Welcome back to the DraftKings Playbook Daily Pitcher Rankings. I want to thank you for reading my pitcher rankings this season, it has truly been a privilege to be a part of the amazingly talented Playbook team, and I’m hopeful that they’ll have me back to do it all again next baseball season.
This is the last weekend of the season, so lets build some winning lineups. My goal is to help you make the right decisions when choosing your pitchers, but to also help you target the ones that are likely to struggle, making it easier for you to choose your bats. If you’re new or if you have any last-minute questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
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.
Cream of the Crop
How in-depth do you need this analysis to be? Jake Arrieta is a stud and has made the NL Cy Young race a real thing, something that seemed unlikely even 2 months ago. I think Arrieta was motivated by his All-Star snubbing because his second half has been historic. He’s given up four runs in his past 82 1/3 innings, dating back to July 1st. That’s comical. As far as his DFS viability today, I can’t see the Cubs stretching him past seven innings, but he can still score 30+ in limited work.
Chris Sale vs. Detroit Tigers ($11,700)
Chris Sale (2.70 FIP) has a tough matchup to finish his 2015 campaign. The Tigers have been one of the best offenses in the game against left-handed pitching this season (.349 wOBA/122 wRC+), slightly behind the pace of the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite that, Sale is a viable option because he’ll still be able to pile up strikeouts against the Tigers. They’re striking out 21.8% of the time against southpaws, one of the highest rates in the game, which pairs well with Sale’s 14.5 SwStk%.
Dallas Keuchel @ Arizona Diamondbacks (11,300)
A trip out west to the desert is not the best way to end what should be a Cy Young Award winning season for Dallas Keuchel. He’s finishing strong though and will look to keep it going against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. The park shift is essentially a wash since Keuchel pitches in what’s considered a hitters park, but his opponent is a challenge. Arizona is just playing out the slate at this point but they have a .326 wOBA over their last 30 games and have a few of the best left-handed hitting bats in the game. In a similar situation as Jake Arrieta, I can’t see Houston pushing Keuchel too hard in this one with more meaningful innings ahead of him.
Francisco Liriano vs. Cincinnati Reds ($10,000)
The Reds are on cruise control to end the season, and it isn’t pretty. Their 85 wRC+ over the past month is among the worst marks in the game, and they’re striking out nearly 25% of the time during that stretch. At the same time, Francisco Liriano’s current form is as sharp as ever, striking out nine batters in each of his last two starts, and he’s gearing up for a potential Game 1 start in the NLDS is his Pirates can move on in the Wild Card game.
The song hasn’t changed much with Noah Syndergaard. The Mets have gone out of their way to conserve their young rotation, limiting their workload down the stretch and even using a 6-man rotation at times. Noah Syndergaard can return value in limited innings, but can he return enough for his $10,900 price tag? That’s tough. He was dominant in his last start against the hapless Reds, and the Nationals aren’t exactly tearing it up to finish the season either. I think there are better ways to spend up today, but Thor is a viable tournament play.
Middle of the Pack
Jaime Garcia @ Atlanta Braves ($9,800)
I’m not a huge Jaime Garcia fan, mostly because his lack of K’s, but there’s no denying that he’s in a good spot today. The Braves are among the league’s worst offenses by any measure, including how they perform against left-handed pitching. They’ve been especially bad of late, but they don’t strikeout much. Atlanta might be hard pressed to score tonight, but it won’t be because Garcia is striking out a ton of Braves.
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Oakland Athletics ($9,900)
Hisashi Iwakuma has been a bit hit-or-miss of late and his league average strikeout rate doesn’t help his fantasy prospects when he’s struggling to prevent hits and runs. As abysmal as Oakland has been at times this season, they don’t strike out much against right-handed pitching (18.5%). I’d be interesting in some Iwakuama exposure if he was around $9,000, but I won’t pay his near $10k asking price.
Josh Tomlin vs. Boston Red Sox ($10,900)
Josh Tomlin has been a pleasant surprise for Indians fans down the stretch, but he’s still incredibly overpriced for DFS purposes. There’s a major ERA/FIP discrepancy here (3.03 vs. 4.42) and Tomlin’s .193 BABIP has a lot to do with it. His 7.89 K/9 is just slightly above league average, making it difficult to justify a $10k+ price tag. The Red Sox have been swinging it well of late, with a .340 wOBA over their past 30 games.
Henry Owens @ Cleveland Indians ($8,000)
The Red Sox have to be happy with what they’ve seen from Henry Owens lately. The tall left-hander has just four walks in his last 22 1/3 innings, working in to the 8th inning in each of those appearances. His matchup against the Indians is fairly neutral though, and they don’t whiff a ton, taking a way a bit of his upside.
Ervin Santana vs. Kansas City Royals ($7,700)
Starting the season on the PED suspension list is not ideal, but Ervin Santana is doing all that he can to make sure he ends the season in a much better fashion. He’s been outstanding lately, consistently working deep in to the game and producuing 20+ DraftKings points more times than not over his past 8 outings. The Royals are a tough matchup though, with their high contact rate and team wide allergies to the base on balls. If you’re comfortable with 20 points I think Santana can give you that, just don’t expect much more.
Luis Severino @ Baltimore Orioles ($8,400)
Luis Severino isn’t quite 2.77 ERA-good, but he’s been very consistent for the Yankees since being called up in August. His 4.22 FIP and 3.58 BB/9 give me a bit of pause here, but he has decent strikeout numbers since being called up and the Orioles are one of the most strikeout prone teams in the game (21.9% vs RHP). Severino’s 50% ground ball rate is strong too, but he feels more like a tournament play then a rock solid cash option.
Wei-Yin Chen vs. New York Yankees ($8,300)
I like that Wei-Yin Chen doesn’t give away at bats with walks, but that’s about all I really like. From a fantasy perspective, he’s pretty average. His strikeout rate is league average and he’s a bit on the fly ball-heavy side when it comes to contact, something that I like to avoid unless the pitcher misses an above average amount of at bats. The Yankees enter play with the 5th best wOBA in the league against left-handed pitching.
Alex Wood vs. San Diego Padres ($7,000)
It appears to be all-or-nothing with Alex Wood, who was drilling in his last start against the Rockies. It looked like a good matchup on paper as the Rockies have the league’s lowest wRC+ in the league against left-handed pitching, but Wood gave up eight runs on 11 hits and struck out just one. The Padres 23.2% strikeout rate against left-handed bats makes Wood slightly intriguing, but I don’t trust him.
Julio Teheran vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($7,600)
I have trouble rostering Julio Teheran because of his streaks of wildness. His command leaves him at times, making him prone to hard-hit contact and a high walk rate. He’s really struggled against left-handed bats this season, and his above average strikeout games are rare and hard to predict.
Gio Gonzalez @ New York Mets ($8,200)
Earlier in the season it appeared as though 2015 might be a good season for Gio Gonzalez, but the old demons returned and he’ll take the ball for the final time of the 2015 season with the chance to push his ERA north of 4. It’s hard to call that a good season for the lefty. He’ll take on the playoff-bound Mets, who are finishing the season strong and have a 127 wRC+ over their past 30 days.
Chris Heston vs. Colorado Rockies ($7,300)
I’m not sure if it’s a fatigue issue, but Chris Heston is not ending the season on a high note. He’s been hit around often of late, failing to get through 6 innings in any of his past 10 outings. The Rockies aren’t in the comforts of Coors Field, but have enough bats to do damage against average right-handed pitching. There’s no need to roster Heston here, even in the best pitching environment in the game.
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($6,800)
It’s been nice to see the Rays let Erasmo Ramirez work into the 7th inning lately, something that’s been rare this season. Their reluctance to let him work deep in to games has hurt his viability this season when the matchup’s been right, but we don’t have to worry about that today because he’s facing the Blue Jays. See you next year, Erasmo.
Mark Buehrle @ Tampa Bay Rays ($6,400)
There’s no need to consider Mark Buehrle today. He’s failed to reach double digit fantasy points in five of his past seven outings, and Tampa Bay has been a top-5 offense against left-handed pitching all season. Stay away from Buehrle here but give the Rays bats a look.
Rubby De La Rosa vs. Houston Astros ($6,300)
Rubby De La Rosa has some of the more actionable splits in the big leagues. He’s dominated right-handed bats all season, making him some that you don’t want to stack against, but his struggles against left-handed hitters is something that should have your attention, no matter the hitter’s price tag. If he can figure out an out-pitch for lefties, De La Rosa has some potential next season.
Rest of the Field
Ariel Pena vs. Chicago Cubs ($4,100)
If you’re going cheap tonight, like dirt cheap, then Ariel Pena is your guy. The Brewers young starter has pitched well lately, but appears to be capped at 5 innings or close to 80 pitches, capping his upside against the free-swinging Cubs.
Jered Weaver @ Texas Rangers ($5,000)
When Jered Weaver doesn’t get shelled I’m usually surprised. Perhaps my bias on him is too narrow because he throws 75 mph and doesn’t miss any bats, but he’s an easy ‘pass’ for me tonight. He’s extremely fly ball prone, something that doesn’t play well in Texas, even in October.
Aaron Harang vs. Miami Marlins ($5,300)
It’s the last weekend of the regular season. Are you really going to go out and throw some lineups together that have Aaron Harang in them? No. No you’re not.
Justin Nicolino @ Philadelphia Phillies ($4,500)
Justin Nicolino has showed a bit of promise at times, and could have some value next season at home in the right matchup. Even against the Phillies there’s no need to give him much consideration tonight.
Alfredo Simon @ Chicago White Sox ($5,100)
The Big Fettuccine, Alfredo Simon, is a lot like an older-less-talented version of Rubby De La Rosa. He’s good enough against right-handed bats that he’s not an ideal target to stack against, but fire away with left-handed bats in Chicago.
Martin Perez vs. Los Angeles Angels ($4,900)
The Angels have been a disappointment offensively at times this season, and their struggles against left-handed pitching have surprised me (91 wRC+). The one thing worth noting though is that they don’t strike out very often, making Martin Perez an easy fade tonight.
Chris Young @ Minnesota Twins ($4,400)
If for any reason you were going to consider Chris Young a cheap option tonight, remember that he’s been working out of the bullpen for the past two months so his ability to work past the 5th or 6th inning is null and void. The main reason to not play him is that he’s Chris Young.
Aaron Brooks @ Seattle Mariners ($4,200)
I’d be more interest in starting NBA point guard Aaron Brooks then I am about starting the A’s pitcher tonight. I’d probably even start former Saints’ quarterback Aaron Brooks over this current version. He faced this Mariners team a few starts ago and failed to get out of the third inning. That….that’s not good.
Casey Kelly @ Los Angeles Dodgers ($4,800)
The Padres are just seeing if there’s anything here with the former can’t-miss-prospect Casey Kelly, but so far the answer has been ‘no’. That’s my answer to the ‘is he a valuable punt play tonight’, as well.
Kyle Kendrick @ San Francisco Giants ($4,300)
The Rockies’ opening day starter, Kyle Kendrick, has posted negative fantasy points in five of his last 10 outings, something that I’m sure he and his family are proud of. At this point I’m just testing you to see if you’re still reading about Kyle Kendrick, and you are, so good for you!
Keyvius Sampson @ Pittsburgh Pirates ($4,000)
If you’re competing with Kyle Kendrick in the race to avoid the last place in the rankings, things have gone terribly wrong for you somewhere.Good luck!