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
Masahiro Tanaka vs. Houston Astros ($10600) – Tanaka has quite possibly the best matchup a right-handed pitcher can have. The Astros have the highest K% in the league at 25.9% against right-handed pitching. They also have the fourth lowest batting average at .239. Tanaka is a -120 favorite in a game with a run line of 7.5. The drawback is he has not been great lately. In his last two starts, he has gone 12 innings with 19 hits and 7 earned runs allowed. Still, Tanaka is a high strikeout guy with 51 K’s in 48 IP. He had a string of four really solid starts before his recent slide and is still sitting at a 3.17 ERA and a WHIP of 1.03. Despite the perception that he has not been good this year, those are elite level numbers.
Matt Harvey vs. Cincinnati Reds ($11100) – Harvey has not been great lately, but does have a pretty good matchup in this one. The Reds are 19th in the league for batting average against right-handed pitching. They are not a high strikeout team though, ranking 22nd with a K% of 18.9%. Harvey is a big -170 favorite in a game with a run total of 6.5. He gets this start at home in Citi Field which is a great pitcher’s park. He is very tough on righties, which should help neutralize guys like Frazier who has been the biggest weapon for the Reds. He has a softer matchup than Kershaw in a better pitcher’s park and is 15% cheaper. He did throw a lot of pitches last time out, but word is that he was fine after that start, so it’s not a major concern. He needs about 33 points to reach value here, so it’s not a huge upside, but he should be a safe cash game option with a floor in the mid to high twenties.
Middle of the Pack
Clayton Kershaw vs. Miami Marlins ($12300) – Kershaw not in the cream of the crop, are you crazy? Nope, and to prove it, here’s the case. The Marlins have the second best batting average against left-handed pitching in the league. They have a middle of the road strikeout rate of 20.7% which is 16th in the league. While those numbers are good, they were not earned against a pitcher of Kershaw’s caliber. That’s a valid argument, so let me go further. Kershaw would need about 36 points to reach value, something he has only done twice in his last ten. Both times (Atl, StL) were against left-handed dominant team. Kershaw is a nightmare to left-handed hitters, but when a team throws a bunch of righties at him, like the Marlins will, he tends to finish with a solid score in the mid twenties. While a mid twenties score is not horrible, it also is not enough if you have to pay up to $12K+ for a guy. I am not advocating targeting Marlins against Kershaw, but I also do not think Kershaw is line for a huge game that smashes through his expected ceiling.
Matt Garza vs. Minnesota Twins ($5900) – Garza has a lot of upside in this one, especially at his price. He has two straight clunkers, but both can be excused. Last out he pitched in Coors, so those numbers are always skewed to the downside for any pitcher. The time before that he faced the KC Royals who are notorious for not striking out and also having a high batting average. He gets a matchup here with a Twins team that has a 20.4% strikeout rate which is 10th highest vs. right-handed pitching. They also have the 21st batting average and have given up some big games to righties this season. Garza had been averaging numbers over 20 before those two recent bumps in the road, so if he returns to that level, he will be one of the best value plays on the day.
Michael Lorenzen vs. New York Mets ($4500) – This is really cheap for a guy who has been better and has a great matchup. The Mets have the ninth most strikeouts in the league against right-handed pitching. They have a K-rate of 20.7% and the third worst batting average to go along with it. Those numbers are actually lower over the last few weeks, so it does not even outline how bad they have been. Lorenzen had 12 and 20 fantasy points in his last two against better offenses, so he has a big chance to reach and exceed value off his dirt cheap price. I would not expect him to be the top scorer on the day, but he will be plenty useful if he repeats either of his last two performances at this price.
Gio Gonzalez vs. Phillies ($7900) – The price looks real appealing here, but the Phillies are tough vs. lefties. They have the 12th best batting average and are 23rd for strikeouts. Gio has been pitching better, with 24 in his last start after throwing up a -7. He has been blown up recently, so he has as much of a chance to throw a good game as he does of getting lit up. That kind of erratic performance makes him a no go in cash for me, especially on top of the tougher matchup. Many will flock to him against what the think is a weak team, but guys like Franco have mashed lefties recently and this spot scares me more than it projects to be for maximum upside.
Charlie Morton vs. Atlanta Braves ($6200) – Morton had been a stud until throwing up a -19 in his last trip to the mound. Before that he has been consistently throwing up 20s, so this was a game that burned many band wagon jumpers. Still he is not as good as he was pitching so regression was coming, but no one believed it would be as bad as it was. He failed to get out of the first and gave up 8 earned runs. Still I think Morton can get back on track in his home park and Vegas agrees. You do not become a -160 favorite cause the boys in Nevada think you will lose.
Tim Lincecum vs. Colorado Rockies ($6400) – If this game was in Coors, I would not touch him. In San Fran though, I think he is in play. Lincecum is tough at home with a WHIP of 1.17 and an ERA of around 2.14. Timmy has about 60 Ks in about 75 innings of work, so he can still dial it up. He’s a much better bet at home and in a low total game for a low price, he is definitely worth a GPP flyer.
Rest of the Field
Wade Miley vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($7000) – This is way too much to pay for a guy who is listed as the underdog here. Tampa Bay has a lot of right-handed bats on top of that lineup and despite decent numbers vs. righties recently, Miley has historically struggle with power righty bats. Joey Gallo, Evan Longoria, and Logan Forsythe all fall into that category. The fact that the Rays are favored here says a lot about what Vegas thinks of Miley. The run line here is not extremely high, but as the underdog and for $7K, I can not see it in this one.
Scott Kazmir vs. Kansas City Royals ($9000) – It’s tough to justify Kazmir today with this price tag. The Royals have the third highest batting average against lefties and the lowest K% by a mile. They are striking out less then 15% of the time, which does not bode well for Kazmir and his upside. He is a -130 underdog and the line is moving against him. He has been solid lately, but without K upside and with the Royals making pitchers work, he likely will not go deep into this one. If you can not count on a win, expect high strikeouts, and do not get many runs, then it will be real tough to make value. This is especially true when the salary is this high.
Julio Teheran vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($8300) – Teheran has only been good twice in his last ten. He has multiple negative and single digit numbers. The only two good starts he has had were against the weak hitting Mets and Brewers. He is a huge underdog here at +150 in a game with only 7 runs expected. Pittsburgh is a good pitchers park, but based off recent performances, Teheran is not the guy we remember dominating last season.
Chris Young vs. Oakland Athletics ($5300) – Young has been a solid pitcher except for two outings this year. He had only given up 13 runs in 59 innings before getting lit up last time out. He takes on an Athletics team loaded with solid left-handed bats, so this is a tough spot for him. Oakland has the fourth lowest K% and the sixth highest batting average, so despite the discounted price, he still will struggle to make value.
Tom Koehler vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($6600) – Koehler has a really tough matchup here. The Dodgers smash right-handed pitching. Despite the recent good performances from Koehler, he has not faced a lineup like this anytime recently. LA has the highest OPS at .788 vs right-handed pitching and a K% of only 19.4%. Koehler has already allowed 10 homers in 39 innings pitched to lefties and LA has the most in the league vs. right-handed pitching. It’s a perfect matchup for them and a really bad one for Koehler. Koehler has held both handedness of batters below .250, but the homerun ball will be his doom in this one.
Brett Oberholtzer vs. New York Yankees ($6400) – Oberholtzer has a tough matchup with the Yankees at home in his hitter friendly park. The Yanks are 25th in the league for strikeouts vs. left-handed pitchers. They do not have a huge batting average at 19th best, but they are fifth for runs scored. The Yanks are very lefty dominant, but can insert guys like Young and turn guys like Tex and Beltran around in order to have some pop against lefties. Houston is a great hitters park and the Yanks are favored as well, so this is a tough spot for a guy who has only really had one good one in his last five.
John Danks vs. Detroit Tigers ($5000) – Danks is a weak lefty going up against a slew of right-handed bats with all star games galore on the resume. In four of his last six, he failed to make it through 6 innings. He gave up at least four runs in each of those starts and those were against weaker lineups then he will see today. Danks has a good game about once every five outings, so even at this discounted price he can not be recommended. Factor in the strength of opponent and he is not a guy who should be in play.
Kyle Ryan vs. Chicago White Sox ($4100) – This is not a bad matchup per se for Ryan, but it is hard to trust a guy at any price that has not made it out of the fourth inning in his last two and also has not returned a positive number. Ryan is a decent prospect, but has struggled in his recent starts. He has given up 24 hits, 12 runs, 4 homeruns, and 8 walks in 23 innings of work. He likely may not get into the fifth, so that would not even allow him to pick up a win. There’s just too many negatives and not enough upside to trust him, despite the low cost.
Chris Rusin vs. San Fransisco Giants ($4300) – Rusin gets away from Coors which is a plus, but he has been really bad in his last three starts, two of which ended with negative numbers. He has gone 15.1 innings in those three, with 27 hits allowed, 16 runs, 4 homeruns, and only seven strikeouts. If he does not pitch deep, does not strikeout a lot of batters, and gives up a lot of walks and hits, there is really nothing left to keep him in positive territory.