With an almost completely full 14-game slate on Tuesday night, there are bound to be tough calls to make at every position. There are several top pitching options to choose from, including a matchup between Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey at Nationals Park. These are the ten pitchers I like most, based on value at their price, not just total projected fantasy points.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Jeff Samardzija – SF vs. SD – $11,700 – San Francisco’s offense has tailed off since their hot start to the season, but pitching against Cashner in his return from the DL, you still have to like Samardzija’s chances at earning a win here. But even if he doesn’t, he is bringing his K/9 ratio of over 7.5 to the table against the team with the second most strikeouts in the majors. He has struck out eight or more batters in three of his last four outings, and just repeating that and giving the Giants seven or so innings would be good for 25 fantasy points, with the hopes that he can actually do a lot more with an extra K or two and a victory thrown in.
2) Jimmy Nelson – MIL @ ATL – $9,200 – One of my favorite starts this year, he has an ERA of 3.07 and a WHIP of 1.18 to go along with a K/9 rate over 7, all of which gives you a pitcher with easy 20+ fantasy point potential every night, never mind against the worst offense in baseball. All of those numbers may very well begin to slip at some point this year, but it’s not likely happening against the Braves. In his last outing, he went 7.1 frames against the Cubs, holding them scoreless while striking out five. He was forced to be careful around their power hitters, and ended up issuing four bases on balls, but against this Atlanta lineup, he will hopefully be able to pitch more aggressively, notching a few more K’s and perhaps even going deeper into the game. With just the littlest amount of run support, that sounds like 30 DKFP upside, and a relatively high floor as well, making him a decent option in any format.
3) Chris Tillman – BAL @ HOU – $10,700 – Tillman has been considered a second-tier starting option throughout his career, as evidenced by his price tag of well under $7,000 as this year opened. But now that he is working on a string of five straight quality starts, with at least six K’s in each, he is finally being priced accordingly. He might not provide the same “value” he did a few thousand dollars of salary ago, but he is still worth consideration. If he continues pitching like he has recently, he’s definitely not overpriced: his fantasy point average over this five game stretch is over 27 per game, which would put him ahead of every single one of tonight’s options except Sale.
“If he continues pitching like he has recently, he’s definitely not overpriced . . .”
4) Chris Sale – CWS vs. CLE – $13,800 – Basically the clear early favorite for the Cy Young in the AL this year, Sale has put up some ridiculous numbers through nine starts. He has three complete games (including each of his last two), and he has given up just 49 baserunners in 68.1 innings, good for a miniscule WHIP of 0.72. His ERA of 1.58 is the result of a grand total of 12 total earned runs surrendered on the year – and no more than two in any of his last seven starts. The White Sox have a better than average chance of winning every time he steps on the mound, and his K/9 rate of over 8 means he gives your fantasy lineup that same shot as well. The only issue tonight that moves him down the rankings is the matchup – not that I think he is incapable of corralling the second-highest scoring team in the league, but there are just a few guys who are more affordable with easier opponents tonight, which makes me more comfortable leaving a stud like him out of my lineup.
5) Stephen Strasburg – WAS vs. NYM – $13,400 – You really can’t argue with his results, or his matchup. Sure, he’s expensive, but he’s been over 20 DKFP in all but one start (his first) this year, and has double-digit K’s in two of his last three. If any team was going to give him a good shot at repeating those numbers, it’s the Mets, who have already whiffed 389 times on the year (fifth most in the league) and who more importantly got sat down by Strasburg ten times in his last start, up in New York. The Nats won that game 9-1, but dropped a game to New York last night, so they’ll be turning to their co-ace to even up the series.
6) David Price – BOS vs. COL – $8,900 – His last two starts have been two of his best, and he has a long enough track record of success that it is easy to start to trust him quickly. He had 15 K’s two starts ago against Houston, and then came through again with 7+ innings of work against the Royals, holding them to just two runs on five hits. Even if the Rockies are the best offense of this recent trio, if he is rounding into form, he is the bad matchup for them, and not the other way around. With Boston’s league-leading offense supporting him, he always has a shot at the W, and if he comes out strong again tonight, it’s going to reflected in his price coming up. A great GPP play, the upside is the same as guys priced much higher.
7) Justin Verlander – DET vs. PHI – $11,000 – He’s had three straight starts with at least 29 fantasy points, which includes starts against the Orioles and the Rangers. He has made some serious strides in trying to cut into his ERA and WHIP, both badly inflated by a couple of rough early season outings. But over these last three, he has given up a total of four earned runs while compiling a K/9 rate over 11, over coming the seven walks he’s issued. He needs to work on those control issues long term, but hopefully they won’t hurt him against a Phillies lineup that doesn’t exactly pounce on every mistake (second fewest runs scored in the league).
“. . . it’s Dickey who has often had the upper hand”
8) R.A. Dickey – TOR @ NYY – $6,800 – To call him a veteran is putting it lightly, but the 41-year-old righty is still getting it done on the mound for the Blue Jays this season. These current Yankees have a total of 235 at-bats against their divisional rival, and with a .247/.300/.383 line against him, it’s Dickey who has often had the upper hand. Especially when you consider that plenty of those Yankees rosters he faced were far more formidable than this year’s iteration. So far this year, he has put together a 4.50 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, both figures he has improved on on the road (3.04 and 1.23), something he’ll put to the test against this uncharacteristically weak-hitting Yankees lineup (25th in total runs scored this season).
9) Daniel Wright – CIN @ LAD – $4,800 – He will be making his major league debut, so yeah, not the safest option. But with the huge price disparity between the top and bottom options at pitcher, this is really a roster spot where you can save a ton of money to spend elsewhere. And it’s not as if he’s a reliever getting a spot start – the 25-year-old is fully stretched out, having thrown 35 minor league innings in four starts, including a complete game, and piling up some impressive numbers. He currently has a 32:5 K:BB ratio to go along with 0.79 ERA and 0.65 WHIP. There’s a reason he’s being called up, and if he doesn’t waste a lot of pitches out there he could take the Dodgers by surprise and give you something worth using.
10) Edinson Volquez – KC @ MIN – $8,200 – He is inconsistent at best, but facing a Twins lineup that is bottom 3 in runs scored and top seven in total strikeouts. He has struggled against Boston and Cleveland in recent starts, but that’s no different than a lot of pitchers who face tough lineups. But if you look at Volquez’s start against Atlanta two weeks ago or Washington at the beginning of the month – two offenses much closer to Minnesota’s in terms of production – you can see his upside: he went 7 innings and gave up just one run to Atlanta, and he went 7.2 innings and tallied seven K’s against the Nats.