After an unusually early start to the work week on Patriots’ Day in Boston, Major League Baseball has nine games lined up for tonight, giving fantasy baseball players plenty of options to choose from for their first lineup of the week. There aren’t many big-salary options on the mound tonight, but there are some solid starters to build around. Check out my top-five SP for this Monday:
1. John Lackey – CHC vs. MIL – $10,200
Lackey has gone six innings in each of his first two starts of the season, going 1-1. In each of those starts, though, he has been able to post 20+ DKFP since he has been piling up nice strikeout numbers with a total of 17 in his 12 innings to go with just five walks. He has a solid 3.00 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.
Tonight, he’ll take the mound at Wrigley, where he had a 2.62 ERA last season compared to 4.37 on the road. He went 0-1 with a 3.79 ERA against the Brew Crew in three starts last season, but he did pick up 18 Ks in 19 innings. This season, Milwaukee batters have struck out more than any team in the Majors except the Tampa Bay Rays. The matchup and his strong strikeout rate make Lackey the top pitcher of the night.
2. Brandon McCarthy – LAD vs. ARI– $7,900
The Dodgers try to earn a split of their four-game set with Arizona tonight as they give the ball to former Diamondback McCarthy for his third start of the season. McCarthy has gone 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his first two outings, allowing just two runs in 12 innings to the Padres and Cubs. He doesn’t have the strikeout rate that Lackey offers, but he is at home with a good lineup behind him, giving him a solid win probability.
The only time McCarthy faced his former team last season he threw six scoreless innings, striking out eight and allowing three hits. McCarthy doesn’t have quite as high a ceiling as some of the other options in the top five, but he’s low-risk given his current form.
3. Robbie Ray – ARI @ LAD – $9,800
On the other side of that NL West showdown, Ray will take the mound for Arizona as he looks to build on his strong start to the season. He isn’t as good a value play as McCarthy, but he is still a top-five option.
In each of his first two starts, Ray faced the Giants and allowed a total of three runs on seven hits in 12.1 innings while striking out 14. Last season, Ray was 1-1 in four starts against L.A. with 33 strikeouts in 25 innings while allowing 10 earned runs. Ray’s strikeout potential gives him a high ceiling, but the matchup with the Dodgers in L.A. makes him riskier than McCarthy.
4. Danny Salazar – CLE @ MIN – $10,300
Another strikeout machine to target tonight is the Tribe’s Salazar, who has 20 punchouts in his first two starts of the year. He fanned 11 White Sox in his last start but still took the loss, giving up just two runs in six innings. He had 27.3 DKFP in that outing after a solid 17.4 DKFP in his first start again buoyed by strikeout numbers.
Salazar and the Indians head to Minnesota for their first series of this week. The Twins have started the season exceeding expectations (7-5) and were able to knock Salazar around last year, piling up 13 runs in 10.2 innings in his three starts against them. Salazar would rank higher on this list in a better matchup, but his high ceiling due to potential strikeouts keeps him in the top five.
5. Tom Koehler – MIA @ SEA – $7,100
After both teams walked off with a win from their weekend series, the Marlins head to Seattle to face the Mariners. Koehler isn’t an elite option since he rarely piles up strikeouts, but he’s in a favorable matchup in a pitcher’s park, so he should be a serviceable innings-eater for the Fish tonight.
Koehler has a 3.27 ERA in his first two starts, allowing four runs in 11 innings. He has only struck out five, but he was in line for a win when he was lifted in his last start, and he has a good chance at a “W” tonight as he goes head-to-head with Ariel Miranda of the Mariners.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.