With a full slate of games, and six pitchers priced at over $10,000, you will have to decide how big you want to go with your starting pitchers. Whether you think you can find the cheap gem who will perform like an ace, or rely on a pair of studs and make up ground with your hitting, there are going to be tough choices to make at every price level. Here are the ten pitchers I like most according to value at their price, not simply total projected fantasy points.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Jamie Garcia – STL vs. COL – $9,200 – – He is averaging more than a strikeout per inning, has a WHIP under 1.00 and is pitching for the third-highest scoring team in baseball. Milwaukee, for their part, score enough runs to give themselves a shot most nights, but also strike out more than any teams except the Astros and Padres. For these reasons, I like Garcia in this spot tonight.
2) Clayton Kershaw – LAD vs. LAA – $13,700 – – The head of a deep pitching class tonight, Kershaw has two complete-game shutouts worth 50+ DKFP each in just his last three starts, and has 29 or more fantasy points in four of five. That range constitutes the ceiling for most of these guys – hence the price tag. With five straight double-digit strikeout games, it’s as if he is starting with a floor of 20 points or more, which is why you’re paying here for something that makes sense. So far, he is the most consistent pitcher in baseball, who also happens to have the highest upside.
3) Juan Nicasio – PIT vs. ATL – $7,300 – – On a night with a plethora of good pitchers in favorable matchups, along with a bunch of mediocre-to-terrible pitchers with bad matchups, it’s going to be really tempting to spend big on the position. Nicasio, though, is by far my favorite option on the bottom half of the board, and someone I’ll likely consider in any lineup where I would prefer to save some money on at least one of my pitchers. His ERA of 4.34 and 1.26 WHIP are respectable, but his numbers at home are even more impressive: 23.1 innings in four starts, 24 K’s, 1.07 WHIP and an ERA of 3.09. Facing a Braves team that is still the lowest-scoring in the majors by 15 runs (a gap that only seems to be widening), he seems to me to obviously be the safest inexpensive choice available to you.
“The Padres have struck out the second most times in MLB so far this season”
4) Madison Bumgarner – SF @ SD – 12,500 – – He’s throwing very well lately, striking out batters more than anyone in the league but Kershaw, with 60 so far on the season. And on top of that, the lefty is working on a streak of five straight going more than six innings and giving up no more than two runs. Not surprisingly, his floor over that span has been 18 DKFP. The Padres have struck out the second most times in MLB so far this season, and they are not likely to gain any ground in that category tonight.
5) Kyle Hendricks – CHC @ MIL – $8,400 – – In 64 career at-bats against the Brewers’ hitters, Hendricks has a 16:2 K:BB ratio, which helps explain the .141/.176/.156 line the Milwaukee bats have against him, collectively. He K/9 rate for this season is just under 8, and in a matchup he likes, I would expect matching that number to be his floor. He isn’t as flashy as the guys priced ahead of him tonight, but he’s a guy you’d consider for the top spot in your pitching pair some nights, and could prove to be a useful mid-tier option tonight.
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6) Noah Syndergaard – NYM vs. WAS – $11,400 – – A big part of the reason Scherzer isn’t higher on the list is that Max would need to be on his game to give the Nationals a chance at a win because Syndergaard hasn’t shown an “off” switch so far this year. Every start but one has been a quality start, and his K/9 rate well over 10.0 means the only thing surprising about his price is that he isn’t the most expensive option on the board. Never mind the pitcher he’s facing, he is going up against a Mets lineup he has limited to only 15 baserunners in 58 plate appearances in his career.
7) Rick Porcello – BOS @ KC – $9,500 – – He has earned his price tag with a strikeout per inning so far this year, and he’s earning those wins with a 3.11 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. Each of his last six games has been a quality start, and while that has included matchups against the Yankees and Braves, it’s also included games against Toronto, and frankly, at 28th in the league in runs scored, the Royals aren’t a matchup to intimidate you away from a pitcher you like right now.
8) Cole Hamels – TEX @ OAK – $10,500 – – The sixth most expensive pitcher on the board at $10,500, Hamels is coming off back-to-back 9-strikeout performances against the White Sox and the Tigers. Oakland tends not to strike out quite as often as either of those opponents, but with their OBP under .300, Hamels should be able to make up for any lost fantasy value by going deep in the game and giving himself a shot at the W.
“Last time out, Scherzer matched the MLB record with twenty strikeouts”
9) Max Scherzer – WAS @ NYM – $12,700 – – Speaking of upside with these top options, last time out, Scherzer matched the MLB record with twenty strikeouts. TWENTY. My apologies to Tigers fans. Hopefully though, that dominating performance will lead to him getting back on track after what has been a pretty up and down start to the season. But with a K/nine rate of just over 11.4, and facing a team in the top 10 of most strikeouts in the majors, even his “down” performances could easily have plenty of fantasy value.
10) Marcus Stroman – TOR vs. TB – $11,000 – – I think having won nine straight decisions automatically makes him a strong consideration in a cash game, where you want to make sure you have the most consistent, predictable players possible on your squad. Nine straight is certainly both consistent and predictable. Toronto has scored a few runs to support him through a few of those wins, but he has only allowed 3 or more runs four times in that entire streak.