On a night with relatively few elite options, and some of the top guys facing top offenses, you’ll have some interesting choices to make. These are ten pitchers I like – to some degree, anyway – for Thursday’s slate of games, in order of the way I perceive their value relative to price, not their projected fantasy points. Good luck!

Top 5 Pitchers

RankPitcherTeamOPPSalary
1.Nathan EovaldiNYYHOU$8,200
2.Tanner RoarkWASMIA$7,000
3.Danny SalazarCLEBOS$9,700
4.Hector SantiagoLAATEX$7,800
5.Derek HollandTEXLAA`$8,600

Analysis

1) Nathan Eovaldi – NYY vs. HOU – $8,200 – – Houston may have been able to put up runs last year, but they also racked up the second highest number of strikeouts as a team in the majors. Eovaldi faced them twice last season, both after Correa joined the lineup, and went a total of 14 innings while striking out 13 and allowing only three earned runs. The Yankees’ 26-year-old hard-throwing righty is going to get plenty of starts this season if things go to plan, and he will look to start the season off on the right foot in this one.

april 7 eovaldi

2) Tanner Roark – Was vs. Mia – $7,000 – – After a 2014 campaign that saw him post a 1.09 WHIP and 2.85 ERA, he was bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen last year, and it did not go well. But he is slotted back into the rotation this time around, and so far anyway, he has responded well. Of course, “so far” at this point means spring training, which is hard to trust, but if you were going to trust a spring statistic, one earned run in 14 innings isn’t a bad place to start. Facing a Miami team that has been near the bottom of the league in runs scored for the past few years, this first start should be a good chance to get his feet under him and start the 2016 year off right as the Nationals’ fourth starter.

3) Danny Salazar – Cle vs. Bos – $9,700 – – The downside: he is a strikeout pitcher facing a team that never strikes out. He is facing the Red Sox, which means he is drawing one of the most patient offenses in the league, and therefore the one most likely to get a starter out of them game early. They also score a lot of runs, against everyone, so there is a chance they don’t just wait him out, they actually hammer him. And last time we saw him he was taking a line drive off his pitching arm. But with a slate of pitchers available to you, he can’t just not be on the list, so, the upside: he faced Boston twice last season, threw a total of 12.1 innings, gave up two total runs, struck out 11 and secured two victories. Both starts came down the stretch against a crumbling Red Sox team… but they both counted.

april 7 salazar

4) Hector Santiago – LAA vs. Tex – $7,800 – – Overall last year, the Rangers were third in total number of runs scored, and middle-of-the-road in terms of strikeouts. But against lefties? Against left-handed pitching, no one struck out more times, or scored fewer runs, than the Rangers. That’s right – they led the league in K’s and were dead last in runs. After a good spring training, Santiago will look to take advantage of those lefty splits and notch an early quality start.

5) Derek Holland – Tex @ LAA – $8,600 – –  Generally speaking, Holland is coming off a solid spring that hopefully shows he is ready to contribute to the Rangers’ rotation this season after a couple of years ruined by injury. He has looked great in flashes over his career, and is coming off a final spring training outing in which he had seven K’s in five innings against the Cubs. He is pitching in Angel Stadium, one of the most favorable for pitchers in the entire majors last year, perhaps partially because the Angels hit .232 against lefties last season, and slugged only .358. But if you’re still not convinced, there is also the fact that they have also scored one run so far on the year.


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6-10 Pitchers

RankPitcherTeamOPPSalary
6.Jake PeavySFLAD$8,000
7.John LackeyCHCARI$8,300
8.Adam ConleyMIAWAS$7,300
9.Joe KellyBOSCLE$6,300
10.Rubby De La RosaARICHC$7,100

Analysis

6) Jake Peavy – SF vs. LAD – $8,000 – – He didn’t have a great spring, but he didn’t need to – he has been around a long time, and as long as he is in shape coming into the regular season, you should assume he is the same guy he was last year. And for the last year and a half, since leaving the AL East and the Red Sox, he has been a pitcher who can come in with a sub-1.1 WHIP and an ERA under 3.50. The Dodgers have scored 25 runs in three games, but Peavy could be just the guy to slow them down – he has a relatively long history against a few of their hitters, and no one stands out as having had any real success against him in the past.

7) John Lackey – ChC @ Ari – $8,300 – – He is basically the same pitcher he was last year, but on a better team. That by itself should make him a better fantasy option, but it’s hard to tell if that starts tonight in Arizona. The Diamondbacks lost two of three to Colorado in Arizona to start the season, but they did put up just over 6 runs per game in doing so. Lackey doesn’t have any kind of extensive history to study against Arizona’s hitters, either. So fall back on this: in 33 starts last year, only four times did Lackey fail to go six innings, and that consistent ability to keep his team in games meant that he was consistently providing at least some fantasy return as well. You could do a lot worse, especially in a cash game.

8) Adam Conley – Mia @ Was – $7,300 – – The other half of a matchup between promising young pitchers, Conley got 11 starts under his belt last season. I feel like he might be more expensive than Roark just by virtue of him being too young for us to have seen him fail yet, but there is potential here. Down the stretch last year he piled up almost 8 K’s per nine innings, and he has pitched well this spring, so the hope would be he picks up where he left off and improves from there.

“He picked up right where he left off this spring, earning the third spot in the rotation with a 2.63 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 24 innings…”

9) Joe Kelly – Bos @ Cle – $6,300 – – The 27-year-old threw 134 innings for the Red Sox last year, and threw harder than he ever had before. After his August 1 outing against Detroit last season, he had five straight quality starts, and all together, ended the year on a strong note. He picked up right where he left off this spring, earning the third spot in the rotation with a 2.63 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 24 innings. The matchup with Salazar might seem lopsided on paper, but this one could end up a lot closer than you might think at first glance.

10) Rubby De La Rosa – Ari vs. ChC – $7,100 – – He makes this spot on the list basically just because someone does. I don’t love him as an option, but I like him more than the other guys left on the list. At leas the Cubs strike out a lot (tenth most in the majors last year), which gives him some upside, but as I like some cheaper options more, I don’t think he will find his way onto many (any?) of my fantasy lineups tonight.