May 19th Quick Pitching Notes
Kershaw: Whew. $14k is a hefty price, but Kershaw has been absolutely dominant. Not a flaw in his game right now. A few items working to his detriment today: (1) CIN has had a moderate amount of success against him, relatively speaking; (2) the Reds do not K much v Ls and put the ball in play a good bit; (3) his margin for error is so small at that price. You’ll need 2.5-3X his salary to pay off, and that’s an eye-popping 35-42 pts. Could he do it? Absolutely. Is he a better value than others on the board? Much tougher call. I like him in GPPs. How could I not? I think he’s fine in cash in that his blow-up risk is nearly non-existent. I do think there’s plenty of value in play today that you can fade him and not feel like you’re making some monumental mistake. I expect the high price to keep his ownership lower than it should be.
Cueto: Not much of a discount off Kershaw, but a better matchup. Rematch of his last start where he scored 37 pts (though at Petco). SDP punchless, and Cueto locked in. I think this is a great spot for cash games, and a decent spot for GPPs. Likely one of the more popular options tonight. Will need to dominate to pay off his salary, but he should.
Velasquez: Has perhaps the best K upside on the slate but facing the hottest offense in baseball—by a ton. Tigers have a WRC+ of 163 over the last week and recently knocked off both Smyly and Archer with relative ease. If Cabrera is not in, then that’s a boost to VV; Cameron Maybin hitting the ball all over the place. VV is a classic GPP play today, as DET is almost all right-handed and can be had for Ks. But they are back to being locked in at the plate, so the chance VV has a game unworthy of his $11,800 salary is pretty high.
Kennedy: Not sure what to make of Ian Kennedy. Even though he gives up a lot of hard-hit balls and a TON of flyballs, he’s managed to limit the damage outside of two rough starts (where most of his HRs against have come). K rate of nearly 25% is very good and supported by a 10% SwStr%. Twins have a pretty poor lineup right now which Ks a bunch. The numbers support a strong start here, and his price will keep most away. Don’t mind him for cash, and I like him as a GPP play.
Gonzalez: He’s out-pitching his ERA by 2 full runs. That’s a sign of disaster. Mind you, he’s not pitching terribly, esp. against Rs, where he has a 23% K rate, a 5% BB rate, and a .259 wOBA with a .274 BABIP. Very nice numbers. His numbers this year v Ls are bizarre, though likely stemming from a small sample size. He’s a guy who generally shows no platoon advantage, but has managed just 7.5% Ks with a 12.5% BB rate against Ls, and a .237 wOBA paired with a .194 BABIP—very unsustainable. Gets to face the Mets who have REALLY struggled against LHP this year (27% Ks, WRC+ of 85, .292 wOBA, and an ISO of .140). He also shut them down last time out, but scoring only 22. At his price of $9900, he makes for a tough sell in cash games, even though I think he’s fairly safe. He’s a GPP play for me, esp. with the Mets’ K upside, but I’m not easy with it. I expect ownership to be low, though.
Hill: Rematch of his April 9 game (also in SEA) where he K’d 10 and scored 30 DK pts. His continued success is a mystery to me, but there is no denying that he has been wildly effective this year. Emphasis on wild (10.1% BB rate). His SIERA is strong, and his K rate isn’t out of line with his past numbers. He’s allowing more hard-hit balls than his career norm, but at 29.8%, it’s a reasonable number. His 30% K rate against righties is a bit out of place, though. Though the Mariners possess some power, they aren’t a particularly scary lineup top to bottom. All that said, his $9500 price tag, and the fact he’s the underdog, pushes him into GPP-only territory for me tonight. But I bet he’ll be overlooked.
Lackey: His peripherals look great. K rate of 25.1% supported by a 12.5% SwStr rate. Low walk rate, ERA right in line with his SIERA. Yet, I think this is a bad spot for him. His great numbers vs Rs (27.4% K rate and .255 wOBA paired with a .224 BABIP ) are not sustainable, and we’ll see how unsustainable they are against a Cardinals team that can really hit, doesn’t K much, and is favored (slightly) at home. ISO v Rs of .213 is the highest going tonight. WRC+ of 128. Vegas has STL pegged for just 3.7 runs, but I’d take the over. I think this is a rough spot for Lackey, and I don’t want any part of his $9400 salary today.
Chen: Pitching pretty well, but facing a very hot Rays team (at the plate). They are a good spot for Ks, and Chen striking out guys at a league-average clip, but they also have a ton of power. His price tag of $9k seems a bit steep. No in cash, fair GPP option, though I like other options better.
Pomeranz: Here’s another guy who keeps stringing together good results, even though his peripheral stats say that should stop. His 30% K rate is crazy high, especially given that his SwStr% is only 12.5% (I say “only” not because 12.5% is bad—it’s a great number—but because it does not support a 30%+ K rate). His SIERA is a run and a half higher than his ERA; his hard-hit% is only average. He gives up a lot of flyballs (and not many are squared up), which likely is keeping his numbers in good territory. Walks are a big problem. Now facing a Giants team that does not K, is good at taking walks, and is far better at home. Though it’s possible he keeps having success, and his $8500 salary isn’t too bad given what he’s been doing, his matchup against SF and Cueto is one I will be avoiding tonight.
Walker: Pitching great thus far. Only average-or-a-bit-better K rate, but limiting hard contact and keeping the ball on the ground. His L/R splits are skewed due to a huge, unsustainable difference in BABIP (vR: .417 BABIP, .335 wOBA; vL: .145 BABIP, .253 wOBA). I see regression coming against lefties, and the A’s have a ton of guys who could get to him. I like Walker a lot, but not tonight against an Athletics team that is hard to strike out.
Wainwright: On the surface, this looks bad. Waino has been a shell of his former self this year, and the Cubs are one of the best offenses in the league. He’s not striking anybody out, and righties and lefties alike are hitting him hard. Facing Lackey who has good numbers on the year. All that said, Vegas has this as both somewhat low scoring and close. That is probably because (1) the Cubs have been scuffling offensively lately; (2) the Cubs are on the road; and (3) Wainwright has apparently fixed something in his delivery which led to better results in his last outing. You’d be right to be afraid to use him, but remember that he costs just $6000, is facing a K-prone Cubs team, and he just shut down the Rockies (in STL). I think he makes for a good GPP play, and a cost-saver to boot.
Finnegan: The Dodgers aren’t lighting the world on fire, and Finnegan is cheap, but his numbers aren’t impressive (SIERA of 4.82, a walk rate north of 10%, low Ks, and a few too many line drives), and he goes against Kershaw on the road. Even at ownership which will likely approach <1%, this is a no-go.
Colon: Rematch of his last outing where he walked 5, K’d 4, and managed to avoid heavy damage. And scored next to nothing. Nationals have underwhelmed offensively, but I still don’t see how Colon posts a big score today. He does cost only $5800, and he has been pitching far more effectively than anyone would have thought, but for fantasy purposes, I don’t see it today.
Tropeano: Just when you thought you could write him off, Tropeano goes out and has a great game against LAD where he got a huge number of ground balls, and pitched 7 innings. TEX has been ice cold recently, and there is a stiff wind blowing in. That should ameliorate some of the fly ball tendencies Tropeano has. Still, it’s hard to trust him with a high walk rate and with season-long numbers that don’t look very good. I don’t think the Ks will be there, so I don’t see using him even at $5300, but there’s an outside chance he both suppresses TEX’s offense and posts a fairly decent score. A GPP pick isn’t out of the realm of intelligence.
Pelfrey: He appears to have a 15-point ceiling, even against PHI, and that’s not going to cut it. He’s inducing a SwStr% of 8.6%, which should translate into a K% better than the 12.1% he has now, but he’s been just bad. Even against a weak Phillies team, he’s tough to justify. I will point out that the Phillies really are bad, and he does only cost $4900. You probably have better ways to spend your real money, though.
Holland: For a guy who seems to have forgotten how to strike guys out, a matchup against the toughest team to strike out doesn’t look good. Angels have been hitting a little better lately, too. He started out the year with a lot of promise—and he shut down the same Angels last month (6 IP, 4 H, 1 K)—but this looks like another one to avoid.
Moore: The Marlins play tough against Rs, but not so much against Ls. They strike out 25% of the time and have little power to speak of. Sure, they’ve got some good right-handed hitters, and Moore can be hit, but you have to love Moore’s SwStr% of 11.5%, his 23% K rate, and a SIERA that is well below his inflated ERA. Add to that the fact that Stanton appears lost at the plate (1 for his last 18 and 5 for his last 43 with just one HR), and I like Moore as a GPP play. If today is the day Stanton snaps out of it, you’re screwed, but for $6300, this looks like a really nice option.
Nolasco: Nolasco has been alright. The Royals aren’t striking out as much, but they certainly aren’t mashing the ball. He also shut down KCR early in the season. That said, you generally don’t profit much by targeting the KC hitters with merely average pitchers, and given that he costs about the same as Moore, you should probably go with Moore who is in a far better spot. On the other hand, Nolasco will be avoided, and if he happens to score you 20 points—which is not out of the realm of possibility—that will look very nice for you. I’m not going there, but maybe someone will and will be happy they did.