With thirteen games on the evening slate, there are plenty of options to choose from in Tuesday’s biggest DFS contests. There are a few top-of-the-rotation options going, and plenty of solid depth choices you could start your lineups with. These are the ten I like most, ranked according to the value I see in their price, not total projected points.
Editor’s Note: Julio Teheran has been scratched from his start tonight. Either Matt Wisler or Williams Perez will toe the rubber for the Braves.
Top 5 Pitchers
#1) Vince Velasquez – PHI vs. NYM – $9,600 – – On a night where the top options are all drawing favorable matchups against some of the worst offenses in baseball, it could be hard to get away from spending big on pitching in tonight’s contests. The 23-year-old Velasquez is facing the Mets, one of the lowest-scoring, highest strikeout teams in the league, a team he has already beaten with nine K’s in six innings for 31.9 DKFP earlier this season. His price has jumped almost $3,000 over the course of two starts, and for good reason. His numbers are ridiculous: 2-0, 15 innings, 25 strikeouts, nine hits allowed, just three walks, and zero runs. He is officially at the stage where even if you don’t start him, you’ll be checking his box score all night to see if he is in the process of dealing another gem.
#2) Francisco Liriano – PIT @ SD – $9,800 – – Representing a $1,200 savings over Strasburg, Liriano would get the top spot most nights as, in my opinion, the safest option on the board who also has as much upside as anyone every time he steps on the mound. He is facing a Padres team that is in the bottom ten in runs scored so far this year, and also has struck out more than only two other teams in baseball – both continuations of 2015 trends. As as bad as they have been in general, they have been even worse against lefties. You can look at their stats across the board to prove it, but here’s one: they slugged .366 against left-handers last year, third worst in the majors, and significantly down from their .390 mark against righties.
“. . . the Braves are a team that swing and miss plenty”
#3) Alex Wood – LAD @ ATL – $6,000 – – I love this play for the price tonight, with the 25-year-old Wood facing off against his former team in Atlanta. Wood got banged around by the Giants in his first start of the year, but rebounded with seven solid innings against Arizona (7 innings and one run, for the win). He only has six K’s on the year, but the Braves are a team that swing and miss plenty. For a pitcher who had 170 strikeouts in 2014, it would be easy to imagine him turning around that K-rate in a matchup like this one.
#4) Stephen Strasburg – WAS @ MIA – $11,000 – – The big co-ace on the Nationals is 2-0 so far this year, with two wins over the Braves. And now he draws the Marlins for start #3 – eventually, the road will get tougher. But while Miami scored the second fewest runs in the majors last season, making him a good cash game option, they also strike out less than just about every other team out there. They have 91 K’s so far this year, meaning that they are averaging just about one strikeout per game fewer than all the other teams in baseball, which could be just enough to limit Strasburg’s upside to a point that makes you at least think twice about trotting him out there. He might be 2-0 on the year, but without a big K game as of yet, he is only averaging 23 DKFP per outing, not a great return for this price.
#5) Marcus Stroman – TOR @ BAL – $7,700 – – He hasn’t struck out a ton of batters so far in his three starts, but strikeouts aren’t how you get the best of the Orioles anyway. He has faced the Rays, Sox and Yankees so far, and is completing a circuit through the AL East as fast as possible on the young season. None of those lineups give you a night off, and so far, he has handled it well, going 2-0 with two quality starts (against TB and NY). With a ground ball rate over 64% last year, Stroman specializes in keeping the ball on the ground, and if he can pitch that way effectively tonight, he should be able to chew up innings. With his offense performing against Mike Wright, that’s enough to give himself a shot at the win.
#6) Derek Holland – TEX vs. HOU – $7,900 – – With Scott Feldman on the mound opposite, and a Houston lineup that is currently second in the league in total strikeouts with 128 in 13 games (so close to averaging 10/game), all Holland needs to worry about is going as deep as possible to try to secure that win. With one of the best offenses in the league backing him up, there is always some upside in this price range. A quality start and a win is good for 20+ fantasy points, and for under $8K, he’s not a bad option.
#7) Jason Hammel – CHC @ STL – $7,800 – – After two starts, it’s clearly much easier to recommend Hammel as a cash game option than as someone to roll out in a tournament because he’s shown a pretty distinct lack of upside through two starts. Six K’s in his first game, and a win in his second, and he still hasn’t cracked 20 DKFP. But the low mark in the two games was still 18, and 18 fantasy points at this price certainly isn’t going to ruin your lineup.
“. . . you could consider him a relatively safe option with upside in the low 20s”
#8) Matt Shoemaker – LAA @ CWS – $5,300 – – At more than $2K in savings compared to his counterpart, Shoemaker does at least have the better matchup between the two. The White Sox have scored only 39 runs in 13 games, and have managed to strike out more than 100 times. Shoemaker got shelled by Texas in his first start of the year but came back with six shutout innings against Oakland last week. He is the kind of pitcher who isn’t going to miss a lot of bats, which means his usefulness is directly correlated to the lineup he is facing. Against better offenses, you just wouldn’t even consider him, but the White Sox fall below the cutoff, and you could consider him a relatively safe option with upside in the low 20s.
#9) Jaime Garcia – STL vs. CHC – $9,200 – – When you have a guy coming off a complete game shutout with 13 K’s that was good for 50+ DK FP, it’s hard to leave him off this list entirely. So here he is. But his last opponent, the Brewers, are currently 22nd in the majors in runs scored, a full 33 runs behind the Cubs, tonight’s challenge. The Cubbies, as an opponent, are a pure upside play near the top of the league in both runs scored and total strikeouts, and that makes Garcia more suitable for tournaments than cash contents, which is what dropped him down the list. There is only one Cub he has faced more than ten times in his career, so there is no way to base this one on track record, and it is hard to assume that the 10-3 Cubs are just going to get shut down, no matter how well Garcia is throwing.
#10) Mat Latos – CWS vs. LAA – $7,600 – – After a career’s worth of games that make it hard to trust Latos, he has opened this season strong. He has two wins, against Oakland and Minnesota, and tonight he is facing the Angels. The Angels have fewer strikeouts than any other team in the league, but they are also in the bottom third of the league in runs scored. Latos has given up four hits and two walks in 12 innings for a WHIP of only 0.50. You don’t get that kind of efficiency without throwing strikes, and that’s exactly what he has done through two starts, getting almost 70% of his pitches in the zone.