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
Michael Pineda vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($9300) – The Phillies are only 19th in terms of K% against right-handed pitchers, but they have the second worst batting average and the least runs scored of any team in MLB. Pineda is at home in this one and has been very good in most of his starts. Apart from the negative score he put up in Baltimore, he has at least 26.1 fantasy points in three of his last four games. He has a 3.54 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 82 innings of work. If you back out the negative start from two games back, those numbers drop to about 3 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and a K/9 over 10. The Phillies have been a team DFS players picked on all season, so no reason to stop doing so now. Plus he is more than 25% cheaper than a Kershaw, so it makes a lot of sense.
Clayton Kershaw vs. Chicago Cubs ($12900) – Clayton Kershaw is very pricey in this spot. He matches up with a high strikeout team in the Cubs that currently have the 13th highest Strikeout rate at 22% against lefties. They do have the second highest batting average though at .277, so this matchup is not going to be a cakewalk. Still Kershaw is definitely better than the starters they put those numbers up against thus far. He has 122 strikeouts in 93 innings of work, an ERA of 3.29 and a WHIP of 1.05. He is a -170 favorite in a game without an early line, which leads me to believe the wind may be blowing out here as well. While I do not expect Kershaw to get blown up, I also do not know if I expect 37 fantasy points out of him to pay off his salary. I would not be running to roster Cubs bats, but also think you can look in other directions to get better value, although he may still be the highest scoring starter on the day.
Tommy Millone vs. Chicago White Sox ($6000) – Millone has been very good in his last two starts. He has gone 7 innings in each, given up an average of 4.5 base runners, 1.5 runs, and struck out 6.5. He matches up with the team with the lowest batting average against left-handed pitching in the league and the eight highest K% at 23.8%. He is at home and favored by a wide margin at -140 in a game which is expected to see 8.5 runs. at his price, you would need 18 fantasy points out of him or more and he has averaged a low twenties number over the last two weeks. Against a weak lineup that struggles with left-handers, all the pieces seem to fit together for him to be an outperformer today.
Middle of the Pack
Hector Santiago vs. Houston Astros ($7200) – Santiago is a -122 favorite in a game with 8 runs expected. He faces a Houston team that is 21st against left-handed pitching in batting average and has the seventh highest K%. This is a quality matchup for Santiago and he should perform well. He has a 2.77 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, and 77 Ks in 81 innings of work. Despite the great matchup, he can not be a guy who moves to the top of the list. He has struggled in each of his last four starts. His hits and walks allowed are up and he has not made it to the sixth in any of those games. Earlier in the season he was pitching into the seventh, and unless he gets back there, his scores will continue to suffer. There is tournament upside due to the matchup and his talent level, but being young and inconsistent takes him out of cash game consideration for me.
Trevor Bauer vs. Detroit Tigers ($7500) – Bauer has been up and down this season, but is coming off one of those gems. He has a tough matchup here against a team with a K% of only 19 (22nd) and a batting average that is tied for second best. The Tigers do have some big bats, so this is going to require him to avoid trouble spots to work. Still Bauer is a high K guy 82 in 81 innings of work a 3.22 ERA and a WHIP of 1.22. He should provide a nice floor at a low price due to those strikeout numbers. He routinely gets 7 innings in, so a 7 innings 5/6 K performance is a decent expectation. He is also a big favorite at -140 against a young rookie in Ryan, so the win is probable. If he does that, picks up the win, and limits the tigers to three runs or less, he should be right around his value number on the day.
Felix Hernandez vs. Kansas City Royals ($10400) – Felix is a stud, but he’s been knocked around a bit lately, He is a -160 favorite in a game with a very low run line of only 6.5. This matchup is brutal on starting pitchers as the Royals have the lowest K% against righties at only 15.8%. They also have the second highest batting average at .275, where they are tied with the Tigers. Felix can shut down any offense when he is on, but against a low strikeout team that has a high average, I can not expect him to pitch his best game. His price is still very high and he needs to throw a gem to just make value. While he can definitely do so, I think it makes sense to back off of him in this one to both see if he is healthy and to wait for a better spot to use him again.
Tsuyoshi Wada vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($6700) – One of the toughest decisions for me to make on this slate. I do not love him, but he has been striking out a out of batters and is good vs. lefties. That was a big reason why he defeated and threw up a huge score against the Indians last time out. They struck out a decent amount and also had too many lefties that he was able to neutralize. With that being said, his opponent is Kershaw so the win is not likely. He also faces one of the more potent offenses in baseball, it is not a cakewalk. The Dodgers have a low strikeout rate, but are 20th in the league for batting average. I can not get myself to use him, but I can see some merit for a tournament if anyone has more faith than I.
Rest of the Field
Drew Hutchinson vs. Tampa Bay ($7900) – Hutch has been great at home this year and horrendous on the road. His road ERA is over 9, meaning he gives up more than a run per inning of work. He faces a Tampa team that has a high K rate and a low batting average, so the yupside is there. Still he is very expensive today and does not often pay off this salary level. His good starts (@ HOME) he has reached the 23 point mark he needs to be at, but in his bad starts he is negative and low teens at best, so if he keeps the home/road pattern going here, he will fall way short of value.
Joe Blanton vs. Seattle Mariners ($4100) – Blanton will go five innings and strikeout four batters. That’s a tad under 20 fantasy points. He is not favored for the win, so we will not consider that. If he can avoid giving up more than three runs, he could still make value. If you like dumpster diving to fit in bats, he does have some K upside, but also still has to prove he has figured out the bugs that caused the Phillies to give up on him are gone.
Brett Oberholtzer vs. Los Angeles Angels ($6500) – The Angels do not have a huge K rate vs. lefties at only 19.6% (21st). They do struggle a little with left-handed pitching as they are 21st in the league in batting average. Oberholtzer is more of a gas can to target against though, so I can not justify rolling him out here. Rather load up on right-handed bats against him and see what happens.
Kyle Ryan vs. Cleveland Indians ($4100) – The price is cheap, but Ryan does not often pitch deep into games and his strikeout rate is incredibly low. He K’s about one batter every two innings of work, so you do not have much strikeout upside to rely upon for safety. He is also an underdog in this one, which means Vegas expects some negative events. He is a lefty facing a lefty heavy lineup, but he’s also a rookie and has been knocked around a little bit already. I just do not see how he reaches value when he is likely to go 5 innings, with 2 or three Ks, and not pick up a win. We will not even talk about the blowup potential, but that too is real.
John Danks vs. Minnesota wins ($5300) – Danks has given up at least four runs in four of his last six starts. In five of those six, he has also allowed at least 8 baserunners to get on. He is averaging below 6 innings per start as well, so that WHIP and ERA are pretty high. Danks struggles with right-handed bats and giving up long balls. The Twins are actually one of the better teams against lefties with a lower K%. Danks is not a high K guy anyway, but nothing about this matchup stands out in his favor. In fact it makes more sense to target bats against Danks then it does to actually roster him.
Kevin Correia vs. New York Yankees ($5000) – Correia has been lucky to escape with only two runs allowed and 8 strikeouts in his first 11 innings of work. His 1.31 WHIP and above average strand rate spell out regression from that lofty 1.69 ERA. Correia has struggled with left-handed bats throughout his career and the Yankees have a ton of them that will be taking aim at that short porch in Yankee Stadium. He rarely makes it to the 6th and will likely allow a good deal of hits, so the upside and safety are not here with him.
Matt Andriese vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($4800) – Well at least the game is not in the Rogers Centre. Andriese has only gone into the fifth in one start, so it’s going to be near impossible to get the win or a lot of innings bonus. He has 20 Ks in 29.2 innings of work, so there’s very little upside on him. He faces one of the league’s most potent lineups, so he should have a lot of negative events. Unless he shuts them out over 6 with a tad below a K per inning, he will be nowhere near the winning rosters on the day.