July 28, 2016 Main Slate Pitching Thoughts
So I wasn’t able to get my analysis done for the evening slate in and around work (and sweating the early slate!), but I’ll make up for it by giving you my full thoughts for today’s games. Though this says “main,” I’m going to also throw in my two cents about the 2 early games. I might venture out and play an all-day slate just so I can start “Day Game DeGrom”
But even just on the main slate, there’s some interesting plays to examine. Let’s take a look:
The early slate gives you 4 guys: Jacob DeGrom, Robbie Ray, Zach Davies, and Tyler Anderson. If you’re just playing the early slate cash games, then you fire up DeGrom and Ray, and that’s that. You can branch out a bit in GPPs, but honestly, it’s harder to justify starting the other two.
Some of you have heard me say/write it about DeGrom, but it bears repeating. DeGrom is a great pitcher, no question, but he’s flat-out Cy Young in day games, and he’s really damn good at Citi Field. Today, he plays (1) in the daytime; (2) at Citi Field; and (3) against the Rockies (who are weak on the road). His price tag of $10,300 is, frankly, too low. 30 points is, in my view, easily attainable. On the early slate, I don’t see the justification for a fade. If you’re playing all-day, I think he’s still a top 2 pitcher.
As for Robbie Ray, he’s obvious, but that doesn’t make him a bad play. Everyone knows MIL’s K tendencies, and they can be shut down, even in their offense-happy ballpark (just look at last night). Ray gives you elite Ks already; against MIL, his K chances are through the roof. His SIERA is very respectable, and though he can give up a few too many hard hits, the chances are much better that he has a very high score today. $9,100 is about right for him.
Zach Davies, I suppose, is worth a look. He’s basically Robbie Ray but without the K upside. ARI offers a similar matchup as MIL does, so there’s a chance. If you’re playing GPPs, you could pivot to Davies instead of Ray, and that might work out for you. But certainly tougher to reach Ray’s upside.
I was selling Tyler Anderson short above, at least for GPPs. He’s a solid pitcher with moderate K abilities, and the Mets aren’t really good against lefties, offering up well-above-average Ks (and merely average hitting). No one will be on him, comparatively speaking. Is there a chance he’s the second-highest scoring pitcher of the 4? Yes. For that reason, he’s worth a look in GPPs. Maybe pair him with DeGrom.
Jose Fernandez ($13,400): The guy strikes out 46% (!!!) of the right-handers he faces. That’s absurd. No pitcher is completely matchup-proof, but this is a guy who can put up a monster game anytime. The Cardinals are a mixed bag; they actually have quite a bit of pop against right-handed pitching, and they aren’t big K guys. But while this isn’t the best possible matchup for Jose, I’m not sure it matters that much. That said, there are a ton of aces going tonight, and it’s tough to pay up for Fernandez when he costs thousands more than others. I’d think about using him in a GPP, but that’s where I’d stop.
Johnny Cueto ($11,900): He’s having a very nice year, and there’s a lot to like about his peripheral numbers. Limits damage at a very high level, slightly above-average Ks, keeps the ball on the ground. But it’s the same story with him every time out. I cannot justify paying $11,900 for “slightly above-average Ks” in a matchup against a Nationals team that doesn’t K very much. He feels somewhat safe, but you can buy safety for a lot less. I’ll fade all the way today.
Chris Sale ($11,000): The guy’s had an interesting week! On the pitching side of things, he sports a very good K rate, keeps damage down, and is deadly to left-handers. He gets the Cubs who are a very tough out against lefty pitchers. At his price, and with his matchup, the fade is the right play for cash games. For GPPs, it’s more complicated. Rest assured, Sale will be amped up for his first game back from suspension, and it’s his cross-town rival. He demolished them in 2 starts last year (2-0, 0.64 ERA, 1 run in 14 innings with 10 total baserunners and 25 Ks). This is an improved Cubs team, for sure, but I like the GPP play, even at his high price tag.
John Lackey ($10,100): The other side of the Sale matchup. Perhaps you’ll find this hard to believe, but Lackey has a better K rate than Sale, with more swinging strikes. The two pitchers have a similar batted ball profile, though Lackey is more prone to give up hard hits. The White Sox, though, are nowhere close to the caliber of team at the plate as the Cubs. That makes Lackey’s matchup far superior. I think he’s a great cash play and serviceable for GPPs (he’s still expensive).
Cole Hamels ($9,900): Hamels is quietly having a pretty nice year. For DFS purposes, his numbers stand out. His 12.1% SwStr rate is 2nd best on the night (Fernandez is tops), and he does a good job controlling the damage. The trouble is his matchup. Though the Royals have been nice targets with right-handed pitching, they are considerably tougher against lefties. They barely strike out against them (17%) and are middle-of-the-road at the plate. I think Hamels is an ok play (either format), but I’m not completely wild about it.
Tanner Roark ($8,900): I like Roark generally, and I like him today, as well. He does a very good job at limiting damage and keeping the ball on the ground. The trouble today is the K upside. He’s barely average in Ks (which is fine), but SF is very hard to K. I like him for cash games, but his upside for GPPs isn’t there.
Aaron Nola ($8,400): The Braves pounced all over Duffey and MIN pitching, but Nola’s quite a bit better. I love him in this spot, though I think others will, too. You’re going to get some Ks, though ATL, as bad as they are, does not K as much as one would like. Everything else matches up very nicely at an attractive price point. He’ll be popular, but it’s an elite cash pick and a decent GPP pick.
Kyle Gibson ($6,600): I know what you’re thinking. Gibson is a bit of a gas can at times, and he’s known as a contact pitcher anyway. But let me throw some stats at you:
Pitcher A: 9.2% SwStr, 22.7% Ks, 5% BBs, 25.9% hard hits, 19.8% LDs, 51.7% ground balls, 28.5% fly balls.
Pitcher B: 9.2% SwStr, 16.6% Ks, 8.1% BBs, 26.5% hard hits, 19.8% LDs, 52.4% ground balls, 27.8% fly balls.
Pitcher B is Kyle Gibson. Pitcher A—who shares a number of similar metrics—is Johnny Cueto. If Johnny Cueto were priced at $6600 and pitching at home against BAL, would you play him? Yes, of course you would. Now, Cueto has a longer history of dominance, and has always been a better K guy than Gibson, but you’d take Cueto in this spot even if he cost $9000. The discount to $6600 more than reflects the lower upside.
Gibson is a GPP play, not a cash play, but you really need to give it some thought. Did you see what he just did against BOS?
Michael Wacha ($6,500): Wacha is a very “meh” pitcher in a very “meh” matchup against a very “meh” Marlins offense. He’s very cheap, so that’s good, and he’s unlikely to get blown up (so, that’s great for your cash games), but he’s going up against Fernandez, so the win is not very likely. I see no allure to taking Wacha today.
Yordano Ventura ($5,700): I don’t often pick on TEX with opposing pitchers, and I’m unlikely to do so here. Ventura has put together three reasonably solid starts, so there is some possibilities here, but it’s not safe at all. When he’s on, he can be pretty tough, but he’s also been particularly hittable this year. I can see the merit for a GPP (no ownership at all), but I’m going to pass.
Matt Wisler ($5,600): There’s not much to like here except the comparatively easy matchup against PHI. Wisler doesn’t K enough, yields far too many hard hits, and gives up far too many fly balls. That said, PHI has gone back to their meager hitting ways. If the K upside were there, I’d be more interested. The low ownership will be nice, and he could put together a nice game, but I’ll still be looking elsewhere.
Jared Weaver ($5,100): Weaver against the Red Sox? Yikes! This has disaster written all over it. Red Sox will be a very popular stack, and there is plenty of potential for multiple HRs by BOS hitters. Even if he doesn’t manage to get destroyed tonight, there is no upside at all.
Ubaldo Jimenez ($4,700): He’s been bad, but he’s not 7.38 ERA bad. I actually think more people will throw darts his way than his recent form indicates. You know what risks there are with him. He has plus-K stuff (which doesn’t always translate), but his BB rate is an obscene 12.5%. Lots of line drives, lots of hard hits. MIN is occasionally susceptible to striking out, but they can also hit pretty well. I feel this game is risky for both sides. If I were playing a large-field GPP and trying to decide if I should play Ubaldo or stack against him, I’d choose to play him. Today, I will probably choose to play neither Ubaldo nor MIN hitters (or at least not more than 1 or 2).
Good luck today everyone! Go forth and win some money!