This is quite a unique night, one that’s very different then any I can remember this season when there’s 30 starting pitchers to choose from. While we have a full slate tonight, we have so few options to choose from here. Or is it that we have a ton and they’re all just ‘eh’? I can’t tell yet, to be honest. We’re void of any true elite plays tonight, so take the ‘Cream of the Crop’ with a grain of salt.
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. If you have any last-minute questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
There’s no doubt that Jake Odorizzi is a solid, above average starting pitcher, but he’s not someone that I’m using to having as perhaps the safest option on the board for the day. Seattle is a nice park for the right-handed fly ball pitcher, and the Mariners (.293 wOBA) have the third highest strikeout rate (23.5%) in the league when facing a RHP. With that said, Odorizzi has been much more efficient with his arsenal this season, limiting walks and working deeper in to games at the expense of his huge strikeout upside.
Tyson Ross @ Cincinnati Reds ($9,400)
As the highest price option of the day, along with perhaps the highest upside, I expect Tyson Ross to be very popular today. I haven’t began constructing lineups quite yet but I don’t think I’ll be on him at all. I do love his elite ground ball skills (63.5%) but it’s a negative park shift for Ross, and his below average walk rate from last year (8.9%) has ballooned to 11.2% this season. That’s high. The Reds are just 19th in terms of wOBA against RHP, but they’re a patient team who hits well at home.
Jose Quintana vs. Detroit Tigers ($8,100)
Even if you’re not a batter vs. pitcher (BvP) believer, I try to avoid division rivalries when I can, especially when there’s a large sample size like we have here. The challenge here is that the Tigers are reeling right now, and this is as good of a time as any to exploit them. They enter play with the 9th best wOBA/wRC+ against LHP, but they’re prone to swing and miss. Their 23.8% K-rate is one of the highest marks in the game when facing a lefty, and Jose Quintana (3.30 FIP) has seen his swinging strike rate (a great indicator for strikeout success) jump up from 8.3 to 9.7% this season.
Carlos Martinez @ Los Angeles Dodgers ($9,100)
After a slew of terrible showings on the road, the Dodgers went to Colorado and had their bats come to life again. No surprise there. They return home to facing Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals, and enter play with the best offense in the game against right-handed pitching (.355 wOBA/128 wRC+). The young flame-throwing Martinez pitched well last time out, and if he can avoid extending innings with walks (4.03 BB/9 is a bit high) then he’ll continue to have success.
Scott Kazmir @ Boston Red Sox ($7,500)
The Red Sox have started to wake up a bit offensively, at least against lefties in the past two weeks, but they start the day with a disappointing .288 wOBA when facing a southpaw. Pitching at Fenway is clearly a negative park shift for Scott Kazmir here, but he’s inducing more ground balls this season and his strikeout rate (8.79 K/9) is above average. The Red Sox don’t strike out a ton, but on a day with such limited strikeout upside we have to consider Kazmir today.
Middle of the Pack
Brett Anderson vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($7,000)
The Cardinals can struggle at times when facing an above average lefty. They strikeout out 22.7% of the time and they’re one of the worst teams in terms of SLG%. I’m not sure we can call Brett Anderson ‘above average’, but he does have an above average knuckle-curve that’s leading to a tremendously high ground ball rate (68.2%) and it can get him out of trouble when he needs to get out of a jam. His strikeout and walk rates are league average, mitigating his upside, but it’s a decent matchup for Anderson here in L.A.
Kyle Lohse @ Minnesota Twins ($5,800)
Yeah, I know guys. That’s just the kind of day it is.
Kyle Lohse is often left in the bottom tier here, the ‘Rest of the Field’ if you will, but today is a different beast. Lohse has not pitched well lately, but despite some ugly numbers (6.50 ERA/5.01 FIP) he’s better than what we’ve seen of late. He’s had a difficult time with runners on-base, and his 61.6% strand rate is about 15% below his career and league average marks. His K/BB ratio is still decent enough to be slightly encouraged, and the matchup today is worth a look. The Twins are 28th in the league against right-handed pitching (.290 wOBA), and it’s a positive park factor shift for Lohse here. If narratives are your thing (I’m grasping at straws, people!) then make yourself feel good about the fact that Lohse started his career as a Twin.
Facing the league’s worst offense against right-handed pitching. That’s a pretty nice setup for Tim Lincecum today. That alone will drive Lincecum’s ownership totals up, and I agree that he’s a decent cash game option. The ever-diminishing K-rate is a concern, as are his walks (4.1 per 9), which is why I don’t have him higher. His strand rate is 10% lower than it’s been over the past 3 seasons, so there’s a bit of bad luck here, but it’s also to be expected when the velocity and skills are eroding.
Edinson Volquez vs. Texas Rangers ($7,800)
Edinson Volquez can be effective when he keeps the ball on the ground, and he takes the hill today with a 2.95 ERA (3.36 FIP). His average strikeout and walk rates make him difficult to get excited about, but trust me, the options don’t get more exciting as you scroll down. It’s no surprise that Texas is much better at home than on the road, so Volquez has that going for him, which is nice…
J.A. Happ vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($6,700)
The Rays are sneaky good against left-handed pitching, enter play with the 5th best wOBA in the league against them (.332). Their isolated power numbers are even better than that (second best mark in the league behind the Blue Jays). They do strike out often, but J.A. Happ is not someone that can take advantage of that. He’s had some success by being more efficient with his pitches this season, but any strikeout upside has gone by the wayside as well.
Jered Weaver @ New York Yankees ($7,900)
I’m just going to keep betting against Jered Weaver (4.08 ERA/4.39 FIP). It’s been a strangely unsuccessful venture in the past couple of weeks, but it will pay dividends eventually. This looks like a good spot for some regression here in New York. The Yankees are one of the best teams in the league in terms of slugging and ISO against RHP, and Yankee Stadium does not play well in to Weaver’s fly ball tendencies. His inability to miss bats (4.84 K/9) makes using him virtually impossible to roster in my opinion.
Tsuyoshi Wada @ Washington Nationals ($7,400)
We only have 15.2 innings from Tsuyoshi Wada (2.30 ERA/3.46 FIP) this season, but they’ve been fairly successful ones. I’d temper your expectations a bit here though. Wada’s 10.9 K/9 is a bit deceiving because again it’s just 15 innings, and he doesn’t have the SwStk to back it up (6.9). This is all Small Sample Size theater at this point, but we know enough based on his previous major league starts to know that Wada isn’t a 10.9 K/9 pitcher.
Shaun Marcum vs. Baltimore Orioles ($4,300)
Again, it’s that kind of day.
Through 19 2/3 innings this season, Shaun Marcum has an 11.6% SwStk percentage. I’m not saying that it’s sustainable, but it definitely validates his early season strike out totals. The Orioles have been on the receiving end of some big strike out games this season, and while I don’t think that’s the case today necessarily, Marcum does present some value at just $4,300.
Chris Tillman @ Cleveland Indians ($6,900)
If you watch Chris Tillman pitch for 10 minutes, you’re likely to see a glimpse of someone that looks really good. Big, tall kid who can pump 95-mph heat when he needs to; he definitely looks the part. If you watch the entire game though, you’ll quickly be disappointed. The ‘stuff’ doesn’t translate to strikeouts, and he makes live difficult for himself with his propensity to walk the park (11.9% walk rate). It’s a positive park shift for Tillman, but that’s not enough to make him an option today.
Wade Miley vs. Oakland Athletics ($6,600)
We only have 19 innings of Mike Wright so far this season, and while there’s been quite a bit of batted ball luck, $4,800 seems pretty low. He doesn’t have huge swing-and-miss stuff (5.59 K/9) but the Astros have huge swing-and-miss bats. I’d stay with the names above Wright, but he’s cheaper than he should be (averaging 19 DK points per outing so far).
Tanner Roark vs. Chicago Cubs ($5,700)
On such a terrible night for pitching, I want to like Tanner Roark, I really do, but I don’t see it. I expect he’ll have a higher ownership total than what’s reflected here, but he’s yet to display the skill set that he’d need in order to take advantage of the Cubs weakness. Working as a spot starter and out of the bullpen, Roark has a K/9 of 3.16 so far, and that’s really difficult to do. I know the price is great, but the pitcher isn’t.
Charlie Morton @ Atlanta Braves ($7,200)
Charlie Morton has showed well through his first 14 innings, entering play with a 1.93 ERA. His FIP is a bit higher, but it’s the strike outs that take him off the board for me. The combination of Morton’s limited K upside paired with the fact that the Braves don’t strikeout often, is a bad mix for Morton, especially considering his price.
Kyle Gibson vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($6,200)
Somehow Kyle Gibson has compiled 62 innings of 2.61 ERA thus far, so good for Kyle. The reality is he’s not THIS good. His FIP is 4.40 and his strand rate is about 15% lower than his career mark. Don’t look at the ERA and think you’ve uncovered a bargain today.
Rest of the Field
Jeremy Hellickson vs. New York Mets ($6,400)
I’m encouraged by the improved ground ball rate that we’ve seen from Jeremy Hellickson, and that’ll serve him well pitching in Arizona. He’s a bit more efficient than he use to be, but his strikeout upside has dried up in the desert. He struggles against left-handed bats, and the Mets have a couple of hot infield bats that could be trouble for him today. I’d only consider elite pitchers if I’m taking someone who’s toeing the rubber in Arizona.
Jon Niese @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($6,000)
The Diamondbacks has a few bats that mash lefties, and Niese’s strong ground ball rates aren’t enough to keep him out of trouble here. There could be a decent amount of runs scored in Arizona tonight.
Nathan Eovaldi vs. Los Angeles Angels ($6,300)
A few weeks back the Angels had a worst wOBA against right-handed pitching than the Phillies did. That’s how bad it was for L.A. Well the bats have woken up a bit, climbing up to 24th at this point with a .295 wOBA. Finally we’ve seen some production from players not named TROUT. They get a positive park bump here, which isn’t good for Nathan Eovaldi. As is the case with everyone remaining on this slate, the upside just isn’t there.
Aaron Sanchez vs. Houston Astros ($6,100)
There’s a bit of strike out upside here for Aaron Sanchez, not only due to his stuff but also due to his opponent. It’s not enough for me though, as his nearly six walks per 9 is a huge number. It limits his ability to have clean innings and work deep into the game.
Raisel Iglesias vs. San Diego Padres ($5,600)
We’ve seen some glimpses of upside from Raisel Iglesias, but it’s not enough to feel like he’s going to be able to work deep enough into the game here. He’s struggled during his second and third times through the order, and that’s normal for a young pitcher like Iglesias. If he can start to differentiate the look of his three offerings, he could be exciting down the road. That road is closed for my DFS teams today.
Williams Perez vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($5,500)
Williams Perez has two decent secondary pitches, a slider and a curve, but his fastball isn’t major league ready. Unfortunately for him and the Braves, he’s throwing it 67% of the time. Similar to Iglasias, there’s potential here but not for DFS purposes.
Tom Koehler @ Colorado Rockies ($5,200)
I could tell you why Koehler is an average pitcher, but this game is in Coors. Don’t use Koehler.
Roberto Hernandez @ Toronto Blue Jays ($4,600)
The Blue Jays lead the league in runs scored, and the Rogers Centre is a hitters haven. We good here? Ok, cool.
Chi Chi Gonzalez @ Kansas City Royals ($5,400)
Chi Chi Gonzalez was able to keep the Red Sox off of the scoreboard in his debut, but walks were an issue for him. The Royals don’t take many walks, but their aggressive approach at the plate is something I avoid even with a good options on the mound.
Jerome Williams vs. San Francisco Giants ($4,200)
The Giants are a lot like the Royals offensively, they’re aggressive and have a ton of guys that can beat you even though they don’t have huge offensive stars. It’s a nice park bump for San Francisco today. Say no to Jerome.
Kyle Ryan @ Chicago White Sox ($4,500)
The White Sox have been terrible against left-handed pitching, so if you’re feeling frisky, give the 6’5″ lefty Kyle Ryan a go. I’m not that brave.
Eddie Butler vs. Miami Marlins ($4,200)
I promise to give you more information when you need it, but here you don’t need it. It’s a below average pitcher (generous description) in Colorado.