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
Edinson Volquez vs. Cleveland Indians ($6700) – Volquez has pitched pretty well and does not have a good record to show for it. He is 2-3 in five starts, yet has averaged just shy of seven innings per start, just over six base runners, under two runs, and just over 5 strikeouts. He also has not allowed more than five hits or more than three runs in any of his starts. This Vegas line opened with him as the underdog, but he is now a -115 favorite against the struggling Corey Kluber. Volquez is at home for this one and gets a Cleveland team that is middle of the league for runs scored and average. Volquez is just too cheap for what he has done. His averages over the last five games equates to 20 fantasy points, so a repeat of that would make him an excellent value play at his price.
Jake Arrieta vs. St Louis Cardinals ($9500) – Arrieta is really the only other pitcher who has earned any faith with his performances so far this year on the early slate. While in has not translated into a huge win total, he has pitched 31.2 innings with 31 strikeouts, a 2.84 ERA, and a WHIP of only 1.04. He pitches in a good park for hurlers and has seen the money line drop on him from +135 at the open to +105 now. The Cubs bats have looked much better since the call ups and he should get some run support in this matchup. His price is a little high, but he’s the surest 15-25 points on the board in an ugly slate for pitchers.
Middle of the Pack
John Lackey vs. Chicago Cubs ($7700) – Lackey has five starts this year and really only one of them that was even decent. He will be popular against the Cubs who have the most strikeouts in the league, but Lackey is not really a strikeout kind of pitcher anymore. He has given up 32 hits in 31 innings with 8 walks and only 18 Ks. Plus he has already been tagged for at least three runs in three of his five starts. This Cubs team has depth and length in that lineup now and they have been producing some runs. Lackey does tend to pitch deep into games, but if the strikeouts are low, the hits and runs are high, and he does not get a win, then his floor is so low it can ruin your day.
Mike Fiers vs.Los Angeles Dodgers ($8500) – Fiers is way too overpriced because of his strikeout upside. He has five starts and is only averaging about 5 innings per start. He has given up 41 base runners and 18 total runs in only 25 innings of work, with the saving grace being his 34 strikeouts to date. His last start was the only decent one he has had all season, so I do expect regression off of it. He has given up an average of one homerun per 5 innings pitched and Los Angeles has the most homers of any team in MLB against right-handed pitching, so this is not a good matchup. Still the strikeout potential is tantalizing and will draw a lot of fellow DFS players in, like a moth to the flame. His most often score is somewhere n the range of 12-18 fantasy points, so he is very likely to disappoint.
Carlos Frias vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($4700) – Frias got his first spot start and went five strong with 3 strikeouts and allowed less than a baserunner per inning. I expect him to only go about that deep again today as he is a reliever being stretched out. Still the Brewers have been one of MLB’s worst offenses. They have the second lowest batting average, are fourth worst in runs scored, and have struck out the fourth most times overall. Frias will not be the high scorer overall on the day, but he could return really nice value at a cost of only $4700.
Rest of the Field
Corey Kluber vs. Kansas City Royals ($9800) – Some might say putting Kluber in the bottom rung is a bold call, but is it really? He started the season out hot, but in his last three starts, he has fallen off the table. In his last three starts, he has gone 17.1 innings with 31 hits allowed, 14 earned runs, 5 walks, and 14 strikeouts. He faces a Royals team who was one of those bad starts and is a tough matchup for a high priced pitcher like Kluber who relies on the K. Kansas City has the highest batting average against right-handed pitching at .295 in all of MLB. Kluber’s price is very high and he put up a single digit number last week against this team. In fact he has three straight single digit fantasy scores and a tough matchup on paper. It does not seem like the best spot to use him in.
Jose Quintana vs. Detroit Tigers ($7100) – Quintana has been serviceable in three of four starts, but the other start was against this Tigers team and they absolutely shelled him. In 4 innings of work, he gave up 10 hits, 1 walk, and 9 runs while recording only a single strikeout. This Tigers lineup is littered with right-handers and that is a tough matchup for a lefty like Quintana who has struggled with right-handed hitters. He does have more talent than some of those above him, but at his price in this matchup, I can not recommend him.
Kyle Lobstein vs. Chicago White Sox ($5500) – Lobstein has been decent except for one start against the Royals who have made a lot of pitchers look bad. He does not have a high upside as he tends to pitch about 6 innings with less than 4 strikeouts and a couple runs allowed per game. While I think he will get some run support today, I do not think he has the strikeout upside to really put up a great number. At his price of $5500 though he could go for 12-16 points, which would make for a great value play, but I like other cheap options a tad more.
Drew Pomeranz vs. Minnesota Twins ($6000) – Pomeranz is actually the underdog here, but I like his chances more than I like Ricky Nolasco’s on the other side. Pomeranz has flashed his upside with a 30 fantasy point outing to start the season. Since then, he has failed to reach value in four straight games and has even failed to reach double digit fantasy points. The Twins are sixth in batting average and third in runs scored against left-handed pitching, so it is not an easy matchup. Still I think his strikeout upside puts him ahead of Nolasco today.
Ricky Nolasco vs. Oakland Athletics ($5300) – Despite being favored and cheap, I still can not back this guy. He averages 4 innings, 7 hits, 2.5 walks, 4.5 runs, and only 3 Ks per start in 2015. That breaks down to an average of 2 fantasy points per start with one negative score already. Nolasco is a gas can and I would rather target hitter’s against him then target him as the my starter. He does not need to do a lot tomorrow, but the chances for a blow up are greater than the chances for a gem, so it makes sense to stay away.