A more appropriate title might just be “The Ten Pitchers.” With only five games scheduled for Thursday’s evening slate, here are the reasons I like, or don’t like, every starter going. All ten are ranked, according to the way I see the value at their price, not just in based on total projected fantasy points.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Matt Wisler – ATL vs. MIL – $9,100 – He has given up exactly 55 baserunners in 55.1 innings so far this year, and has an ERA of just 2.93. He might only be 2-3 for the year, but frankly, I am impressed anyone has managed to grab two wins with the Atlanta offense supporting him. His K/9 rate is only just above 6, but that number has increased over the last two games, in which he had 7 K’s in each (his season high) in 14 total innings. More solid K rates would not be surprising against the team with the second most strikeouts so far on the season.
2) Mike Leake – STL @ WAS – $7,300 – The good thing about pitching for the second-leading offense in the majors is that Leake almost always has the better matchup than his opponent. But in the case of Leake v. Ross, there is actually more to it, as Leake has been trending in the exact opposite direction over his few most recent starts. He is 3-0 in his last three, with three quality starts: 21 total innings and just two runs allowed. He doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, and that’s not likely to shift tonight. That keeps his upside somewhat limited. But with the chance to rack up innings and earn the W, he makes for a very good cash game option.
He struck out eight batters, didn’t issue a walk, and gave up only 2 runs in his 6 innings . . .”
3) Miguel Gonzalez – CWS @ KC – $6,300 – Sitting at 0-1 through four starts for his new team, his latest game might have been his only loss, but it was also his best effort. And that game came against none other than these Kansas City Royals. He struck out eight batters, didn’t issue a walk, and gave up only 2 runs in his 6 innings to earn the quality start, only to see his team fall 2-1. If anything, the Royals have hit better on the road than at home this year, so it’s relatively easy to imagine Gonzalez having a similar outing this time around, which would make him well worth the price.
4) Kevin Gausman – BAL @ HOU – $9,300 – Gausman now has 36.1 innings under his belt through six starts and is still sitting with an 0-1 record. His ERA of 2.70 and 1.12 WHIP show how well he’s been performing, though – the wins are bound to come. But he would definitely help his cause if he started going a little deeper in games – only once so far this year has he been over 6 innings. He has also been wildly inconsistent with his strikeouts, with an average of five per game, but that’s comprised of games with 1, 3, 7 and 9. Against an Astros team that leads the league in strikeouts, you’re looking for him to miss enough bats to be on the top end of that range while also conserving pitch count enough to propel him deep into the game and right towards that first win.
5) Lance McCullers – HOU vs. BAL – $8,600 – The third most expensive starter on the board, but he his ERA is 5.91 and WHIP is 1.69? Don’t get too worried necessarily – he is only 22 years old, and his only two starts on the year have been against Boston and Texas. Of course now Baltimore is in town, which doesn’t make things a whole lot easier. He clearly has great stuff, with 11 punch-outs so far in 10.2 innings, but the six walks he’s issued so far prove he’s got a lot of work to do – and therefore, a lot of room to improve. In a ridiculously small sample size from last year, he has a total of 19 at-bats under his belt against Baltimore hitters in the past – they are hitting just .211 with one extra base hit and 8 K’s.
6) Wily Peralta – MIL @ ATL – $5,100 – Facing the Braves is good for an ailing pitcher, and hopefully he will be able to build on his last start: 5.2 innings, three earned runs on six hits and six strikeouts. So far on the year he only has two quality starts, and they were both exactly three runs in exactly six innings, so even at his best, the upside isn’t there. But against Atlanta, whatever potential is there can be reached – another six inning, three run “gem” with 5 or 6 Ks that could earn Milwaukee a W. That would count as real upside at this price.
7) Joe Ross – WAS vs. STL – $8,100 – He opened the season this year with a pair of gems, giving up just one run in 14.2 innings and racking up 10 K’s, but he has struggled to regain that form since. So much so that, despite an ERA still well under 3.00, it has become very difficult to trust him in a matchup with this second-highest scoring team in the majors. He has allowed 10 earned runs in his last three starts (a total of just 17.1 innings), a rate that, if it continues, will have his overall ERA closer to 4 than 3 before you know it.
. . . despite an ERA still well under 3.00, it has become very difficult to trust him”
8) Danny Duffy – KC vs. CWS – $5,700 – This will be his third straight spot start, so his numbers are deceiving. They were mostly earned a a reliever, so while he has a good ERA and WHIP, it doesn’t mean a lot. In his other two starts, he has gone just 3 and then 4.1 innings, which clearly isn’t enough. Without even qualifying for a win, giving himself time to earn K’s, or simply getting fantasy points for making it through innings, there just isn’t the possibility of scoring more than the 12 or 15 fantasy points he’s given you thus far.
9) Jon Gray – COL @ BOS – $6,100 – Last time Gray ran into a top offense in the league was, in fact, Gray’s last start. And in that game, on the road at St. Louis, he gave up 9 runs on 8 hits in 3.1 innings. This time around, on the road in Boston, there isn’t any kind of logical reason to think he’s going to fare a lot better. Normally, you like to see these guys pitching outside of Colorado, but not necessarily to go visit the two most effective offenses in the game right now. There will be days coming up where using Gray makes a lot of sense, but I don’t think that day is today.
10) Clay Buchholz – BOS vs. COL – $5,000 – He has just been really bad. There is no other way to put it. In nine starts this year, he has exactly two quality starts – TWO. In all honesty, he might be pitching his way out of the rotation in Boston, so for me, he has already pitched his way out of fantasy consideration. He is below Duffy here because in my mind, of the two, he’s more likely to score you negative fantasy points