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
Shelby Miller vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($9300) – The Brewers have yielded some pretty big games to starting pitchers lately and Shelby Miller has been very very good. Since April 30th, he has not scored less than 24.4 fantasy points in any of his starts. He has two complete games and is averaging 8 innings per start with over 7 strikeouts. Milwaukee has a 24.5% strikeout rate and their team batting average against right-handed pitching is 8th worst in the league. Miller is a -120 favorite in a game with only 7 runs expected at his home pitcher’s park. He offers a nice price break from the top options and has been every bit as good for daily fantasy purposes lately.
Corey Kluber vs. Cincinnati Reds ($11300) – Kluber has been striking out everyone lately. He’s got 30 of them in his last two starts. A high strikeout pitcher has a nice floor and that is the case here with Kluber. The Reds have a 23.1% strikeout rate, so Kluber is in a good spot to rack up a few more. Kluber is a huge favorite at -200 in a game with only 7 runs expected. He has been pitching deep into games as well and limiting negative events, so all the check marks are in his favor here. The price is up, but he has justified it with 38 and 56 fantasy points in his last two starts.
Matt Harvey vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($11500) – The Dark Knight has lived up to his nickname with back to back 30 point games in his last two. He is finally up over 100 pitches in consecutive starts which bodes well for his longevity moving forward. Harvey is uber efficient on the mound. He has been able to get through 6 or 7 innings per start with only around 85 pitches, so if he is throwing 100 or more, he should be able to make it close to 8. He has been able to raise his strikeout numbers along with the innings pitched, so his floor is growing as the season goes on. He is even money in this one with AJ Burnett and the run total is one of the lowest Vegas has produced all season at only 6. The Pirates do not have a huge K rate, but they also do not have a great batting average or a ton of runs scored. Pittsburgh is a good pitcher’s park, so it should help limit any negative events. Despite the high price, I think he is a great option for cash. For tourney’s though at this price I think the upside play is Kluber, because of the high strikeouts.
Middle of the Pack
Cole Hamels vs. Washington Nationals ($11000) – I have a lot of respect for Vegas, but this one makes no sense to me. Hamels has been very solid in his last three starts with a consistent 29 point return in each of them. He faces a Washington Nationals squad that has some big left-handed bats on top that do not hit left-handers well. That will play into Hamels hands. He has also gone about 7 innings in his recent starts with 8 strikeouts and not more than 2 runs. High innings and strikeouts with low negative events is what we look for in our daily fantasy starting pitchers.
AJ Burnett vs. New York Mets ($8900) – Burnett is surprisingly a co favorite with Matt Harvey in this one. The run line is only six as we have mentioned and the Mets offense is struggling lately. They now sport the third lowest batting average against right-handed pitching at .230 and the strikeout rate has jumped up to 22%. Burnett has averaged 7 innings and just shy of 6 strikeouts over his last few starts, so I would expect that to be a floor today against this offense. He has walked a few batters, but his whip over those last three is only about 1.14 and he has only allowed an average of one run per game as well, so his numbers have been very good and his opponents have been very bad. He gives you a nice price break from the top starters on the day and should be in consideration.
CC Sabathia vs. Texas Rangers ($8400) – CC has righted the ship with two solid outings in a row after a rocky start to the year. He has gone an average of 7 innings, with 7 baserunners, 2 runs, and 7 strikeouts during this run. He is a big favorite at -155 in a home game where 8 runs are expected. Texas has a middle of the road batting average in 2015 against left-handed pitching, but they do have the third most strikeouts and a K-rate of 23% vs. southpaws. A repeat of the last few games for CC would return him 3 points per thousand of cost or more, so he is a little underpriced for what he has done lately.
Chris Sale vs. Minnesota Twins ($10300) – While the Twins have allowed some nice games to opposing pitchers lately, they do hit left-handers pretty well. They have the third best batting average in MLB vs. LHP, but they also do not strike out that often. Of course, Sale is not your ordinary left-handed pitcher and he was great in his last start, so there’s still a chance he pitches a gem here. Vegas does not seemed too concerned as they installed him as a huge -185 favorite in a game with a total of only 7.5 runs expected. He will likely fly under the radar as many will pay up for Kluber or Harvey, so he has some upside at likely low ownership for your tournaments.
Nathan Karns vs. Oakland Athletics ($7100) – Karns has been sneaky good so far this season and not many have noticed. He has allowed two runs or less in six of his eight starts and has 44 strikeouts over 44 innings of work. His Whip and ERA are reasonable at 1.17 and 3.77, and he is currently 3-1. He pitches in a pitcher friendly park against an As team that has gone cold with the bats. Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt have provided the power so far this year vs. right-handed pitching, but neither has hit well in recent games and both are probably due to regress a little from the .340+ batting averages they were sporting last week. He lines up opposite a young guy who has got hit hard from Oakland and is favored at -137 in a game with only 7.5 runs expected. I do not see a high strikeout game as Oakland has a low K-rate vs. right-handed pitching, but he could put together a solid outing and return around 20 points or more here for great value at low ownership.
Mike Fiers vs. Atlanta Braves ($8600) – Fiers tantalizes daily players with his huge strikeout numbers, but terrorizes them with his high WHIP and the number of homeruns he allows. He also has a tendency to walk a few guys and because of the strikeouts and walks, his pitch count usually limits his innings. Atlanta also has an incredibly low strikeout rate against right-handed pitching at only 17.6%, so the numbers do not favor a high score for him today. He will also see a lot of left-handed bats on top of that Braves order and he does not handle them well very well, so they could get to him. Still he will K a few guys and those Ks provide a nice floor for him. I do not see him having an easy time of making value, but there’s always a chance he mows down a few guys and limits the negatives to get it done. He has flashed 30 point upside already this season, but this is a tough spot to expect a repeat of that here.
Mark Buehrle vs. Seattle Mariners ($6300) – Buehrle has been solid in his last few turns and his price has come down. Despite adding Nelson Cruz who is a legit threat vs. LHP, the Mariners have still struggled some when a southpaw is on the mound. They do not strike out a ton, but Buehrle is not a strikeout guy anymore. Despite the good hitter’s park, the struggles make me think Buehrle could return a sneaky good number today. He has been right around 3 points per $1000 of cost in his last three starts. While he lacks the upside to get you a thirty point daily fantasy score, he could return 20 points and be a top value guy on the day.
Chris Heston vs. Colorado Rockies ($5000) – Yes, he does pitch in Coors Field on Saturday, but he is very cheap and has been solid in spots this year. He has a 3.72 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 48 innings, which is not top of the rotation type stuff, but also is worth more than $5000 on DK based on what they are asking for others with worse numbers. Coors is an unfriendly park for pitchers, but that Rockies lineup is not producing like they have in pat years. Dickerson is hurt, Cargo is old, Tulo is unhappy, and that’s a lot of the big bats in the middle of that lineup. They have not scored or hit well in the last few series and the change back to Coors has not had the desired effect. Heston carries risk, but will be low owned as many steer clear of any pitching at Coors.
Rest of the Field
Stephen Strasburg vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($9500) – It is not smart to pay for what a guy can do when he has not shown the ability to do it recently. Strasburg has only pitched past the 6th inning in one start and has not had more than seven strikeouts yet. Best case scenario based off those numbers is a DK score of (6 innings times 2.25 for 13.5 + 7 strikeouts times 2 for 14 =) 27.5 points. That would be if he does not allow any hits, walks, or runs which he has not been anywhere nearing doing so far. His only start over 21 fantasy points all season was against this Philly team, but they were struggling more at that point and he was looking better than he has recently, so a repeat is unlikely. At this price, he will need to put up a mid twenties score at a minimum and his stat lines do not look like they are trending that way lately.
James Paxton vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($7200) – Paxton has a brutal matchup for his start here. He gets the Blue Jays who have the highest batting average in MLB against left-handed pitching at .316. They have the sixth most runs against southpaws and a K-rate of only 19.5%. They also will likely throw a tough quad set of Donaldson, Batisita, Encarnacion, and Martin at the lefty tomorrow and that is four solid right-handed bats with good power in a homerun hitter’s ballpark. Paxton has been pretty solid, as he is averaging 7 innings, 4 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, and only one run per game over his last four starts, which has been good enough for about 20 DK points per game. Still he is the underdog here in a game with a large run total of 9 expected and a really tough matchup. I would expect him to underperform his recent averages, which means at this price he falls way short of 3 points per thousand and makes him a tough guy to start.
Anthony Desclafani vs. Cleveland Indians ($5600) – After a strong start to the year, he has been getting shelled. In his last four starts, he has only gone 19 innings and given up 16 runs during that stretch. He has been tough on righties, but left-handers are hitting .310 against him with a WHIP of 2.08 in 2015. He will see a lot of left-handers here and some stud ones like Kipnis, Brantley, and Moss who should be in line for good days. He also goes opposite Kluber who will likely limit the support he receives, so It makes sense why he is the underdog here.
Lance McCullers vs. Detroit Tigers ($5300) – The highly touted rookie made the jump from AA for his last start was solid. He gets a tougher test today against a Tigers lineup that has the second best batting average against right-handed pitching in MLB. Still he has flashed the ability to be a strikeout per inning guy at every level and limited the As to only one run in his first start. He likely will not pitch deep into this one, but could return decent value if he can repeat his last start at this price with the nerves out of the way.
Nick Martinez vs. New York Yankees ($5400) – Martinez has not been a great fantasy pitcher, but he has been a very solid big league starter this year. He is not a high strikeout guy, with only 25 in 48 innings of work, but he has a WHIP of just 1.25 and an ERA of 1.88 so far this year with a 3-0 record. The low strikeouts limit his fantasy value, but he pitches to contact and has worked deeper into games this year because of it. If he pitches enough innings and limits the damage at his price, he could and has returned nice value. He gets a Yankees team that may be minus Ellsbury again here, so the lineup is weaker and he should be able to take advantage of it. He is opposite CC and a big underdog, so Vegas thinks it is unlikely and that is pretty telling though.
Kyle Lobstein vs. Houston Astros ($4800) – Others may rate him higher against a high strikeout team like the Astros, but Lobstein only has 19 strikeouts in 43 innings of work this season anyway. He may be in line for a win and has one game with a solid 23 points to flash his ceiling, but it is doubtful he repeats that 0 earned run performance again here. He has pitched deep into some games, which is the only saving grace for him with low K numbers. Pitching deep allows him to get some points and gives his offense a chance to get him a lead and put him in line for a win. He may be able to make value, but he provides little upside, which is why he is priced so low in the first place.
Trevor May vs. Chicago White Sox ($5100) – May’s upside is a low teens number. Even at this price that is not good enough. He matches up with Sale and likely will be both the loser and the reason for any runs scored here, so there’s not much to look forward to from a low strikeout pitcher facing a low strikeout team as a big underdog.
Jordan Lyles vs. San Fransisco Giants ($4100) – Lyles has only returned a negative number once, but he does have a few low scores. There’s not much upside for him against a Giants offense that is now healthy and hitting in a bad pitcher’s park with a high total as an underdog. Lot more negatives with no real positives to see here, other than a real cheap price.
Kevin Graveman vs. Tampa Bay Rays ($5300) – Graveman has an ERA of 8. In four starts he has gone 16 innings, allowed 13 earned runs on 24 hits with 9 walks. As bad as Tampa Bay is on offense, he has been worse on the mound and could get shelled.