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.
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Cream of the Crop
Joe Ross ($8400) – Over at my MLB Cheat Sheet article today, I was really hyping up Joe Ross. Yes, Ross struggles against left handed batters, so the Braves will certainly have three to four players in their lineup to try and expose that stat. However, they just CAN’T HIT
Chris Archer ($12400) – Going up against the Yankees doesn’t seem like the brightest idea to have a pitcher ranked so high, at this price point nonetheless. However, Archer has been fantastic in his two starts against the Yankees this year, not to mention, the Yankees are not a full strength right now. With Mark Teixeira on the 15 Day DL and Ellsbury still listed as DTD, Archer could be facing a Yankees lineup with two of their bigger bats on the bench. In two starts against the Yankees this season, Archer has gone 13.2 innings giving up two runs on 10 hits while owning a 16:4 K:BB ratio. The Yankees have been striking out at a fairly decent rate since the All Star break with a 20.7%. Archer is always a threat to reach double digits in strikeouts, which is indicated by his K/9 of 11. The pitching today isn’t the best and a few of the top guys have tough matchups, so I think Archer, even with his high price tag, could be worth a spot.
Middle of the Pack
Madison Bumgarner ($10,400) – The only reason I don’t have Bumgarner listed in the top section, is because of pitching in Coors Field. Otherwise, he very well could be at the top of the list. Bumgarner takes on a Rockies team today that really struggles against LHP. On the season, the Rockies own one of the worst wOBA against lefties, at .292. Their “power” or should I say lack of, is even worse, with an ISO of .118. Should we go with strikeout percentage as well? Yeah, lets go strike out percentage, it’s one of the worst in the league, ranked fourth, at 23.1%. Truly, if all ballpark were created equal, Bumgarner would be at the top of the list today. But with respect to what Coors Field can do to a pitcher, Bumgarner is slightly lower than he should be. The positive to the Coors Field effect, is that Bumgarner sees a decrease in price, at $10,400. For how well he’s pitched this season, that’s a steal for him today. Keep your fingers crossed that Coors doesn’t plague Bumgarner today, and let’s watch him throw a gem today.
Dallas Keuchel ($12,500) – It’s hard to go against Keuchel this season. Coming into today with a 2.24 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP and a K/9 of 8, facing the Twins, Keuchel should be prime for a solid matchup, right? Ehhhh, let’s pump the brakes for a second here. When diving into some stats, the Twins actually aren’t too shabby when it comes to facing lefties. They aren’t fantastic against them, but they’re better than I expected. On the season, the Twins own a .313 wOBA against lefties, good for 13th in the league. They also don’t strike out as much when facing lefties, owning a 20.4% strikeout percentage, which is actually ranked 21st in the league. So in some sick twisted way, maybe this won’t be as easy of a start for Keuchel after all. Now, it’s almost impossible to tell you not to play Keuchel, he’s just been THAT good this season. Just maybe be a little cautious with this one, especially with how expensive he is today. He might not be able to reach that value.
Justin Verlander ($9,600) – Did Verlander and Kate Upton break up or something? Out of the blue, Verlander is pitching like the Verlander of old again. If that’s true, the American League better take notice. Verlander has a matchup against the very middle of the road offense of the Indians. Truly, they’re either average or just below average in all offensive categories in the second half of the season. Verlander comes into today with a 3.40 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a K/9 of 7.2. Verlander has been pitching extremely well lately, as his last three starts saw him score 26.8 against Texas, 45.5 against the Angels and 18.2 against the Royals. The strikeouts continue to climb, as he’s nailed down 21 in those three starts over a combined 22 innings. His price isn’t too expensive either, so he looks like an even more enticing option.
Jimmy Nelson ($7,800) – Nelson is a tough cookie to crack. He’s all over the place in terms of consistency, but when he’s on, he’s on. However when he’s not, forget about it. Perfect example, when he faced the Pirates his last time out, Nelson scored 27.4 points against them going seven innings giving up one run on four hits and striking out six. Then we have the start prior to that against the Indians, where Nelson got you a whopping -1.7 points, going three innings giving up five runs on four hits while striking out four. The tipping point in that one was his control, as he walked an astounding eight in just those three innings. That certainly isn’t normal for Nelson, as his overall K:BB is 142:60. I do like Nelson against the Red today because his price point seems to be a lot lower than it should be, against a team that owns a .313 wOBA in the second half of the season. If you get the Nelson that scored 27 against the Pirates, you’ll certainly grab some value here.
John Lackey ($9100) – Lackey has just been solid this season. He comes into tonight with a 2.87 ERA to go with a 1.20 WHIP and a K/9 of 6.8. He faces a good Pirates offense who rank 10th in wOBA in the second half at .326. They do however strikeout a lot, with a 21.7 K%. Lackey isn’t a big strikeout guy, but asking for 6-7 strikeouts wouldn’t be a stretch in my opinion. He might also be under owned tonight with the mix of the late game tonight and to be quite honest, he’s been flying under the radar. I think he could be a sneaky play tonight that could reach, but not exceed his value.
Steven Matz ($8700) – Matz makes his highly anticipated return to the mound today for the Mets, going up against the Marlins. I mean, give him the quality start on a silver platter why don’t you? Sure, Matz only made two starts this season, but he looked fantastic in those. Owning a 1.32 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP and a K/9 of 9.22, Matz is hoping to be a boost to the Mets rotation. It’s been stated many many times that the Marlins are one of the worst hitting teams in the second half of the season, as they come into today with a wOBA of .298, good for 28th in the league. They are a tough team to strike out, with a 16.7 K% during that same time span. They also have hit lefties well this season, as they own the 7th highest wOBA against lefties at .322. That stat alone is what bumps Matz down in the rankings, in what would otherwise look like an easy matchup for Matz. If I was able to see more of him, id be more than willing to bump him up or down in the rankings. But I feel comfortable with where he is today.
Hisashi Iwakuma ($9200) – I want to like this matchup! I really really do! I just…..just…can’t decide. On a normal basis, a team going up against the Athletics has to be put into consideration right? I mean they have one of the lowest wOBA in the second half of the season at .300. Their power is almost non existent with an ISO of .143. Strikeouts are at least tough to come by, because that’s just what teams who can’t hit do, they don’t strike out, right Marlins? The problem with Iwakuma is that he’s just to hard to trust. His price tag seems a bit high for his recent performance, even if he does have a no hitter under his belt. It doesn’t help that the last time out against the Athletics, Iwakuma scored -0.3 points, giving up seven runs on seven hits in just four innings. On paper, he should have a decent start here, even with the strikeouts on the low end. I just don’t know if I could muster up the courage to pay $9200 to find out.
Johnny Cueto ($9400) – Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room here. Cueto has been struggling lately and not looking good at all. I think that’s quite evident from his drop in salary, as he’s only going to cost you $9400. Over his last three starts, Cueto has only managed to score 13.1 points. Remember, that’s a combined score over THREE starts. That’s very unlike the Cueto we’ve come to know. Today he gets a matchup against the White Sox, who might not make life much easier for him. The White Sox have the 10th highest wOBA in the second half of the season at .327. They strikeout at a decent clip, with a 20.1 K%. At this point, I need to see some progress with Cueto before I go about rostering him. Even at $9400, it feels too expensive for someone who isn’t even getting you double digits points.
Gerrit Cole ($11,000) – Quite low for a guy who has a 2.64 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP on the season huh? Not only that, his matchup against the Cardinals isn’t the most intimidating one either. I mean, the Cardinals own a .315 wOBA in the second half, ,150 ISO, and a K% of 19.6. So, what gives? I must be picking him tonight right? Trying to get everyone else off of him. No, not at all. Maybe it’s my personal vendetta against him, because I’ve been burned by him three time this season. But maybe it’s his 3.94 ERA since July that will do that. His last start against the Brewers was a train wreck, where he “scored” -2.4 points going four innings giving up five runs on eight hits and striking out two. He did have two solid starts against the Giants and Marlins prior, but both teams aren’t exactly lighting the baseball world on fire either. Truly, for as good as Cole has been this season, when he’s off, he’s a mess. I’m just not trusting him right now. I could be way off and I’ll happily admit it if I am.
Marco Estrada ($7200) –Estrada is a solid “real life” pitcher. He comes into his start with the Orioles today with a 3.16 ERA to go with a 1.08 WHIP and a K/9 of 6.7. Sometimes though, those good “real life pitchers” don’t equal good fantasy pitchers. Estrada is a perfect example of this. For someone with those overall numbers, you’d think that Estrada would be averaging more than his 13.7 per start. But, that’s exactly where he’s at right now. He has a decent matchup against the Orioles, who are really struggling in the second half of the season with a .313 wOBA during the span. It also doesn’t help that their striking out a lot as well, with a K% of 22.6, which is the fourth highest in the league. Estrada will be a perfect guy if you’re looking for a mid teen scoring pitcher who won’t cost a lot. Like I said, he’s a great pitcher, it just usually doesn’t show it in the fantasy world.
Rest of the Field
Hector Santiago ($6900) – For a good portion of the season, Santiago was a great pick for a pitcher that wasn’t going to cost you a ton and come out with a solid start for his price. Well one thing has changed and it’s not the price tag. Santiago has really been struggling lately, scoring 7.6 points in his last THREE starts. I mean, that’s a special kind of special to do that. During that span, we’ve seen his once solid 2.86 ERA jump all the way up to 3.37. It also doesn’t help that his K:BB ratio in those three starts were 11:10. Yeahhhhhh, not the stats you want from a pitcher on your team. I’ll be staying away until further notice.
Mike Lorenzen ($4000) –When you’re the cheapest pitcher on a slate, it’s not because DraftKings is being nice and want people to roster you. It usually means “stay the hell away from this guy.” Unfortunately for Lorenzen, that rings true once again. Owning a 5.66 ERA is bad enough, but his splits are truly ugly. On the season, Lorenzen owns a 329 wOBA against righties and a .433 against lefties, which is the worst on the day. Even in a matchup against the Brewers, I don’t have much faith in ol’ Mikey.
Rubby De La Rosa($7200) – De La Rosa has two problems that make him a big no no for me. First of all, he’s AWFUL against left handed batters. On the season, De La Rosa owns an atrocious .400 wOBA against lefties. For someone that’s pitched all season, that’s a mind boggling number. The second, is his ability to let the ball leave the yard. De La Rosa has given up an astounding 28 home runs on the season. Against a team like the Cubs, it could easily reach 30 today. 18 of those home runs have come against LHB, with Anthony Rizzo licking his chops waiting for this game to start.