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
Chris Sale vs. Houston Astros ($11400) – It’s amazing how much throwing his slider again has helped Chris Sale. He has 5 straight solid starts in a row and has struck out at least 10 batters in four of his last five. Sale is a -150 favorite with a run total of 7.5. Houston is one of the highest strikeout teams in the league, although they are slightly worse in that department against left-handed pitching. Still Sale looks like his old dominant self again, and that Astros lineup has a lot of strikeouts in it from top to bottom. Sale should be safe for cash with 20+ points as a floor, and against a high K team he could have a monster game and put up a huge number.
Lance McCullers vs. Chicago White Sox ($7400) – There’s a lot of chatter about how high his ownership percentage will be today and rightly so. This guy seem mispriced with upside. McCulers is a strikeout per inning guy and should throw about 100 pitches here today. That should get him through 6 innings of work and give him positives of 25.5 points. He has not allowed more than two runs in any start so that drops him down to 21.5. He also gives up about a hit/walk per inning, so tat brings it down to 18 fantasy points. If he gets the win or strikes out and pitches an extra inning, then he will end up at 22 fantasy points and return 3 points per thousand of cost. Remember that those are his averages and this White Sox team is below average at the plate, so he has upside off the floor we just laid out too.
Cole Hamels vs. Cincinnati Reds ($10400) – Hamels has been Mr. Consistent lately. He has between 22 and 29 fantasy points in each of his last six starts. Those numbers do not scream GPP upside, but that’s a safe solid score for cash game play. The Reds are middle of the pack for strikeouts and actually have a pretty solid WOBA as well, so it’s no cakewalk. Still Hamels is one of the better pitchers in the league and has a matchup with Mike Leake who is erratic. Despite being a -105 underdog, the total is only 7, so Vegas does not expect him to get shelled. The underdog status has more to do with the putrid offense hitting behind him.
Shelby Miller vs. San Diego Padres ($8400) – Shelby Miller’s price has dropped along with his strikeouts. After striking out 25 batters in 23 innings to start the month of May, he only has 12 in his last 26 innings overall. Except for last out against Arizona he is still delivering quality start after quality start, which is why his ERA is 1.89 and his WHIP is only 1.00. Miller has been dominant for much of the year and gets a San Diego team that has struggled to a bottom third batting average after a hot start. The Padres also have a high K-rate against Miller, so this would be a game to expect him to have more of a floor. The price on him is too good to pass up, and he goes opposite Ian Kennedy who has been knocked around a few times lately. There’s a lot to like for safety with Miller, and he could surprise to the upside if he reverts to the strikeout guy we saw a few starts back.
Middle of the Pack
AJ Burnett vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($9500) – The Brewers have been a good matchup for right-handed pitchers and Burnett has pitched very well. He has been even better at home where he averages about a strikeout per inning and has an ERA of only 1.69. The Brewers have a high K-rate and a low batting average against right-handers in 2015, but that was also with Gomez and Braun banged up and Lucroy out, so things are improving. Burnett also has not gone deep into the games with most of his starts being done in the sixth. His price is high here because his strikeouts have been, but he has some caution signs popping up for him in this start and he is priced for perfection at $9500.
Mike Bolsinger vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($7000) – Bolsinger has not been good recently, but he had flashed some upside in his first few starts. He gets to pitch in his pitcher friendly home park today against a solid lineup in Arizona. He has a large win probability with the lineup behind him smashing right-handed pitching this year, if he can go his usual six or seven innings with about a K per inning, than he really only needs to give up three runs or less to make value on it. Vegas expects right around that today, so he has some upside. He also has thrown some clunkers, so there’s not much safety for a cash game with him.
Ian Kennedy vs. Atlanta Braves ($7700) – Inconsistency has been Kennedy’s problem this year. He was rounding back into shape from an injury, so we can excuse some of the early starts, but he has only been over 20 fantasy points once in his last four and that stretch includes a negative score as well. The Braves have some quality left-handed bats to throw at him, and he actually gets a park downgrade despite still pitching in a decent ballpark for hurlers. At his price, he would need to repeat his best performance of the season, and as long as he fails to go more than six innings, the scores will remain low and he will not have upside. He is safe for a mid teens floor though, but that is not enough to get it done.
Mike Leake vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($6200) – Leake has been shelled a few times this season, but also threw a gem against Philly recently to help those numbers. Leake has averaged 6.5 innings per start, with 3 earned runs allowed, and about four strikeouts. Those are not huge upside numbers, but at $6200, they would yield a nice return of 15 points. If you factor in the win for him, than he would make value and do so with a pretty solid double digit floor being highly likely.
John Lackey vs. Colorado Rockies ($7100) – Lackey has been pretty good with a 2.39 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. The problem here is he pitches in Coors field today. Guys like Kershaw and Greinke are much better than Lackey and struggled to get anywhere near what he would need today to make value. He is not a huge K guy and he should have elevated hits and run numbers here, so it’s tough to see the upside or the safety.
Jimmy Nelson vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($6700) – Nelson has tantalizing strikeout potential which lures everyone in, but he also has allows a high number of hits, walks, and runs. The cheaper he gets the more people throw him in because of that upside, but if he gives up five runs in five innings than those two negate each other and the strikeouts is all you have left as a positive. So far this year that has still been less than what is needed for him to reach value. Pittsburgh’s offense has been picking it up lately, but the ballpark bump is in his favor, so you can hang your hat on that if you roster him.
Marco Estrada vs. Miami Marlins ($5500) – Estrada has a little bit of upside here today against a high K. The Marlins do have some power and upside though and Estrada has given up a ton of homeruns over his career. The Rogers Centre is a good place to hit, so that is also a knock, but he could get enough innings and a few Ks with a win, which would be enough to pay off that salary for him.
Jason Vargas vs. Minnesota Twins ($5900) – Vargas has been decent recently which is why he is not in the bottom rung, but he lacks upside against the Twins today. The Twins have been very good against left-handed pitching, which is why his price is so low. He would not have a ton of upside here anyway, but he could be a decent value since he is below $6K and has been consistently around the mid teens numbers.
Rest of the Field
Phil Hughes vs. Kansas City ($7200) – Hughes has not been horrible this year, but as a fantasy pitcher he has not done anything really of note. He averages a number between 11 and 18 fantasy points per game. He matches up against a team that rarely strikes out and despite some recent struggles, still has one of the highest batting averages in the league. Hughes pitches to contact and allows a lot of fly balls, which plays right into the strengths of the Royals. He does pitch deeper into the game than most, but without the strikeouts which will be hard to come by today, the negatives will eat away at most of the innings bonus points.
Rubby De La Rosa vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($6800) – after some early season success, he has fallen on hard times. He gave up 12 runs in his last two starts with two homers in each of them. The Dodgers have the most HRs in the league against right-handed pitching, so this is a bad spot for Rubby. They are about league average for strikeouts and have an above average batting average with huge slugging numbers. This was all before welcoming back Yasiel Puig too, so the lineup got stronger as well. There’s too many negatives to look at Rubby today,even at this price.
Brad Hand vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($4000) – Despite what most people think, this is not as horrendous a matchup for Hand as many expect. The Rogers Centre is a place where the Jays smash lefties, but Hand has been remarkably stingy with homerun balls. He also has been going about five or six innings, although he has very low strikeout numbers. It’s not that I think Hand will shut down the Jays, but he could return two or three points per $1000 of cost since he is so cheap. I would not use him, but I wanted to mention the homerun stinginess, because many people will have Blue Jay bats and it might not be as good a play as it seems.
David Hale vs. St. Louis ($4200) – Hale matches up with a lefty heavy lineup in a great hitters ballpark. His price is really cheap, and he has some K potential, but that’s the best case to make for him. He rarely pitches deep into games and those left-handed Cardinals bats could really give him a long day. He is cheap, but also likely to give up a lot of hits and a few runs. If he only makes it five innings, than even a few negatives will sink his chance for a good score and Coors yields the most negatives in the league.