Unlike the last couple of Thursdays, there are nine games on tap for the evening slate tonight, leaving you plenty of tough choices to make. I’ll try to help you narrow down the pitching options you’re considering with my ten favorites, ranked in order of value at their price, not projected points.
Top 5 Pitchers
1) Robbie Ray – ARI @ MIA – $7,800 – – He has spun a couple of gems this year, like six innings of shutout ball with 8 K’s against the Giants a couple of weeks ago, for example. He has also had a couple of rough outings, like how he has given up 10 runs in 7 total innings over his last two starts. But he has gone through the proverbial gauntlet, with all five of his starts this season coming against offenses currently inside the top 9 in runs scored on the year. And tonight, he gets the Marlins, coming in at #19. This could feel like a break for Ray, just what he needs to get back on track after these two most recent disastrous outings.
2) Jacob deGrom – NYM @ SD – $11,400 – – His K/9 rate is at 7.0 for the year right now, down more than two full runs from his career rate, a dip that is likely attributable to the lat injury he suffered which lead to an overall decrease in velocity. He has also failed to go more than six innings in his three starts, but all that being said, he’s also 3-0 with a 1.02 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. He’s as safe an option you’ll find if you’re looking for someone who isn’t going to leave you high and dry, even if his upside seems to be somewhat limited right now.
“. . . he doesn’t necessarily need run support to turn in a useful fantasy performance”
3) Adam Conley – MIA vs. ARI – $6,600 – – Arizona has scored more runs than all but six teams in the majors, but one of those teams is the Brewers. In Conley’s last start, against Milwaukee, he went 7.2 innings, gave up no hits, no runs and struck out 7 and earned the win. His 116 pitches through seven and two-thirds was the reason he didn’t get the chance to go for the complete game no-no, but it was a brilliant performance nonetheless. He should be able to keep this matchup with Robbie Ray close, and with an average of just more than a strikeout per inning, he doesn’t necessarily need run support to turn in a useful fantasy performance.
4) Kyle Hendricks – CHC vs. WAS – $8,000 – – He is 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA, but his WHIP of 1.02 shows his ability to keep runners off the bases generally. However, all of his numbers get worse once there are runners on base, as he’s just not pitching out of jams. He hasn’t had a ton of exposure to the Nationals’ hitters, but what he has had has been successful – Harper, Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy are a combined 2-for-15 against him. He’ll be in good shape if he can continue that trend tonight.
5) Colin Rea – SD vs. NYM – $6,300 – – He gave up five runs in 3.1 innings in just his second appearance of the year in Colorado. Since then, he has gone five or more innings and allowed no more than three runs in four straight starts. He has been steadily dropping his ERA ever since that start in Colorado, and in a pitcher-friendly ballpark at home, he will look to continue that improvement.
6) Masahiro Tanaka – NYY @ BAL – $9,300 – – He has given up exactly two runs in every start of the year so far, and yet he is only 1-0 – that’s what you get when you pitch for the second-lowest scoring team in the majors. But he has gone more than six innings and struck out at least five in each of his last three starts, good for a 21-fantasy point per game scoring average. He has shown an ability to provide that kind of consistent production against the solid competition in the AL East. He’s a good cash game option tonight who will be looking to build on the shutout win the Yankees earned in the second game of the series last night.
7) Chris Devenski – HOU vs. SEA – $4,700 – – The converted long reliever is super affordable and acquitted himself well in his first start last time through the rotation. He went five innings, struck out four and allowed two earned runs. But the big issue with a converted reliever remained: how deep can he go in the game? If Devenski can limit the walks, he should be able to improve on those five innings – after issuing only one walk in 13 innings from the bullpen, he had three as a starter. Maybe he was concerned about getting too much of the plate the second time through the rotation, but if he can use his 90-100 pitches to get through six innings and give himself a shot at the win, his K/9 ratio approaching 8.0 could turn him into a useful fantasy commodity while he still has a place in the rotation.
“. . . his K/9 ratio approaching 8.0 could turn him into a useful fantasy commodity while he still has a place in the rotation”
8) Kevin Gausman – BAL vs. NYY – $6,900 – – Gausman is drawing a Yankees team that hasn’t been scoring the way they’ve done in years past, and he has looked good through two starts. He is 0-1, having given up one run and two runs in the two games, but he has a 10:3 K:BB ratio and a WHIP under 1.0, both of which show that he has the control to be able to hammer the zone, something you need to do if you want to make it deep into a game against New York. Struggles or not, they are still one of the most patient offenses in the game, willing to make a pitcher work for everything.
9) Derek Holland – TEX @ TOR – $8,600 – – With the Blue Jays currently at 17th in the league in scoring, holding a team batting average of .230 and slugging % under .400, this matchup seems to be scarier on paper than in person. Holland, for his part, has yet to give up more than three runs in a game so far this season, and has three quality starts in his last four. With a pretty potent offense backing him up, and going against J.A. Happ, he has a chance to rack up his normal 6 innings or so and earn a win, which would be enough to return value at this price.
10) Wade Miley – SEA @ HOU – $8,200 – – If you’re drafting Miley right now, you’re drafting him because his last two starts have been his best two. First he went 7.1 innings against the Angels, giving up four earned runs but earning the win, and then he one-upped himself, throwing a complete-game shutout against the Royals for another victory. But the problem is that even over those two starts, he has averaged only 23 DKFP, with only seven total strikeouts across the 16+ innings. If you’re looking at Miley, you could find some value, but you need to be looking for a mid-priced option you think can be consistent against a mediocre offense, not someone to put you over the top in a GPP.