With a full 15-game slate on Tuesday night, deciding where to allocate your salary is a tough decision; do I pony up for pitching or go cheap and save up for bats? The price of the best pitching options might go a long way towards helping with that decision, so here are my ten favorite pitchers of the night, ranked according to value at their cost, not just total projected fantasy points.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Kyle Hendricks – CHC @ PHI – $10,800 – He has a 4-4 record, but he has a 2.84 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, a K/9 rate over 7 and the third best offense in the league backing him up. Those stats and that record don’t make a lot of sense together, until you look closer at his game log and see that outside of one game where he went 5.2 innings and gave up one run but earned a loss, he has deserved every loss he’s taken. He has been a guy with serious peaks and valleys already in the young season, but tonight he gets the Phillies, so hopefully we get to see his record take a well-deserved step in the right direction.
2) Adam Conley – MIA @ MIN – $7,600 -* – Minnesota is bottom five in the league in runs scored, and number six in terms of most strikeouts, making them something of the perfect fantasy matchup for an opposing pitcher. Minnesota is actually worse against lefties, striking out at a higher rate (28% K rate against southpaws) and hitting for an average about 10 points lower. Conley will look to take advantage coming off his best game since the end of April, having just gone six innings against the Pirates, giving up two hits and no runs while striking out nine.
3) Mike Leake – STL @ CIN – $7,000 – He’s got John Lamb pitching opposite and the third highest-scoring offense in the majors backing him up. That, combined with five straight quality starts, has allowed him to go 4-1 and average just about 18 DKFP (DraftKings Fantasy Points) per game in May (just north of 20 over his last five starts only) despite a K/9 rate under 6 for the season.
4) Cole Hamels – TEX vs. HOU – $10,300 – On May 22nd, Hamels put up 37.8 DKFP against this very same Houston lineup, and if he gave you 80% of that tonight, you would still be psyched about the return on your investment. The Astros lead the league in strikeouts by more than 30, and got sat down 11 times by Hamels in that outing just about two weeks ago. He has to be careful about giving up the long ball, as he has surrendered nine of them in his last five starts, but even if the Astros manage solid contact here and there, he should induce enough swing and misses to give you at least some kind of fantasy return – especially if the Rangers offense can get to Keuchel and give Hamels something of a cushion to grab a win.
5) Steven Matz – NYM @ PIT – $9,900 – The only issue here is matchup – among all the top options tonight, the Pirates definitely present the stiffest challenge. Matz has never faced any of these batters before, and with no history to fall back on, you’re left just hoping that Matz is a worse matchup for Pittsburgh than the other way around. His ownership percentage could be down, though, and the upside is definitely there (30+ DKFP in three of his last five starts), making him a good option for at least one of your lineups in larger tournaments tonight.
6) Zack Greinke – ARI vs. TB – $11,900 – Greinke is now 7-3 after picking up wins in each of his last four starts, performing more like the ace Arizona was expecting. His last start was his best of the year, as he went seven innings and recorded 11 K’s without giving up a run. If there’s been a weak spot this season for him, it’s the home run ball, with nine allowed overall. Facing off against the MLB team with the most home runs, that’s the weakness that bumped him a bit further down the list than usual for me tonight.
7) Zach Davies – MIL vs. OAK – $7,400 – The 23-year-old is coming off the best start of his career, and when that happens I feel obliged to point it out. If a young kid is going to catch fire, getting on board early can be the key to plenty of DFS success, making him a great play in bigger tournaments tonight. He just threw eight innings of shutout ball against one of the best offenses in baseball, recording nine strikeouts in the process and earning his second consecutive home win. He’ll look to make that three as the Brewers host the A’s tonight.
8) Aaron Sanchez – TOR @ DET – $10,500 – The Tigers offense seemed to be slumping for much of the past month or so, but over their last four games, they have scored a total of 33 runs, including a 11-0 drubbing of the Blue Jays last night. In other words, this doesn’t seem to be as great a matchup as it might have three weeks ago. But, Sanchez still comes into the contest boasting a K/9 rate right around 8.0 with at least six K’s in each of his last four starts and 20 or more DKFP in three of his last five. There is enough downside here for me to let him slide down the rankings, but on a night without very many attractive and inexpensive options, he still has as much potential as anyone.
9) Eddie Butler – COL @ LAD – $4,600 – Sometimes when you’re trying to save on pitching, it’s best to just save a LOT and hope for the best. You are certainly giving yourself a little more of a margin for error when picking your hitters by leaving yourself this much room in the budget. In games away from Coors Field this season, Butler has a win, two quality starts, an ERA of 2.66 (5.65 overall), a WHIP of 0.93 (1.78 at home), and an average of more than 11 DKFP per outing.
10) Joe Ross – WAS @ CWS – $9,700 – He has thrown seven innings for the win in each of his last two starts, earning the win in both contests. That was coming off a stretch of three straight starts where he was tagged with the loss after failing to go more than six innings. If these last two starts show a return to the form he had earlier in the year, when he won three of his first five starts, he’s going to be someone to consider every time out – but for this price, I would like to see it a couple more times before I’m convinced, or he would be higher on the list.