MLB DEEP DIVE – 4/29/17 (LATE)

PITCHING

Yu Darvish [RHP – TEX] vs LAA – Darvish is the most expensive pitcher on the slate, pitching at home against the Angels.  He has a 24.4 percent strikeout percentage and 10.8 percent swinging strike percentage so far this season, which is a sizeable decrease from last season on both fronts.  His velocity is up, however, and all of his pitches appear to be fine, so we can likely attribute the decrease in strikeout numbers to the opponents he has faced so far, as Kansas City is the only team he has faced that ranks in the top ten in swinging strike percentage.  We should see his strikeouts increase moving forward, but today may not be the day as the Angels projected lineup strikes out just 20.2 percent of the time- and that is inflated drastically by huge strikeout numbers from Danny Espinosa and Martin Maldonado at the bottom of the lineup.  Darvish did manage to strikeout 10 Angels earlier this season so the upside is certainly there.  Just know that there is some risk for a disappointing outing at his price and likely ownership in tournaments.

Brandon McCarthy [RHP – LAD] vs PHI – McCarthy has looked good for the Dodgers to start the season, with a 3.47 xFIP, 24.20 percent strikeout rate and 9.3 percent swinging strike rate.  We could see some regression from him moving forward, as his xFIP is about a run and a half higher than his ERA and his swinging strike percentage suggests regression in his strikeout numbers, especially because he has had friendly strikeout matchups with the Padres or Diamondbacks in three of his five starts this season.  That being said, this is still a nice spot at home against the Phillies.  The projected lineup for Philadelphia strikes out slightly over 23 percent of the time (plus a pitcher).  McCarthy has shown the ability to strike out hitters from both sides of the plate, dating back to last season, and should have success in this matchup against the Phillies.

Jesse Chavez [RHP – LAA] at TEX – Jesse Chavez has looked good to start the season and he faces a Texas offense that has struggled mightily.  He is likely to go overlooked in tournaments since he is an underdog against Yu Darvish, but he has a lot of upside for his price.  He has a 23 percent strikeout percentage backed by a 10.90 percent swinging strike rate to start the season.  He has shown that he can strike out both righties and lefties, with strikeout percentages over 22 percent against hitters from both sides of the plate since last season.  The Rangers currently swing at the third most pitches out of the zone (Chavez throws a lot of first pitch strikes, but has thrown only 38 percent of his pitches in the zone overall this season).  Texas swings at the fifth most pitches overall, and has the eighth highest swinging strike percentage in the majors.  The ballpark is scary, but it is only in the mid-60s so at least it is not a hot Texas night.  There is certainly risk in rostering Chavez, but he provides a ton of upside for his price in this matchup.

Jhoulys Chacin [RHP – SDP] at SFG – Chacin is not a sexy name, but he puts up big numbers against right-handed bats.  The Giants are currently hamstrung by injuries and it is forcing a lot of righties into the lineup.  Chacin struck out 24.1 percent of righties he faced last season, while limiting them to 27.8 percent hard contact.  He has struck out 22.4 percent of righties this season, inducing 21.7 percent soft contact with just 26.7 percent hard contact.  He will also be pitching in the best pitcher’s park in baseball tonight.  Assuming the Giants lineup is loaded with righties, Chacin is a sneaky value option in GPPs.

 

HITTING

HIGH-PRICED

Paul Goldschmidt [1B – R] vs Tyler Anderson [LHP] – Goldschmidt is facing a lefty in Chase Field, which means he is in play.  Tyler Anderson is not any lefty, as he has done an excellent job limiting hard contact to righties and has shown he can pitch in altitude.  That being said, Goldschmidt has a .432 wOBA, 167 wRC+, 45.1 percent hard contact and 9.7 percent soft contact against lefties since the start of last season.  He is likely to be over owned in tournaments so he is not my favorite one-off option, but he makes for a strong cash game play and should certainly be included in any Arizona stacks.

Freddie Freeman [1B – L] vs Jimmy Nelson [RHP] – Freeman is an excellent tournament pivot away from Goldschmidt as he gets a ballpark boost playing in Milwaukee and is facing Jimmy Nelson, who ranks third on the slate in hard contact allowed to lefties since the start of last season and has been terrible against them this season, allowing 42.5 percent hard contact with just 7.5 percent soft contact.  Freeman ranks 14th in the majors with a 92.8 mph averaging exit velocity this season and has a very good chance to take Nelson deep tonight.

Corey Seager [SS – L] vs Zach Eflin [RHP] – Seager ranks just ahead of Freddie Freeman in average exit velocity this season, which is amazing for a shortstop.  Eflin has struck out less than ten percent of left-handed hitters he has faced since the start of last season and has allowed 35.8 percent hard contact and an astounding 2.17 home runs per nine innings.  Seager has a .407 wOBA with 41.5 percent hard contact against righties since the start of last season.  This is a clear mismatch in Seager’s favor.

Ender Inciarte [OF – L] vs Jimmy Nelson [RHP] – Inciarte gets the same great matchup in a good hitter’s park as Freeman.  While Inciarte is not close to the hitter that Freeman is, with just a .313 wOBA against righties since the start of last season, he can run.  Jimmy Nelson is awful at holding runners and if Inciarte is able to get on base he should be able to steal at will.  Inciarte is almost guaranteed to go overlooked in GPPs since he does not appear to have upside at first glance but, if he gets on base with nobody ahead of him a couple times, he can accumulate more than a home run worth of points in this matchup.

Khris Davis [OF – R] vs Joe Musgrove [RHP] – Joe Musgrove has some talent and may eventually be a good pitcher.  He has struggled mightily to miss bats and not give up home runs so far this season, however.  Musgrove has struck out less than 14 percent of hitters this season, with a swinging strike percentage of 7.10 percent.  As we know, Davis can hit the ball a mile when he is able to make contact.  He homered twice yesterday which could drive his ownership up some, but he is generally underowned against right-handed pitchers despite having a .357 wOBA, .294 ISO and 41.3 percent hard contact against righties since last season.  Musgrove has been homer prone against righties since coming to the big leagues, allowing 1.72 home runs per nine innings to righties compared to just 0.99 to lefties.  Davis is an elite option and Ryon Healy is in play for the same reasons.

 

VALUE

Matt Joyce [OF – L] vs Joe Musgrove [RHP] – Musgrove has been struggling this season, as mentioned above, and Joyce, despite not being a righty, is in a great spot to take advantage.  Joyce gets a ballpark boost going from Oakland to Houston and has a .349 wOBA and .216 ISO against right-handed pitching since the start of the 2016 season.  Joyce has tremendous upside at his price despite Musgrove’s reverse splits.

Ryan Schimpf [3B – L] vs Matt Cain [RHP] – Schimpf continues to hit home runs to seemingly preserve his spot in the lineup even after the return of Cory Spangenberg.  The ballpark is not ideal, but Schimpf has the power to hit the ball out of any stadium and Matt Cain is not missing any bats this season.  Schimpf has a great chance to homer whenever he is not striking out, as evidenced by his .313 ISO against right-handed pitching since the start of last season.

Cody Bellinger [1B – L] vs Zach Eflin [RHP] – Bellinger was called up by the Dodgers earlier this week and I got a chance to watch him play as the Dodgers were playing the Giants and the Giants were on tv at every bar that I went to in Tahoe.  At first glance, he reminds me of Joc Pederson in that he has a huge swing and can generate massive power and is going to strike out a ton.  His minor league numbers indicate that as well, as he posted a .274 ISO at High-A in 2015 and a .221 ISO at AA in 2016.  He also struck out 27.6 percent of the time in High-A and 20.2 percent of the time at AA.  Most projection systems project him to strike out north of 30 percent of the time in the majors this season.  As mentioned earlier, however, Zach Eflin is not very good at striking out lefties.  This increases the chances of Bellinger making contact and, when he makes contact, the ball goes a long way.

 

Team Stacks

Los Angeles Dodgers vs RHP Zach Eflin – The Dodgers have left-handed power up and down their lineup, along with reverse splits Justin Turner, and that is what Zach Eflin is most susceptible to.  They may go overlooked a little bit since Dodgers Stadium is not as good a place to hit as Miller Park or Chase Field, but they are my favorite stack of the night right now.

Atlanta Braves vs RHP Jimmy Nelson – The Braves get a ballpark boost going to Miller Park and they will be facing Jimmy Nelson, who is vulnerable against lefties and teams with speed.  We need to wait and see what lineup we get from the Braves but, while they do not have guys known for their speed, they have a few guys that should be able to run against Nelson.  They are a stack that should go overlooked tonight in a sneaky good spot.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs LHP Tyler Anderson – Like I mentioned earlier, Tyler Anderson has done a good job against right-handed hitters in his career and he has shown the ability to pitch in altitude.  Still, this is a very dangerous D-Backs team against lefties as they have power-hitting righties that can do damage up and down the lineup.  On top of that, the Rockies bullpen got overworked in the series against the Nationals and we could see plenty of add-on runs from Arizona if they can knock Anderson out early.  I think that Arizona is probably going to be over owned since their matchup is actually tough, but there is certainly a ton of upside.

Colorado Rockies vs RHP Zack Greinke- Greinke was much worse at home than on the road last season.  So far this season, he has turned that around and looked very good at home.  Still, it has only been three starts and one was against the Padres.  The Rockies are the perfect GPP stack because they have been struggling lately and are facing a good pitcher so they will be virtually unowned, but they have massive power in their lineup and are the visiting team in the best hitter’s park on the slate.  It is not a high-probability play, but there is GPP-winning upside with this stack and I will definitely have exposure.