With only ten games on tap for Thursday, and six of them during the day, the evening slate features just eight possible starting pitchers to choose from. So, I guess this should be called just “The 8 Pitchers,” not necessarily “Top 8.” I’ve ranked the options according to how I see value at the price, not just projected points, and given you a few reasons why I like them – or don’t.
Top 4 Pitchers
1) Corey Kluber – CLE vs. LAA – $11,000 – He has gone at least seven innings in five straight, averaging just more than 28 fantasy points per game over that stretch. He has at least seven K’s in each of those five games, and hasn’t been under 21 points in any of them, making him a great #1 option in a cash game tonight. The question is more about his upside, facing an Angels club that has struck out less than any other team in the majors this year, with a K-rate just over 17% for the season.
2) Miguel Gonzalez – CWS @ KC – $6,700 – He has been giving up plenty of hits (23 in his last three games), but despite that, has managed to pile up seven quality starts in a row. He has been over 15 fantasy points in five of those seven, and he has a solid chance of repeating that kind of performance tonight and returning 3x value on his price. While the Royals have been better at home this season, they have been slugging just .334 since the All-Star break, and Gonzalez will look to use tonight to get back to the form he showed all throughout July, when he finished the month with a 0.98 WHIP and 2.50 ERA in six starts.
3) Eduardo Rodriguez – BOS vs. NYY – $5,200 – The Yankees are 28th in the league in OPS so far this season at .702, and their power numbers actually go down against left-handed pitching. Rodriguez has been struggling to get deep in games, especially lately, only pitching into the seventh once in his last four starts. But just prior to that run was his only other matchup against the Yanks this season, in which he threw seven strong frames for the win, giving up just four hits and one run. He also only struck out one in that outing, but since then has 25 punch-outs in 21.1 innings. It is not hard to see him getting you the 15+ fantasy points he needs to to prove himself to be a value at this price tonight.
4) Danny Duffy – KC vs. CWS – $12,400 – The last time he faced the White Sox, it was a six-inning performance, with 10 K’s, in which he surrendered three hits and no runs to grab the win back in early June. With 132 strikeouts in 115.1 innings, he has the ability to put up fantasy points even when an offense manages to get to him for a few runs. But when you think about this price in terms of value, he looks a lot like a pure upside play. In order to return the same value as less expensive options, he has to be in the mid-30’s in terms of fantasy points, which isn’t going to happen every time out. But he has shown upside into the 50+ DKFP area.
5) Jhoulys Chacin – LAA @ CLE – $4,300 – This is his first start since July 1, when he was moved to the bullpen after a truly disastrous June (8.59 ERA in five starts). But, if you’re looking for upside, he has thrown very well in relief, allowing just five runs in more than 17 innings of work. There is always the chance that translates into increased confidence on the mound as a starter, and he might actually have a chance to earn back a regular spot in the rotation. Over the first two months of the season, he had 47 K’s in 53 innings and went 2-3 for a last place club – the kind of pitcher you might not want to trust, but who could certainly pay off a $4,300 investment as your SP2.
6) Carlos Martinez – STL @ CHC – $8,300 – He has faced the Cubs twice this season, going seven innings and giving up one run for the win back in April and getting hammered for five runs in six innings a month later. At least he is not as expensive as Lester (see below), but he had been gradually lowering his ERA and WHIP throughout June and July until a brutal outing against the Braves of all teams last weekend. In 140 career at-bats against him, these Cubs hitters have just nine extra base hits, including only two home runs, so he has a shot to get through enough innings to get you close to 20 fantasy points tonight.
7) Jon Lester – CHC vs. STL – $10,300 – On a night when there are only four games being played, and three of the eight teams are in the top-four in the league in runs scored, the appealing options seem to dry up in a hurry. Lester has yet to face the Cardinals this season, but he has seen plenty of these batters in his career, allowing the group to hit a collective .270/.333/.433 against him in 155 plate appearances. He has been up and down this summer, with outings of just 1.1, three and four innings on his game log since the beginning of July. With that type of inconsistency, I don’t see myself relying on him tonight.
8) Michael Pineda – NYY @ BOS – $7,000 – Pineda is probably the most inexpensive 10.69 K/9 rate you’re ever going to get your hands on. The 5.17 ERA and 1.34 WHIP probably have something to do with that. He has thrown 16 innings against Boston this year in three outings, striking out 13 – so he has demonstrated that his upside is going to be limited in this matchup. The Red Sox have rendered greater pitching options useless this season, so I wouldn’t recommend Pineda tonight.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) 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.