July 27, 2016 Early Slate Pitching Thoughts
Good morning/afternoon! I’m changing things up a little bit today and am going to do a full write-up of the early slate. I’ll probably go back to my normal analysis of guys on the top and bottom of the sheet for the main slate, but there’s a number on intriguing matchups on tap for the early games. I felt I needed to talk about them all!
So here we go!
The one ultra-expensive guy:
Madison Bumgarner ($13,200): I don’t like paying up for really expensive pitching, especially when this slate is full of good matchups for pitchers with plenty of value to be had. That said, Bumgarner has the distinction of being perhaps the best pitcher going and has one of the best matchups. You know the story on him: lots of Ks (esp. against Ls), dominant at home, nothing special in his batted-ball profile, but this is a guy who can throw a CGSHO any day. The Reds, meanwhile, are pretty rough against lefties, posting a 23.3% K rate and underwhelming numbers otherwise. MadBum’s price is interesting. It’s very high, but it’s so high in relation to everyone else, that his ownership might actually get depressed further than it should. I think he’s a safe (if ill-advised, due to price) cash game play, and I think that enough will fade him for price concerns, that taking him might be contrarian in GPPs. Worth considering. [note: I just checked the Vegas line—wow! MadBum is a very heavy favorite, and very heavy favorites tend to see higher ownership]
Brandon McCarthy ($10,800): His price has caught up to his performance, finally. His K rate is a gaudy (and over-inflated) 32.1% (his SwStr rate is merely 9%, which is more in line with a ~20% K rate), but his other numbers support his performance to date. Essentially, he has the same matchup vs TB as Bumgarner does against CIN. Both are high-Ks, low damage against Rs. McCarthy, though, is $2400 cheaper. And his numbers come with a smaller sample size. And a BABIP that is unreasonably low. On paper, McCarthy is the better play because he comes with the same (or better) upside as Bumgarner with a cheaper tag. But he will also be popular, and he’s not going to keep up this good of a season, so beware.
Stephen Strasburg ($10,600): Having an outstanding season, grabbing Ks, wins, and limiting the damage pretty well. He has the toughest matchup today—CLE is on a months-long offensive streak—and for that reason he makes for a bad cash game play but a great GPP play. He always has the potential to go out and K 10+, and with ownership at a pretty low mark, he’s a very intriguing play even on the road. CLE is putting out their regular lineup, but give Stras some strong consideration.
Carlos Carrasco ($9,200): The other side of the Strasburg matchup. Carrasco is also having a great year with a very good K rate (backed up by an 11.7% SwStr rate) and a huge number of ground balls. He does allow a number of extra hard hits than one wants to see, but his matchup is, overall, easier than Strasburg’s. The Nats K at just about the same rate, but they are considerably weaker at the plate by comparison. He is also slightly favored and comes with a nice price tag. I like him a lot for cash games and think he is a serviceable GPP play.
Adam Conley ($9,000): Should be popular and with good reason. He’s striking out guys at an above-average clip, has tons of talent, and faces a poor-hitting Phillies team (esp. against Ls) with a penchant for striking out. The Phillies are really, really bad against lefties, so that even if the Ks aren’t there, the damage should be low. This series has also been a big pitcher’s duel. Conley’s heavily favored, as well. Great cash play. I am concerned by two things: his 9.2% walk rate and the fact that only 37% of the balls hit off him stay on the ground. Those weaknesses are minimized by a bad Phillies team, but if he doesn’t have his control, it could be a short, low-scoring outing for him.
Dan Straily ($7,900): Now we get into the cheap end of the pitching slate! Straily has been somewhat of a surprise, with a few good outings tossed in, but that’s not going to last. He is buoyed by a WHIP of 1.19 (nice!) and .235 BABIP (too low) and hamstrung by a very high walk rate (10.4%), a high SIERA (4.85), a high Hard% (32.3%), and a bad GB/FB ratio. The Giants are the wrong place to use him. But that does not come as a surprise. Things will come crashing down for Mr. Straily in short order.
Matt Moore ($7,500): Sort of a dark horse pick, but it’s one I like for GPPs. First, Moore has a double-digit SwStr%, which should translate into a K% over 20%. Right now, he’s at 19.9%, so there’s room to grow there. His SIERA is unimpressive (4.36), likely due to a low number of ground balls, and too many hard hits. He does keep his walks down, but the intriguing part is just how bad the Dodgers are against Ls. They are pretty much as bad as the Phillies. Yes, that means that Matt Moore and Adam Conley have very similar matchups (and similar numbers otherwise, as it turns out). Though Conley has better K upside, you can get Moore at a huge ownership and price discount. Give that some thought.
Zach Eflin ($7,200): Very little K upside, pitches to contact (and pretty well at doing that), but his elevated SIERA suggests there’s a correction coming. The Marlins aren’t going to overwhelm you, but they don’t K much, and they aren’t completely inept. Even if Eflin doesn’t give up many hits and runs, he’s unlikely to post a score worthy of his price tag. I’ll fade.
Michael Fulmer ($7,100): WHOA! This is a guy who has been over $10,000 for weeks now, but the combination of a rough outing last time and facing the Red Sox this time has dropped his price tag below Zach Eflin’s. Honestly, that’s nuts. Yes, the Red Sox are an offensive juggernaut, but that’s just going to lower ownership a ton. On Monday, Verlander went out and pitched 6 innings against these same Red Sox, giving up just 1 run and striking out 5 (getting the win). And the Tigers beat Jake Pomeranz. Fulmer could easily put up a similar line, and the Tigers get to face Eduardo Rodriguez today. Too risky for cash games, but an elite GPP play. He might knocked around, but he’s far too cheap to simply ignore.
R.A. Dickey ($6,200): Another guy that’s way too cheap. Yes, Dickey is a knuckleballer, and knuckleballers can be hot and cold (see Steven Wright last night), and Dickey hasn’t exactly been blowing the doors off people, but he gets the Padres. The Jays are seeing a run line that is Coors-esque, so I expect that Dickey will be a fairly popular cash play. As he should be. He always has that upside to rip off a good game, as well, and the Padres are pretty weak. I think he makes for a decent GPP play, especially at a ludicrously low price tag.
Eduardo Rodriguez ($5,200): The Tigers will be a popular stack, no doubt. There is simply nothing to like in Rodriguez’s line. Not enough Ks, lots of hard hits, few ground balls, too many walks, and it goes on. He’s favored (I think Vegas has messed this one up), but he’s also slated to give up a bunch of runs. The Tigers look like they are coming out of their most recent hitting funk, having scored some runs off Pomeranz and now Wright. ERod is nowhere near the pitcher those two were. This is a bad spot for him!
Luis Perdomo ($4,400): I’ll get this out of the way at the start: he’s not any sort of sneaky start today. Avoid playing him. But what about a TOR stack? I’m not so sure. Perdomo pitches to contact a lot and, as a result, yields a lot of hits, but here are his ERs for his last 5 starts: 2, 3, 2, 2, 3. That’s not that bad. He has given up just 3 HRs over that time, has been victimized by a .377 BABIP, and a stupid-high 21.1% HR/FB rate over the season. His SIERA is 3.99 (!!), which happens to be identical to Fulmer’s. His ground ball rate is 58%, by far the best going on today’s early slate. Toronto is dangerous, no doubt, but Perdomo also just dominated WAS. I’m not suggesting a total fade of TOR hitters, but I am suggesting extreme caution. One more note: Perdomo has gotten shelled by lefties this year while getting hit hard (and being rather “unlucky” vs Rs). TOR has just two lefties in: Carrera and Thole. Just beware. TOR stack will be really popular, and I’m not sure it should be.
I took up all my time on the pitchers, so no time to talk about stacks! But you can glean what I think from above, I imagine.