With three early games, there are only twelve available for the main slate of contests Tuesday night. But that still leaves you with plenty of options at every position, including pitcher. As is always the case when he pitches, the first question you ask yourself is “do I start Arrieta?,” and then you move on from there – so here are some names to help with your decisions. These are the ten best pitchers I see on the board based on value at their prices, not just total projected fantasy points.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Steven Matz – NYM vs. CWS – $11,100 – He has given up six runs in 48 innings (starting with his second start of the year). He is averaging more than 6.2 innings per outing, and has a 50:9 K:BB ratio, overall, which also means he is sitting down more than a batter per inning on strikes. The White Sox fare decently well against left-handed pitching generally, but that could be in part because they haven’t yet had to face this guy. Matz has had a decision pinned on him for each of his eight starts so far this year, and will be looking to extend his winning streak to eight tonight, which would give you a solid chance at his 5th 30+ DKFP game of the year for someone who actually represents a savings of almost $2K over the most expensive option.
2) Jake Arrieta – CHC vs. LAD – $13,000 – Of course you want him, but the fact is, he has scored 21 or fewer fantasy points in three of his ten starts this year – and 21 fantasy points is just not enough to justify the price tag. So let’s be clear – you are drafting him for his upside, not his consistency. But he has plenty of upside, with five games on the year with 30+ DKFP. The problem is, any less than that will have you rethinking your decision to start him – so take solace in the knowledge that he is going to want to bounce back in a big way after his worst start of the season last time out, and in the fact that, in a collective 80 plate appearances for their careers, the Dodgers are hitting .194/.275/.347 against him.
“. . . he has gone at least six innings and given up no more than three runs in any of his other nine starts this season”
3) J.A. Happ – TOR vs. NYY – $7,400 – The big story in terms of pitchers here might be Sabathia, but for a $1,600 savings (or even less), I will take his opponent in this one. For the first time in forever, the Yankees are among the worst offenses in baseball, and it is showing no real signs of turning around. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays continue to hit for power consistently, in the top ten for both doubles and home runs. Happ is two weeks removed from his disaster of a game against the Rays, with two quality starts under his belt since – in fact, other than that one 2-inning 8-run blow-up, he has gone at least six innings and given up no more than three runs in any of his other nine starts this season. If it wasn’t for that one start, he would have a ERA of 2.15 and a WHIP of 1.09.
#4) Mike Leake – STL @ MIL – $7,600 – – He is working on a streak of four straight quality starts, and he earned the win in three of those. His upside is typically limited by a K/9 rate hovering around 5.5, but against a free-swinging Brewers lineup that has already struck out 500 times this season, even that downside might be mitigated. He has a chance to go his normal six or seven innings, giving his offense a chance to earn him a win and to tack a few extra K’s on top. To me, when a consistent player anywhere on the price scale has a chance to outperform his own norm, that is a chance to make a play for an obvious value.
5) Matt Wisler – ATL vs. SF – $7,500 – The young pitcher is never given much of a chance to come away with the victory with the offense he has supporting him, so he’s not likely to end his campaign with a W-L to be proud of (currently 2-4). But he has lost three games that go down in the books as quality starts, including his last one – six innings against Milwaukee, giving up three runs. That was also his third straight game with seven or more strikeouts, which translates into a pitcher with 20-point upside even when he is not earning the W. His price has nowhere to go but up, but right now, 20+ DKFP is value, and a win would just be a little bit of bonus upside.
6) Jose Fernandez – MIA vs. PIT – $12,400 – With a tougher matchup, $600 doesn’t seem like a lot of savings to “downgrade” from Arrieta to Fernandez, but Fernandez is putting up absolutely ridiculous numbers right now, that have brought him to within a point of Arrieta’s fantasy average. Fernandez has at least 9 K’s in each of his last four starts, for a total of 43 over that span. That, combined with a total of only 27 baserunners in 27 innings over those four appearances, has meant that he is averaging just a tad over 35 fantasy points a game since his May 9th start against the Brewers.
7) Aaron Nola – PHI vs. WAS – $10,600 – He has been on a tear, going 4-1 over his last eight starts for a team that is currently just a single game over .500. This will actually be his third start against the Nationals already this year, and the first was his worst performance of the season (seven runs in five innings). But in the second start, he bounced back in a big way, throwing shutout innings and earning the win (along with 28 fantasy points). He only gave up three baserunners and had seven K’s in that one, on the road in Washington, and will look to repeat that type of performance tonight in front of his home crowd.
“. . . his last outing was superb: 7 innings, 6 hits and a single run to earn the win against the Cardinals”
8) Joe Ross – WAS @ PHI – $8,600 – Ross is coming off quite possibly his best start of the year, or at least his best since he opened the year with 7.2 shutout innings against none other than these Phillies. After that opening gem, it has been up and down for the Nationals’ starter, but his last outing was superb: 7 innings, 6 hits and a single run to earn the win against the Cardinals, the second highest-scoring team in the majors. If Ross can build on that start and return to the form he had to kick off the year (2-0 with three quality starts in his first four games), then he will prove to be a great value at the price tonight.
9) Eduardo Rodriguez – BOS @ BAL – $6,100 – He’s getting called up into a tough matchup, and since he is fresh off the 15-day DL, there is some concern that he might be on some kind of pitch count tonight. But there aren’t a lot of options left I like tonight, and Rodriguez is potentially a cheap source of strikeouts, with a career K/9 rate of 7.2. Plus, the Orioles are hitting .225 and slugging under .400 against lefties so far this season, as opposed to their .266 average and .452 slugging % against right-handers, which gives me more hope that the young southpaw can work at least reasonably deep into the game, giving himself a shot at a win if the offense shows up.
10) CC Sabathia – NYY @ TOR – $9,000 – I don’t love him for obvious reasons, matchup and age being the two primary. But I had reasons for every other guy I left off the list (like the Marlins collectively slugging over .460 against Cole for their careers), and that leaves us having to face the fact that Sabathia does, indeed, at the age of 35, have three straight 27+ fantasy point outings, going at least six innings in each and giving up a grand total of 11 hits and one run, while averaging seven K’s an outing. And in case you were wondering, those three opponents included both Baltimore and Toronto (7 innings, 2 hits, no runs, 7 K’s five days ago).