With only fourteen total pitchers available for Thursday’s evening slate of games, any top-ten list is taking a look at some pretty deep cuts. Nonetheless, here are the ten pitchers I like most. These rankings are based on value at a player’s price, not just total projected fantasy points.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) J.A. Happ – TOR @ HOU – $11,600 – The options thin out so fast tonight, that grabbing a guy with a 14-3 record, 3.16 ERA and 1.16 WHIP just feels like the right move. If nothing else, you are paying for safety. He is, far and away, the best pitching option on the board tonight in my opinion, and from a fantasy perspective, the matchup is just what you’re typically hoping for. Even if the Astros can get to him for a few runs, they also have the third most strikeouts in the league, which should help Happ reach the top of his scoring potential. His K/9 rate of 7.62 is enough as is to allow him to record 25 or more fantasy points in four of his last five starts (and 30+ in three of those).
2) Tyrell Jenkins – ATL vs. PIT – $4,700 – He is 24 years old, playing with a terrible offense supporting him, and he has three big league starts. But, he’s really, really cheap, and in two of those three starts he went six innings, giving up just two runs in Cincinnati in his first start and throwing six shutout innings against Philly last time out. In between, he was in Colorado. If you give him a pass there and look at the matchup with a Pirates team that is slugging just .360 since the break (bottom five in the league), he becomes pretty intriguing on a night with so few quality options.
3) Nathan Eovaldi – NYY vs. NYM – $7,300 – On a night when the best pitchers available are dealing with difficult offenses and there aren’t a lot options to choose from, this one is more about matchup than anything. The Mets have been one of the more anemic offenses in the league, hitting right around .240 consistently, all season long. For his part, Eovaldi has thrown two straight quality starts, with ten strikeouts in 12.2 innings against the Giants and the Rays. He has been averaging just under six innings per start all season long, consistently going deep enough in games to give himself a shot at the win.
4) Bartolo Colon – NYM @ NYY – $6,600 – There have been a fair amount of runs scored in this series so far, but there is an outside chance this one could turn into something of a surprising pitchers duel. Colon clearly isn’t the safest option, and has allowed a .340 average in 153 at-bats facing these Yankees. His spot on the list says a lot about your options, but there is definitely some upside. The Yankees have managed a 10-9 record since the break, but they have done it despite hitting just .230/.294/.354 and averaging just over three runs per game. Colon has been a clear upside play all season long, and it continues tonight, making him a reasonable choice for a GPP lineup.
5) Drew Pomeranz – BOS @ SEA – $9,400 – The Red Sox have only scored seven runs in the first three games of this series, and you know Pomeranz is hoping they can turn that around and give him a little bit of run support for his fourth start with the club. He is 0-2 since joining, although he did have one solid start against the Tigers, and he is taking the field on a night when the Sox would very much like to leave town with a win. Unfortunately, he has only been averaging just over 85 pitches per outing so far in his stint with Boston, so it doesn’t seem like he has fully earned their trust to get them deep into a game and start vying for wins.
6) Ariel Miranda – SEA vs. BOS – $4,000 – A left hander who can throw in the mid-90’s, Miranda is being called up today from AAA to face the league’s most prolific offense. Maybe he’s the remedy for what’s been ailing the Red Sox offense over the past few days. But there is no doubt that an unknown commodity can sometimes manage to flummox an offense, at least the first time through a lineup. And for $4,000, a few solid innings is all you need to make the investment potentially worth it.
7) Mike Fiers – HOU vs. TOR – $6,500 – He’s got back-to-back quality starts against the Tigers and the Angels, and for me he represents really the last guy on the list I would even consider wanting to start on my team, realistically. I don’t think he is going to finish this game with negative points. So there’s that. If you want to dig deep and rest on a minuscule sample size, he has faced five of these Blue Jays hitters a total of 19 times in his career. In those 19 plate appearances, Barney, Encarnacion, Bautista, Martin and Thole have combined to go 2-for-18 with two singles and one walk.
8) A.J. Griffin – TEX @ BAL – $5,900 – He consistently throws either four of five innings per start. He has 54 K’s in 67.2 innings. He has given up 10 home runs in 13 starts. And if this doesn’t sound like an endorsement, it isn’t. But he is 4-1 on the year, and there is no question that the possibility is there for the Rangers to shell Wade Miley. The Orioles are inside the top-10 in the league in strikeouts and are slugging under .350 since the All-Star break, so you’re looking for him to finish the fifth inning and you get upside in the range of something like 12-15 fantasy points for your roster.
9) Wade Miley – BAL vs. TEX – $6,700 – Making his debut for the Orioles tonight, he’s got plenty of experience in the AL East, but not all of it good. The Rangers have an OPS of .775 against lefties, and have hit Miley at better than a .320 clip over his career, so I don’t know how pleased Baltimore fans are going to be with their new acquisition. He was 7-8 with a 4.98 ERA with the Mariners so far this season, and isn’t striking out enough batters to have any real upside. With a few cheaper guys higher on the list, it’s not likely he would ever make it into one of my lineups tonight.
10) Ryan Vogelsong – PIT @ ATL – $7,500 – This is where we’re at with the pitching options tonight – a guy coming off an injury who is probably going to be in the bullpen before too long. But for tonight, he’s getting the ball and he is facing the Braves. Even if his pitch count is limited, he could potentially make them count in this matchup. But mainly I just really, really don’t want to start the guys I didn’t name here. I don’t love any of these last three options, so they are ranked just cheapest to most expensive.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.