A 10-game MLB slate is on tap, and below I rank my top-five starting pitchers. Let’s get right to it!
1. Cole Hamels – TEX @ LAA – $10,000
Cole Hamels was once one of the best pitchers in baseball. While he is no longer in his prime, he is still exceptionally good, but his talents are masked by having to pitch half of his games in an extreme hitters’ park. Last year Hamels had a 4.40 ERA when pitching at home, but he was much better on the road with a 2.40 ERA. The Angels had a below-average offense against left-handed pitching last season, ranking 19th in baseball with a .316 wOBA. In two starts at Angel Stadium last season, Hamels went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA. The low strikeout rate of the Angels limits the upside of Hamels a bit, but I think he is a very safe play tonight.
2. Jeff Samardzija – SF vs ARI – $8,900
Samardzija is facing the Diamondbacks for the second time this season. In the first start he was pitching in Arizona with a $9,200 price tag. His price has gone down by $300 despite being at home and in a more favorable pitching environment. This immediately signals value to me. Samardzija also didn’t pitch poorly in that game despite giving up six runs. He was dominating the Arizona lineup with nine strikeouts through five innings and then he fell apart in the sixth inning. Had he come out an inning earlier then we would likely be looking at a much higher price tag for Samardzija. I am expecting him to be able to replicate his first five innings against an Arizona team that both struggled on the road and against right-handed pithing last year.
3. Matt Harvey – NYM @ PHI – $8,300
Is Matt Harvey back? After a disappointing injury-plagued 2016 season, Harvey started off 2017 by pitching 6 2/3 innings and giving up just two runs. His velocity appeared to be in check with a fastball average speed of 94.3 MPH in the opener. This isn’t that far off from his career average of 95 MPH. This is as good a sign as any that he is much healthier this season. While a lot of people may point out that his first start came against the weak hitting Braves, the good news is that Harvey has another great matchup against the Phillies tonight. Philadelphia was ranked 29th in wOBA against right-handed pitching last year with a mark of .298.
4. J.A. Happ – TOR vs MIL – $8,000
The Brewers are going to be one of my favorite teams to pick on this year. It is not even that I think their offense is bad, but rather just because of how often they are going to strike out. They have some power, which can make them risky to use pitchers against, but they are striking out in 31.9 percent of their at bats. Last year they struck out 25.5 percent of the time, which was the most in the majors. They are going to produce some really massive fantasy outings for opposing pitchers. Happ is also priced at just $8,000 after his price got as high as $11,700 last year. There is plenty of upside for him in this matchup especially if he can pitch at the same level he did last season.
5. Clay Buchholz – PHI vs NYM – $5,500
Of any pitcher I will roster tonight, Buchholz present the most risk and reward. On most nights he wouldn’t be somebody I would consider; however, there is a game in Coors Field being played. If we want to use to Rockies’ bats then we need to find a cheap pitcher to roster. Buchholz has been all over the place in terms of production throughout his career. These are his recent ERAs, 4.78, 3.26, 5.34, 1.74, 4.56, 3.48. If we use this pattern he has alternated good years with bad years. This would mean that he performs well in odd years. Well, it is 2017. Buchholz really isn’t that far removed from being a considered a top of the rotation pitcher. A move to the National League could help him get back on track this year.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) 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.