The MLB Pitcher rankings for the early slate will look at all games that start before 4:30 on Saturday 5/2/2015. The late slate of games will be in a separate ranking.
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
Jake Arrieta vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($9100) – Arrieta has been really good to start the season. He is 3-1 with 25 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. He has an ERA of 2.03 and a WHIP of 0.94. He gets a Milwaukee team that has the third worst batting average, fourth lowest runs scored, and fifth most strikeouts in the league to date. To top it off, Arrieta is the biggest favorite on the board today at -180. There’s a lot to like here for the Cubs true ace.
Fransisco Liriano vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($9000) – Liriano is not favored, but he has an excellent match up. The lefty faces a St. Louis squad that really struggles against lefty hurlers. They are dead last in the league for runs scored and are currently sporting a 29.6% strikeout rate against left-handed pitching. Liriano is striking out 1.25 batters per inning of work, and currently has a 2.22 ERA with a WHIP of 0.95. This is one of the lower totals on the day and the game is being played in a pitcher’s park, so there’s a lot of upside to using him.
Middle of the Pack
Cole Hamels vs. Miami Marlins ($10000) – Cole Hamels has a very tough match up tomorrow. The Marlins are very good against lefties so far this year with the seventh highest batting average vs. LHP in MLB. He is also +115 on the money line, because of the putrid offense he has playing behind him. With that being said though, he is one of the most talented pitchers on the mound today. He has 32 strikeouts n 31 innings of work with a 3.13 ERA and a WHIP of 1.18. He averages just over 6 innings and 6 strikeouts per start. Now that his insane early season HR/Flyball ratio is normalizing, we should see the Cole Hamels that fantasy players know and love from year’s past. His price is high and the matchup not ideal, so he is tough to recommend.
John Lackey vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($7600) – The Pirate bats have been putrid over the last week. They have now allowed four pitchers to throw stud games against them including Lackey’s teammate Lance Lynn who put a 30 spot against them last night. They have the fifth worst batting average, they are bottom third of the league in runs scored and are 8th on the list for most strikeouts. Lackey threw one gem and has been rather pedestrian in the rest of his outings or he would be in the Cream of the Crop section based on match up alone. Still Vegas thinks enough of his chances to make him the favorite at -120 in a game with only 7 runs expected. His low strikeout rate this year is concerning in this one, but he is cheap enough to give you a quality fantasy start against a struggling offense.
Corey Kluber vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($9400) – Vegas think enough of him to make him a big favorite at -160. The Kluber we all fell in love with last year has yet to emerge this season. He has 36 strikeouts in 34 innings of work, but his ERA is 4.24 and his WHIP is higher as well at 1.27. He did start the season off nicely, but has given up double digit hits in back to back games and has been tagged for a bunch of runs in each as well. Still, the Blue Jays offense is missing some pieces and they have a huge fall off after the top four hitters now. Kluber is in a good spot to rack up some Ks in the bottom part of that order if he can limit the hit parade we have seen in his recent starts.
Hector Santiago vs. San Fransisco Giants ($7200) – Santiago is 2-1 to start the season and has pitched well in three of his four outings. He currently sports a 2.23 ERA, a WHIP of 1.23, and has 22 strikeouts in 23.1 innings of work. He is basically in a pick em with Tim Hudson who is even a slight favorite in some spots. The Total run line is low at only 7 and that makes sense with the recent Giants struggles. San Fran is middle of the pack in runs and average, but 10th in the league for strikeouts against lefty pitchers. Santiago is solidly priced in a spot where I think he can return value, but doubt he has the upside needed to win a tournament.
Dan Haren vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($6900) – Haren has been very steadily unspectacular this year. While there is not much upside to him so far, he has not killed you with his performances either. He gets a Phillies team that has the second worst batting average and the third fewest runs scored in all of baseball. Vegas has instilled Haren as a -125 favorite in this one with a run line of only 7. The shocking part of this is that he toe’s the rubber opposite of Cole Hamels, so that says a lot about how bad Vegas thinks the Phillies offense is if Haren is the good sized favorite. Still Haren has largely produced with only 17 Ks in 24 innings anyway, so I do not think the low Phillies K percentage scares me. He is a viable option against a putrid offense and should be worth a long look.
Wade Miley vs. New York Yankees ($5400) – Yes I do love Miley today. He has alternated starts that would have returned him 3 points per $1000 with starts that earned him a negative number. Still Miley is a left-handed pitcher who is tough on lefties, like the rest of the league. the Yankees will either have to play an inferior lineup or plug a few of these guys in.
Rest of the Field
Mike Fiers vs. Chicago Cubs ($7800) – Many will see the discount offered on Fiers and jump at it, but the numbers for him this year are telling. He has not been good. The strikeout potential he possesses is memorizing to some, but the high number of hits and runs he allows coupled with the struggling offense behind him have translated into nothing so far. In fact his ERA is currently 5.79 and his WHIP is 1.93. Regression to the mean works in both directions, so he should pitch better going forward. Still I have not seen enough out of him to trust he will not blow up. That Cubs offense has a lot of Ks, but also a lot of talent and that is why I can not recommend him.
Tim Hudson vs. Los Angeles Angels ($6300) – Even at this price, you can not play Tim Hudson today. He is a -125 favorite in a game with a total of 7, but he has not even returned 2 times value yet this season. He does not pitch deep into games and normally does not strikeout a lot of batters. He is pretty much the opposite of a guy we would use in fantasy. Hudson is a much better real life pitcher than he is a fantasy itcher, so keeo in mind it’s not a preferred play.
Nathan Eovaldi vs. Boston Red Sox ($6200) – Eovaldi has some good stuff, yet he still manages to struggle with hits and runs. Despite the consensus, the Red Sox are not the offensive juggernaut most make them out to be. The run line on this game is 9.5 and Eovaldi is an underdog to journeyman Wade Miley. I expect very little out of him, but more than those below.
Aaron Sanchez vs. Cleveland Indians ($5900) – Sanchez is a high strikeout guy. So far this year that is the best he has going for him. He does not pitch deep into games and he does give up a good deal of baserunners and runs. He also has a tough matchup with Cleveland as the indians will throw a line up littered with lefty bats at him. He is cheap enough to have a shot at paying it off, but not a preferred play at all.
Ricky Nolasco ($5800) vs. Hector Noesi ($5600) – Neither of these guys are solid pitchers. We waited for the CWS/Bal games patiently as we all wanted to roster and stack the Os against Noesi. Nolasco was also a popular stack against target the year before, so there’s a lot of people who will be going against both of these guys and with good reason. It’s a 9.5 run total and the pitchers are both -105, so you can go either way with this one, but why would you want to?