Tuesday’s 13-game slate is a mixed bag of late afternoon (six) and evening (seven) games, so you’ll have a plethora of contests to choice from today on DraftKings. For the sake of this articles, I’m going to be highlighting the day’s top-10 pitching options, regardless of when they play. If you’re new or if you have any last-minute questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
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.
☀ = Pitcher in Day Game Today
★ = Pitcher in Night Game Today
Top 5 Pitchers
★ #1) Stephen Strasburg – WSH vs. ATL – $11,200 – – I can understand why some would be hesitant to pull the trigger on Stephen Strasburg when you’re on the clock in a draft, but this is Daily Fantasy. Not only is it the far superior way to play fantasy baseball, but in this scenario it mitigates that risk that comes with owning Strasburg. The big right-hander finished the season with a 10-game stretch that could rival any of his peers. He struck out 37.2% of batter while maintaining elite control and a sub-2 ERA. While Strasburg’s opponent, the Braves, don’t have strikeout totals that mirror their overall terribleness, they’re definitely not a team that we need to fear when considering the services Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday.
☀ #2) Patrick Corbin – ARZ vs. COL – $7,600 – – The combination of an excellent spring and a strong finish to the 2015 season has made Patrick Corbin quite ‘buzzy’ this preseason. He gets a favorable matchup to begin the season as the visiting Rockies were the worst offense in the league against left-handed pitchers last season (66 wRC+) by a sizable margin. Corbin has enough strikeout upside to make him appealing, and his sub-5 BB% helps him work deeper into games, an undervalued asset in DFS.
☀ #3) Jose Fernandez – MIA vs. DET – $11,700 – – I’m interested to see if the Marlins coaching staff limits Jose Fernandez’s innings early in the season, something that they’ve stated they’d like to do in 2016. That constant fear of the earlier-than-expected hook will make it challenging to rely on the 23-year old Fernandez this season. The matchup against the Tigers isn’t one we’ll typically attack, but Fernandez is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the league and averaged 11.07 K/9 last season in 64 IP.
☀ #4) Carlos Carrasco – CLE vs. BOS – $10,000 – – All signs point to Carlos Carrasco improving on his 2015 season just by simply doing what he did in 2015. Huh? What in the world…? Well, Carrasco has a devastating four pitch arsenal that resulted in a top-10 FIP and the fourth best K and K-BB% in the game. He was victimized by bad batted balls, especially at home, and if he takes even the smallest step forward in 2016 he’s going to be an $11,000+ pitcher this season. The Red Sox lineup is a handful, but the strikeout upside here is exceptionally high.
☀ #5) Clay Buchholz – BOS vs. CLE – $8,200 – – Clay Buchholz leaned heavily on a revamped changeup last season and it lead to stellar results. Some will forget how well he pitched in 2015 because his season ended in July, but his 2.68 FIP and near-18% K-BB rate showed that it was no fluke. The knock on Buchholz is his inability to throw 150+ innings consistently, but he’s worth a look in a favorable pitcher’s park while he’s healthy.
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★ #6) Carlos Rodon – CWS vs. OAK – $9,000 – – Carlos Rodon hasn’t shown himself to be a cash game consideration yet, but he has the arsenal to pile up the strikeouts that we so desire in fantasy. Rodon leaned heavily on his exception slider, throwing it nearly 31% of the time in 2015 while holding hitter’s to a .160 against the pitch. As he continues to develop the rest of his arsenal and improve him command, Rodon has an extremely high ceiling and makes for an intriguing GPP play every fifth day.
★ #7) Kenta Maeda – LAD vs. SD – $9,200 – – There’s a lot to like about Kenta Maeda this season, but I don’t love his price on Wednesday. I’ll be interested to see what the masses think of Maeda after a nice spring and a perceived favorable matchup on the road in San Diego. There’s no doubt that Maeda has showed well so far and all indications are that his top shelf command will continue to be his best asset, but most projections don’t seem to think he’ll have elite level swing-and-miss stuff that he’ll need to pay off this salary on most nights. I’m going with the wait-and-see approach on Maeda today.
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★ #8) Juan Nicasio – PIT vs. STL – $6,000 – – I’m drinking a tall glass of Ray Searage Kool-aid here, and it’s delicious. Searage, the Pirates pitching coach, is generally regarded as one of the best in the business and it appears he has helped Juan Nicasio harness his elite fastball which propelled Nicasio into one of Pittsburgh’s starting rotation spots for 2016. The 95+ mph offering will be featured down and in more than in the past, and that subtle change helped Nicasio have one the game’s best spring training performances on the mound. The matchup isn’t great, but both the dirt-cheap price and favorable park play into our favor.
★ #9) Michael Pineda – NYY vs. HOU – $9,100 – – Michael Pineda’s 2015 season was a tale of two half’s in a number of ways, but he flashed elite skills before hitting an innings wall that he hadn’t approached in his four prior seasons. The Astros have one of the league’s best lineups, but their 23% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching was the second highest in the league last season. Pineda has the ability to finish with a K-per-9 in this one.
★ #10) Sonny Gray – OAK vs. CWS – $9,500 – – I think it’s wise to proceed with caution here. Sonny Gray missed his turn on Opening Day with what’s being reported as food poisoning, a bout that was strong enough to send Gray to the hospital. A few IV’s and a day off later, he’s set to take the ball against an improved White Sox lineup. There’s some tournament appeal here since the majority of DFS’ers will fade Gray due to his recent ailment, so if you’re looking for an underowned option, Gray is your play.