MLB Deep Dive – 4/10/17

PITCHING [MAIN]

 

Jacob deGrom [RHP – NYM] @ PHI The Phillies own the lowest projected run total on Monday’s 5-game night slate, and are currently the only team with an implied total under four (3.5). Philly has been playing scrappy baseball to start the season, clawing out a couple close wins by playing small ball and dumping 12 first inning runs on the Nationals over the week. When the dust settles, though, this will be a team that struggles to score runs and rarely hits for power. Last season, the Phillies ranked 29th in wOBA with a surprising fifth highest K-rate (23.1%) vs. right-handed pitching. They walked 28th most in baseball and had the lowest hard hit rate (28.9%) of any team. Not much has changed in the city of brotherly love outside of Howie Kendrick’s arrival, and that shouldn’t be scaring anyone away.

deGrom looked sharp in his 2017 debut and appears to be fully recovered from elbow surgery. He pitched six shutout innings against the Braves while allowing only two hits with one walk and six strikeouts on the night. deGrom needed 95 pitches to get through six frames, and doesn’t seem to have any pitch count limitations going forward. He’s not only significantly less expensive than Jon Lester on DraftKings, but draws a better overall matchup. I prefer deGrom on FanDuel, too, where he is $10,000 and $100 cheaper than Lester, who faces a now righty-heavy Dodgers team with plenty of pop. When healthy, deGrom can boast a K-rate that hovers around 27 percent. Against the Phillies, we shouldn’t need much more than that.

 

Tyler Glasnow [RHP – PIT] vs. CIN Call me crazy, but I’m a big fan of Tyler Glasnow on Monday. The 23-year-old right-hander stands a towering 6’7” tall, sits on a 94-96 MPH fastball and throws a filthy curveball with fantastic depth. Most scouts note that Glasnow has yet to throw his curveball for strikes, but is more than willing to bury it in the dirt for ugly swings and misses. It’s a hard one for catchers to handle, which can result in a fair number of wild pitches, but I’ll happily take my chances and wait for the strikeouts. Glasnow’s third and final pitch is a fringe-average changeup, which he uses almost exclusively to keep hitters off his fastball. Since 2013, when Glasnow exploded onto the minor league scene, he has sported a filthy 33 percent strikeout rate across 481 innings of work. Command is certainly a problem, and it could plague the hulking right-hander at the major league level (12.4% BB in 23.1 IP with Pittsburgh in 2016), but the upside is simply too great to ignore.

Now that you’ve had your abbreviated scouting report, let’s take a look at Monday’s matchup. Cincinnati surprisingly tagged Carlos Martinez and Co. for eight runs yesterday, but this is still a well below average baseball team that will struggle more times than not. Despite his inexperience, Glasnow is still a -130 ML favorite at home, and will have the luxury of starting inside PNC Park, where pitchers are known to thrive. When in doubt, lean on strikeouts, and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing on Monday night. Our pitching options are so limited that Glasnow makes plenty of sense at a very affordable price point. Even if the Reds somehow manage to push a couple runs across the plate, Glasnow should be able to mitigate the damage with strikeouts. Keep reading for FanDuel strategy….

 

Jon Lester [LHP – CHC] vs. LAD Lester is a ace lefty who rarely implodes, so I don’t have any issue with anyone considering him on a night where pitching is devoid of talent. That being said, I’d rather save on deGrom and pair him with Glasnow on DraftKings in order to load up on Coors bats. On FanDuel, I still prefer deGrom at a $100 discount, but Glasnow is priced at $4,400 and is the cheapest pitcher on the slate! Pitching Glasnow and filling your lineup with Coors bats feels like a really good idea right now. Ask me how I feel about it tomorrow morning and my answer may be different. Seriously, though, it’s extremely rare that we find a pitcher with elite strikeout stuff at minimum salary on a night where Coors Field is in play. You already know what I’ll be doing.

 

HITTING [MAIN]

 

I’m going to tackle the hitter section differently for Monday’s main slate, as we only have five games, one of which is at Coors Field. Tyler Glasnow is $4,400 on FanDuel, allowing pristine conditions for a Coors stack. Jacob deGrom is only $9,300 on DraftKings, making a deGrom/Glasnow pairing a total of $16,800 which leaves us with $4,150 per hitter. This is the approach I’ll be taking unless any unforeseen circumstances force me to recalculate my strategy. Also, I could see the Glasnow/Coors approach being very popular on FanDuel, so paying for deGrom and saving on a few bats could also prove very profitable if Glasnow implodes and Coors disappoints.

 

San Diego @ Colorado – Coors is usually a very difficult park to stack bats from, as both FanDuel and DraftKings price hitters through the roof. It’s much easier on Monday, though, which makes this a rather fun little slate. Jarred Cosart toes the rubber for San Diego, and while he’s never lived up to expectations in the majors, the 26-year-old righty is actually better equipped to pitch as Coors than most. He’s an extreme groundball pitcher who walks a ton of batters doesn’t allow home runs. That being said, I don’t see any way he escapes unscathed on Monday against a lefty-heavy Rockies lineup. This game owns an 11.5-O/U with Colorado owning a slate-high implied run total of 6.7!

Cosart does a good job of holding runners, but that shouldn’t keep us from targeting Charlie Blackmon [OF – L], who could legitimate see six plate appearances atop the lineup. Carlos Gonzalez [OF – L] owns a eye-popping .440/.314 wOBA/ISO at home vs. LHP over his career, with a 35.4 percent FB rate to boot. I’d recommend having ample exposure to both. Nolan Arenado [3B – R] won’t have the platoon advantage, but he mashes righties both at home and on the road. These are the three high-end Rockies I’ll be targeting most across all sites.

Tony Wolters [C – L] isn’t good, but he, like anyone else playing in this altitude, gains a significant value boost at Coors. The sample is small, but in almost identical plate appearances vs. righties at home (103) and on the road (96), Wolters is sporting a .436/.205 wOBA/ISO and .214/.80 wOBA/ISO, respectively! Those splits should stabilize a bit over time, but the massive disparity in production just goes to show you how bad hitters can hit well at Coors. I don’t care if he’s batting 8th in the order — Wolters has the platoon and should see an extra at bat if the Rockies don’t disappoint. Gerardo Parra [OF – L] is off to a hot start and is one of the cheapest viable lefties for Colorado. That alone puts him in play.

Tyler Chatwood, over his career, has some expected home/road splits. Even last season when he finished the year with a respectable 3.87 ERA, Chatwood allowed a .374 wOBA at home compared to a sterling .253 wOBA on the road. 11 of his 15 home runs allowed came at Coors, where his K-rate dropped three percent (from 19% to 16%), and his HR/9 went from a miniscule .45 on the road to 1.27 at home. You get the point — Chatwood isn’t an awful pitcher, but he’s an awful pitcher at Coors.

Targeting Padres bats is usually a quick way to go broke, but that won’t be the case on Monday. Wil Myers [1B/OF – R] is a stellar power option for San Diego, and is coming off a career-high 28-stolen base season in 2016. Myers has also crushed at Coors Field over his career. I’m a big fan on Monday, as he could be the highest scoring fantasy producer on the night.

Ryan Schimpf [2B/3B – L] offers a ton of power from the left side of the plate, and gets an absolute massive park boost from Petco to Coors. He’s expensive on DraftKings, but I still like him plenty. His 2B/3B eligibility also makes it possible to pair him with Arenado. Schimpf’s $3,400 price tag on FanDuel is too nice to ignore. I’ll be counting on a Schimpf dong at some point throughout the night. He owns a massive .311 ISO in 287 career PA vs. RHP.

Travis Jankowski [OF – L] is the other Padres bat I’m intrigued by. He isn’t a power bat, but a common misconception about Coors Field is that it’s only good for home runs. Actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Coors owns a massive outfield that allows a plethora of extra base hits. Combine Jankowski’s speed with this park advantage and he becomes a very solid play.

 

Non-Coors Plays

 

Chicago Cubs Righties: Alex Wood is a ground ball lefty with an improving K-rate, but he’s just not very good at translating his talent into quality results. Walks can be a problem, and Vegas actually has the Cubs as a team that should score a lot of runs on Monday. Kris Bryant [3B – R] appears to have discovered his swing and is a nice tournament pivot away from Arenado and Schimpf, while Willson Contreras [C – R] is simply cheap enough to deploy at a weak catcher position.

 

Tanner Roark isn’t a bad pitcher, so I’m not exactly looking to pick on him with Cardinals bats. Matt Adams [1B – L] is worth a flier as a punt with the platoon advantage, but overall this is a game I’ll be largely avoiding.

 

Tyler Glasnow, as we’ve discussed, has loads of talent and potential. The thing is, however, that we don’t know if that talent will translate to positive results on Monday. For that reason, Billy Hamilton [OF – L] is a very solid tournament option, and even a cash play. Here’s why: Glasnow is going to struggle with his command at times even if he has a solid performance. If Hamilton reaches base with Francisco Cervelli (arguably the worst throwing catcher in baseball) behind the dish, he is going to run, and run a lot. This could be a three-stolen base game for Hamilton if he gets aboard one way or another. I’m always willing to roll the dice on stolen base upside, especially with the best base-swiper in the game.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates Righties could go very much overlooked on Monday for two reasons: first, Brandon Finnegan was electric in his first start. The changeup he improved last season was working well, and the Phillie bats were swinging over everything he threw them. Second, this is a Coors slate, and the Pirates are hitting inside one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in the game. As a contrarian stack on a night where they should be under-owned, there is certain value in targeting right-handed Pirates bats against a southpaw who is liable to implode at any moment.