With only seven games on tap for Thursday’s evening slate, your options are more limited than usual. So here are the ten pitchers I like most, but by the time you get to the end of the list, that doesn’t necessarily mean much. You can assume anyone not listed would be numbers 11-14, in some order, ranked according to value at their price not just total projected fantasy points. Good luck.
Top 5 Pitchers
#1) Steven Wright – Bos vs. Min – $9,300 – – Wright looked sharp in his first start of the second half, but conventional wisdom says the knuckler can leave you from one pitch to the next, never mind one start. But at some point, you have to trust what you’re seeing: 11 wins, a 2.78 ERA, enough swinging strikes to get him a 7.35 K/9 rate, and 120 innings in 18 starts (that’s an average of 6 2/3 per outing). At an $1,100 savings over Wainwright he might not have quite the upside, but he has proven himself to be consistent enough to be an obvious building block piece tonight.
#2) Adam Wainwright – StL vs. SD – $10,400 – – One of two of the clear top options tonight, alongside Wright. It is entirely likely that if you pass on these two guys to save money, there actually is no other “right” choice – no other option you could pick that will make up the points for you. Wainwright has the right matchup with San Diego, as the Padres are near the top of the league in total strikeouts. Wainwright is on a run of three straight wins right now, having allowed just one run in a total of 23 innings across those three contests. He has 30+ point upside and barring a real anomaly of a start for him, either the highest or second-highest floor of all the pitchers going tonight as well.
#3) James Shields – CWS vs. Det – $6,400 – – His K/9 rate of just 6.33 obviously limits his fantasy value, but with limited options he could make for a very effective cash game consideration tonight. He is coming off four straight quality starts, including his first game out of the break, with the semi-rare complete game in which he only had to throw eight innings. The Tigers aren’t the best matchup on paper, but they are scuffling a bit out of the gate with just 16 runs scored so far in six games since the break.
#4) Sonny Gray – Oak vs. TB – $6,100 – – He has four quality starts over his last five outings, but still only topped out around 20 DKFP. It is not realistic to expect much more than that from him, but he has had a lot of success against Tampa Bay hitters over the years, making him a worthwhile consideration for cash games. At this price, he can’t kill you, and he might actually be able to help, facing a group of hitters who have hit just .206 against him over the course of 138 plate appearances.
#5) Chad Bettis – Col vs. Atl – $5,900 – – The game is in Colorado, so your natural inclination might be to want to avoid pitching, but not even Coors Field can coax any real power out of the Braves. They currently have 58 home runs, which is not only the fewest in the majors, it is 21 full home runs fewer than the team with the second-least and a sort of amazing 84 home runs fewer than the league-leading Orioles. Bettis has two straight quality starts, including 6.2 strong innings against this Braves team just five days ago.
#6) Jerad Eickhoff – Phi vs. Mia – $7,300 – – He is going against Koehler, so you can hope for decent run support, and at this price a quality start and a win is more than enough to return some value. And he has had six of those quality starts in his last nine, earning the win four times. He bounced back nicely from getting shelled in Coors Field with six strong innings against the Mets last time out. There is no reason to think he can’t do it again facing a Miami team that requires a bunch of baserunners to score runs, coming in 8th in the league in OBP and just 20th in slugging.
#7) Francisco Liriano – Pit vs. Mil – $6,800 – – If nothing else, he is still striking out just under a batter an inning, and facing one of the teams most inclined to strike out in the entire majors. Just last night, the Brewers edged out the Astros for most strikeouts so far on the season as a team – they must be so proud. He is not going deep enough in games to have real upside, mainly because his K:BB (1.5) rate is not as impressive as his K/9 (8.48). But without a lot of other options tonight, even five or six innings of his strikeout potential makes him an option to at least consider.
#8) *Tyler Duffey – Min @ Bos – $5,100 – He faced the Red Sox once before, and it did not go well. He is a low-end option facing one of the best offenses in baseball, so he probably only gets a mention here on a slow night like tonight. But he could make for an interesting choice to fill out your second pitching slot in a bigger GPP, considering he has posted 30+ DKFP twice in his last four starts. Those two games, which came on the road against the Rangers and the Yankees, featured one run and 17 K’s in 14 innings, and if he can bring that kind of stuff to the table tonight he could easily sneak up on even the best of lineups.
#9) Matt Moore – TB @ Oak – $7,600 – – On a night where the options are few and far between, Moore makes the list for two reasons. The first is that the next six guys listed (or not listed) probably shouldn’t crack a roster. The second is that Moore, as the third highest priced option on the board and someone with four straight quality starts, could be an enticing option when you’re trying to save a little bit of room in the budget. But the A’s actually improve against lefties, slugging 24 points higher and have been hitting well against everyone of late, making Moore a riskier option to me than he might appear otherwise.
#10) Matt Garza – Mil @ Pit – $5,600 – – Foltynewicz in Colorado, Tom Koehler with no more than 2.5 fantasy points in his last four starts, Andrew Cashner who could be traded at any moment, and Mike Pelfrey. These are the names behind him, just for reference, if you’re wondering why he made the list. But if you need something to hold on to, some kind of stat in support of Garza instead of against these other guys, it’s this: in 89 total plate appearances against Garza, as a team, the Pirates are hitting a collective .217 with just six extra base hits.
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.