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
1) Sonny Gray @ Detroit Tigers ($8,600) – Gray’s seasonal numbers are out of this world, and his start-to-start fantasy points have been wonderful. The Tigers carry heavy sticks, but Gray is my favorite start of the day. For the price, you just can’t beat what you’re getting from him statistically. Gray is averaging a bit under 7 IP, with 66 K in 74 IP.
2) Hector Santiago vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($7,100) – Santiago continues to provide DFS owners excellent totals, while remaining one of the most underrated pitchers in the game. Now, how many of expected Santiago to be this good? Santiago easily makes my Top 5 list, while presenting superb value.
3) Cole Hamels vs. Cincinnati Reds ($10,100) – Man, you want consistency then look no further than Hamels. Dude has been lights out for us, averaging 23 FPPG over his last 10 starts, and over 28 points over his last five starts. You just can’t beat that. Hamels is worth every dollar.
4) Jon Lester @ Miami Marlins ($9,900) – I like Lester a bunch on Wednesday considering the matchup, park factor and that Lester has been averaging well over 20 fantasy points a start over his last seven games started. Lester isn’t may favorite play of the day, but pretty darn close. Look for a 7 IP, 6 K performance, with a big, fat “W” in tow.
5) James Shields vs. New York Mets ($9,400) – I feel pretty good about slotting Shields into my lineups pitching from Petco Park, where he is ERA and WHIP is quite a bit lower than on the road (3.16 to 4.14, 1.12 to 1.30). Shields is averaging almost 19 FPPG this year and is fantastic bet to hit that mark facing the Mets.
6) Corey Kluber @ Kansas City Royals ($10,400) – The strikeouts alone should catch your attention, along with Kluber’s 1.12 WHIP on the year. Sure, he’s got a tough lineup to face in the Royals, but Kluber has been unbelievably dominant over his last four starts with a 50:2 K:BB rate. Yow-za.
7) Chris Sale @ Texas Rangers ($10,600) – Remember when Sale was struggling? Well, that’s in the past for now. Over his last four starts, Sale has given DFS owners 33.7 FPPG. I worry a bit about Sale tossing the ball in Arlington, but he’s my favorite $10 K pitcher of the day. Even if he gives up a couple of runs, you can count on the strikeouts he provides (40 K in 31.2 IP over his last four starts).
Middle of the Pack
8) Mike Foltynewicz @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($6,500) – Foltynewicz isn’t a bad play here at all. He’s netting more than a K per inning this season, while now limiting his walks (only 3 BB over his last 19.1 IP). You’ve got yourself a nice little value-play, with massive potential for a 25-point fantasy night facing the Diamondbacks.
9) Rubby De La Rosa vs. Atlanta Braves ($6,700) – I like the price on De La Rosa and wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see him locked into a pitchers duel with Mike Foltynewicz. De La Rosa’s underlying numbers are respectable, and he’s averaging 17 FPPG on the season. Not bad. I like him almost as much as I do Foltynewicz on Wednesday, and if I was looking to save salary on my pitching slots to go with a hitter-heavy lineup, I wouldn’t mind starting both even facing each other. The win will be a toss-up in my mind.
10) Francisco Liriano @ San Francisco Giants ($10,000) – Is Liriano worth $10 K? You may have to convince yourself to lock him in; however, Liriano has gotten himself back on track over his last two starts after a disastrous negative-10.3 showing on May 19th, where he lasted only two innings, giving up seven earned runs. Current Giants’ hitters have a .304 lifetime average against Liriano, so, while I trust Liriano’s skill set, the $10 K tag keeps him away from the “Cream of the Crop” section.
11) Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Minnesota Twins ($5,700) – I’m not expecting Rodriguez to match his 32.3 fantasy point output in his MLB debut, but we should see 20 points or so. Rodriguez has all the right stuff to be a great Sox pitcher, one of the better prospects in the game. His price is worth taking a chance on facing the Twins in Boston.
12) Mark Buehrle @ Washington Nationals ($6,200) – So what is it about Buehrle that gives him value? It’s his ability to go deep into games of late. Buehrle is averaging just over 8 IP over his last three starts. I like him to net at least 7 IP and provide DFS owners with a 15-point fantasy night.
13) Dan Haren vs. Chicago Cubs ($6,900) – Haren continues to surprise for DFS owners this season. You get a reasonably-priced starting pitcher that will give you 15 FPPG. There’s no flash with Haren, so his ceiling for fantasy output is limited. Haren is a decent mid-range play.
14) John Lackey vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($8,300) – Lackey’s overall numbers this season have been a dream, although his numbers don’t always translate well into high-end fantasy point totals. In other words, Lackey is like a roller coaster in his starts… up and down. What about Lackey vs. Milwaukee? The current Brewers hitters smack him around to the tune of .345. At $8 K-plus, I want a more consistent arm.
15) Masahiro Tanaka @ Seattle Mariners ($9,600) – I’m not ready to spend this kind of dough on Tanaka just yet, since this is his first start since since April 23rd. If it was a leg injury I might go with Tanaka in Seattle, but not coming off a wrist/forearm injury. Plus, there’s a very good chance that Tanaka’s pitch count will be limited.
16) Mike Bolsinger @ Colorado Rockies ($5,900) – A-Ha! I bet your tempted to ignore Bolsinger because he’s tossing the ball at Coors Field, right? Normally that’s not a bad idea, but Bolsinger is pitching well and the Dodgers’ bats are some of the best in the league in giving run support. I’m not saying you want Bolsinger leading the way, but he’s a good plug-in play at $5.9 K if also you’re running with a $10 K superstar arm.
17) Nathan Karns @ Los Angeles Angels ($6,400) – Karns continues to be a nice surprise this season and gives owners a solid play at the mid-$6 K range. He’s averaging 16.5 FPPG on the year and has pitched extraordinarily well on the road in 2015 (only 2 ER in 22.2 IP).
18) Miguel Gonzalez @ Houston Astros ($6,400) – While Gonzalez has had a few horrible-performing DFS starts, he’s had some outstanding ones as well. He’s hit-or-miss at times, and Gonzalez is more than capable of a dominant game, but Houston bats can be a thorn in a pitchers side. If you’re looking in this price range, you could do much worse.
19) Taijuan Walker vs. New York Yankees ($7,000) – Don’t be tempted to slot Walker into your lineup based on his last start, as I would make sure he strings some good starts together before locking him in. All you’re doing is guessing at this point with Walker, especially with the Yankees coming into town. And, yes, I know that Walker is quite excellent at home this season, but you can get more reliability for salary spent.
20) Lance McCullers vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5,600) – I love what McCullers has done since he got the call up to the Majors, although his efficiency has been an issue. In two of his starts, McCullers hasn’t been able to qualify for a win falling just short of 5 IP in each. Look for McCullers to improve his efficiency, going further than his average innings pitched to this point.
21) Chad Bettis vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($4,900) – At this price, I’ll let my hesitancy go by the wayside considering Bettis’ fantastic starts over his last two games. The Dodger bats may not be the best bats to take a chance against, but Bettis gives you some lineup flexibility.
22) Dillon Gee @ San Diego Padres ($7,100) – I never feel great about locking in pitchers coming off the DL, and Gee hasn’t played since May 3rd. He nets the start for the Mets facing James Shields and the Padres, so Gee does gain help from Petco Park. Gee isn’t a bad play, just not a favorite play for me.
Rest of the Field
23) Jimmy Nelson @ St. Louis Cardinals ($7,200) – Nelson is doing a good job of limiting hits to the batters he has faced, although he is giving up a few too many free passes. I’m not thrilled about Nelson heading into St. Louis for this game either, so I’m looking elsewhere.
24) Phil Hughes @ Boston Red Sox ($7,600) – Hughes has been tagged for 9 HR and 18 XBH against the Red Sox’ hitters over his career (140 AB), although he does have good numbers at Fenway Park over his career. The risk is too great for me, however, at $7.6 K.
25) Tim Hudson vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($6,200) – After giving up 8 ER in Colorado on May 24th, Hudson bounced back in his last start against the Braves. Even though Hudson induced 17 groundball outs in his last start, he is pretty fickle as a pitcher right now. You take a large risk slotting him into your lineup.
26) Anibal Sanchez vs. Oakland Athletics ($7,800) – Sanchez perplexes me. He’s also vexing. And, he has a dog named “Rex”. Alright, not sure about the Rex-thing, it’s just that I’m going nuts trying to figure out which pitcher will come out to play on Wednesday. And, describing Sanchez with some words containing “ex” really helps me stay calm. Will it be the perplexing, vexing Sanchez? Or, the Sanchez everyone wants to see, the one that has had some brilliant starts on the year. I think, and I’m thinking hard now, that you have to stay away from him at $7.8 K.
27) Mike Leake at Philadelphia Phillies ($6,800) – As soon as Leake hit the $8 K mark, he nosedived. Leake hasn’t had a good start since early May. So, yeah, a whole month gone by where we’ve seen Leake’s good start to the season go bye-bye. You’d be better served locking onto another arm.
28) Jason Vargas vs. Cleveland Indians ($6,300) – There are better options around this price range, so there’s no reason to consider Vargas facing the Indians. Vargas is just isn’t getting it done on a consistent basis.
29) Nick Martinez vs. Chicago White Sox ($5,300) – I know the numbers look good, but you’ve got to think that things will get ugly soon for Martinez. There’s just no way he can keep up this level of performance against MLB hitters, where he’s been extremely lucky to this point. Martinez’ .279 BABIP should be a good indicator that the wall will eventually come tumblin’ down.
30) Rick Porcello vs. Minnesota Twins ($6,500) – You’ll want to steer clear of Porcello for the foreseeable future, considering he has given up 13 ER over his last two starts. Something isn’t right with Porcello – don’t let him try to figure it out in your lineup.
31) Trevor May @ Boston Red Sox ($5,700) – No thanks. Just because a pitcher is at a low, low price it doesn’t mean you want to roster him. May is a solid future talent, but he’s not pitching well and he’s not pitching in a good ball park for MLB pitchers.
32) Taylor Jordan vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($4,800) – With Stephen Strasburg on the DL once again, Jordan will net a start for the Nationals. Jordan is priced at $4.8 K for a reason – stay away unless you want to take a beating.
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