This is one of those slates where we have three fantastic and expensive pitching options to choose from, and then the rest of the options dwindle dramatically. I’ll help weed through the options for tonight. As always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Madison Bumgarner – SFG vs PIT – $12,800 – Bumgarner takes on the Pirates tonight for this first time this season at PNC Park. Against lefties, the Pirates own a .339 wOBA with a .437 SLG and a .347 OBP. The big plus for Bumgarner here is that they do strikeout a ton, owning a 24.7 K%, which ranks second in the league. Bumgarner is indeed expensive tonight, but he checks in as the third highest at $12,800. Bumgarner has been equally as good on the road as he has at home, averaging 26 FPPG in six road starts with a K/9 of 11.1. Even with the Pirates hitting as well as they are against lefties, Bumgarner is and should be one of the top options on this slate. I like him a bit more than Kershaw and Strasburg because of the strikeout potential he will bring and because of the savings you get as well. All three of these guys have somewhat of a tough matchup on tap, which I think Bumgarner has the highest upside with.
2) Stephen Strasburg – WAS vs. LAD – $13,200 – Strasburg is facing the easiest offense of the three big names tonight as these two meet for the first time this season. I’m giving the nod of Strasburg over Kershaw tonight simply because I think Kershaw has the toughest matchup of the three tonight. With Strasburg, he’s getting a Dodgers team that owns a .304 wOBA against righties with a .314 OBP and a .386 SLG. Hitting in the worst ranked ballpark for hitters this season certainly won’t help them much either, which gives another boost to Strasburg. I realize that with Kershaw he can come out with a gem at any given moment, but I don’t think he’s the safest option tonight. With the Dodgers owning a 20.7 K% on the season against righties, Strasburg and his 11.7 K/9 on the road come to town with some serious potential here tonight.
3) Clayton Kershaw – LAD vs. WAS – $14,200 – Kershaw is coming off another fantastic start against the Diamondbacks, where he pitched 7.1 allowing two runs on five hits with a 11:1 K:BB ratio. Like Bumgarner tonight, Kershaw has a matchup against a Nationals team that hit lefties extremely well. Coming into tonight, the Nationals own a .349 wOBA against lefties with a .481 SLG and a .345 OBP. They don’t strikeout a ton either, owning a 19.5 K%. With all that being said, it’s still almost impossible to make a case against Kershaw with how well he’s been pitching. Without the large Dodger Stadium surrounding him, Kershaw has allowed five home runs on the road compared to the one at home this season. It’s the smallest nit pick I could come up with in this start, as the Nationals do own 25 home runs against lefties this season, which ranks 7th in the league. As always though, if you can afford the $14,200 price tag, Kershaw could do wonders for your roster once again. Of the three pitchers going tonight though, I think Kershaw has the toughest matchup on tap.
4) Steven Wright – BOS vs. CHW – $11,200 – The White Sox have really come back down to Earth after a real hot start this season. Tonight they run into the train that just keeps on running in Steven Wright. He continues to pitch beautifully on the road this season, owning a 1.54 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .238 wOBA with a K/9 of 7.3. The White Sox continue to sink further and further down the ranks against righties, owning a .300 wOBA with a .380 SLG and a .309 OBP. This will be the second time these two meet this season, where Wright pitched a fantastic game going six innings while allowing two runs on three hits with a 6:4 K:BB ratio. If Wright can keep the walks down in this one, we could see another repeat performance of his last time out against the White Sox.
5) Josh Tomlin – CLE vs. TBR – $9,100 – I would like this start for Tomlin more if it was at Tropicana Field and not Progressive Field, but we don’t have a lot of solid options going today, so we’ll roll with the punches. Tomlin has pitched decent for the Indians this season, coming into tonight with a 3.27 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP and a K/9 of 6.1. One of the reasons I do like this spot for Tomlin is the Rays continue to struggle at the plate and strikeout a ton. Owning a .308 wOBA with a 25.2 K%, which ranks second in the league, will certainly scream of some potential here. Tomlin has certainly had some issues pitching at Progressive Field this season, but I feel like against the Rays he may find some success here tonight. His price doesn’t feel overly expensive either at $9,100.
6) John Lackey – CHC vs. STL – $11,800 – Part of me hates this start for Lackey. Against one of the best offense in the league, why would I be inclined to roster Lackey at $11,800? Well, in two starts against this Cardinals team, Lackey has pitched 14 innings allowing three runs on eight hits with a 20:2 K:BB ratio. That’s pretty damn good, isn’t it? So you’d think this SHOULD be a good start for him. Honestly, it really could end up being one; I just can’t sell myself on it. Against righties this season, the Cardinals own the second highest wOBA at .347 with a .471 SLG and a .342 OBP. It doesn’t look very promising in my opinion, but Lackey has defied the odds twice already this season.
7) Doug Fister – HOU vs. LAA – $7,800 – Fister is another guy that is capable of having a solid outing, but the fantasy points don’t usually add up. Lacking in the strikeout department, Fister owns a 5.6 K/9 on the season. When you take that into consideration with taking on the L.A. Angels tonight, it really caps what he’s capable of tonight. Even in a solid outing against the Angels already this season where Fister pitched six innings allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits with a 6:4 K:BB ratio, Fister amassed 18.1 fantasy points. Don’t get me wrong, that’s certainly not a bad score for someone who is going to run you for only $7,800, but that start could have gone a lot worse. The Angels still own the lowest K% in the league at 15.8%, so this start may not go as solid as it may look. I’d proceed with caution on this one.
8) Paul Clemens – MIA vs. COL – $4,000 – I suspect Clemens will be a popular option tonight, simply because you’ll be getting a pitcher at the bare minimum price of $4,000 when we have three of the biggest pitching names in all of baseball going. Clemens is an interesting option tonight, as the Rockies are really struggling on the road this season, owning a .297 wOBA with a .298 OBP. Clemens owns a career 7.8 K/9 in both the majors and minors. It’s really hard to gauge where he’s at for tonight, as he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2014. For the bare minimum tonight, as long as he doesn’t implode, he’s a worthy flier.
9) Drew Smyly – TBR vs. CLE – $6,700 – It’s insane how much Smyly has dropped in price since just even a month ago. At $6,700, he would be a steal for tonight if this game wasn’t at Progressive Field. However, it is, so I’m having a hard time putting my trust into him tonight. Against lefties, the Indians haven’t been to hot this season, owning a .313 wOBA with a.322 OBP and a .402 SLG. However, hitting at home has been a different story. At Progressive Field, the Indians own a .354 wOBA with a .361 OBP and a .462 SLG. Truly, a night and day comparison here. In a slate like this, Smyly could be worth a shot, but he’s not the safest option.
I don’t have anything nice to say about anyone left on this slate….so no number 10.