With a full slate of 15 MLB games on tap for Tuesday night, you have plenty of choices at every position. Building a strong roster starts right at the top with your pitching selections. Below are the ten pitchers I like most for Tuesday night in order of perceived value at their price, not in order of total projected fantasy points.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Clayton Kershaw – LAD vs. MIA – $13,800 – – He is so expensive, and at a certain point that has to impact value with so many other options – I just don’t know if it is against Miami. Kershaw’s 30:3 K/BB ratio in 30 innings so far this year is the biggest testament to him getting batters out like no one else. The Marlins don’t normally strike out much, but Kershaw can change that for them, coming off a 10-K game against the Braves, who have the fewest strikeouts as a team in all of Major League baseball. The downside Kershaw has in a game like this seems to be a 7-inning quality start with a half-dozen K’s and a chance at the win, while the upside is a complete game with 10+ Ks.
2) David Price – BOS @ ATL – $11,400 – – I mean, it’s not like #2 is an insult. He got shelled last time out against TB, but the new Boston ace still has 32:6 K/BB rate so far this year in only 21.2 innings. He is getting guys out efficiently, and not only is he facing a Braves team that is once again last in the league in scoring, they are also a team that saw their slugging % (as just one example) go down more than 30 points against lefties compared to righties last season. There are five guys on the Braves roster with 20 or more at-bats against Price, and not one of them is hitting better than Markakis’ .275/.309/.353 slash line. He is bound to strike guys out in this one, and the matchup seems to indicate he’ll be able to go deep in the game as well, making him one of my favorite plays of the night.
3) Edinson Volquez – KC @ LAA – $8,200 – – A guy like Volquez could be an integral part of your lineup-building process tonight. On a night when the top starters are all really enticing, a mid-range option like Volquez is the kind of guy you could use with an even more expensive ace to give you a great pair of starters without completely blowing your budget. The downside is that I could see a pretty high ownership in this one. The Angels aren’t an offense that should scare you any more, with the third fewest runs scored in the majors, and the second-worst slugging . He’ll likely begin to regress back from his 1.46 ERA and 1.10 WHIP at some point, but tonight doesn’t feel like that night.
“For all the things Arizona does well on offense, they definitely get their cuts in, which so far has led to 169 strikeouts in 21 games”
4) Carlos Martinez – STL @ ARI – $8,900 – – He has won his first three starts, accumulating 16 punch-outs and giving up only 13 hits so far on the year (in 20 innings). Pitching against Shelby Miller, his chances of earning victory #4 are definitely improved, but with a career K/9 rate over 8.5, he has demonstrated in the past that he doesn’t necessarily need to earn a win to bring you some fantasy value. And for all the things Arizona does well on offense, they definitely get their cuts in, which so far has led to 169 strikeouts in 21 games, good for 7th-most in baseball.
5) Rich Hill – OAK @ DET – $7,700 – – In his four starts, he has two with single-digit fantasy points, and two with 30+. But so far, even in the games he’s lost, he has been striking batters out at a rate no one really expected. With 29 K’s in 19 innings (K/9 rate over 13.7), the potential is there for a huge game if he can get through 5 or 6 innings. In his last outing, he went six against the Yankees, racking up ten punchouts and giving up only one run on 104 pitches. The Tigers won last night to open the series, but they are more susceptible than you might think here in the early going. They’re only 13th in runs scored and 11th in total strikeouts.
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6) Johnny Cueto – SFG vs. SD – $10,700 – – Cueto was handed his first loss of the season last time out, despite having a quality start against the Diamondbacks (3 runs in 7 innings). But W-L records can be deceiving for a pitcher – he won two weeks ago in LA despite giving up six runs in seven innings, on ten hits. But he did put up 16 DKFP in that game, combining a W with 8 K’s. A few of the Padres have a great track record against him, so it is entirely possible that he gives up a few runs again this time around (which is why he got bumped down the list), but they also have the fourth-most strikeouts in the majors so far. And since Cueto has already shown that even in a “bad” outing, he has the potential to strike out a half-dozen or more guys and earn a win, which makes him the kind of upside play you probably want to slot into at least one or two tournament lineups.
“Frankly, I just don’t think $900 is quite enough separation between him and Kershaw . . .”
#7) Max Scherzer – WAS vs. PHI – $12,900 – – He put up 28.2 DKFP on the road against Philly ten days ago, striking out seven while allowing five hits and one walk. He’s pushed down the list a bit tonight for one reason: $12,900. Frankly, I just don’t think $900 is quite enough separation between him and Kershaw. If I am going to spend up that big for my first pitcher, I am finding that extra $900 somewhere. But if you just can’t manipulate your lineup to fit Kershaw in there, Scherzer has as much upside as anyone, facing one of the lowest-scoring, highest-strikeout teams in baseball. But with nothing but games against the Braves, Phillies and Marlins so far on the year, I wouldn’t blame you if you have been expecting better than two wins in his first four starts and only 23 strikeouts in 25 innings. My expectation here is that the price tag and the last performance keeps the ownership % low, which could make him a very appealing tournament play.
8) Ricky Nolasco – MIN vs. CLE – $6,700 – – It’s hard to get away from the more expensive pitchers on the board on a night when there are so many of them available – you don’t want to be putting yourself in a hole. But Nolasco, for $6,700, has 20+ DKFP in two of his first three starts, which, if he can repeat it, is enough to end up being pretty comparable to a number of guys priced a lot higher. The upside might not be there, which makes him less safe in tournaments, but he has gone at least six innings in every start, averaging 5 K’s per outing, and is sporting a sub-3.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP so far, all of which tell me that at this point in the season, he is more than safe enough for cash game lineups.
9) Brandon Finnegan – CIN @ NYM – $6,300 – – Of course he wasn’t going to keep up the pace he set in his first two starts of the year, so it was no big surprise to see him revert back to the mean a bit in his last outing, a one-sided loss to the Cubs. He was facing Arrieta in the midst of a no-hitter opposite him, which couldn’t have been great for his confidence, so he will look to get back on track against a Mets team that has scored 40 fewer runs than the Cubs so far on the year. With three straight quality starts before that last outing, and going against a Mets team with more strikeouts than hits so far this season, he has the kind of cheap upside that could play in any type of contest.
10) Kyle Hendricks – CHC vs. MIL – $8,600 – – He has pitched three games, all against offenses that have put up better numbers than the Brewers so far this season. And in those three starts, he has given the Cubs a chance to win three times, even if he only has the one win to show for it. His upside is somewhere just north of 20 DKFP, so he might not be the the tournament play you’re looking for, but if you want six innings and five K’s with a chance at the win, he’s your guy. For $8,600 he’s not going to break the bank either. His 15:3 K/BB ratio might not be sexy, but it does show a guy with the ability to stay out of really bad situations, and that’s exactly what you want in a cash game option.