Tonight’s starting pitching pool offers some of the best names in the game, a much different look than what we had yesterday. (Good on you, Ricky Nolasco.) With that said, it’s fairly top heavy. I wouldn’t bother entertaining many of the lower priced options today; it ain’t pretty. We have a full, 15-game slate on tap tonight so let’s get in it!
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
When you’ve raised the bar as high as Clayton Kershaw has for himself, it’s hard to continuously leap over it. He hasn’t been as sharp as we’re accustomed to, but let’s no kid ourselves, he’s still a beast. He’s not locating his fastball as well as he the past few seasons, leaving him more susceptible to hard-hit contact. We’ve seen this play out in his higher-than-career marks in BABIP and HR/FB . Every thing lines up well for Kershaw tonight; he get’s a Braves team that’s one of the worst against left-handed pitching. Their .098 ISO and 23+ K-rate make spending up worth it.
Madison Bumgarner @ Milwaukee Brewers ($9,600)
Clearly the pricing algorithm here weights recent offense performance heavily. Recent pitching performance? Maybe not so much. MadBum is coming off of five really strong starts in which he’s averaged 26 DK points per start. He faces a Brewers club that’s 28th in wOBA against left-handed pitching and they have the highest strikeout rate in the game. Oh, and Bumgarner’s price is down $900 compared to his last outing. I expect fairly high ownership totals for Bumgarner in cash lineups today.
Jacob deGrom vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($10,000)
The other pitcher that I expect to see with the highest ownership totals today is Jacob deGrom. The Phillies are an easy target, with their futile offense making the Mets a heavy favorite tonight in New York. Also, he was outstanding his last time on the mound, dominating the Cardinals and racking up 43+ DK points along the way. You’re paying for full pop dog today though; his price has jumped up over a thousand dollars since that start.
Daivd Price vs. Oakland Athletics ($10,600)
I like Price quite a bit for tournaments today. I expect the other four starters in this tier to be higher owned, and the matchup for Price at home against Oakland is a good one. The A’s don’t strikeout a ton, but struggle to score runs against lefties, entering play with the second-worst wOBA in the league against them. In cash games you can save a thousand dollars by rostering Madison Bumgarner, but if you’re looking to differentiate your tournament lineup Price is a great way to do so.
Danny Salazar vs. Texas Rangers ($9,100)
Danny Salazar, you sexy sonofabitch, you. Well, not as a man, but more as a filthy right-handed starting pitcher. His arsenal is insane, leading to crazy strikeout totals at times and making Salazar completely unhittable when he’s on. The problem is, hitters are sitting on his fastball because they can’t hit the other offerings and when he misses location, it’s getting hit hard. Overall though, his walks are down and he’s inducing ground balls, two other things that he failed to do last season when he lost his way a bit. The Rangers are hot, but there’s no upside like Salazar’s.
Middle of the Pack
I’m fully buying this Clay Buchholz resurgence. Whoa. That was difficult to say. I guess I’ll rephrase it by saying that he’s been completely unlucky this season when you look at batted ball data and how it’s impacted his ERA (and thus, the general perception of how he’s pitched.) His K’s are way up, mirrored by a huge spike in SwStk% (8.6 to 11.8!). His contact-against numbers are down and he’s getting more swings in and out of the zone. His fastball velocity is up and he’s throwing his change-up more frequently, with greater results. Avoid the Twins when they’re facing a lefty, but fire away against them when a righties on the mound.
Jordan Zimmermann @ Chicago Cubs ($8,600)
I typically avoid the Cubs unless they’re facing a big strikeout guy, but it seems like whether or not Zimmermann is a big strikeout guy or not is up to him. He’s not going to get you 10+, but he’s given us six in each of his last two starts, and I’ll take that. His 3.01 FIP is strong, but I’d rather pay up for a few of the other top notch guys and avoid the Cubs in Wrigley.
Jesse Chavez @ Detroit Tigers ($6,800)
I don’t love this matchup, but Jesse Chavez is under-priced still. With an ERA and FIP under 2.90, Chavez has pitched well since rejoining the rotation. This is a lot like last season, where Chavez dazzled in April-June. He had never thrown more than 90 innings in a season prior to last year, so he obviously faded down the stretch, but when he’s fresh he’s a strong option. Targeting the Tigers is not +EV, but if you’re looking to go ‘cheap’ on an SP2 today, I’d go no lower than Chavez.
Matt Shoemaker vs. San Diego Padres ($7,300)
There’s a bit of value here on Shoemaker today because I doubt he’s highly owned, but I could be wrong. The Padres are 24th in the league in wOBA against right-handed pitchers, but can do some damage with the long ball, something that’s been at the crux of Shoemaker’s issues all season long.
Julio Teheran @ Los Angeles Dodgers ($9,300)
Julio Teheran has his best outing of the season last time out, shutting down the Brewers and striking out eight along the way. He’s seen his price jump back up into the near-elite crowd, something that I’m not buy, especially not against the Dodgers. Walks continue to be a problem for Teheran, and he’s a big underdog in this matchup against Clayton Kershaw. Want a nice contrarian stack? The Dodgers’ bats are cheap.
J.A. Happ @ Tampa Bay Rays ($7,200)
A 24-percent strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers is high, but when they aren’t swinging and missing, the Rays hit lefties well. Their .336 wOBA is good for the sixth best mark in the league, and Happ(3.64 ERA; 3.61 FIP) lacks the strikeout upside to exploit the Rays weakness.
Kyle Hendricks vs. Washington Nationals ($7,500)
The Cubs have to be encouraged with the early season efforts from Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks. I’m buying the Hammel’s start, but I’m a bit more hesitant on Hendricks. There’s nothing in his pitch mix that scares hitters or even keeps them off balance. He’s using a sinking fastball more this season, and with good results, but all of his pitches sit in the mid-80’s except his 78-mph curve which he rarely uses. The Nationals (.325 wOBA) are too good against right-handed pitching to trust Hendricks.
Rest of the Field
Wandy Rodriguez @ Cleveland Indians ($6,100)
The only thing that jumps off of the page when looking at Wandy Rodriguez’s 2015 season so far is his BABIP-against. It’s nearly 40 points lower than his career mark, something that will start to regress as Wandy accumulates innings. Walks are still an issue for him and the Indians are a very patient team at the plate, walking in 11.3% of their plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, the best mark in the league.
Matt Garza vs. San Francisco Giants ($6,200)
The Giants are hot, and Garza is a shell of his former self. He’s giving up one of the lowest soft-hit contact rates of his career, meaning he’s getting hit harder than ever. The strikeout upside is gone, and he’s giving up home runs at quite a clip (16.3%). If the game were in San Francisco instead then….nah, I’d still want nothing to do with Garza.
Alex Colome vs. Seattle Mariners ($5,900)
Alex Colome isn’t working deep enough into the game to make him a viable option yet. If he’s able to have another nice outing today and build on his five inning, eight ground ball outing against Oakland, he might become an interesting cheap option.
Archie Bradley @ St. Louis Cardinals ($5,000)
Archie Bradley is really cheap today, but I’m not a fan of the matchup for him tonight in St. Louis. The Cardinals are tough at home, and their .320 wOBA is among the top-10 in the game. I like the way their lineup falls with Wong/Carpenter at the top.
R. A. Dickey vs. Chicago White Sox ($6,600)
I don’t know what to make of R.A. Dickey, but I know I won’t use him. His knuckler doesn’t seem to fool hitters like it once did, and the strikeout’s that once made him interesting are no where to be found this season. I don’t want any part of him in a home start, and the homer dome that is the Rogers Centre.
Chris Tillman vs. Houston Astros ($5,800)
The Astros are very similar to the Cubs in my opinion, or at least how I approach them in DFS is very similar. Both teams have huge strikeout totals, but they also have dangerous lineups capable of blowing up and hanging crooked numbers on the scoreboard. There’s no need to roster Tillman and his paltry 15.8% K-rate today.
Scott Feldman @ Baltimore Orioles ($5,900)
Home runs have been a problem for Scott Feldman, and he’s pitched okay outside of that not-so-tiny issue. Bad news is he faces a Orioles team that can dong with the best of them, and Feldman doesn’t miss nearly enough bats to neutralize Baltimore at home.
Mike Pelfry vs. Boston Red Sox ($4,900)
The fact that Mike Pelfry is so high in the rankings today tells you all that you need to know about this bottom tier. He’s managed to minimize hard-hit contact this season, but there’s nothing here that says he’s a different pitcher than the one we’re accustomed to. Fire away.
Jaime Garcia vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($7,000)
Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock are hitting lefties as well as anyone in the game this season, and while Jaime Garcia fared better than I expected his last time out, I don’t like his price today against a right-handed heavy Diamondbacks club.
Jeff Locke vs. Miami Marlins ($5,700)
Jeff Locke has sprinkled in some nice outing this season, but he’s still not able to get good right-handed bats out consistently, and home runs continue to be an issue. The Pirates are favorites here at home, but I don’t expect Locke to shut down Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins.
Odrisamer Despaigne vs. Los Angeles Angels ($5,300)
Mike Trout is making a strong case for another MVP award. Yes, he’s been good, but where would this Angels team be without him? They’re among the leagues’ worst teams in terms of wOBA, wRAA and wRC+ when facing a right-handed pitcher. Odrisamer Despaigne just isn’t a DFS option in my opinion. He’s not offering anything close to roster-worthy strikeout numbers, even against a struggling Angels club.
Jorge de la Rosa @ Cincinnati Reds ($6,500)
The Reds are essentially middle of the pack against lefties (.326 wOBA), but they’re one of the best slugging/power hitting teams, and Great American Ballpark is one of the best power-hitters parks in the game. You can barely consider this a park factor bump for de la Rosa.
Michael Lorenzen vs. Colorado Rockies ($4,000)
The Rockies are scuffling a bit, but Michael Lorenzen is pitching way over his head. His 3.79 ERA is nearly double his 6.46 FIP, and his strikeout and walk rates are way to close to being the same number. That’s…that’s not good. Even without a platoon advantage, you have to like Nolan Arenado here today.
Jason Vargas @ New York Yankees ($6,000)
The good news for Vargas is his ERA, FIP and xFIP are in line with each other. The bad news is they’re all between 5.26 and 5.28. Fresh off of the DL after experiencing elbow discomfort, stay away from Vargas in the Bronx.
Jerome Williams @ New York Mets ($4,600)
The Mets are currently dead last in wOBA against right-handed pitching. And Jerome Williams is still this low. That’s all you need to know, really.
John Danks @ Toronto Blue Jays ($5,500)
The league’s best team against left-handed pitching, in one of the league’s best run scoring environments. Pass the Danks.
Adam Warren vs. Kansas City Royals ($4,900)
I really liked the Royals bats yesterday, and I’m going back to the well today against Adam Warren.
Jose Urena vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($4,000)
Congratulations to Jose Urena, who’s making his major league debut tonight. That’s the nicest thing I can say. If you can’t strikeout more than 5.30 batters per 9 when you’re in AAA, starting in the Bigs is going to be a short-lived venture.
Good luck tonight!