For DFS purposes, there’s nothing better than a full night slate of games, and that’s what this Tuesday brings. Every single team is in action this evening, with no split slates or day games to limit our options. The pitching pool is your oyster, and while it may be lacking elite level aces tonight, it does present us with some interesting value plays that can free up salary for your offense today.
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. If you have any last-minute questions, you can find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
There are seven starters that cost $8,000 or more tonight, but most are either pitching in a hitter-friendly ball park, or are facing a better than average opponent. Now the Mariners aren’t a lineup to seek out, but the environment is conducive to low scores and McHugh is making yet another stride forward this season. He’s started the season with a 0.95 FIP and a K/BB ratio of 7.5 (3 is excellent). He continues to make teams pound the ball into the ground (66.7%) and he’s missing more bats than ever. His skills play well in this park.
Carlos Carrasco @ Chicago White Sox ($8,300)
It’ll be interesting to see if there are any lingering effects on Carrasco after taking a Melky Cabrera liner off of the head last time out. He’s back in the rotation sooner than most expected, facing the same White Sox team that hit him hard early in that contest, prior to literally hitting him hard. I imagine there will be some that are reluctant to roll him out in this spot, so there’s some GPP appeal.
Mike Fiers vs. Cincinnati Reds ($8,400)
Mike Fiers had a very Carlos Carraso-esque finish to the 2014 season. He dealt with a few hiccups this spring (shoulder fatigue and control issues) but both seemed tied together and haven’t been a problem in his early season starts. The Reds struggle against right-handed pitching, but Joey Votto is locked in. I like the strikeout upside for Fiers, and I’m hopeful that the improved control will allow him to work deeper into the game this time out.
Jonathon Niese vs. Atlanta Braves ($7,500)
Jonathon Niese’s inclusion in the ‘Cream of the Crop’ section tells you all that you need to know about the upper tier of pitchers tonight. He pitched well in his last outing against the Phillies, and the Braves present another plus matchup for the left-hander. His strikeout upside is limited, but the Mets are a heavy favorite and the Braves top offensive weapon is left-handed first baseman Freddie Freeman, who’s wOBA last season against lefties was 48 points lower than when facing a righty.
Francisco Liriano vs. Chicago Cubs ($8,700)
There are some things to like about Francisco Liriano here but I’ll tell you what I don’t like. The Cubs have been seeing an above average amount of pitches per plate appearances as a team, working the count and preventing their opponent’s from working deep into games. Liriano can work his pitch count up all by his lonesome, so if he’s getting ‘help’ from the Cubs I worry about him a bit. The strikeout upside here is very appealing, but I’ll have limited exposure.
Middle of the Pack
Lance Lynn @ Washington Nationals ($9,000)
When Lance Lynn is the top dog on a full slate, you know you’ll be looking at a challenging night for pitchers. Lynn is slightly underrated and has pitched well in his first two starts this season, carrying a 1.46 FIP into tonight’s action. The fact that it’s such a strange night for arms, he’s another interesting GPP play. I’m not a huge fan of attacking a Nationals squad that’s swinging the bats well right now, but the fact that Lynn is the most expensive option tonight should drive his ownership levels down quite a bit. He’s capable of missing bats when he’s on.
Gio Gonzalez vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($8,900)
Lance Lynn’s counterpart is Gio Gonzalez, who’s given up at least 3 earned runs in each start so far this season. The reputation is greater than the skill set here, but there are some things to like. The appeal here lies in Gonzalez’s ability to pile up the strikeouts. Matt Carpenter and Jason Heyward are off to strong starts, but the top of the Cardinals order is left-handed, and they’re much more prone to strike out when facing a fellow southpaw (29% K-rate vs 16% against right handed pitching).
Chase Anderson vs. Texas Rangers ($5,500)
Chase Anderson provides great salary relief here, and I like his floor in this matchup. The Rangers are off to a slow start (65 wRC+ against RHP, .270 wOBA) and Anderson’s change-up is actually quite successful against left-handed bats. According to Pitch F/X data from FanGraphs, Leonys Martin and Price Fielder graded out below average against change-ups last season.
Kyle Lobstein vs. New York Yankees ($5,600)
First of all, what a terrible name for a pitcher. Lobstein? Sounds like an attorney/weekend warrior in a coed softball league. Good news for the Tigers though, he’s not. Perhaps I’m going a bit too far by calling it good news, because this isn’t an overly talent pitcher, but it’s a sneaky matchup for him. The Yankees have some switch-hitters, but are much better when they’re lefty-centric on offense. The left-handed pitchers also neutralize their running game, with no steals to date when facing a lefty.
It’s easy to be encouraged by what we’ve seen from Chris Archer so far in 2015. He’s been able to limit his walks while at the same time increasing his strikeout totals. He has the pedigree so perhaps he is finally coming of age. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s a bit over his head so far? I think the truth lies somewhere in between. I believe he’s gotten better, but he’s also benefited from a 90.2% strand rate thus far, accompanied by a .163 BABIP-against. I’m going to pass on him here against the division rival Red Sox.
Hector Santiago vs. Oakland Athletics ($6,500)
Hector Santiago is a slightly more expensive version of Kyle Lobstein tonight, but he has a bit more upside and costs you about $1,000 more. The Athletics are a platoon heavy squad, and will go handed-heavy either way, depending on the pitcher. The left-handed Santiago will turn them around to the right side, but they fare better against right-handed pitching (.343 wOBA) than they do against lefties (.305).
Dan Haren @ Philadelphia Phillies ($7,000)
Perhaps I’m making a mistake here, but I have difficulty rostering Dan Haren because I feel like his ceiling is low. I’m not sure that I’m correct here, but he’s pitched well so far, albeit against Tampa Bay and Atlanta, and he’s been dealt another solid hand here as he takes on the Phillies. For me, he’s priced out.
Jason Vargas vs. Minnesota Twins ($6,500)
Thus far, the Twins are just a bad offensive club. They’re bad against right-handed pitchers (.268 wOBA), and worst against left-handed pitchers (wOBA .262), both in the bottom-five in the league. The bad news is Vargas just faced them and couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. Think he has a better fate in this one?
Drew Pomeranz @ Los Angeles Angels ($6,600)
The Angels have been a bit slow out of the gate, but Pomeranz on the road is something that I don’t trust quite yet. Los Angeles plays favorably to fly-ball pitchers, but I think the Angels early struggles are only temporary. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and David Freese all hit lefties well for their careers.
Taijuan Walker vs. Houston Astros ($6,700)
If we see the Taijuan Walker that we saw during the spring, this will be a bargain. Unfortunately, we’ve seen nothing lately that should make you think you could get a return on this investment. The Astros’ assembly of free swingers are less likely to whiff against right-handers, limiting what even the most optimistic player would consider to be Walker’s edge.
Brett Anderson @ San Francisco Giants ($6,900)
I might be worth $6,900 pitching in San Francisco. I’m not sure I can dial up the heat like I could in my prime, I think my secondary offerings would be able to keep teams off balance. My point is any pitcher is worth a look in San Franciso, and the Giants are off to a slow start against left-handed pitching and really miss Hunter Pence in the lineup. Anderson’s heavy ground-ball inducing arsenal is intriguing at this price.
Tim Lincecum vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($7,300)
Again, it’s early in the season so we can’t say that we’re statistically stable yet, but the Dodgers have been the best offense in the game against right-handed pitching thus far, with a wRC+ of 157 and a team wOBA of .387. The ballpark is favorable for Lincecum, but the price point is not.
Wade Miley @ Tampa Bay Rays ($6,900)
Wade Miley has had an up-and-down start to the season. He’s coming off of an outing against the Nationals where he didn’t see the third inning, and he’s facing a Rays club that’s hitting left-handed pitching well to start the season. The Trop, plus Miley’s extreme ground-ball rates leave a little room for encouragement, but there are better options today.
Nick Martinez @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($5,300)
If we’re just looking at the end results, then Nick Martinez will look like a great play today. He’s averaging 21.3 fantasy points per game through his first two starts, working in to the seventh inning in both appearances. It won’t cost you much to find out if there’s something here, but I don’t believe you need to spend up to find that out. Martinez has benefited from a 93.3% strand rate thus far, and his 3.86 K/9 leaves a lot to be desired. Pass.
Nathan Eovaldi @ Detroit Tigers ($6,100)
Nathan Eovaldi has looked the part at times in his career, but the results are stacking up quite yet. I do think he’ll get there though. If he’s able to locate his 95+ fastball consistently, and mix in his improved secondary offerings, he has quite a bit of upside. Seeing if it comes to fruition versus paying for it to come to fruition against a Tigers lineup that can end your day quickly, are two separate things.
Rest of the Field
The ‘Rest of the Field’ is the no fly zone; just keep moving along. There are plenty of affordable options today that these players are easily avoidable.
Brandon Morrow @ Colorado Rockies ($6,500)
There could be something to the Brandon Morrow revival. It’s never been about skills for Morrow, just his consistent inability to stay on the field. He’s not currently injured (as of this writing), so let’s give him a look next time he’s not toeing the rubber in Colorado.
Bud Norris @ Toronto Blue Jays ($6,900)
Bud Norris’ price finally fell below the $7,000 mark, but it’s not enough to make him a viable option here. The Blue Jays crushed Norris earlier this season, and I like there chances to do it again. Consider anything above 0 a win.
Trevor Cahill @ New York Mets ($5,600)
I’m going out on a limb here and saying at some point this season, Trevor Cahill will be work starting. He has some of the best off-speed stuff, 3+ pitches that help him keep the ball on the ground and keep his pitch count down. The problem is, he also has one of the worst fastballs in the game, and struggles to locate it at times, which is a receipt for disaster. That’s a great band name by the way, RECEIPT FOR DISASTER!!! Alright, anyways, if he ditched the terrible fastball he’d have some use for us, but he hasn’t.
Tyler Matzek vs. San Diego Padres ($5,400)
I’m not sure I’d go after the Padres hitters with another left-handed starter after what we saw last night, but if you like contrarian plays, knock yourself out. Matzek isn’t a terrible pitcher, but this is a terrible spot.
Travis Wood @ Pittsburgh Pirates ($6,500)
The Pirates have been terrible against lefties to start the season, but context matters here. As a team, they’ve only had a totals of 34 plate appearances against them. Obviously, that sample size is way too small to glean anything from, so I’ll lean on what we saw from this club last season against lefties.
Mark Buehrle vs. Baltimore Orioles ($6,200)
Mark Buehrle faces the Orioles again, a team that he held in check for the most part in his season debut. I guess, ‘held in check’ is where we’re at in the rankings. The 9.5 fantasy points that Buehrle scored that day are what I’d call his best case scenario here today.
Hector Noesi vs. Cleveland Indians ($5,600)
The pressure is on for Hector Noesi, as the White Sox have called up top pitching prosopect Carlos Rodon. Rodon is going to work out of the bullpen to start, but has only Noesi in his way for a spot in the rotation. Cleveland is a patient team, and Noesi is quite generous with free passes.
Tommy Milone @ Kansas City ($5,800)
The Royals are on fire to start the season. They’re crushing left-handed pitching thus far, and have a much larger sample of plate appearances than the previously mentioned Pirates. (216 for KC vs. just 34 for Pittsburgh). This game is where you go for some offense today, not Minnesota Twins pitching.
Jerome Williams vs. Miami Marlins ($4,700)
After a surprisingly solid outing to start this season, Jerome Williams pitched more like Jerome Williams last time out. Don’t do it.
Jason Marquis @ Milwaukee Brewers ($4,600)
It’s difficult to face a lineup devoid of some of it’s best hitters, and still find your way to the bottom of this list. Congratulations, Jason Marquis.