We have one day game today on the north side of Chicago, taking the Cubs and Pirates out of the mix for the main slate tonight. The rest of the field gets things started at the normal time, at 7:05 EST on the east coast.
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
1. Clayton Kershaw vs. Colorado Rockies ($11,900)
There’s definitely been a bit of Chicken Little Syndrome in regards to Clayton Kershaw’s early season hiccups and 4.26 ERA. Don’t worry, the sky is not falling (.290 FIP). This is still the best pitcher in the world, and this is a great spot for him today, despite his price tag. We know that the Rockies are a much different club outside of Coors, and they’ve struggled (25th in wOBA) against left-handed pitching thus far. Kershaw’s BABIP-against sits at .357 right now, which is 83 points above his career mark of .274.
2. Michael Pineda @ Kansas City Royals ($8,800)
It’s always easy to remember what we saw last, and the last time we saw Michael Pineda he was electric against the Orioles. The Royals are a very different club, putting the ball in play at a ridiculously high clip. They have one of the lowest strikeout rates and it’s paired with a low walk rate, and they’ve fared well against right-handed pitching to-date (.327 wOBA). I’ll lean towards the good pitching though. Pineda’s 29.5% K-rate is outstanding, and he not only gets a positive park factor boost in Kansas City, it’s important to note that he’s been even better than his 2.72 ERA would indicate. Don’t be shy.
3. Madison Bumgarner @ Cincinnati Reds ($10,600)
The Reds have a few hitters that feast on bad left-handed pitching, but overall they grade out fairly neutral against lefties. It’s also important to note that this is not a bad left-handed pitcher; it’s one of the best. The concerns of a heavy October workload for Bumgarner appear to be overblown right now. He’s in line with his career numbers and in fact has seen a slight uptick in velocity. The Reds have the eighth highest strikeout rate against left-handed pitching so far.
4. Chase Anderson @ Philadelphia Phillies ($6,000)
While Chase Anderson lacks the upside that the previously mentioned starters have, there may not be a better value on the board today. Not only does Anderson face the league’s worst offense, he’s pitching really well. His ERA (2.97) and FIP are succinct (3.09), and his command is strong while still having the ability to put hitters away with his changeup. The Phillies are last in the league in wOBA, wRC+, and Slugging.
5. Jake Odorizzi @ Minnesota Twins ($7,900)
I’m a little concerned with the dip in strikeouts we’re seeing from Odorizzi, but he still has elite swing-and-miss stuff. The good thing that has come of the decrease in strikeouts is the subsequent decrease in walks. The Twins .293 wOBA against right-handed pitching is the sixth lowest rate in the league, and their 23.6-percent strikeout rate is the second highest. I like this price for Odorizzi.
Middle of the Pack
6. Carlos Rodon @ Oakland Athletics ($5,600)
I’ll probably put a Chase Anderson/Carlos Rodon lineup together for tournaments, just to see what kind of offense I can put together. The A’s are one of the worst offenses in the league when facing a lefty; they’re best when they’re left-handed heavy offensively but they’ll be neutralized by the young White Sox starter tonight. Rodon, fresh off of a six inning/8K outing, appears to be in the rotation now for the long haul and while there will be bumps along the way, he’s a great option tonight. Oakland’s .247 wOBA against lefties is 29th in baseball.
7. Bartolo Colon vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($7,600)
Bartolo Colon is like a fine wine….apparently. He looks more like a cheese guy than a wine guy, but he’s still getting the job done. His ERA (3.30) and FIP (3.16) tell us that what we’re seeing is legit, and the K/BB rate is simply incredible. His strikeouts are actually up too. Milwaukee’s (.298 wOBA) much better at home, so take a look at them here on the road in New York.
8. Clay Buchholz @ Seattle Mariners ($6,800)
Is Clay Buchholz actually….good? I don’t know what to make of him right now. I love the new cFIP stat that’s come from Jonathan Judge and company over at Baseball Prospectus. It’s a weighted data point, where 100 is league average. Anything under 100 is good, over 100 is not so good. Clay Buchholz cFIP is 84. For context, Matt Harvey’s is 83 and Chris Sale’s is 86. It makes sense when you consider his FIP is 3.09, and his strikeouts are WAY up (24.9% vs. 17.9% last season). He’s been unlucky with batted balls too (.393 BABIP against) and faces a Mariners team in Seattle that is very average against right-handed pitching (.307 wOBA).
9. Phil Hughes vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($7,400)
The incredible K/BB gains that Phil Hughes made last season seem to be legit. His K/BB ratio is 8.0 (3.5-4.0 is very good) but he’s been prone to the long ball this season which is why we’ve seen his ERA and FIP jump up. Tampa Bay doesn’t scare any offensively (.301 wOBA), making Hughes worthy of consideration today.
10. Dallas Keuchel vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($7,700)
Something’s got to give in this one. Dallas Keuchel takes the hill tonight with a miniscule 1.39 ERA (2.83 FIP), and an insane 63.8-percent ground ball rate. Keeping the ball on the ground can keep a pitcher out of trouble, and he’ll need to do that tonight if he’s going to be successful. The Blue Jays are far and away the best offense against left-handed pitching; their .381 wOBA and 142 wRC+ are scary good. Keuchel’s .199 BABIP can’t last forever.
11. Kyle Lohse @ New York Mets ($7,100)
I wish he were a little cheaper, but I kind of like Kyle Lohse here tonight. He hasn’t been good (7.03 ERA/5.74 FIP), which is putting it nicely. He’s also been incredibly unlucky with batted balls this season. His 59.5-percent strand rate is about 15% lower than league average, and is 19.2% HR/FB rate is exceptionally high as well. The Mets .283 wOBA is the third worst mark in the league against right-handed pitching.
12. Jordan Zimmermann @ San Diego Padres ($9,200)
Don’t chase the overrated name in the cozy ballpark tonight. Jordan Zimmermann has been unable to build on the strikeout gains he made last season, and enters play with a 5.31 K/9 tonight. That’s terrible, especially for a pitcher that’ll cost you nearly 20% of your cap tonight.
13. Julio Teheran @ Miami Marlins ($8,200)
Strikeout and walk rates stabilize fairly quickly. It doesn’t mean that they can’t improve, but we have enough data now in mid-May to draw conclusions from what we’ve seen so far. Julio Teheran has seen his strikeouts increase a bit this season, but it’s alarming to see that his walk rate his nearly doubled. He’s had difficulty keeping the ball in the yard too, but his 5.75 FIP speaks volumes here. He’s over-priced.
14. J.A. Happ vs. Boston Red Sox ($7,300)
J.A. Happ has been effective this season, due mostly to his ability to limit walks. He doesn’t miss many bats, but he’s pitching at home and the Red Sox are just 26th in the league against lefties with a wOBA of .285. I don’t love Happ here, but I won’t be using many Red Sox either.
Rest of the Field
15. Jered Weaver @ Baltimore Orioles ($6,900)
As we saw in their last game against Michael Pineda, the Orioles are susceptible to power arms. Jered Weaver is anything but. He pitched well his last time out, so hopefully people buy in to that. The Orioles enter play today with the second best wOBA against righties (.338), and face the soft-tossing fly-ball friendly Weaver in an extremely favorable hitting environment. No on Weaver, but yes on the Orioles.
16. Chris Young vs. New York Yankees ($5,300)
We’ve only had 23 innings from Chris Young so far this season, but they’ve been really good. He’s been extremely lucky (BABIP-against is .105!) but he always carries a low BABIP because of his extreme fly-ball tendencies. If this game were in New York then I’d buy the Yankees, but Young gets a bump due to pitching at home in K.C. Similar to J.A. Happ, I won’t use Young but I’m a bit hesitant to roll out the Yankees bats here too.
17. Jason Marquis vs. San Francisco Giants ($4,600)
If you want to save money on one of your pitching spots, there are better options than Jason Marquis. He’s has been somewhat effective at times, mostly due to a spike in strikeouts, but there isn’t any real upside here. The Giants are middle of the pack in terms of wOBA, but strikeout just 17.2-percent of the time.
18. Jesse Hahn vs. Chicago White Sox ($5,500)
Jesse Hahn’s swinging-strike rate has dipped quite a bit, and I believe it’s due to his lack of curveball usage. It’s down 11% when compared to last season. I need more strikeout upside (5.57 K’s per 9) if I’m rolling out a $5,500 arm.
19. David Phelps vs. Atlanta Braves ($4,900)
David Phelps strikeouts are down (nearly 2 per 9 innings) and he has yet to give up a home run this season. Pitching in Miami helps, but he’s due for some regression here clearly. The Braves have been better than we thought, and are extremely patient, leading the league with a 9.09 walk rate against righties.
20. Kyle Hendricks vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($6,300)
Kyle Hendricks pitches in the days lone day game, and faces a Pirates team that’s been better of late despite their below average .289 wOBA. I wouldn’t consider Hendricks an option if he were available in the full slate, but since he’s not this is an easy avoid.
21. Jeff Locke @ Chicago Cubs ($5,700)
Jeff Locke doesn’t have the skill set that we want in a pitcher when targeting the Cubs. They also hit lefties well; their .339 wOBA is the third best mark in the game against southpaws despite their 27.5-percent strikeout rate.
22. Carlos Martinez vs. Detroit Tigers ($6,200)
A bad combination of way too many walks and one of the best offenses in the game makes Carlos Martinez an easy fade for me today. I like the potential of the young Cardinals right-hander, but he’ll need to get that 4.63 BB/9 in check before I consider rostering him.
23. Wei-Yin Chen vs. Los Angeles Angels ($7,500)
Wei-Yin Chen is way too expensive for my taste today, and fails to over the upside that makes him worth a second look. Trust the 4.71 FIP and not the 2.52 ERA.
24. Shane Greene @ St. Louis Cardinals ($5,400)
The early season outings for Shane Greene were fun, right? He pitched well last time out against Kansas City after a few rough outings, but the Cardinals are fifth in wOBA against right-handed pitching, and Greene isn’t missing enough bats to consider going contrarian here.
25. Bruce Chen @ Texas Rangers ($4,000)
We’ve only seen 4 innings of Bruce Chen this season, and I think we’ll probably be lucky to see that total reach double-digits tonight in Texas.
26. Odrisamer Despaigne vs. Washington Nationals ($5,800)
The Nationals are swinging it well lately, led by Bryce Harper’s torrid stretch. The park factor is obviously nice, but don’t make decisions solely based on the ball park. Despaigne is who he is (ERA and FIP 5+) and he doesn’t get many swings and misses (3.76 K/9).
27. R.A. Dickey @ Houston Astros ($7,000)
I reference cFIP earlier when talking about Clay Buchholz, and R.A. Dickey’s cFIP is another one that jumps off the page. His 126 is 491st out of 497 pitchers that are ranked. Woof. The Astros strikeout a lot, but the R.A. Dickey that could take advantage of that is long gone (4.0 K/9).
28. Wandy Rodriguez vs. Cleveland Indians ($5,900)
I don’t trust Wandy and neither should you. His ERA is nifty (2.70) but the FIP tells a different story (3.91). Just don’t.
29. Chad Billingsley vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($6,100)
Stack Diamondbacks in cash games…
30. Eddie Butler @ Los Angeles Dodgers ($4,500)