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
Corey Kluber vs. Seattle Mariners ($11,600) – Forget the early season woe’s, Kluber is on fire right now. He has gone 8,9, and 8 innings in his last three games with 18, 12, and 7 strikeouts. He has only allowed 15 hits, 1 walk, and 2 earned runs during this stretch, so he has been as dominate as any pitcher in the league over the last two weeks. He gets a matchup with a Seattle team that has the second lowest batting average against right-handed pitching at .229 with a 24.1% K-rate. He is a -124 favorite in a game with a run line of only 6.5 and being played in the pitcher friendly confines of SafeCo field. Kluber is safe for cash games and has the GPP upside we look for because of the elite strikeout rate, which makes him a play in any game type.
AJ Burnett vs. San Diego Padres ($10100) – Burnett grades out slightly higher than Sale based on price, matchup, and recent performance. Burnett has gone 7 innings in each of his last three starts. He has given up only 14 hits, 6 walks, and 3 earned runs while striking out 22 in the process. He has returned just a shade under 30 DK points on average in those starts and that puts him in line for value here. He actually gets a park bump in this one as well as he switches from his pitcher friendly home park to an even friendlier one in PetCo. San Diego has the second most strikeouts against right-handed pitching, but in more at-bats as the rate is 23.5% which is high, but not horrendous. San Diego bats have just been cold lately and Burnett has been red hot. I think this is the right matchup at the right time in the right place for him to keep it rolling.
Buck Farmer vs. Los Angeles Angels ($4300) – This is not a joke, Farmer is a legit prospect. He also faces a lineup that has been jostled and juggled, yet continues to struggle. The Angels have a league worst .227 batting average against right-handed pitching and a 22.1% strikeout rate. Farmer had roughly a K per inning at AAA Toledo with an ERA under 3 and a WHIP of 1.17. He is still young and inexperienced, so he probably will not stick in the rotation for the long haul, but against a team that has struggled and never seen him, he could produce a great fantasy line. He probably will only go about six innings at most, but if can pitch like he has, there’s a good chance he can limit damage and create a nice floor with strikeouts and innings. He also has one of the league’s best offenses behind him, and that is always a pitcher’s friend. His price is so low he does not need to do much to pay it off, and he has the upside we look for and a price so friendly it allows a lot of big bats to be paired with him.
Middle of the Pack
Chris Sale vs. Baltimore Orioles ($10900) – Was so happy to see Sale use that slider more in his last start. He had been getting hit hard at the beginning of the year as he experimented with throwing less sliders and more change ups. He was trying to limit the stress on his arm, but he was suffering in every category as his ERA, WHIP, and pitches per batter were up while his strikeouts and innings were down. Going back to that slider has allowed him to finish batters off more quickly and that has allowed him to get deeper into games with 8 innings in each of his last three starts and a little over 10 K’s per 9 innings as an average. He faces an Orioles team that has not struck out that often in a small sample vs. left-handers this year. They only have an 18.3% K-rate at present which is one of the lower ones for any team against any handedness. Sale should still get a few Ks, but it might be tough for him to reach value without a bunch of them.
James Paxton vs. Cleveland Indians ($7700) – Paxton does not have explosive upside for fantasy, but he is a very safe underrated option. His last six starts have basically been between 17 and 22 points. He has averaged just under 7 innings per start, with about 7 baserunners, a little over one run and five strikeouts per start. That give him an average of 17 points before factoring in a win. He faces a Cleveland lineup that is heavy with left-handed regulars who he tends to be tough on. The game is also being played in Seattle which is pitcher friendly. He does go opposite Kluber, which makes a win tough to expect, but it also likely means he will be very low owned for a tournament. He does not have a lot of upside, but he is solid and safe and is deserving of mention.
Shleby Miller vs. San Fransisco Giants ($9300) – Shelby Miller has been very good, but this is not the best place for him. He has four really solid starts in a row, but the fantasy upside at this price is not really there. Do not be fooled by the huge score against a putrid Phillies team or the big score that was aided by a CGSO bonus. He’s a solid pitcher who should finish somewhere in the low 20s. While that is not a bad performance, it does not justify the price he will cost today. He is pitching better and has looked real solid, but this San Fran lineup is healthy with Pence and Belt back and the season long numbers from them are rapidly improving with each offensive explosion. The Game does take place in San Fransisco, which is a pitcher friendly park, and Heston profiles as a guy who may struggle with the lefty heavy Braves lineup, so there’s still some safety and upside with Miller.
CJ Wilson vs. Detroit Tigers ($7400) – Detroit is actually better against right handed pitching than left, despite the plethora of solid right-handed bats on top of their lineup. The kicker is they also have a 26.5% strikeout rate vs. left-handers so far in 2015. Wilson has been right around 20 DK points in every start where he has had at least five strikeouts, so against a high K team he could have a nice floor here. His offense has struggled and Detroit does have some big bats, so there’s a lot of risk to this, but he should have a safe floor with those Ks, although he probably lacks elite upside.
Nick Martinez vs. Boston Red Sox ($5800) – In nine starts so far, Martinez has yet to allow over three runs. He is going about six innings per contest, but still is struggling with strikeouts at about only 5 Ks per nine. Still his price is very cheap today and he will not need to do much to pay it off. Boston Slugging percentage is in the bottom third of the league and their low 18.7% K-rate is not a concern since Martinez does pitch to contact anyway. I do not expect him to shut down Boston or strikeout a ton of guys, but if he can limit damage and get into the 6th or 7th inning, that might be more than enough for value.
Rest of the Field
Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Texas Rangers ($5200) – Everything I have read says this kid is a solid prospect. He had an ERA under 3 in AAA and right around a strikeout per inning. He gets a tough matchup here though against a Texas team that has been pretty hot. His price is not that high, but also do not think they will let him go deep into this game. Unlike Farmer, he probably will be limited on a pitch count and strike out less batters, plus his price is $1000 higher. It just does not feel like as good a spot.
CC Sabathia vs. Oakland Athletics ($8400) – This is a very volatile play, but the matchup is solid for CC. He goes to Oakland which is a pitcher’s park and gets to face the team with the third lowest batting average against left-handed pitching. They also have a strikeout rate of only 18.7%, which will make it tough for CC to create a nice floor for himself. He will likely pitch a decent game and limit the damage, but without the strikeouts he can not be expected to reach value at an inflated price for what he has done this season.
Ian Kennedy vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($7100) – Pittsburgh’s batting average is middle of the road vs. right-handers and they have a middle of the road strikeout rate at 21.6%. This game is in a pitcher’s park, which should benefit Kennedy, but he has not pitched well recently. He has given up five or more runs in three of his seven starts and has only once made it past the 6th inning. Kennedy has struggled with walks and homeruns, the two things that kill a pitcher. When he is able to not allow either of them, he has returned value, and when he has linked the walks and homeruns together he has been lit up. The Pirates are in the bottom third of the league for both, so maybe he has a chance for upside, but there’s not much safety for cash games.
Chris Heston vs. Atlanta Braves ($6100) – Since throwing his 42 DK point gem, he has been pretty bad. He also gets a tough matchup for himself against a very lefty heavy Braves lineup. He gets a good stadium to pitch in here, but will be the underdog to a pretty solid Shelby Miller all of a sudden. Heston has given up five and six runs in his last two starts on fifteen total hits, so I would rather target bats against him than use him today.
Kendall Graveman vs. New York Yankees ($4700) – Graveman is coming off his best start, but I prefer to look at his whole body of work. That start was the first time he made it to the sixth inning, the first time he did not allow a run, and the first time he struck out more than three batters in any of his starts and it was against Tampa Bay. He faces a tougher matchup here today and has not shown the ability to repeat a good start yet, so I do not expect him to start now.