Welcome back to the DraftKings Playbook daily pitcher rankings. It’s Tuesday, so we have another full slate on our hands. 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
Madison Bumgarner vs. San Diego Padres ($11,200)
Madison Bumgarner and Zack Greinke are essentially 1A and 1B tonight, but I’ll give the slight edge to Bumgarner. The Cubs strike out quite a bit, but the Padres (83 wRC+) aren’t far behind (23.5% K rate) and Madison Bumgarner is the bigger strike out pitcher of the two. Also taking the ball in San Francisco is a win over pitching in Chicago.
Zack Greinke @ Chicago Cubs ($10,500)
Zack Greinke gets the Cubs in Chicago tonight, so there’s a bit of a negative park shift here for him, but he gets a bump due with the Cubs has his opponent. They’re slightly below average against right-handed pitching (92 wRC+) and their propensity to whiff is well documented. I expect his ownership levels to be high tonight though, since he’s the cheapest of the ‘Big 3’ aces here tonight. He’s a cash game play all day though.
Chris Archer (2.14 FIP) might take offense to my previous comment about there being a ‘Big 3’ tonight, and he’d have a valid point. He hasn’t been quite as sharp in his last 2 outings but he’s been dynamic at times this season, arguably the best pitcher in the American League so far. His price has dipped a bit after approaching $12,000, and he’s under $10K tonight against the league leader in runs scored, Toronto. Facing them at home in Tampa is a positive, and the Blue Jays aren’t quite as good on the road as they are in the Rogers Centre.
Danny Salazar vs. Detroit Tigers ($9,300)
Danny Salazar is always an option due to his 30% strikeout rate and below average walk rate (4.79 K/BB), even against a team like the Tigers (105 wRC+). The problem with Salazar is he occasionally has issues with the long ball, and when he gets hit, he gets hit hard. His 2.58 xFIP is one of the best in the game, and he can contribute a solid score even if he gets hit a bit because he’s still likely to pile up strikeouts. I don’t love Salazar in cash games tonight because he is so volatile, but some exposure in GPP’s is the way to go.
David Price @ Cleveland Indians ($11,600)
At $11,600 and with some other big names coming at a discount, I think David Price will have the lowest ownership totals in the top tier. It’s not a great matchup on paper for Price, but he pitched a complete game shutout against these Indians just two weeks ago, so fear not. Overall though, the Indians whiff at a below average rate (just 16.7%), which should limit a bit of Price’s upside overall. It’s hard to dominate the same team twice in two weeks.
C.J. Wilson vs. Houston Astros ($8,600)
Wait, is that C.J. Wilson’s music? (Let’s hope not because I bet it’s country music.)
The sudden return of ‘good’ C.J. Wilson is quite surprising, but appears to be legit. He’s seen a slight bump in his strikeout rate, but the win here is he’s keeping his walks in check. They’ve always been an issue for him, but he’s down 4% over last season. He’s utilizing his slider a bit more, perhaps he’s had difficulty locating his curve-ball, because that’s really all that’s changed him his pitch mix. His strikeout rate is about the same as it’s been in the past, but the swinging-strike rate is up which is encouraging. The question here is, is it enough to be able to take advantage of the Astros (8th best wOBA vs. LHP) who can mash lefties but strike out a ton (23.7%)?
Middle of the Pack
Jason Hammel vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($8,500)
I think Jason Hammel is the best pitcher that no one is talking about. The only problem here is he’s facing the Dodgers who are the best offense in the league against right-handed pitching (.348 wOBA, 124 wRC+). His 6.14 K/BB rate is one of the best in the game, and it’s a perfect skill set for a successful DFS pitcher. The Dodgers will keep most people away, especially with other big name’s on the docket, but Hammel is a great GPP play.
Jesse Chavez @ Texas Rangers ($6,600)
Jesse Chavez continues to be under-priced for some reason. There’s not a lot to love about this matchup as it’s clearly a negative park shift for Chavez, but the Rangers are a middle of the pack offense against right-handed pitching, and Chavez has shown us that he can carry an above average strikeout and walk rate. He has a 2.75 FIP on the season, and has limited damage by left-handed bats, holding the to a .272 wOBA thus far.
Stephen Strasburg vs. Atlanta Braves ($9,000)
It appears that Stephen Strasburg is ready to return to the rotation tonight after missing several weeks with a strained neck that appeared to be causing him issues in his first few starts. There’s a lot of unknown tonight with Strasburg, but he pitched well in his last rehab appearance, and reports on his velocity are positive as well. The Braves are likely to be without Freddie Freeman here, which completely changes the dynamic of their lineup. He’s not for the faint of heart, but he’s an option tonight.
Rostering Carlos Martinez is about as pre-tilting as it gets. I get anxious about his start before they even happen. There’s lots of upside and potential in the young right-hander’s arm, but I’m walk-adverse and he has the ability to lose his command quickly. The appeal is the huge strike out totals, and he’s got a cushy matchup today against the Marlins (81 wRC+) in Miami. The good thing for Martinez today is that the Marlins are aggressive and don’t take many walks (just 6.0%) which is good new for him and his fantasy prospects tonight.
Jeff Samardzija @ Minnesota Twins ($8,000)
I’ve yet to roster Jeff Samardzija this season but I like him here more than any other time I can remember. He’s been $8,700-$9,500 for most of the season, and he’s lost a bit of his wormer burner ways (ground ball is down) which is not appealing in U.S. Cellular. Tonight he’s on the road in Minnesota against a Twins team that’s among the league’s worst when facing a right-handed pitcher. For the first time all season, Samardzija is a value.
Mike Fiers vs. New York Mets ($8,200)
Mike Fiers can punch anyone out (24.6% K rate) but he’s been hit hard by both left and right-handed hitters this season. His .368 BABIP is incredibly high, but he’ll need to start minimizing hard-hit contact if he’s going to get it in line with his career mark. The park is a deterrent here, but the Mets are just 27th in the league against right-handed pitching. Fiers isn’t safe, but he’s a legit GPP option.
Alex Wood @ Washington Nationals ($8,100)
I just don’t think there’s enough upside in Alex Wood (3.39 FIP) to roll him out tonight against the Nationals. They’re just about league average when facing a left-handed pitcher, but Wood’s fading strikeout rate (and swinging strike rate) make him difficult to pay up for.
Collin McHugh @ Los Angeles Angels ($7,100)
The ever-vanishing strike outs from Collin McHugh are troubling. His swinging-strike percent isn’t far off of what he did last season, but he’s not fooling nearly as many hitters. His xFIP is a run lower than his 5.04 ERA, but he’s had trouble with right-handed hitters (.486 slugging) this season. I can think of a couple of decent right-handed bats on the Angels…
C.C. Sabathia vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($7,700)
Break up the Phillies! They’re destroying good pitching this week so…
so Sabathia will probably throw a shutout. They’ve been better against left-handed pitching this season than the atrocious totals they have against right-hander’s, and C.C. has been horrendous against right-handed bats (.394 wOBA).
Chase Anderson @ Colorado Rockies ($5,500)
In the right situation/ park, there’s always some Chase Anderson appeal. He’s able to keep the ball on the ground, which is key for his success in Arizona. The only problem is the lack of K upside. The only reason to consider Coors is if there’s huge strikeout upside and it’s a short slate. Neither of those things are here today.
Ubaldo Jimenez @ Boston Red Sox ($6,900)
The Red Sox aren’t going to throw a ton of lefties at Ubaldo, which could make Jimenez an option since he’s typically handles right-handed hitters. The problem for him is the Red Sox. They’re begun to wake up a bit (7th in wOBA) and they have one of the lowest strikeout rates at 15.4%, sucking the helium upside out of the Ubaldo balloon.
Rest of the Field
R.A. Dickey @ Tampa Bay Rays ($7,600)
I love K/BB ratio, it’s one of my favorite stats. Walk are bad news for a DFS because we want innings and walks equals more pitches and thus, less innings. If you’re in the 2.80-3.10 range on K/BB then you’re slight above average. The upper-echelon guys are in the 6-8 range, which is crazy high (Scherzer’s 8.79 is tops). So far this season, R.A. Dickey is on the other side of the spectrum, with a 1.71, one of the lowest marks in the game. No thanks.
Joe Kelly vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5,200)
If I don’t think it’s a valid play, it’s difficult for me to go in-depth as to why I’m staying away. Some times it’s just simple. There are way too many legit options tonight, even some priced within a similar range of Marco Estrada tonight. The Orioles are 5th in wOBA against right-handed pitching, and can ‘go yard’ with the best of them, something they’ve been doing quite frequently this week.
Chi Chi Gonzalez vs. Oakland Athletics ($6,800)
I don’t know where to begin here. Chi Chi has 10 K’s in 30 innings, which seems difficult to pull off. His 1.00 ERA is difficult to fathom, and you can expect some serious regression here (xFIP 5.04) sooner than later. The Athletics have hit right-handers well all season (6th in wOBA .324).
Jon Niese @ Milwaukee Brewers ($6,500)
The Brewers are a different club at home (.298 wOBA) than they are on the road (.280), and it’s a negative park shift for Niese as well. Hell, the game will need to be played Glacier National Park to make Jon Niese an option right now. His .359 wOBA against right-handed hitters is one of the worst marks in the league.
Mike Pelfry vs. Chicago White Sox ($4,800)
The Brewers have struggled against left-handed pitching all season, but is Coors Field really the place that you won’t to double down on that? There’s no need to go there tonight.
Jeff Locke vs. Cincinnati Reds ($6,200)
The Reds a stack option against soft-tossing left-handed pitchers like Locke. They’re 5th in wOBA, and Pittsburgh is a better hitters park than it’s given credit for. There’s no reason to use Locke tonight, you know Todd Frazier is going to dong tonight.
Jose Urena vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($4,200)
The Cardinals don’t slug well as a team, but they’re strong against right-handed pitching (5th in wOBA .328) and Jose Urena is a below average starter. No need to entertain this on a full slate.
Odrisamer Despaigne @ San Francisco Giants ($5,300)
It’s difficult to pitching in San Francisco (or San Diego regularly, actually) and never be an option. The strike out is just so valuable, and Despaigne’s 12.1% just won’t get it done. It’s not as if the Giants (109 wRC+ vs. RHP) are a slouch on offense, even at home.
Jeremy Guthrie @ Seattle Mariners ($5,100)
You just aren’t starting a pitcher like Mike Wright in Toronto, no matter how big or small the slate is. The matchup, ball park, all have him working upstream here tonight.
Sean O’Sullivan @ New York Yankees ($4,400)
A terrible matchup against the Yankees (4th in wOBA) in one of the best run-scoring environments in the league. Say no to Sean.
Mike Montgomery vs. Kansas City Royals ($4,600)
The former first-round pick has yet to get it going, and he’s unlikely to against the team that drafted him, Kansas City. I avoid the Royals because they don’t strike out.
Kyle Kendrick vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($4,000)
A 5.17 xFIP (5.73 vs. LHB’s) is remarkably bad. The Rockies opening day starter can safely be left alone at home.