With another day available before the beginning of my in-depth 2017 NFL research, I thought I’d take a swing through the evening starting pitching pool like I did on April 7. When doing this, the goal is to find pitchers to avoid, pitchers to possibly stack against, and pitchers to use in a winning MLB DFS roster on DraftKings or FanDuel.
In this article, I’ll post the highest priced 10 pitchers with the remaining ten pitchers highlighted in the Premium forums at Scout Fantasy. By doing this, I can get the lead group out to you quicker and build a place to talk about the possible options for tonight’s action.
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Cole Hamels (DK $10,000/FD $9,500)
In his first start at home vs. the Indians, Hammels allowed three runs and six base runners over six innings with four striekouts. His first two runs allowed were a result of a misplayed fly ball, which resulted in a hit. He’s 2-1 in his career against the Angels with a 3.27 ERA and 26 Ks over 33 innings. In his two starts in LA, Hamels has a win with a 2.25 ERA and 10 Ks over 12 innings while walking seven batters. In his first start, he didn’t face one left handed batter. His average fastball (AFB) came in at 91.5, which was two mph below his last two seasons. It’s only one game, but it could be a tell for some downside risk. The core of the Angels batters hit righty with Kole Calhoun being the left-hand batter of value. I don’t expect an impact game and I wouldn’t invest in his high price point tonight. The Angels are 3-0 at home while averaging five runs per game in 2017.
Robbie Ray (DK $9,200/FD $7,500)
The attraction to Ray comes from his high K rate (11.3) in 2016. His downside is tied to his inability to throw strikes. Over his first three seasons in the majors, Ray has walked over 3.5 batters per nine innings. He didn't exactly get off to a strong start after his first matchup with the Giants this year (three walks in 5.2 innings). By throwing a high volume of pitches to many batters, Ray has a tough time pitching deep in games. This hurts his upside even when he is rewarded with the win. Ray's stuff was electric vs. righties in his first start (two hits in 15 at bats), but he did allow a double and HR. I’m never a fan of a pitcher facing the same team in back-to-back games. In this case, Robbie didn’t throw the ball well in his first matchup against San Francisco and the game was at home where there is more offensive action. In 2016, he went 1-1 against the Giants with a 3.71 ERA and 23 Ks over 17 innings with solid success at AT&T Park (1-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 15 Ks). San Francisco has four players batting lefty in their starting lineup on most nights with replacement options who don't offer a big fear factor. If you add in that Buster Posey may not play after getting drilled yesterday, you have enough ammo to at least consider Ray at DraftKings. His skill set and the scoring format at FanDuel make him a home attractive option plus he does have a favorable salary in that game. In the daily games, I’m a fan of players on teams that are winning over the short term. The Diamondbacks are 6-2 while scoring over six runs per game. Granted they went 6-1 at home with a loss to San Fran on Monday.
Jeff Samardzija (DK $8,900/FD $8,600)
The Diamondbacks beat Samardzija for six runs, 10 baserunners, and three long balls at home in his first start. On the positive side, Samardzija did have nine Ks. His downfall came in the 6th inning when he allowed a walk, single, HR, out, walk, and single. Prior to that inning, Samardzija looked to be well on his way to a quality start. His fastball was short early in the game (under 94). In the fifth and sixth inning, he threw harder with lesser results. His home runs allowed came against his fastball (sinker – 2 and four seam – 1). Over his career, he’s 2-2 against Arizona with a 4.50 ERA and 58 Ks over 56 innings. He tends to pitch better at home (6-6 over 17 games with a 3.51 ERA and 99 Ks in 102.2 innings). I expect a bounce back performance in this game, but it may not be enough to support his high salary.
Jameson Taillon (DK $8,400/FD $8,000)
In his first start of 2017, Taillon threw the ball great on the road against the Red Sox (no runs over seven innings with six Ks). His AFB came in at 95.3. In his two starts against the Reds in 2016, he went 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA and eight Ks over 11 innings. Over 11 starts at PNC Park last year, Jameson went 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA and 53 Ks in 66 innings. Pittsburgh is 3-1 at home, but they’ve struggled to score runs throughout the early season (3.5 per game). The Pirates are top favorite (-185) on the night slate while the Reds have played well over the first week or so of the season (5-2 and 3-1 on the road). Over 18 starts in the majors last season, Taillon never threw more than 102 pitches (95 in his first start) with only three starts lasting more than six innings. I expect a quality start, but he needs to pitch deeper in games to raise the ceiling. He's one of the top options on the board tonight. A creative Fantasy owner will root for against him tonight to gain a possible edge.
Matt Harvey (DK $8,300/FD $8,700)
I own Harvey in a lot of leagues in 2017 thanks to most Fantasy owners writing him off. I watched his first start closely to get a feel for health and upside. The Braves were swinging early in the count leading to Matt only needing 77 pitches to get through 6.2 innings. He threw 71.4 percent strikes with his fastball coming in between 94 and 95 on most pitches. His velocity is still down from his previous success (2013 – 97.0, 2015 – 96.5, and 2016 – 95.4). His secondary stuff looked good, but he does need to improve his command within the strikes zone. Harvey is 6-2 in his career against the Phillies with a 2.65 ERA and 62 Ks over 57.2 innings. Plus he has had solid success at Citizen Park (3-1 with a 2.13 ERA and 25 Ks over 25.1 innings). Harvey is an upside pitcher with K ability. However, I don’t expect him to throw much more than 90 pitches. He's moving in the right direction and Vegas respects him enough to make him a -140 favorite on the road.
Gio Gonzalez (DK $8,100/FD $8,900)
Gonzalez threw six shutout innings in his first start of the year with seven strikeouts, but he allowed nine base runners. His AFB came in at 90.8 in his first start, which is below his career resume (2012 – 94.2 and 2016 – 92.1). He is 2-2 in his career against St. Louis with a 2.72 ERA and 35 Ks over 39.2 innings. Over 74 starts in Nationals Park, he has a 33-20 record with 438 K over 435.2 innings. Washington is 3-1 at home while averaging 5.7 runs per game. The Cardinals haven’t played well in 2017 (2-5) while averaging 3.6 runs per game. I expect a win with a competitive score from Gio. The contrarian owner may see a crack in the downtick in velocity to ride a Cardinal’s stack tonight, especially since the Nationals rank 26th in bullpen ERA (6.66 ERA).
J.A. Happ (DK $8,000/FD $8,500)
For those fading Happ after his breakthrough season in 2016 (20-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 163 Ks over 195 innings), he proved worthy again in his first start this year. Over seven innings, Happ allowed three runs over seven innings with nine Ks. His resume has risk against the Brewers (3-4 with a 6.13 ERA and 51 Ks over 54.1 innings). At Rogers Center, Happ is 23-13 with a 3.22 ERA and 240 Ks over 260.1 innings. Milwaukee has some power paired with K ability. The Blue Jays haven’t played well (1-5 and 3.3 runs per game) but tonight is their home opener. The Brewers didn’t play well at home (2-5) so they should have risk in their first road game. Happ is a big favorite (-180) with an over/under of 9. I expect a win and a solid effort so J.A. is in play for me tonight.
Tyler Skaggs (DK $7,800/FD $7,100)
There is no doubt Skaggs has talent, but he has too much disaster risk at this point of his career. The A’s beat him for five runs and eight base runners over 5.1 innings with five Ks in his first start. His AFB came in at 91.3, which was more than two mph lower than 2016 (93.4). In his only start against the Rangers in 2016, Skaggs threw six shutout innings with eight Ks. LA has shown some character over the first week of the season highlighted by scoring seven runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat Seattle and starting off the season 5-2. Texas has three lefties in the starting lineup without Joey Gallo, but Skaggs had problems with left handed hitters in 2016 (.318 with five walks and nine strikeouts over 51 plate appearance). This is your boom or bust option. Momentum says he’s in play.
Joe Musgrove (DK $7,700/FD $7,200)
Musgrove turned in a boring stat line in his first start of the year against the Mariners. He allowed two runs and eight base runners over five innings, turning in just two strikeouts. Tonight he’ll get a second straight start against Seattle. In 2016, Musgrove had disaster risk on the road (1-3 with a 7.27 ERA with seven runs allowed over 26 innings). Over six years in the minors, Musgrove has a 28-11 record with 2.83 ERA and 320 Ks over 337.1 innings. He has exceptional command (1.1 walk rate). I’m never a fan of pitcher facing a team in back-to-back games, especially after a below par outing. His command will be an asset, but I’d be more excited about the Mariners teeing off on him than putting him in my daily lineup. Total against the grain pitcher with many teams looking to see if his disaster risk on the road continues again in 2017. For the record, I do like Musgrove over the long haul in 2017, just not tonight.
Dan Straily (DK $7,500/FD $7,400)
Dan looked like a bad investment by the Marlins in his first start of the year when he allowed five runs and eight base runners over 3.1 innings with ZERO strikeouts. He only threw 67 pitches and 40-of-67 (59.7 percent) strikes is not going to get it down in Major League Baseball. In his only start against the Braves last year, Straily allowed six runs, 10 base runners and struck out five batters over 4.1 innings. He threw the ball well with the A’s in 2013 (3.96 ERA), but failed to earn a starting job in the majors in 2014 and 2015 with losing results at AAA (2014 – 4.62 ERA and 2015 – 4.77 ERA). Straily revived his career with the Reds in 2016 (3.76 ERA). His best success comes when he uses his slider against lefties, but he does struggle with walks (3.6 per nine in his career) while allowing a ton of fly balls (48 percent in 2016 and 50 percent in his first start). I need to see a correction before entering him in my starting lineup in the daily games. Viable stack against option due to his home run risk (1.5 per nine last year).
If you’re looking for the remaining starters on the April 11th evening slate, they will be posted on the premium forums at ScoutFantasy.com!