risk. BvP is an important thing to look at with Dickey, since there are very few other knuckleballers, and it is actually pretty ugly. Wilson Ramos is 9/13 lifetime off Dickey, so that is a pretty good clip and Zimmerman has also hit him well. The rest of the lineup has struggled, but a lot of those ABs were back in Dickey’s Mets days when he was better than he is now.
Alex Colome vs. Los Angeles Angels ($5800) – Colome is a solid young pitcher. His problem for fantasy he tends to only go about five innings as he builds up his pitch count. He has not been striking out a ton of guys, so he probably averages about 3.5 to 4 during those five innings of work. That only gives him an upside of 18 if he does not give up any walks or hits. He in fact does give up more than one per inning, so that is probably 3-4 less points. He has been good with only one game where he allowed over 3 runs and he averages about two per game. That drops his score down to about eleven or so, and even a win, which is not likely would leave him short of value.
Jose Urena vs. Chicago Cubs ($4000) – The youngster got shelled last out after being called up for a spot start. He had been really good in AAA so far which earned him the chance. After starting the season as a reliever out of the big club’s bullpen, he was sent down to stretch out and be a starter at some point in this rotation. He will likely be on a pitch count here, so even if he does rack up Ks against this high strikeout team, he will likely not pitch deep enough to be a high scorer for a tournament. He also will have to reverse the high hit and run totals he has had so far, otherwise another negative number could be in his future. The Cubs do have some huge bats, so there’s nothing easy here for the overmatched rookie.
Kyle Kendrick vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($4300) – This is the perfect storm of horrible omens for Kendrick. He plays at home in Coors field which is not only the best hitter’s ark in baseball, but somewhere he struggles. He has allowed the second most homeruns to date of any pitcher in the major league’s and faces the team who has hit the most so far against right-handed pitching. The Dodgers can and will get very left-handed against Kendrick and those left-handed bats they roll out all have good power. I could go deeper into the numbers, but let’s just say it does not get any better and move on.
Brett Oberholtzer vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5400) – I just do not get this at all. He is somehow favored here. He had his first start of the season filling in for Feldman who is on the DL and there was nothing that tells me is should ever be a favorite. One thing he does do well is limit homeruns, but he also gives up a ton of hits. He is rounding back into form, so he won’t pitch past the fifth or sixth inning at best. He was not a huge strikeout guy, and was prone to a blow up last season, so there’s too much risk and not enough upside to roll him in any format at this price.
Archie Bradley vs. Atlanta Braves ($5100) – Bradley has not been the same since he got the line drive right back at him and had to leave the game. He was looking like one of the few young bright spots on that Arizona Staff, but hasn’t been able to get through four innings or limit damage since. If he is not going to pitch into at least the fifth, he can’t score enough fantasy points to even be relevant, especially not at anything but a minimum price.