Seven of the 11 games on the MLB schedule this Thursday are under the lights tonight. Five of those seven games tonight are between division opponents, so, for the most part, tonight’s starting pitchers should be very familiar with their opponents. There are some great starting pitching options to take a look at as you put your team together for tonight. Here are my top five:
1. James Paxton – SEA @ OAK – $9,600
Even though I do like both pitchers on the board for over $11K, I’m giving my top spot to a pitcher who costs under $10K. It’s hard to imagine a better start to the year for Paxton, who has yet to allow a run as he takes the mound for his fourth start of the season. He did take a no-decision in his first start, so he comes into tonight’s contest 2-0 with an astounding 0.00 ERA and a 0.57 WHIP. In his 21 innings, he has 22 strikeouts and just four walks.
He will be on the road tonight, but he gets a good matchup against the Athletics. Oakland’s bats have been inconsistent this season, but as a team, they’re hitting just .223 against southpaws. Paxton may not be able to continue this scoreless innings streak all month, but he’s in a good place for another strong start. If he does, he should be able to pick up the win since he’ll be opposed by Cesar Valdez making his first start in the Majors since 2010.
2. Stephen Strasburg – WAS @ ATL – $11,100
I’ll give my second spot to Strasburg as he and Nationals look to finish a sweep of the Braves in Atlanta. With Matt Kemp on the shelf, the Braves’ lineup has become Freddie Freeman (who is on fire) and a bunch of underwhelming options. Atlanta has only scored more than five runs once this season, and they rank in the bottom third of almost every offensive category.
Strasburg will look to continue their struggles tonight as he looks for his fourth straight quality start. He has gone seven innings in each of his first three outings allowing a total of seven runs on 16 hits giving him a 3.00 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He has 19 strikeouts in 21 innings while walking just five. Over the last three seasons, Strasburg is 5-4 against Atlanta with a surprisingly high 4.01 ERA, but he has picked up 73 strikeouts in 60.2 innings. Tonight, Strasburg is the safest option based on his form and opponent, but he hasn’t been 100% lights out (like Paxton) this season.
3. Noah Syndergaard – NYM vs. PHI – $11,800
It’s tough to drop Syndergaard all the way to third on this list, but there is some extra risk involved as he takes the mound for the Mets against the Phillies tonight at Citi Field. In his last start, Syndergaard was forced to leave the game early with a torn fingernail, and he’s expected to wear fake nails tonight. Since a pitcher’s grip is such a key part of his movement and control, it’s a major risk factor to consider for tonight.
When he has been on the mound, Syndergaard has looked excellent this season. He has allowed just two earned runs in his 19 innings and has picked up 20 Ks. The Phillies should be a good matchup for him tonight since he is 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA against them in his career striking out 30 in 26.1 innings. The only reason he isn’t higher on this list is the risk factor introduced by his injury.
4. Danny Duffy – KC @ TEX – $8,200
The Royals’ Opening Day starter would be higher on this list if it wasn’t for a tough matchup on the road in Texas. He’s a strong option at his $8.2K price and leaves you flexibility to spend at other positions. Duffy doesn’t have elite strikeout numbers, but he has only allowed four runs in 20 innings this season holding opponents to a .203 average. He has 17 strikeouts and only seven walks.
Last year, Duffy was excellent the only time he faced the Rangers, holding them to one run on four hits in 6.2 innings in one of his 12 wins last year. The lefty has looked like a true ace so far this season, and he’s a very good DKFP/$ option tonight.
5. Carlos Martínez – STL @ MIL – $9,000
St. Louis steadied itself after a rough start with three straight 2-1 wins over the Pirates to start the week. Tonight, the Cardinals head to Milwaukee to face the Brewers and give the ball to Martínez for his fourth start of the season. Martínez is 0-2 coming into tonight’s start, but he is still a fantasy option to consider based on his strikeout potential.
In his Opening Day start, Martínez fanned 10 Cubs in 7.1 innings, and he struck out 11 in a loss at Yankee Stadium in his last start. He has 24 Ks in his 17.2 innings. The Brewers have struck out more than any other team in the Majors except for the Rays, so Martínez has a high enough ceiling that he is worth a look at $9K even with his 3.57 ERA and 1.42 WHIP.
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.