Opening Day is upon us! In this article, we’ll take a look at the top ten pitchers on this given slate. We’ll cover the early slate of games here, which features seven games. My rankings go by overall value of the pitcher, not necessarily the points said pitcher will earn. As always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
Editor’s Note: The Astros vs. Yankees games has been postponed. The players in that game will not earn fantasy points, so be sure to check your lineups.
Top 10 Pitchers: 1st-5th
#1) Felix Hernandez – SEA vs. TEX – $8,800 – The price on Hernandez is almost too good to be true. $8,800 for a team that Hernandez had a lot of success with last season feels like a bargain. In five starts last season against the Rangers, Hernandez had a 24:13 K:BB ratio while giving up only one home run.
#2) Dallas Keuchel – HOU vs. NYY – $9,000 – Again, a solid price for a pitcher with a ton of upside. Keuchel had two starts against the Yankees last season and posted a line of 16 innings giving up zero runs on nine hits and a sparkling 21:1 K:BB ratio. If you’re a BvP guy, the Yankees are 17-73 against Keuchel with a 27:4 K:BB ratio.
#3) Madison Bumgarner – SF vs. MIL – $9,200 – Believe it or not, Bumgarner has only pitched three times in Miller Park. In that span, he’s gone 21.2 IP giving up six runs (four earned) with an 18:6 K:BB ratio. His 9.6 K/9 ratio is one of the most attractive part of Bumgarners game. It also doesn’t hurt that four of the eight projected starters on the Brewers ended 2015 with a batting average below .250.
#4) Max Scherzer – WAS vs. ATL – $12,300 – I’m ranking Scherzer in the fourth spot mainly because his salary is so high. We have a ton of value on this slate that it makes it tough to justify paying up for Max. If you do decide to take the dive, it does have its benefits, as Scherzer ended 2015 with a 10.9 K/9. In his one start against the Braves last season, Scherzer threw 8.1 IP allowing two runs on five hits while striking out nine.
#5) Raisel Iglesias – CIN vs. PHI – $8,900 – Iglesias is someone I’d love to have more of, but his shaky Spring Training does cause a bit of concern. I usually never take ST into account, however, Iglesias had a late start to spring training and has yet to pitch more than three innings in three of his starts. Iglesias is primed for a big year and he looks to improve upon his 9.8 K/9 and his solid .271 wOBA against right handed batters. Against the Phillies, he could be a decent GPP flier.
Top 10 Pitchers: 6th-10th
#6) Corey Kluber – CLE vs. BOS – $8,600 – Quite nasty to see Kluber as as the sixth best option to pick on a particular night, right? I have my reasons. For one, it’s Opening Day, the cream of the crop should be on the mound. Two, the weather is supposed to be very uncooperative. Otherwise, Kluber is in a great spot here. The 25 year old is coming off a 2015 that showcased a 9.9 K/9 while holding RHB to a .238 wOBA.
#7) David Price – BOS vs. CLE– $9,800 – For reasons why Price is so low, see Corey Kluber. Weather is scaring me with this one and the price tag of $9,800 for Price is tough to swallow. It also doesn’t help that Price is pitching in what was ranked as one of the top hitters parks in the league at Progressive Field. Nonetheless, Price was fantastic on the road last season posting a 110:29 K:BB ratio giving up eight of his 17 home runs.
“…with the amount of value and names on the board, he’s not in my top five.”
#8) Cole Hamels – TEX vs. SEA– $8,400 – I actually don’t mind Hamels in this spot by any means, but with the amount of value and names on the board, he’s not in my top five. At $8,400, I don’t blame you for taking a shot on him. Hamels did have his struggles with the Mariners last season, posting 27 IP giving up 12 runs on 30 hits while carrying a 30:7 K:BB ratio. For what it’s worth, the four home runs given up to the Mariners were tied for the most given up to any team by Hamels last season.
#9) Masahiro Tanaka – NYY vs. HOU – $8,800 – I’m on the fence about Tanaka here. His price tag is a bit high I feel like, however, he is going up against the Astros, who ended the season with the second most strikeouts. The Astros averaged 8.5 strikeouts per game. On the other side, they absolutely mash the ball, possessing the second most extra base hits in the league. In a hitters park and Tanaka giving up 25 home runs last season, it’s a tough one. He might be an intriguing tournament play given both his and the opposing Astros propensity to go ‘boom or bust’.
#10) Jeremy Hellickson – PHI vs. CIN – $7,300 – Hellickson makes it here by default, as I’m not big fan of any of the remaining pitchers on the slate. The Reds were a tough team to strikeout last season, ranking 18th in the league. We also can’t count on the Phillies offense giving much for run support, making it hard to grab a W. At $7,300, a 7.5 K/9 isn’t the worst thing you could ask for.