With only eight games scheduled for Thursday this week, and four of them during the day, there are some pretty slim pickings at every position for the evening contests, and perhaps especially at pitcher. With only eight pitchers to consider, you need to think long and hard before making your choices, so here is a little tidbit on each of them, and why I like them… or don’t.
Top 4 Pitchers
#1) Kenta Maeda – LAD vs. Mia – $10,000 – – The first-year player has already had a successful career in Hiroshima, pitching in the Japanese league. Now that he’s landed with the Dodgers for his first MLB action, he is dominating out of the gate. He is 3-0, with at least six innings pitched in each of his four starts, with a grand total of one run allowed, on a solo home run surrendered to Joe Panik. He has only allowed 22 total baserunners, and has recorded 23 strikeouts. He’s done all that against top hitting teams like Arizona, the Giants, and Colorado. There is no reason to think he won’t go deep in the game and record his fair share of strikeouts, so until we’re given a reason to think otherwise, the top of this list is really the only place he belongs.
#2) Michael Wacha – StL @ Ari – $8,300 – – On the one hand, the zero-strikeout, 4-walk game he had against San Diego last time out is not at all what you want to see out of someone you’re hoping is going to be a top fantasy commodity. But on the other hand, he earned the win on his third straight quality start, and he does still have 15 K’s in 22 innings. Arizona boasts a much better offense than the Padres, having scored a solid 30 more runs so far on the year – and even though they strike out plenty (7th most in the league), San Diego does even more (3rd). I think that how Wacha looks in this particular outing will go a long way towards determining how we think about him as a fantasy option for his next few starts.
#3) Jhoulys Chacin – Atl @ Bos – $6,100 – – He is facing Buchholtz, which automatically means his chances of earning the victory are immediately improved. His offense, not the most dynamic, might actually be able to support him some in this matchup, a change for a guy who has seen eight total runs of support in three starts (including games with 2 and only 1). He has racked up a 19:2 K:BB ratio in 17 innings, so there is some potential for him to earn his first win of the season against Buchholtz and turn in a useful fantasy performance at the same time if he can just manage to get himself through 5 or 6 innings against this patient Sox lineup.
#4) Tyler Wilson – Bal vs. CWS – $4,800 – – Normally a long reliever, Wilson drew the start last Saturday against the Royals, and he threw five innings and gave up six runs after being called on in short notice. This time around, he’s knows he’s sticking around in the rotation, and he’s not coming off a 2-inning stint just a few nights before. In a slate of games short on options, being able to grab a guy who showed potential in his first start for only $4,800, especially facing off against a team that is only hitting .238 as a group on the year, seems like a bargain. The upside might not be there, but another 5 or 6 inning outing could be enough to net you 12-18 fantasy points for dirt cheap.
|7||Rubby De La Rosa||STL||ARI||$6,500|
#5) Jose Fernandez – Mia @ LAD – $11,500 – – Thirty-two strikeouts in 22.2 innings translates to a K/9 ratio that indicates upside, but a 32:11 K:BB ratio, on the other hand, indicates a problem. For $11,500, you’re looking for 30+ fantasy points, something he has yet to accomplish. Fernandez still has more upside than any pitcher on the board, but for his pricetag, it is just too much risk for me to have him any higher on this list. He’s yet to go more than six innings in a game, his ERA is over 4.00 and he doesn’t exactly have the support of an offense that’s going to get him a lot of cheap wins. He’s only this high on the list based on sheer potential (and in comparison to the guys behind him).
#6) Clay Buchholtz – Atl @ Bos – $8,000 – – He is averaging between five and six innings per start, and has given up exactly five runs in three of the four. The fourth was a random 6.2 shutout innings against Toronto, but even then, he topped out at 14 fantasy points with only a pair of strikeouts. He’s earned his WHIP of 1.50 and an ERA of 6.33 by giving up plenty of walks, hits, and runs and until we see that change, he’s impossible for me to trust. If you were looking at nothing but current performance, he’d be the cheapest pitcher on the board. He’s not last on this list because he might have the best matchup of any pitcher going.
#7) Rubby De La Rosa – StL @ Ari – $6,500 – – His ERA stands at 5.94 as a result mainly of a relief appearance in which he entered in the 14th inning only to give up two runs and get tagged with a loss. Those two runs while securing only 2 outs totally skew his numbers this early in the season, even though he bounced back with six innings of one-run ball against the Pirates last weekend. All that being said, while it is admittedly a small sample size of work to look at, the Cardinals (currently the highest scoring team in baseball) are hitting .410/.500/.641 against De La Rosa overall (in 46 total plate appearances). For me, the recent performance of the offense matters more than then pitcher does in this one, and as much as possible, I am going to avoid selecting pitchers against this Cardinals team that has scored eight or more runs in five straight.
#8) John Danks – CWS @ Bal – $5,500 – – At this point, Danks is just a guy for the White Sox to trot out there because they need someone. His job is to get through five or six innings without giving up so many runs that they are completely out of it by the time he exits. But a strikeout ratio of 12:9 in three starts tells you just about everything you need to know. He’s not throwing pitches by hitters and against this Baltimore lineup, the ones he does try to sneak by in the zone are likely to get squared up on nicely. There is just nothing compelling or exciting about him as an option, so unless you’re convinced every one of these games is a high-scoring affair and just want to save as much money as possible on pitching, there is no reason to go in this direction.