Thursday night is a light night of Major League Baseball as the NFL Draft takes center stage in the sports world. There are still four games on the schedule, though, which is definitely enough to get your team together for a night of fantasy baseball. As you sort through the eight starting pitchers toeing the rubber tonight, check out my top-five plays:
1. Chris Sale – BOS vs. NYY – $12,900
A lack of run support and iffy bullpen work has kept Sale from starting his Red Sox career 4-0, but he has looked outstanding in each of his four starts with Boston. In each of his last three outings, he has double-digit strikeouts including his 13 strikeouts in eight innings his last time out when he produced a season-high 41 DKFP. Sale had 42 strikeouts in his 29 innings and enters his start tonight in Boston with a 0.71 WHIP and 0.91 ERA.
Sale is 4-1 in his career against the Yankees with a stellar 1.17 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. Last year he threw a complete game the only time he faced them allowing just six hits and one run. Given his history and his current form, it’s clear why he’s so expensive at Fenway tonight.
2. Kendall Graveman – OAK @ LAA – $7,900
The A’s will get Opening Day starter Kendall Graveman back from the DL tonight as they try to avoid a sweep in LA against the Angels. Graveman took advantage of the new 10-day DL to skip a start and get rested up even though his shoulder injury was considered very minor.
There is the risk of some rust, but he’ll be a great value if he can return to the form he showed early in the season. When he started Opening Day against the same opponent he’ll face tonight, he held the Halos to just two runs on six hits in six innings producing 22.7 DKFP. In his second start, he had 26 DKFP against the Rangers before his shoulder forced him to leave early against Houston and only produce 4.5 DKFP. It’s clearly Chris Sale at #1 tonight with a big dropoff to the rest of the starters, but I do think Graveman is the next best option.
3. Taijuan Walker – ARI vs. SD – $8,900
Out in the NL West, the D-Backs and Padres meet in the rubber game of their three-game set tonight, and the Snakes will give the ball to offseason acquisition Taijuan Walker. While Walker hasn’t posted Sale-like numbers, he has been solid and enters tonight 2-1 despite a 4.57 ERA. Walker has at least six strikeouts in three of his four starts and has at least 12 DKFP in each of those three outings.
Walker’s four starts have all come against NL West opponents with two against the Giants and two against the Dodgers. Tonight, he’ll have an easier matchup against the Padres. Walker’s two better starts have come on the road, though, and tonight he’ll be on the mound at Chase Field which does raise his risk a bit.
4. Masahiro Tanaka – NYY @ BOS – $9,400
Tanaka has bounced back after an Opening Day disaster in which the Rays crushed him for seven runs in 2.2 innings sticking him with -8 DKFP. His last outing was the best of the season as he held the White Sox to just one run on six hits in seven innings for 25 DKFP. He picked up his second win in a row in that start and enters tonight 2-1 with a 1.67 WHIP and a still-ugly 6.00 ERA.
The Japanese import has had mixed results at Fenway (2-1, 4.34 ERA) and against the Red Sox (5-2, 4.05 ERA) in his time in the Majors. He does have strong pitcher vs. batter stats, though, against Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Jackie Bradley Jr. If he can continue trending the right direction, he could dominate tonight at Fenway, but he does have a tough matchup against Chris Sale. Based on matchup and price, I see him just behind Walker by a very narrow margin.
5. Adam Wainwright – STL vs. TOR – $8,500
The Cardinals’ season got off to a bumpy start but has come around a bit lately, and Wainwright’s starts have followed the same story arc so far this season. He was pretty awful his first three starts out including giving up double-digit hits in DC and New York while allowing 10 runs in 8.2 innings to see his ERA balloon to 7.24 before his last start.
However, he gets the fifth spot on this list for tonight because his last start was promising as he held the hard-hitting Brewers to just two runs on six hits in five innings striking out nine and not walking any. The win moved his record to 1-3 on the season and his 25.7 DKFP show he still can produce solid starts. Tonight, he’ll face a struggling Blue Jays’ lineup in the second game of the double-dip in St. Louis as the teams make up yesterday’s rain out.
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.