September 13 Main Slate Pitching Thoughts
We’re back! Sorry I missed yesterday. Work was crazy, and it was a rare full Monday slate. Today’s a full slate, too, but I have a little extra time, so I’m going to shoot to do my full write-up.
We’ve got a good mix of pitching today, and a LOT of high-K guys which means there’s upside (and a potential for downfall) everywhere. Let’s see what we have…
The guys with great swing-and-miss stuff:
Syndergaard: I like him a lot today, and his price ($11,700) is reasonable enough. Many will shy away from the matchup against the Nationals, and I get it. They have talented hitters, and Syndergaard hasn’t wowed against them all year. That said, he’s got the best K stuff on the board and is facing a Nats team that has seemingly adopted its identity as a team that hits just barely well enough to win games. Great in real life, but bad for fantasy purposes. I like him in cash. Always reason to fade in GPPs, as I think you can get his value elsewhere.
Pick on him with: You never know when he’s going to have a bad game, so a GPP play with anyone isn’t out of the question. That said, your best bet are the left-handers as he just eats right-handers up (29.7% Ks, 24.3% Hard-hit). Now, he’s still got good numbers against lefties (28.1% Ks and 30.5% hard-hit), but you never know. Also, he’s terrible at holding guys on, so anyone with speed is a SB threat.
Duffy: He’s right up there with Syndergaard on his K stuff (14.5% vs 13.2% SwStr%; 29% Ks v. 26.7% Ks), and his price is starting to reflect that. He’s up at $10,300 now. There are two big differences between the two pitchers. Syndergaard is very good at keeping the ball on the ground (50.5% GB rate), while Duffy is a fly ball pitcher (44.2% to Thor’s 27.3%). He also allows a good deal more hard contact (35.2% to Thor’s 27%). This means that while his upside is near Syndergaard’s, he’s a bit more risky. He does get a nice matchup against OAK, though they did light up Dillon Gee last night. They may not K as much as you’d like to see, but this crop of hitters is nowhere near good. I kind of like him for cash games, but he’s more suited for GPP contests.
Pick on him with: He’s lethal against lefties, so don’t play any OAK Ls against him. Righties (37% Hard, 45.8% (!!) FB rate) are the way to go, but understand that he still strikes out nearly 25% of right-handers with a very low 5.3% BB rate. I’m inclined to not pick on him at all, but if you must, stick with right-handers. Valencia is your best bet.
Pomeranz: Another guy with a great SwStr% (11.2%) and K% (26.7%), and though everyone thinks of the Orioles as a power-hitting team (and they are), they really struggle against lefties. 21.8% Ks, 79 WRC+ (that’s nearly as bad as the Dodgers!), a .384 SLG, and a .153 ISO. Price-wise, he comes in right behind Duffy at $10,100, but his matchup has a little better K upside. The big concern is his high BB rate (9.4%) and his recent trends. After lighting up TB for 26.7 DK points, he had a rematch and put up a rather disappointing 20.8, and followed that up with just 14 DK pts against SD in Petco. That said, I think this is a sneaky spot to use him. His price and recent performance might scare some people off, as will the perceived difficult matchup. He may give up a run or two, but the O’s couldn’t figure out Price last night, and I don’t think they’ll figure out Pomeranz. Good for cash, great for GPPs.
Pick on him with: Though Pomeranz is a lefty, he’s far more successful at holding righties down. There isn’t a matchup I love tonight, though Machado can hit anyone (and did last night), and Davis (a lefty) has been hot lately. Pomeranz gives up over 40% fly balls to lefties with “only” a 22% K rate (it’s 28.5% vs Rs). You can be assured no one will have Davis. But there’s little else to like here.
Bundy: Here’s a very interesting matchup! Let’s look at the numbers: 92 Ks in 94 IPs, a 10.9% SwStr rate and a 22.7% K rate. More fly balls than ground balls (that’s good/bad), and a 27.8% hard-hit rate (that’s quite good). A SIERA of 4.11. He faces Boston (that’s bad), but it’s not as bad as you think. Boston crushes ground ball hitters, but fly ball hitters are their relative weakness. Fly balls + weaker contact = outs. Add in Ks, and you’ve got enough upside that it’s worth looking at. Throw in his price of $5,500—and the anecdotal fact that Pomeranz gets no run-support—and I’m highly intrigued! Of course, it is Boston, and they did just pound him for 5 runs on 9 hits in 4 innings a month ago… GPP only!
Pick on him with: Right-handers are far more likely to K or BB than lefties are against Bundy, so I like lefties more. But you can stack against Bundy, too, and come out pretty well.
Ray: Normally, you like facing the Rockies away from Coors, but facing them in Arizona is no good. Ray has some top-flight K stuff (195 Ks in 155 IPs), yet he’s got some ugly Home/Away splits. Away from Chase Field, he strikes out 31.4%. At home, though, that drops to 25.1% (still good, but…). He gives up hard hits 3% more at home than on the road, and his home/away wOBA is .351/.299. The Rockies do present with some K upside, and Chase Field is still a (small) step down from Coors, but this is a risky matchup. I’m staying away, but I do like his $7,700 price tag. That’s quite fair for the risk you’re taking on.
Pick on him with: Right-handers. He does a very nice job at containing lefties, but at home against righties, he yields a 41% hard-hit rate (which is awful), coupled with a 31% fly ball rate. The two go poorly together! He still gets his Ks against righties, but when they make contact, look out. [Side note: he has faced 75 lefties at home. He has given up no HRs to them (only 26% hard-hit rate)]
Smyly: Another guy I’m intrigued with. First of all, he’s cheap ($7,400); second of all, he still has a great SwStr% and K% (10.8% and 23.2%, respectively); third of all, no one will be on him tonight. There’s no doubt that he’s had two rough starts in a row, and the last time he faced TOR in TOR, he was mediocre at best (12.1 DK points: 6 IP, 2 Rs, 6 Hs, 3 BBs, 2 Ks, but got the W). His 50% fly balls are scary, but he does limit the hard hits (29.6%), and TOR is not particularly strong against fly ball pitchers. There’s risk here—a lot of it—but also a lot of opportunity. He has 3X upside or more, if he’s on.
Pick on him with: Right-handed power. Donaldson and Devon Travis fit the bill and do the best against fly ball pitchers. Encarnacion is in the next tier. Smoak and Barney are very under-the-radar. Lefties can sometimes hit him, too, but he Ks them at a far greater rate.
Urias: Given the new-found Yankee resurgence at the plate, I don’t like Urias here, despite his 10.5% SwStr rate and 25.5% K rate. He’s likely to go just 5-6 innings, and at $8,900, he seems too expensive. Certainly has some upside, but his IP cap probably has him at a 20-22 point ceiling. That’s not enough for me.
Pick on him with: Though he’s still pretty good at getting righties out (and limiting the damage)—so I’m not very high on them—he Ks lefties at 35.4%, so you do not want to attack him from the left side of the plate. I doubt many will pick NYY hitters, but I like the play for some low ownership tonight.
A.J. Cole: Worth mentioning as he did just outduel Syndergaard and has some nice K upside. Should go low-owned. But beware: he’s susceptible to lefties, and he’s an extreme fly ball pitcher. Despite having just shut them down, the Mets do have a plethora of hitters who feast on fly ball pitchers. Given his price of $8,200, I’m not as inclined, though there still is plenty of upside.
Pick on him with: Don’t pick on him in cash games. But in GPPs, anyone. Guys like Kelly Johnson, Loney, Cabrera, Bruce, Granderson could all go yard. Cespedes, too.
De La Rosa: Very, very risky. He has a 10.5% SwStr rate, which is very good, but just a 17.1% K rate, which suggests that he performs very poorly in 2-strike counts (the numbers bear this out). The D-Backs do strike out a lot against lefties (23.6%) but also crush them (.483 SLG and .206 ISO). With a guy who has “stuff,” there’s always a chance he performs well (see his 8-inning gem against the Cubs a few weeks ago or his 20+ score against ARI in Coors back in June), but they might also knock him around a lot.
Pick on him with: Anyone, but a slight edge to righties.
Jharel Cotton: Only putting him here because he did record an 11.8% SwStr rate in his first start. So there’s upside. But that was against LAA without Trout and Pujols. Though the Royals aren’t very good against righties, this will be a significantly tougher matchup. His K prowess is legitimate, but exercise caution, especially as he’s facing Duffy.
Pick on him with: Don’t know yet for sure, but lefties are your best option.
The guys with good swing-and-miss stuff:
Nova: He’s on a tear lately and gets a plum matchup against Philly. He’ll be popular, but he should also be a safe haven for points. At $10,600, though, I’m going elsewhere, especially in GPPs.
Pick on him with: Lefties, though who does PHI really have? Ryan Howard might run into one again.
Hammel: After what Hendricks did last night, there will probably be a few people on Hammel tonight. He’s got some curious things going on, though. He possesses a 9.9% SwStr rate, a 20% K rate, but pretty mediocre numbers all around after that. Also, in 3 of his last 4 starts (excluding the PIT game), he’s pitched 10 innings and has given up 17 runs on 28 hits and 7 walks. One of those starts was in Coors, but that’s awful. He has some significant home/road splits, being much better at home. On paper, STL is great against Rs, though they are hit and miss, too. In the end, I’m staying far away in cash, but he’s an interesting GPP option, especially at $6,800.
Pick on him with: Lefties, though recently, anyone!
Boyd: Lefties facing the Twins will either get a ton of Ks or get shelled. Boyd got the former last time against MIN, as he did earlier the season. He’s pitching reasonably well and gets the Twins at home in a game that really matters for DET. They all do at this point. He’s a little pricey at $7,900, but there’s enough upside that it’s worth looking at in either cash or GPPs.
Pick on him with: Righties. Lefties make more contact, but righties hit it harder and higher into the air.
Straily: Has K upside facing MIL, but also has the potential to get hammered. It’s very risky, and I’m inclined to side with the Brewers here, though it’s worth noting that he’s faced the Brewers twice since the all-star break and has put up 18 and 21.4 DK points in those two outings.
Pick on him with: Honestly, anyone in their lineup, though I like the righties quite a bit better.
Stroman: Bound to be popular tonight as he’s facing the high-K-upside Rays. He’s not a K juggernaut, but he is average or a tad bit better, and he’s got an elite ground ball rate. I don’t like his $9,000 price tag, and though he might do very nicely, I think there’s a better chance he gets shelled than he puts up a top-3 score tonight.
Pick on him with: Longoria, Forsythe, Miller, and Dickerson. Guys who all hit ground ball pitchers well.
Walker: Boy is this one a risk! He’s been garbage, though perhaps he has ironed out his issues after adjusting his delivery. That said, he faces the Angels, so I am not sure the K upside is where you want it. His ownership will be next to nothing, though, and his $5,300 price tag is—for a guy with his track record of strikeouts—very, very appealing.
Pick on him with: Anyone you like. This LAA team knocked him out in the first inning last time around (hitting three HRs). You won’t get that performance again, but there’s merit to playing anyone today. That said, he might shut them down, especially if he’s “figured it out.”
Gibson: Huge SwStr%, but low K rate. The Tigers have been in a hitting funk for a bit now, but they keep hanging around the playoff picture, and they pounded him last time out. There is a chance he pitches well, but even with Detroit’s general anemic performance lately, I like their hitters more than Gibson tonight.
Pick on him with: Lefties are your best bet, but the Tigers don’t have many. It’s OK to play righties, too. Cabrera, Martinez (either), or Saltalamacchia are the best positioned tonight.
I’ve run out of time today, so let me run through the last folks in a quick fashion. You all have read enough words anyhow!
Asher: Don’t hate him against PIT, but no Ks.
Richard: Very sneaky GPP pick. Risky, but I don’t think people have caught on to him yet.
Peacock: Not interested. You shouldn’t be either.
Quintana/Bauer: Facing each other, and I’m not keen on either. Both are far too expensive. They rack up Ks, but both K more than their SwStr% suggests they should, especially Quintana. Quintana is favored, and the game has a low Vegas total, but I don’t see much I like.
Sabathia: I’m very tempted, as LAD is very bad against Ls, but there’s more I dislike than like here. Close call for me, but I vote for a fade. Dodger lineup is light on lefties tonight.
Garza: Risky, but he’ll fly under the radar tonight. Has put together three nice starts in a row. Lefties hit him hard, but CIN has just two: Votto and Schebler. Votto is not good against ground ball pitchers, while Schebler is great. If he navigates those two, I like him a lot. Was hit around in his prior start at CIN, but a lot of those guys aren’t there tonight (Hamilton, Bruce, Cozart). His $7,300 price tag will keep many away.
Suarez: Chalky, facing SD. Likely to have a solid outing.
Garcia: Can go out and have randomly strong outings, but supremely hittable lately. I don’t see enough upside on such a big slate to go here.
Wisler: Intriguing, and had two great starts his last times out. MIA nickel-and-dimed ATL to the tune of a bunch of runs, and the same thing could happen tonight. His range of possible performances are wide, but I see a greater than 50/50 chance he has an uninspiring outing at such a high price ($8500).
Esch: He’s cheap and facing ATL, so if you need a cash game pitcher, he’s not a bad option. That said, I don’t like him much at all tonight.
About the Author:
Dr. Mike Hass is a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan and a lawyer who lives in Washington DC. He started playing DFS a couple years ago when he no longer had time for season long leagues, and has been hooked ever since. He plays most DFS sports but he focuses most of his time on MLB, especially pitching. He started posting his pitching analyses on Twitter @msonichdrhass last season mostly because it helped him organize his thoughts. Eventually, there were enough people reading, and asking for it daily, so he now does it as regularly as possible (around family and career). He’s primarily a GPP player, but also writes advice for cash games, too.