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
Matt Harvey vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($10,600) – For a small slate of only six games, we have some stud pitching options. Harvey is at the top of the list for me. He is a -140 favorite in a game with an expected run line of only 6.5. The game is being played in Citi Field, which is one of the best pitcher’s parks in all of baseball, and the Cardinals may be a little tired from traveling to New York after a late Sunday night game. The Cards do have a solid offense. They are third in batting average vs. right-handed pitching, middle of the pack in runs scored, and only strikeout at a 20.6% clip. Still they get a dominant pitcher, with strikeout upside, in his home park which is very pitcher friendly.
Chris Sale vs. Cleveland Indians ($9,500) – It literally is so close between him and Kluber that I can not knock anyone who goes either way here. Ultimately though I decided the savings on Sale, pitching at home, and as a -120 favorite were enough to tip the scales for me. Cleveland is also a lefty heavy lineup, so with Sale using that devastating slider a little more last out, I think he can use it here to dominant those lefty bats. No one has ever argued with the strikeout upside Sale has, so that always helps his fantasy score. He threw 109 and 110 pitches in his last two games, so there’s no need to worry about him not going deep into games unless he really labors through a few innings early on. He is also a -120 favorite in a game with an expected total of only 7.5. All signs point to him being back to the stud we know and love, so he gets the nod over Kluber for me.
Corey Kluber vs. Chicago White Sox ($10,100) – It is very rare I use two opposing pitchers in the cream of the crop section on the same day, but how can you not in this matchup? Kluber had 18 strikeouts last time out and that is not a typo. With that kind of k potential, he could lose the game and still be the highest scoring pitcher on the day. The White Sox do not strikeout a ton, but neither did the Cardinals before they met Kluber. He is the reigning Cy Young award winner, so there’s no doubting his talent. He already had a double digit strikeout game this season, so this was not a total shocker. Still he ventures on the road in this one and is an underdog in a low total game. He is also a tad more expensive than Sale so he needs to have a ton of strikeouts to make up for the price difference and less likelihood of a win. Choosing between him and Sale will likely be the difference between cashing or not in a GPP, and frankly I can still go either way at this point.
Middle of the Pack
Cole Hamels vs. Colorado Rockies ($8900) – Hamels is a huge stud and the Dodgers staff just shut down the Rockies over the recent three game series. Of course this series is in Coors Field though, which is the best hitter’s park in the major leagues, and that is always a bad place to target pitchers. With Tulo being banged up though and Hamels being a lefty, this is not a good matchup for the Rockies. I can not put Hamels up top, because his offense stinks and it is still Coors Field, but he should be in line for a high fantasy score on Monday. He is a slight favorite at -108 in a game with a run line trending down from 9.5 to 9. He averages more than a K per inning and is a discount to the top 3, so he should be low owned (Park bias) and still offer the same upside of those in the Cream section. He makes for a sneaky GPP addition.
Kyle Lobstein vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($4900) – This is a very sneaky play for upside. Lobstein is a left-handed pitcher facing a righty dominant Brewers lineup, who you would think are in a good spot. The problem is the Brewers do not hit southpaws like we would expect them to be able to. Jose Quintana went out and shut this team down last week, so there’s some recent history to suggest this is a thing with them. Quintana was a more talented pitcher than Lobstein is, so I’m not expecting the same thing. At only $4900 though, he could do enough to return four or five points per thousand and be the perfect cost saver. He is listed as a huge -140 favorite right now, so there’s definitely more people than just me thinking this way. His offense also looks to be in a decent spot against Fiers, who may strikeout a lot of them, but will also likely make a few mistakes which get hit pretty hard.
Rubby De La Rosa vs. Miami Marlins ($6900) – Despite being an underdog, I prefer De La Rosa to his opposition. De La Rosa averages just shy of a strikeout per inning. He faces one of the highest strikeout teams in MLB against right-handed pitching and he gets to do so in the Marlins park which is very pitcher friendly. I can see De La Rosa limiting the Marlins and racking up some strikeouts over six innings or so. If he can limit the negative events, he can return excellent value. There is some risk with the big bats on Miami, but I like his chances more than some of the more expensive options on Monday.
John Lackey ($8200) – Lackey tends to go deep into games and limit the oppositions runs scored. His WHIP is high due to his high walk rate. Lackey is not afraid to pitch around guys to get the matchup he wants, which hurts his fantasy score sometimes with the high walk rate. Still he is a veteran at this and pitches in a good pitcher park next out. He is an underdog to lackey and his paying off that price will rely on the strikeouts. If we get the 1 and 2 K Lackey of recent starts, than this will not work. If we can get the 8 and 10 K guy we have seen, than he is in line for the win and a top fantasy score on the day. Citi Field severely limits runs, so he may be able to eek out value either way.
Dan Haren vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($6600) – Haren is a pretty solid pitcher so far in MLB, but a bore in daily fantasy. He averages only about six innings and under four strikeouts per start, so there’s not much upside to him. He is favored and at home in a good pitchers park, so those things can help. He faces a Diamondback team that is top third vs. RHP for batting average and runs scored so those things are a negative. I would expect a solid yet unspectacular game from him as he has shown in most of his starts. He may not make any sense for a GPP, but he could be a decent value play at his price in cash games, especially as a favorite for the win.
Rest of the Field
Mike Fiers vs. Detroit ($8600) – Fiers is pricey, but how can you argue with his upside? The young fireballer has 49 strikeouts in 35 innings of work. He has also struggled with homeruns and walks allowed, which can combine to be a killer for a pitcher, especially against a team like the Tigers who have a lot of guys who can mash. Fiers is a little pricey and he is a +130 Dog in a game with a high run total. The strikeouts should provide a decent floor, but if he gives up a few walks followed by a homerun blast or two, he might not be able to recover from it.
Jordan Lyles vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($4500) – Lyles is not a good pitcher. In fact he may even be the worst on the slate and pitching in the worst park for pitchers. You might be wondering why he is not last on the list than, but the answer is the weakness of his opponent. Philly is flat out awful right now. Last in runs scored and batting average currently against right-handed pitching. Lyles upside is probably around 15-17 points today. While that does not seem huge, it is at his rock bottom price. Despite a matchup with Cole Hamels, he is basically even money. That alone should tell you all you need to know about how little Vegas thinks of that Philly offense.
Drew Pomeranz vs. Houston Astros ($5900) – Pomeranz was great in his last start, but this seems like a tough matchup for him today. The young lefty will face a very righty dominant lineup in this one, and in a hitter friendly park as well. Pomeranz has been inconsistent. He looks spectacular sometimes and awful in other starts. There is a lot of variance to his fantasy scores, so it’s tough to predict when he will and won’t show up. Still he is taking a lot of money right now and opposing a AA pitcher. There’s a good chance he steals a win and will need to limit the negative events in order to return good value.
Lance McCellers vs. Oakland Athletics ($5700) – McCullers was the 42nd pick in the 2012 draft, so they expect him to be a big league contributor one day. They decided to move him up from AA, where he was dominating hitters. He is a high strikeout guy at that level and should be able in line for a decent start as their is no book on him yet. For the first time through the order at least, he should have the advantage. He has been starting, so I expect they will get at least five or six innings out of him barring a blowup. The As have some really solid left-handed bats to attack him with. Despite being a slight favorite, the early money is all coming in on Oakland in this one, so there’s not a lot of faith from the betting public.