MLB DEEP DIVE – 5/15/17

PITCHING

Luis Perdomo faces the Milwaukee Brewers in San Diego. Milwaukee has the 3rd-highest strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching in baseball and may be without Travis Shaw, who left yesterday’s game with an injury. The Brewers are likely to feature a right-handed heavy lineup, and Perdomo has been excellent against righties this season, with a 23.2 percent strikeout percentage and only 14.9 percent hard contact allowed. Perdomo has about a 24 percent whiff rate on his curveball against hitters from both sides of the plate this season, and the spin rate on his curveball places him between Ivan Nova and Clayton Kershaw- two names that are clearly good company. For the season, Perdomo has a 10.2 percent swinging strike rate, and it has been greater than 12 percent in three of his five starts- showing that when he is on he has legitimate strikeout upside.

Zack Wheeler will be facing an Arizona lineup that is without A.J. Pollock at the top. The game will be played in Arizona, which is obviously a very difficult place to pitch, but Wheeler has a lot of strikeout upside at a reasonable price. Wheeler has only struck out 15.1 percent of right-handed hitters so far this season, but he has had better strikeout numbers against righties over the course of his career and he is getting greater than 21 percent whiffs on his slider to righties so we can expect that number to climb. Wheeler has thrown at least 95 pitches in three straight games, which is a good sign that we do not need to be worried about his pitch count being limited despite his injury history. Wheeler’s already respectable 10.1 percent swinging strike rate this season is probably artificially low as well, as he has faced several teams that do not swing and miss often so far this season in the Giants, the Marlins and the Nationals twice.

Mike Bolsinger is a name that people do not recognize and therefore they tend to think that he sucks. He does not. He has always been a decent pitcher, but there is reason to think he may be better now. His velocity on his fastball and his slider was up about 1.5 ticks in his first start of the season over his career averages and, while that is obviously a small sample size and could be the result of the new pitch tracking system, his strike out numbers at AAA this season were incredibly as he struck out 36 percent of hitters that he faced. For his career in the majors, he has a respectable 20.6 percent strikeout percentage so, even if he does not have improved strikeout stuff, he is in play at a very cheap price. The downside to his spot today is the matchup with the Braves who, while being below average against right-handed pitching overall, do not strike out very often. Bolsinger has been more home run prone to righties than lefties throughout his career, likely because the cutter is his primary pitch, but the only righty on the Braves with an ISO over .150 since the start of last season is Matt Kemp and he has not hit cutters for much power in the past.

Zack Godley is a high risk-high upside option pitching in Chase Field against the Mets. Godley showed an outstanding curveball in his last start against the Tigers and it looked borderline unhittable. If he has the same control and command that he did in that start on a regular basis, he will have success against anyone. The Mets present a very difficult matchup, however, as they rank in the bottom half of the league in O-Swing percentage, swing percentage and swinging strike percentage. Godley has had control issues in the past and he has worse strikeout numbers against lefties in his career. There is merit to rostering Godley, especially if it turns out that the Mets hitters are going to be chalky, but at this point in time I am leaning toward rostering other cheap pitching options and waiting for a more favorable spot to get on board with Godley.

Sean Manaea has the best strikeout stuff on tonight’s slate but he has a difficult matchup with the Mariners, who have a projected lineup that strikes out just 16.2 percent of the time against left-handed pitching. Manaea has shown electric stuff this season, with a 25.7 percent strikeout percentage, 13.8 percent swinging strike rate and whiff rates over 20 percent on two different pitches. It is expected that he will be limited to around 90 pitches in tonight’s start, so there is a little bit of a limitation on his ceiling there along with the matchup. If paying up at pitcher, Manaea is the preferred target over Brandon McCarthy- who is also in a terrible strikeout matchup and has worse stuff than Manaea.

Jesse Chavez is a relatively safe option pitching in Anaheim against a White Sox team that is horrible against right-handed pitching. Chavez does not have great strikeout stuff, but it is good enough, and he is pitching in a ballpark where his propensity for giving up home runs is mitigated. Chicago has a 21.5 percent strikeout percentage, .296 wOBA and 85 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season. He is likely to be a popular option tonight and is viable in any format.

Hitting

High-Priced

Carlos Correa is facing Dan Straily, who has been good this season. Straily is vulnerable to right-handed power, however, allowing 1.71 home runs per nine innings to righties this season. Correa offers upside at a shortstop position where it is often difficult to find any. The ballpark is not favorable, and the roof will be closed, but salary is not much of an issue on this slate so we are not sacrificing much, if anything, by paying up for Correa in a favorable matchup.

Jake Lamb faces Zack Wheeler in Arizona as one of the only lefties in the Arizona lineup. Lamb benefits greatly from the hitting conditions at home in Arizona and Wheeler has been worse against lefties than righties throughout his career. While I like the spot for Wheeler overall, there is a good chance that Lamb is able to do some damage against him as Wheeler is allowing 41.7 percent hard contact to lefties so far this season and 1.88 home runs per nine innings.

 

Mike Trout is catching fire, with home runs in three consecutive games. He faces Mike Pelfrey tonight who, despite being a terrible pitcher, somehow manages to not get blown up too often. He will give up the occasional home run, however, and Trout is a prime candidate to take advantage. In addition, Pelfrey is a big guy who has had trouble holding runners in previous seasons and, if Trout reaches base, it is likely that he can run on Pelfrey.

 

Jay Bruce gets a huge ballpark boost going from Citi Field to Chase Field. Godley has done a good job throughout his career of limiting hard contact to lefties, but he does not induce an inordinate amount of soft contact so it is likely that his hard contact rate increases as the sample size gets bigger. Bruce has been hitting the ball hard against righties all season long and could have some success against Godley tonight.

 

Value

 

Justin Smoak is going to appear as a top value play for as long as he remains priced in his current price range. Smoak has been destroying baseballs this season with 38 percent hard contact against righties and just 10 percent soft contact. Bartolo Colon appears to finally be washed up, as he has been getting blown up regularly. Colon has allowed 1.86 home runs per nine innings this season and, since the start of last season, is allowing 1.73 home runs per nine innings to lefties.

Justin Bour is another first baseman who is criminally underpriced for his upside, but continues to go low-owned because of his position. Joe Musgrove is allowing 1.45 home runs per nine innings since last season and his best pitch, his slider, is less effective against lefties than righties so it makes sense that we would see him struggle against hitters of the opposite handedness. Bour is the owner of the 10th highest average exit velocity in baseball this season and he has the power to hit the ball out in Miami. He is a strong GPP option as he should be especially low owned tonight since salary is not a factor with no expensive pitching on the slate.

 

Luis Valbuena is back from injury and is facing a groundball pitcher in Mike Pelfrey. Valbuena is an excellent hitter to target against right-handed groundball pitchers, as he naturally has a loop in his swing that makes him a very good low-ball hitter. He has the power to hit the ball out of any stadium and he is even multi-position eligible on DraftKings.

 

Ryan Schimpf is facing Chase Anderson who, although he has been better against lefties for his career, has still allowed 1.29 home runs per nine innings to them since last season. In addition, Anderson has made some changes to his pitch mix this season and is allowing over 45 percent hard contact and just 11 percent soft contact to lefties. Schimpf has a ton of power and a swing that is designed to hit home runs. The ballpark in San Diego is not conducive to homers, but Schimpf has enough power that it does not matter.

 

Stacks

There is not a stack that I have fallen in love with yet, as I think the pitching on this slate is a lot better than people give it credit for. It is a night where, especially on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, I will be looking to roster the hitters in the best individual spots more than I will be looking to stack teams.

 

New York Mets- Although I like Zack Godley and see myself rostering him a lot in the near future, the Mets are also one of the highest upside stacks on the slate as the visiting team in Arizona. They are full of left-handed power and Godley has worse strikeout numbers against lefties. In addition, the Mets do not strike out a lot against right-handed pitching. Any time a team is going to put the ball in play in Chase Field, they are in a very high-upside spot. The downside to the Mets, in addition to Godley being very good when he is on, is that the Diamondbacks bullpen has been exceptionally good this season and Andrew Chafin did not pitch yesterday, which means the talented lefty is likely available to match up with these lefty bats.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers- The Dodgers face Matt Cain, who is good at taking advantage of his home ballpark and limiting damage against him. Still, the Dodgers have a ton of powerful lefties who have the platoon advantage against Cain. Cain has allowed a .385 wOBA against lefties since the start of last season, despite not allowing a lot of hard contact and not giving up many homers. When stacking a team in San Francisco, however, we are not looking for homers as much as usual since it is so hard to hit them. The Giants have a terrible bullpen behind Cain and this has the makings of a game where the Dodgers are able to string together multiple big innings. On a slate where there are no great offensive spots, it is more acceptable to pass up on some home run upside for a team that is in a great position to score a lot of runs without hitting many homers.