MLB DEEP DIVE – 5/27/17

 

PITCHING

Dallas Keuchel will be making his return from the disabled list and facing the Baltimore Orioles in Houston.  Keuchel has been very good this season, pitching to a 2.87 xFIP with a 22.7 percent strikeout rate.  The Orioles, as a team, have struck out 24 percent of the time with a .319 wOBA and 98 wRC+ against left-handed pitching this season.  While Keuchel has struck out just 19.1 percent of righties this season, he is inducing over 30 percent soft contact which means he should be able to hold the Baltimore offense in check.  On a bigger slate with other aces we may not want to roster Keuchel because of his lack of strikeout upside, but there is not much good pitching on this slate so Keuchel becomes more valuable.

Zack Wheeler has a difficult matchup in terms of strikeouts, as the Pirates have struck out just 18.3 percent of the time against right-handed pitching this season and 16.9 percent of the time in the last 14 days.  He will benefit from a great pitcher’s park in Pittsburgh, however, and a relatively weak Pirates’ lineup that has posted just an 85 wRC+ against righties this season.  Wheeler’s biggest weakness is that he has been home run prone against lefties, but the lack of power hitting lefties on Pittsburgh and the ballpark should help to negate those issues.  Wheeler’s price point is low enough that he is a viable option despite the lack of strikeouts in the Pittsburgh lineup.

Brandon McCarthy faces a Cubs lineup that has plenty of power in it, but that has been disappointing against right-handed pitchers so far this season, striking out 21.6 percent of the time with a .313 wOBA and 91wRC+.  McCarthy has struck out 21.3 percent of left-handed hitters since the start of last season and has induced 24.1 percent soft contact.  On a slate where all of the pitchers have issues, McCarthy is in play as an SP2 on two pitcher sites.

 

Hitting

High-Priced

Michael Conforto will be facing Gerrit Cole who, while he has pitched well this season, has struggled with left-handed hitters.  Cole has allowed 1.59 home runs per 9 innings to lefties this season with 37.8 percent hard contact and 15.6 percent soft contact.  Conforto has been hitting the ball as hard as anyone in the league recently and, on a slate that does not have a lot of great hitting options outside of Coors, Conforto stands out despite the tough ballpark.  Jay Bruce is a strong play for the same reasons.

Cody Bellinger matches up against John Lackey, who has allowed 2.70 home runs per 9 to lefties so far this season.  Lackey has induced just 13 percent soft contact from lefties, and his strikeout percentage is lower against lefties than righties as well.  Bellinger has plenty of power and has a good chance to take Lackey deep.  Corey Seager is a strong play in his matchup against Lackey as well.

Charlie Blackmon is a strong play at the top of the Rockies order against Adam Wainwright.  Wainwright has been decent this season, but is striking out just 18.7 percent of lefties and is allowing over 38 percnet hard contact to them this season.  Wainwright’s curveball will be less effective than usual in Coors and Blackmon is in line for a big game.

 

Value

Jose Reyes sucks these days, but so does the value on this slate.  He offers some upside in his matchup against Gerrit Cole because, along with struggling against lefties, Cole struggles to hold runners.  Reyes is not the threat to steal that he was earlier in his career, but he still has 5 stolen bases this season and should be able to run on Cole.  It is not a sexy play, but it makes some sense on this slate.

Neil Walker is a strong value option as well, as he showed last night that he has the power to hit home runs in Pittsburgh and he is reasonably priced against Cole.  Walker has a .341 xwOBA against right-handed pitching this season and could easily be the highest scoring second baseman on the slate.

Josh Bell also has the disadvantage of hitting in Pittsburgh, but Zack Wheeler has been home run prone against left-handed hitters this season.  As mentioned earlier, value on this slate is pretty thin so Bell stands out as one of the better value plays assuming he is hitting in the middle part of the Pittsburgh lineup.

 

Stacks

Colorado Rockies- Colorado has a nice matchup against Adam Wainwright, who relies heavily on his curveball.  Curveball movement is hurt by the thin air in Colorado and it makes the pitch much more hittable.  Without many good hitting spots on the slate, Coors stacks become extra appealing.

St. Louis Cardinals- Kyle Freeland has done a very good job of limiting damage against him this season and the Cardinals have not been good against left-handed pitching.  Stacking the Cardinals is simply a product of the slate and the ballpark in this situation, as Freeland allows the ball to be put in play- although usually not hard- and there is always upside in Coors Field against pitchers who do not generate many strikeouts.

New York Mets- As you could probably tell from the individual hitters in this article, the Mets are in a sneaky good spot.  There is plenty of risk in rostering them as Gerrit Cole is a good pitcher and he is capable of holding the Mets in check.  There are powerful lefties up and down the Mets lineup, however, and Cole has struggled with left-handed power hitters this season.  The Pirates’ bullpen is in the bottom half of the league in xFIP against lefties as well, so there is upside to add on runs late in the game.