With two afternoon games on Thursday, you’re left with nine pairings featured in the evening slate of fantasy contests. Although it’s fewer than most nights, it still leaves plenty of options across the board. With really only one or two pitching options approaching the “elite” level scheduled to go, how you spend your salary here will be crucial. 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) Rich Hill – OAK @ HOU – $11,400 – My top pick, Hill is facing a team in Houston that can score runs, but when you have an offense ranked tenth in the league against a pitcher with a 8-3 record, 2.31 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, it’s the hitters with the bad matchup, not the other way around. Add to that a K/9 rate of 10.28 facing the team chasing the Brewers for most strikeouts in the league, and you have as much consistency as you’ll find from a pitcher this season as well as, for tonight, the highest upside on the board.
2) Danny Duffy – KC vs. SEA – $9,300 – He’s facing a Seattle offense that has surprised all season long, but their slugging % does drop 20 points against lefties. But more important than the opponent in this case is the pitcher. Duffy has been on a tear, going 4-1 over his last seven starts, with a 10.67 K/9 ratio over that span. He has eight strikeouts exactly in each of his last three outings, including one against the Mets that only lasted FOUR innings. He has as much upside as anyone on the board and would be my #1 ranked option if it weren’t for how much I like Hill against the Astros.
“. . . he only has one walk with 13 K’s in these last two outings”
3) Drew Pomeranz – SD @ LAD – $11,700 – Pomeranz had a couple of rough outings in the first half of June, but his last two starts have been much better: seven innings of shutout ball for the win against the Reds followed up by seven more innings against the Yankees in which he allowed just one run but didn’t factor in the decision. The big difference has been control – he only has one walk with 13 K’s in these last two outings, and if he can find the zone like that tonight, he should be able to find success against a Dodgers lineup that is slugging just .388 overall, a figure that drops to .366 against left-handers.
4) Trevor Bauer – CLE vs. NYY – $9,900 – The hitters on the Yankees roster this season have a combined 108 plate appearances against Bauer, and are hitting only .226 against him, with just seven extra base hits. Bauer now has a very respectable 3.02 ERA after a run of seven straight quality starts was capped off by a win in his last performance, in a game he didn’t start. On just three days’ rest, he stepped into the Indians 19-inning marathon against Toronto and threw five innings of two-hit shutout ball to carry his squad through to the end. He’ll look to keep up the momentum on his normal rest tonight.
5) Bartolo Colon – NYM vs. WAS – $7,100 – He has gone at least six innings in each of his last four starts, without giving up more than two runs in any outing. He is 3-1 over that stretch, with the only loss coming against the Braves in a game where he went seven innings and gave up just one run. He’s facing the Nationals tonight, and so far in all their meetings, he has held Bryce Harper to a .188 average – 3-for-16 with three singles. And anytime a pitcher can start an outing against this lineup confident against Harper, he’s off to a good start.
6) Hyun-Jin Ryu – LAD vs. SD – $10,300 – It is never easy to trust someone in their first start off a long stint on the DL, but sometimes it is an opportunity to get him cheaper than you ever will. The big question here is what kind of pitch count he will be on, if any, since he never threw much more than 80 pitches in any rehab start, but he is a pitcher with a career K/9 ratio approaching 8.0, facing the team with the fifth most strikeouts in the majors, which means that even if he can only manage five innings or so at most, he still comes with enough upside to consider in any kind of contest.
7) Justin Verlander – DET @ TOR – $10,400 – He’s down in this half of the list not because I don’t acknowledge that he has the upside to be one of the best performers of the night, but that I don’t trust it enough to roll him out in many lineups for this price. Against Toronto, there are more expensive pitchers I expect to outperform him, and less expensive who I think can get you in the same point range in the end. But there is no denying a guy with more than a K per inning on the season (115 in 111.1 innings). For everything Toronto does well on offense, they are in the top ten in the league for most total strikeouts which gives Verlander the potential to get to 20 DKFP even in a game where he falters a bit, which provides a certain level of comfort with the investment in his arm, especially in a cash game contest.
“. . . if he can consistently hit the strike zone, he should be able to keep this offense off the base paths”
8) Lucas Giolito – WAS @ NYM – $8,100 – He had his major league debut last week, replacing the injured Joe Ross in the rotation. He gave up one hit and two walks in four innings against this same Mets lineup before he was pulled after a rain delay. He only struck out one in those four innings, but if he can consistently hit the strike zone, he should be able to keep this offense off the base paths and chew up a bunch of innings, making him at least worthy of consideration for cash game lineups.
9) Doug Fister – HOU vs. OAK – $6,600 – The cheapest pitcher on the board who I would even consider tonight, Fister will be looking to bounce back from a tough outing against the White Sox last time out. Prior to that start, though, he had gone six straight with at least six innings, and five of those were “quality starts” with only one game where he gave up four runs to take the loss against KC. Every one of those five previous netted you between 18-25 DKFP, and the low end of that range is a reasonable expectation for tonight as well, and there is always some value in just saving as much money as possible, as long as you spend it wisely elsewhere.
10) Jason Hammel – CHC vs. ATL – $7,400 – It’s really just all about the matchup here. Choices are somewhat limited tonight, and here you have the Braves, a team that is bottom three in the league in virtually every offensive category, playing on the road, where they are even worse than usual. Hammel hasn’t had a legitimately useful fantasy start in three weeks, however, so limit your expectations and try to avoid him in cash games where he has the potential to completely dash your chances of winning single-handedly.
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.