With only two afternoon games on Thursday, there are seven left over for the evening slate. Still a slow day, but there are enough options to decide from. Below are ten of the fourteen starting pitchers you have to choose from, ranked according to how I see their value (or lack thereof) at their price point. All of this means, of course, that the pitchers not mentioned here are ranked 11-14, in some order. Good luck!
Top 5 Pitchers
#1) Gio Gonzalez – Was @ CWS – $8,900 – – Gio is the clear #1 option on the board, and he also doesn’t have to completely bust your budget, which makes him an outstanding value. Of course, the issue is that it’s obvious and you’ll be contending with everyone else picking him too. But if he’s the only pitcher who ends up dominating, popularity won’t matter. He is facing a White Sox offense that just might be the best matchup for any pitcher right now – not exactly a powerhouse all season long, they are struggling, slugging only .327 over the past week (compared to .379 on the year).
#2) Adam Wainwright – StL @ Cin – $5,600 – – I honestly considered making him my #1 choice tonight. Even with other pitchers priced low enough to feel affordable, $5,600 still represents a nice savings. He’s coming off a 7-inning, two-run, six-strikeout effort against San Francisco and will look to build on that performance in Cincinnati tonight. He has gone at least six innings in four straight and scored 18 or more DKFP (DraftKings Fantasy Points) in three of those, and for this price, that counts as both consistency and upside.
#3) Jimmy Nelson – Mil vs. NYM – $8,700 – – Prior to a terrible outing against Philly last time out, Nelson has had four straight quality starts, with a floor of 19.8 DKFP over that span. He is going to hope a matchup with the Mets – bottom five in the league in almost every offensive metric, including most strikeouts allowed – gets him back on track quickly. His extremely low BABIP (.234, 8th best in the league), combined with a 1.24 WHIP tells you that he is letting too many baserunners on base and had the potential to allow even more, so there is definite risk here long term. Nelson should be able to limit this Mets offense effectively to be a solid option this evening.
“…In 62 plate appearances total, the Yankees hitters are hitting just .170 against him over his career”
#4) Jhoulys Chacin – LAA @ NYY – $7,100 – – He has had a quality start in three of his five appearances for the Angles, but one of the two where he failed to reach that threshold was last time out, when he pitched a day early on a pitch count, lasting only five innings. But if his complete-game, four-hit victory over the Tigers in his previous start demonstrates his maximum upside, he may have as much of a chance of duplicating that performance against the Yankees as anyone. In 62 plate appearances total, the Yankees hitters are hitting just .170 against him over his career. He might not be able to match the 10 K’s, but he could keep the ball on the ground and give you a very solid fantasy performance for the cost.
#5) Josh Tomlin – Cle @ Sea – $8,200 – – Tomlin bounced back from a rough outing against Texas with a solid win over the Royals in his last start, going seven innings with just eight baserunners and one earned run allowed. That made it five quality starts in his last seven outings, and in those five games, he has averaged over 20 DKFP. He’s done that with a K/9 rate in that sample of over 6.2. His 1.10 WHIP shows that when he is pitching well, he is capable of keeping his pitch count down and chewing up innings, exactly what you want from a pitcher with mediocre strikeout potential.
#6) Marcus Stroman – Tor vs. Bal – $5,700 – – Stroman probably has the highest upside on a night-to-night basis of the guys in this price range, but he also might have the worst matchup. With a career K/9 rate just under 7.0, he has the raw ability to go for 30+ DKFP, it’s just that he has only done it once so far this season. But he has had plenty of exposure to the Orioles, of course, and in 59 plate appearances, they are hitting a collective .175 against him, and slugging only .351. An inexpensive option who could manage something like a 10-4 win in this matchup, I like him as an option with the potential to give me something like 20 DKFP.
#7) Ivan Nova – NYY vs. LAA – $5,300 – – He has scored between 14-20 DKFP in four of his last five games. Drafting him and hoping for any more than that is just not realistic, but if you’re convinced it’s a down night for pitching across the board, he could make for a serviceable option. The Yankees offense is still inconsistent, and Chacin has the potential to make securing a win really tough for Nova to do here, so you would need to be relying on the idea that he isn’t going to kill your chances: he has made it through at least six innings in each of his last four starts, with none of the big explosive innings against him that lead to negative fantasy points.
#8) Bartolo Colon – NYM @ Mil – $6,900 – – Colon just keeps plugging along. He had a couple of rough outings about three weeks ago, and you may have thought he was going to be more of a fantasy liability than anything else going forward. Then he recovered with back-to-back quality starts against the Nationals and the Dodgers, and now it’s hard to know what to think. On the one hand, his K/9 rate is under 6.0, giving you an idea of his limited upside. On the other hand, he is maintaining an ERA of 3.27, which by itself would have him higher on the list if his offense wasn’t limiting his ability at grabbing W’s.
“His biggest failure this season has been his inability to keep from giving up the long ball…”
#9) Ervin Santana – Min vs. Mia – $6,100 – – His biggest failure this season has been his inability to keep from giving up the long ball. He has allowed eight home runs in ten starts, but that includes six in his last four. He’ll be looking to break that trend against the Marlins, who currently sit with the third fewest home runs of any team in the majors (just 48). Hopefully he can find success here and it will get him on track, closer to the form he showed when he opened this season with back-to-back quality starts.
#10) Miguel Gonzalez – CWS vs. Was – $5,800 – – No one on the White Sox is doing much that’s very productive lately, and Gonzalez was relegated to a relief role a week ago, so he doesn’t seem like an obvious place to look for SP help in your lineup. But after one solid appearance out of the bullpen, he is back in the rotation in place of Carlos Rodon. Even on a night when there aren’t many pitching options to be found, the only reason to go with Gonzalez is because you think pitching performances will be down across the board, so you might as well save as much as possible. Even then, just go with Nova. But amazingly, I would go with Gonzalez over all four of the guys not on this list…