July 8, 2016 Main Slate Pitching Thoughts
The sheet has been nailing it on the hitter side lately! I hope you’ve been using it and making some money! I still like the pitcher data it has, but that’s a little less plug-and-play than the hitter selections are, so that’s where my Notes might help you out.
Let’s take a look!
Jose Fernandez: Boy, if there ever was a chalky pick, this one is it! Fernandez is a K machine, and CIN is pretty poor all around. Fernandez is a massive favorite, but he has the K upside today to be a top-2 scorer. If you’re playing cash games, you really need to figure out how to get him in your lineup. If you’re playing GPP’s, it’s not quite that simple. He’s expensive (but not overpriced, if that makes sense), so rostering him comes at the cost of some of your hitters, and there’s always a chance he doesn’t put up a crazy line tonight. It’s a full slate, so you can likely find some options elsewhere (like Tyler Duffey last night!). Not recommending you do that, but it’s a consideration for GPPs.
Vincent Velasquez: The sheet loves him, but he has the unfortunate distinction of playing at Coors tonight. His curveball is tremendous, his K upside is there, but the downside is there as well. On DraftKings, where he’s been priced down to $7200, he is very intriguing in GPP’s. Rest assured, though, he will be intriguing to many as the, “Oh look, I’m being contrarian by playing a pitcher at Coors” play. I’m not saying he’s a bad play, but he doesn’t excite me as much as he otherwise might. You’re taking on a lot of risk if you try to use him in cash games, and you’re probably walking into too large of ownership if you try to use him in GPP’s.
Chad Green: Hopefully you can recognize that Chad Green is way up here on the strength of his great performance against San Diego, in Petco. The Indians, though, are an entirely different matter. There’s a light wind blowing out, which helps CLE hitters, and CLE has been on an extended hot streak. But it is worth digging in a bit further here. Green has always been a good strikeout guy (8.5 K/9 in the minors), does not give up many HR’s, keeps the ball on the ground more often than not, and has cut his walks down this year. Before being called up, he put together a 1.54 ERA in 14 games this year at AAA with 82 K’s in 81.2 IP, and a WHIP of 0.98. In other words, he’s a legitimate pitcher. Take his start against San Diego with a grain of salt, but don’t discount it entirely. He’s a GPP-only play today, but it’s not crazy to consider him.
Steven Strasburg: One of the “big 4” (or “big 6”) in price today, and his matchup is similarly good as Fernandez’s. The Mets strike out a lot, and though they can be dangerous from time to time, Strasburg has a great deal of success at Citi Field. I suppose there is the lingering danger of injury, but he looked fine last time out. He was a tad wild, which limited both his K’s and his IP’s last time out (and, ultimately, his score), but he’s a rock-solid cash play tonight, and I don’t mind him in GPP’s. I actually expect people might shy away from him going up against Syndergaard. In my mind, that’d be a mistake. Not saying he’s a must-play in either format, but don’t overlook him because of the opposing pitcher.
Michael Wacha: Well, now this is interesting. We have a slate full of aces, and Wacha bubbles up to the top 5. Here, it’s the strikeouts you’re going after, as Milwaukee the most K-happy team this year against righties. Wacha does a reasonable job of limiting the hard contact, and he does a decent job at keeping the ball out of the air. There’s a very good chance the K’s are there tonight, but I’m concerned by how hittable he has been lately. His last two starts have seen him surrender 10 Walks + Hits (the WH of WHIP), and his season-long WHIP is 1.41. That’s not elite or even all that good. His SIERA is a barely serviceable 4.30, and he costs $8100 on DK tonight. In the end, he’s a guy that I’m not crazy about tonight, but I see the potential. If he has a good night, he’ll score you 25-30 pts at low enough ownership to be useful. If he is off, you’re looking at 15 or less.
Jimmy Nelson: Maybe not deserving of the bottom spot, but he has been rather hittable lately, and I don’t see the K upside much at all today. Wasn’t bad against STL last time, but wasn’t great either. Now he gets them in a park more suited for hitting with a wind blowing out. That’s not a good recipe.
Hisashi Iwakuma: Once a solid-looking cash play regardless of the opponent, he has become very hittable, and the K’s aren’t there. The Royals might not pile the runs on, but they also don’t give Iwakuma much of a chance to rack up anything resembling a reasonable score tonight. You can safely avoid him.
Andrew Cashner: I disagree with this one! I’m not saying Cashner is going to be great or even be a guy you want to use, but he came off injury to pitch a very nice game (albeit at Petco) against the Yankees. The Dodgers aren’t all that scary this year, and their home park is pitcher-friendly at night, and they just got shut down by Pomeranz. The K upside is likely not there, but I have no qualms at all if you were to use him in a cash game or a GPP.
Noah Syndergaard: Do what now? No. Thor is not a bottom-5 guy. You do use him at some risk—the Nationals are good, and there is this lingering question about his elbow—but his recent performance is more likely a blip than anything else (and he did just shut down the Cubs). I expect ownership to be down a bit, so he makes for a good GPP play at a price we won’t see on him for a while.
Jeff Samardzija: Another re-match outing. Samardzija is capable of pitching well, but he’s remarkably unreliable. The D-Backs are a solid team, though they can strike out a bit, they can also hit. He gave up 4 runs against them 6 days ago but managed to avoid walks and a big blow-up. Certainly don’t go stacking the D-Backs hitters, but this isn’t a great spot for Samardzija to put up a big total, and his $8900 price tag is unappealing.
Chris Sale? Great cash play, but too expensive for a surprisingly low ceiling.
Jake Arrieta? I like the play, more for GPP’s than cash, but workable in either format. Price is a bit high.
Matt Shoemaker? Same story as always with Baltimore: high-risk, high-reward. Exceedingly cheap, so he makes for a very strong play.
Daniel Mengden? See Matt Shoemaker, though facing HOU and $2900 more expensive. Still makes for a strong play. Low ownership is nearly certain.
Corey Kluber? If you’re paying up for pitching tonight, don’t make it Corey Kluber. Yankees don’t strike out much, and though the play might work out, 30+ pts (what you need from him) is really unlikely.
I ran out of time today to look deeply at stacks, but teams like SEA, LAA, and the Cubs are likely to go underowned, and teams like BOS/TB, COL/PHI, TOR, and TEX are likely to be oversubscribed.
Good luck tonight!!