August 2nd, 2016 Pitching Thoughts
Happy Tuesday! Giant slate today, so that makes it important to really narrow things down. Hopefully, some of you took advantage of the good pitching all around last night, including the Danny Duffy masterpiece! He was just 5% owned. If you had him, there’s a good chance you cashed. If you had him AND Kepler…
It’s a little hard to attack today’s slate because of all the aces going tonight, each of them viable. So I’m going to try a different grouping than I usually do. I like to compare pitchers when I’m analyzing, and I like using Swinging Strikes as that is often quite predictive as to the K prowess of a given pitcher. Generally speaking, a pitcher’s K rate should be roughly 2X their SwStr% (a little greater, actually). If a pitcher has a 10% SwStr rate, their K% should be a little higher than 20% (or at least in and around that mark). Guys with a much higher SwStr% can sometimes support a higher ratio than that.
Let’s group them that way today and see who stands out, and I’ll throw in the batted-ball profiles, too, for good comparison:
Tier 1: 13%+
Darvish (13.1% SwStr, 34.1% Ks) (32.9% Hard, 22.4% LD, 43.4% GB, 34.2% FB)
Shoemaker (13.5% SwStr, 23.1% Ks) (30.9% Hard, 24.0% LD, 37.7% GB, 38.3% FB)
Fernandez (14.7% SwStr, 36.8% Ks) (31.6% Hard, 28.5% LD, 40.8% GB, 30.7% FB)
The thing that stands out the most for me is the K disparity for Shoemaker. Given his SwStr%, his Ks should be much closer to Darvish and Fernandez. That’s an opportunity for value. When the three guys above allow hitters to actually hit the ball, they are largely the same, though Fernandez gives up quite a few line drivers, and they all surrender more hard hits than I like seeing. That said, when you have this good of stuff, the Hard% doesn’t matter as much.
On the matchup side, Shoemaker has the easiest matchup but also the lowest K upside. And without Reddick, OAK is much weaker. For Darvish/Fernandez, the K potential is largely the same, but BAL is more dangerous by the numbers (Vegas agrees).
Price-wise, Darvish and Fernandez are VERY pricy, and Shoemaker is more moderately priced. They are all playable in both formats. I like Shoemaker the most, given price, K potential, and matchup. I like Fernandez next and Darvish after that. There’s a great argument to be made to fade the high-cost pitchers, given the rest of the slate, but I think any of these guys are in line for a great game!
Tier 2: 11.5%-12.7%
Price (12.1% SwStr, 25.1% Ks) (35.8% Hard, 25.5% LD, 45.3% GB, 29.2% FB)
Bumgarner (11.7% SwStr, 28.4% Ks) (32.0% Hard, 20.6% LD, 38.8% GB, 40.6% FB)
McCullers (12.7% SwStr, 30.1% Ks) (24.5% Hard%, 20.4% LD, 57.5% GB, 22.0% FB)
Gray (12.1% SwStr, 25.4% Ks) (30.2% Hard, 22.3% LD, 46.3% GB, 31.4% FB)
Manaea (11.5% SwStr, 20.4% Ks) (33.0% Hard, 22.3% LD, 41.9% GB, 35.8% FB)
Carrasco (11.6% SwStr, 23.8% Ks) (33.2% Hard, 16.7% LD, 51.0% GB, 32.2% FB)
My cut-off for this tier is a bit arbitrary, but I like the comparisons here. First of all, Gray, is at Coors today, so he’s the risky option. You can see from the K numbers that McCullers is way outperforming what he should be doing, as is MadBum (though he’s more talented, so he’s more in line with expectations). McCullers has some great batted ball stats, giving up very few hard hits and tons of ground balls. Along with the Ks, that’s excellent for DFS. Manaea is the interesting name. He gives up a few more hard hits than one wants to see, but he has a very healthy SwStr% which can support more Ks. That’s a value opportunity. Carasco has numbers very similar to Manaea (wouldn’t expect that, would you?) but does a better job keeping the ball on the ground.
The trouble for Manaea is the matchup! He faces LAA who just doesn’t K much. That limits the K upside, but keep him in mind for future starts. Price gets the Mariners (average), and McCullers gets the Blue Jays (average). Those two teams are scuffling a bit right now, and the pitchers could score nicely as a result. Gray gets the Dodgers at Coors, and that’s never ideal. MadBum, though, gets a great matchup against the Phillies who may not K a ton but can’t hit lefties at all. Carrasco gets the scorching hot Twins who are only average season-long, but who are unstoppable right now.
There are big differences in prices, and here’s where the rubber meets the road. Bumgarner is way more expensive than the others ($13,000), though he has the safest matchup. His upside isn’t a whole lot greater, though. To me, that says yes to cash games, but no to GPPs. Price and McCullers have similar matchups and are priced similarly (Price at $9,600 and McCullers at $10,300). I’m not a huge fan of either for cash games, but either one could make for a good GPP play. Price will get more attention. Manaea clocks in at $7,400 which is very enticing, though with the lack of K upside, I’m thinking he’s better for cash than for GPPs. Carrasco costs $10,500—I hope that based on the comparisons above, you can see that he’s a subpar option tonight at that cost!
One final note on Price: his season-long hard-hit percentage is bad. He’s pitching better right now, but I see more risk than McCullers on that front.
Tier 3: 10%+
DeGrom (10.4% SwStr, 24.2% Ks) (31.4% Hard, 22.4% LD, 46.4% GB, 31.3% FB)
Tanaka (11.0% SwStr, 19.8% Ks) (33.7% Hard, 22.5% LD, 48.0% GB, 29.5% FB)
Ray (11.0% SwStr, 27.7% Ks) (35.3% Hard, 23.6% LD, 45.6% GB, 30.8% FB)
Hammel (10.0% SwStr, 21.0% Ks) (28.8% Hard, 19.1% LD, 42.7% GB, 38.2% FB)
Dickey (10.0% SwStr, 17.1% Ks) (31.5% Hard, 20.9% LD, 43.8% GB, 35.2% FB)
Folty (10.0% SwStr, 20.5% Ks) (28.4% Hard, 21.3% LD, 41.1% GB, 37.6% FB)
Bundy (10.8% SwStr, 21.8% Ks) (30.6% Hard, 22.6% LD, 32.3% GB, 45.2% FB)
-small sample size here
This tier has a wide range of guys, but two guys stand out to me right away: Hammel and Folty. Both have a double-digit SwStr% and room to grow for Ks, and both keep the hard hits to a minimum and the balls that are hit more on the ground than in the air. Tanaka is another guy who should see some K growth, and he, too, keeps the ball on the ground. Ray is overperforming and allows way too many hard hits for my liking. DeGrom is, as always, solid. Dickey is a wildcard because of the knuckleball, and Bundy doesn’t have enough starter innings to really know much, though I don’t like the fly balls.
Hammel has the safest matchup against the Marlins. That makes him a great cash game play, though he has limited upside for Ks. I like DeGrom’s safe matchup against the Yankees, though again, the Ks may not be there at the level we like to see. Ray goes up against a very dangerous Nats team at Chase Field. I don’t like his spot at all! Folty’s matchup is average against a not-too-scary PIT team, and Bundy faces a much more dangerous lineup in the Rangers. That leaves us Tanaka against the Mets and Dickey against the Astros. I love Tanaka’s matchup and think he’s a great play for both cash and GPPs tonight. Dickey is the consummate GPP play: could shut the Astros down or get crushed. Good luck guessing which one!
Cost is again the big differentiator: deGrom’s safe matchup will cost you $11,500. Hammel’s will cost you $8,700. Do with that what you will! Tanaka is reasonably priced at $9,700, but that will also drive his ownership up, as he offers upside at great salary relief. Still a worthy play, but not as good as it could be. Folty is kinda safe, offers so-so upside but costs just $6,600 on DK. That’s a very nice cash game price which would allow you to roster one of the expensive guys. Dickey’s price is $6,000, which makes him an outstanding (and risky) GPP play. Bundy is nearly minimum priced, though I don’t like his matchup much at all. At that price, though, you could do worse! That leaves us with Robbie Ray and his $8,200. Since I don’t like the matchup, I don’t like the price either! I don’t even like him for GPPs.
Tier 4: 9-10%
Andriese (9.9% SwStr, 19.2% Ks) (35.9% Hard, 18.8% LD, 47.3% GB, 33.8% FB)
Gibson (9.7% SwStr, 17.1% Ks) (27.3% Hard, 21.1% LD, 52.4% GB, 26.4% FB)
Sanchez (9.3% SwStr, 20.3% Ks) (31.7% Hard, 20.3% LD, 39.2% GB, 40.5% FB)
Straily (9.5% SwStr, 19.4% Ks) (32.1% Hard, 21.4% LD, 33.2% GB, 45.4% FB)
McCarthy (9.9% SwStr, 33.3% Ks) (33.3% Hard, 17.9% LD, 39.3% GB, 42.9% FB)
Perdomo (9.5% SwStr, 16.3% Ks) (32.6% Hard, 21.0% LD, 57.6% GB, 21.4% FB)
I’m running short on time, and this article is long enough, so I’ll keep this tier brief! Plus, you’ve seen how I analyze these numbers, so you can probably draw some of the same conclusions as I do. Here’s what I see:
McCarthy’s numbers are way out of whack (small sample size?) and he’s going at Coors. Fade.
Andriese is not a bad play against KC, but I don’t like those hard hits.
Sanchez can get Ks, but he’s been pretty bad. I don’t like him much against the CWS.
Straily is surprisingly more effective than one would think, but he’s got a bad matchup against STL.
Gibson? He has room to grow in Ks and does a great job of keeping the ball on the ground. However, he gets to face CLE, so this is a bad spot for him. That said, many people don’t realize he’s been missing this many bats. People still think of him as a garbage pitcher; he’s not that, at least right now.
But I love Perdomo again tonight. Those Ks should come up to a level where his SwStr rate is, and facing the Brewers tonight, they very likely will. And he’s at Petco. And he’s a big ground ball pitcher. And he costs just $4,700! He’s my favorite GPP play, and I like him for cash, too.
Tier 5: 8%+
Wainwright (8.1% SwStr, 18.8% Ks) (31.3% Hard, 25.3% LD, 44.6% GB, 30.1% FB)
Davies (8.1% SwStr, 19.8% Ks) (33.4% Hard, 19.8% LD, 46.8% GB, 33.4% FB)
Ventura (8.6% SwStr, 17.4% Ks) (32.1% Hard, 18.3% LD, 49.0% GB, 32.7% FB)
Cole (8.4% SwStr, 20.0% Ks) (29.8% Hard, 24.8% LD, 45.0% GB, 30.2% FB)
Roark (8.8% SwStr, 20.4% Ks) (23.4% Hard, 20.5% LD, 50.8% GB, 28.7% FB)
These guys face CIN (sans Bruce), SDP (sans Kemp at Petco), TBR (sans like, everyone), ATL, and ARI respectively, so the matchups are all good ones. In this group, I like Ventura if he keeps his walks down, for GPPs. Cole against ATL is chalky cash, but a good pick. Roark has some great numbers. I think any of these guys are playable in cash games, but I only like Ventura for GPPs.
Tier 6: everyone else
Zach Eflin (5.9% SwStr, 11.8% Ks)
Wade Leblanc (7.2% SwStr, 17.3% Ks)
I’m not going to bother going deeper than this. On a night when you’ve got a ton of good options, these two should not be on your list!
Whew! Sorry for the very long article. It helped me organize my thoughts, and hopefully you learned something about how I approach the slates. This aren’t the only numbers I look at, but I do always look at these. I hope you can use some of this info tonight, and I hope it wins you some money!!