Friday means Daily Fantasy Baseball Championship and tough pitcher decisions. Or, you could just go with the guy that has the second lowest ERA in the National League and that comes in cheaper than all but three FanDuel options on Friday. We’ll get to him in a sec in the Wild Card section, where we feature the cheapest quality starter of the day. First, let’s find a couple higher priced pitchers that should be in for a great performance as well. As always, the pick of the day is denoted with an asterisk (*).
Ace: Jeff Niemann, TB vs. OAK ($7,300). Niemann may be the hottest pitcher in baseball right now, as he’s given up just four earned runs in his last five starts combined, a run that’s included two double-digit strikeout performances. The Oakland C’s (sorry, Athletics fans, but you have to earn that “A”) come to town to take on a guy with a 0.96 ERA and 0.89 WHIP over the last month. Roll with him if you have the dough to spend on a starter.
*Middle Man: Juan Nicasio, COL vs. WAS ($5,400). I’m a big fan of this youngster as he’s managed a 57:18 K:BB ratio in 12 starts this year, including a 10-K performance his last time out. He vacillates between brilliant starts and stink-bombs, but the majority of the former have come at home. He’ll be in Colorado for a start against the Nationals, so have faith that he’ll put up another gem. He’s like Niemann, but almost $2,000 cheaper.
Wild Card: Jeff Karstens, PIT vs. SD ($4,800). How does one cobble together a 2.49 ERA by the time August rolls around? Simple. Don’t walk anyone (Karstens has 24 BBs in 126.2 IP) and don’t get lit up. Karstens has allowed more than three earned runs in a game just once, and that came way back in April. He should keep the streak going against San Diego, Jesus Guzman notwithstanding.
Roto Stream Team: 1. Jeff Niemann (vs. OAK), 2. Juan Nicasio (vs. WAS), 3. Josh Collmenter (vs. LAD), 4. Mark Buehrle (at MIN), 5. Rick Porcello (at KC).
*Ace: Brandon McCarthy, OAK at TB ($6,000). A nine-strikeout, no-walk performance in his last start has brought McCarthy’s K:BB ratio up to 69:16 in 15 starts this year, meaning he’s averaging just over one walk per outing. That kind of control has kept the ERA (3.58) and WHIP (1.21) down. Bank on another solid performance in Tampa Bay — he’s been unlucky on the road this year, and that’s about due for a course correction.
Middle Man: Cory Luebke, SD at PIT ($5,800). His last two starts haven’t been all that good (and in San Diego, no less), but I’m sticking with Luebke thanks to a K/9 ratio over 9.0 (slightly lower when isolating his starts) and a few dominant performances on his resume. Oddly, his splits say he’s much better away from Petco, so maybe a trip to Pittsburgh is a blessing in disguise.
Wild Card: Alex Cobb, TB vs. OAK ($3,700). Unfortunately he’s up against our Ace, but I feel we have to go with Cobb at this price in the Wild Card section. He has a 2.79 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, and though he hasn’t struck many batters out this year, he’s coming off a nine-K performance in Seattle in his last start. Cobb also hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since his late-May re-call.
Roto Stream Team: 1. Brandon McCarthy (at TB), 2. Cory Luebke (at PIT), 3. Chris Narveson (at HOU), 4. Paul Maholm (vs. SD), 5. Alex Cobb (vs. OAK).
*Ace: Jair Jurrjens, ATL at NYM ($6,800). We like sticking Jurrjens in this spot every fifth day, for good reason. He’s averaging 12 points per game while going 12-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Those great ratios include three poor performances in his last four starts, so there’s no doubt that Jurrjens is on a slide. This price is still too good to pass up here, especially with his great career numbers against the Mets on our side.
Middle Man: John Lannan, WAS at COL ($5,700). Lannan isn’t a great option in Colorado, but there aren’t many cheap pitchers available on Sunday, and we have to make do with what we have. If you just can’t afford an ace of any kind, Lannan may get you through the way. He’s 3-1 in his last four starts, and he has a 3.65 ERA this season. He also collected eight Ks (and only one walk) in his last start, which came against a good Atlanta team.
Wild Card: Alfredo Simon, BAL vs. TOR ($4,100). Again, not many options. Simon is the only cheap pitcher I’d be willing to gamble on this Sunday. He’s been solid in his last four starts, allowing eight earned runs in 25.2 innings while posting an 18:5 K:BB ratio. I’m not thrilled about his opponent, but you can’t have everything.
Roto Stream Team: 1. Javier Vazquez (vs. STL), 2. Mike Pelfrey (vs. ATL), 3. Freddy Garcia (at BOS), 4. Alfredo Simon (vs. TOR), 5. John Lannan (at COL).