With a full slate and a bunch of top options going Tuesday night, how you spend your salary on pitching will go a long way towards determining what your roster looks like, and, ultimately, how successful you are. Here are the ten pitchers I like most, ranked according to value at their price, not just total projected fantasy points.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Chris Sale – CWS @ KC – $12,200 – The Royals have been basically the worst offense in the league since the All-Star break, scoring just 74 runs (same as the White Sox, incidentally, but almost 20 fewer than the Braves, for comparison). They are not likely to improve on their .264/.312/.396 collective numbers for the year in this matchup either, as Sale comes into the game with a 14-5 record, and the 3.12 ERA and 1.02 WHIP to back it up. He doesn’t have a win since July 2nd despite three straight quality starts, so you know he will be looking to get back on track by going deep in this one and give his offense plenty of chances to get to Edinson Volquez and the Royals’ bullpen.
2) Matt Moore – SF @ MIA – $7,900 – In what could end up being a low-scoring game, I don’t hate either starting pitcher, even if neither one of them ends up with the win. Moore is actually working on a streak of seven straight quality starts, with double digit fantasy points in each of those, and 18+ DK Fantasy Points in five of his last ten starts. At this price, that counts as consistency and upside, and he should be able to continue the trend against the Marlins.
3) Rick Porcello – BOS vs. NYY – $9,900 – Porcello broke a streak of six straight starts earning the win last time out against the Mariners, taking the loss by giving up three earned runs over eight relatively solid innings. The culprit there was the three home runs he surrendered (just four total hits), but he still managed 26.9 fantasy points on the strength of eight strikeouts. On the other side, it wouldn’t be surprising if Severino struggled to go deep into the game against the Boston offense, and the Yankees offense is far from the intimidating juggernaut it has been in years past, slashing just .238/.301/.365 since the break.
4) Marco Estrada – TOR vs. TB – $11,500 – Estrada has had plenty of exposure to the Rays since joining the AL East, and so far it has been with a fair amount of success. He has held these hitters to a collective .217 average over 74 plate appearances, giving up just 19 total baserunners while striking out 19. Coming off three straight quality starts and back-to-back victories, he’s been a big part of the reason the Blue Jays have caught up to the Orioles atop the division. While he struggled somewhat in July, his 2.98 ERA and 0.99 WHIP are among the best in the league for a reason, and if he returns to form for the stretch run, Toronto could be a tough out for either Baltimore or Boston as the season draws to a close.
5) Tom Koehler – MIA vs. SF – $8,100 – The Giants have seen their offensive production decline all season long, with their team average, slugging % and OBP all down 30+ points if you compare everything since the break to their season averages. Koehler is capable of taking advantage of and extending that trend. In his last three starts, he is 2-0 with 20 innings pitched and just two runs allowed. He has struck out 17, walked only three and allowed just ten hits. His fantasy scoring average is almost 25 points per game over that stretch, and his price tag is up almost $3,000 since mid-July, but if he can make it four in a row against an offense that has been struggling lately, expect to see his cost take another jump.
6) Max Scherzer – WAS vs. CLE – $12,900 – He has seven straight quality starts, at least seven innings in five straight, two straight victories and a K/9 rate of almost 11 since the beginning of July. His issue, for what that is, is a propensity to give up home runs more than you would expect, and Cleveland is top ten in the league at hitting them, so there is a chance he gets touched up for a few runs in this one. Cleveland’s slugging % goes up almost 80 points at home as compared to on the road, so escaping unscathed might prove exceedingly difficult. However, it is also not necessary for a guy who proves to be a workhorse even after surrendering a big hit here and there, consistently plowing through innings (almost seven per outings) and striking out plenty of batters to provide upside and consistency for any format contest, despite the price.
7) John Lackey – CHC vs. LAA – $9,400 – It is not easy to know who is going to come out on top in this matchup. The Angels’ offense has been consistent all season long, and even better lately, but Lackey has been a grinder for the Cubs all season long. He is the kind of veteran who is always going to bounce back from a tough inning, meaning that even when he gives up a few runs, he is still out there chewing up innings for the Cubs, saving the bullpen and giving their explosive offense plenty of chances to get the club a victory. He has given up a total of 16 runs in his last five starts, but is still averaging just over 18 DK Fantasy Points per game over that stretch, never going fewer than six innings and averaging just under seven K’s per outing.
8) Mike Fiers – HOU @ MIN – $6,900 – With three straight quality starts against the Angels, the Tigers and the Blue Jays, he is hoping to extend that run and earn a win against a Twins offense that all of a sudden doesn’t look all that easy to handle. Minnesota is leading the league in slugging and OPS since the break, so don’t go into this one thinking Fiers finally drew a favorable matchup, but he has had success against these hitters before, holding them to a collective .232 batting average in 83 plate appearances. With a career K/9 rate of almost 9.0, he should be able to give you some upside here against a team still well inside the top-10 in total strikeouts, provided he can avoid big trouble early on.
9) Kenta Maeda – LAD vs. PHI – $9,700 – Maeda for me has to be somewhat devalued in a format that gives points for innings pitched. So, he’s here at the bottom of the list, but he is not off it entirely because his 3.22 ERA and 1.07 WHIP have been enough to keep the Dodgers in contention and, even though he is getting you just more than five innings per outing, he is averaging a strikeout per inning. Put all that together, and 5-6 innings – just enough to give him the shot at a win – is therefore also just enough to give him time to create actual fantasy upside.
10) Wily Peralta – MIL vs. ATL – $4,000 – Matchup, and price. Sometimes going this deep for your SP2 can make spending up for a stud seem like a no-brainer, as long as you get something from your bargain-basement choice. Peralta got shelled routinely in his first 13 starts of the season, and ended up in Triple-A. He’s up tonight in place of Junior Guerra, but he certainly is drawing the right offense to try to ease his transition back to the big league club. He faced this same Braves team back in May, and went 5.1 innings to earn the win, giving up just two runs on seven hits in one of his best starts of the season. Even if it was only 14 fantasy points, anything like a duplication of that effort would make the budget you free up with this selection more than worth it.
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.