MLB DEEP DIVE – 6/1/17
Zack Greinke has regained elite form this season, striking out 29.6 percent of hitters that he has faced with a 14.3 percent swinging strike percentage. He has been effective against hitters from both sides of the plate, striking out 29.9 percent of lefties with a .247 xwOBA and striking out 29.3 percent of righties while pitching to a .264 xwOBA. Miami ranks in the middle of the pack against right-handed pitching, with a .324 wOBA, 99 wRC+ and 20.1 percent strikeout percentage. It is also a huge ballpark boost for Greinke going from Arizona to Miami.
Eduardo Rodriguez has been lights out since returning from the minor leagues last season, where he adjusted his release point and seemingly figured out how to stop tipping his pitches. He will face a righty heavy Baltimore lineup, but that actually plays to his favor as he has allowed just a .275 xwOBA with a 24.8 percent strikeout percentage against righties since his return to the major leagues last season. This season, he has been even better as he has struck out 27.5 percent of righties. As a team, Baltimore has struck out 23.4 percent of the time against left-handed pitching this season, with a .315 wOBA and 94 wRC+.
Marco Estrada has been outstanding this season, striking out 27.9 percent of hitters with a 12.6 percent swinging strike percentage. It appears that a lot of the pitches that were infield fly-balls in previous seasons are now swings and misses for Estrada. The Yankees have the highest wOBA in baseball against right-handed pitching this season, so it is a risky matchup for Estrada. He has been able to limit damage against hitters from both sides of the plate, but has been better against lefties. Lefties have just a .244 xwOBA with a 28.8 percent strikeout percentage against Estrada this season, compared to a .303 xwOBA and 27.1 percent strikeouts from righties. There is upside for Estrada, but he also has the riskiest matchup of these three pitchers.
Paul Goldschmidt faces left-handed Jeff Locke in Locke’s first start coming back from injury. Last season, Locke allowed a .380 xwOBA to right-handed hitters and Goldschmidt has an outstanding .399 xwOBA against left-handers away from Chase Field since the start of last season. Goldschmidt has a hard contact percentage of 52.4 percent with just 11.9 percent soft contact against left-handers this season and has a clear advantage against Locke tonight.
Josh Donaldson is back from the disabled list and faces C.C. Sabathia, who has pitched better of late but was helped out by a very generous strike zone in his last start against Oakland. Sabathia has allowed a .344 xwOBA and 1.49 home runs per nine innings this season. Since the start of last season, Donaldson has posted a .409 xwOBA against lefties at home.
Hanley Ramirez faces Wade Miley, who has pitched unsustainably well early in the season for the Orioles. Ramirez has hit left-handed pitching very well since the start of last season, posting a .303 ISO and .401 xwOBA against southpaws. Miley, while he has pitched to an impressive 3.02 ERA, is due for some regression as his xFIP sits at 4.11 and his 84.5 left-on-base percentage is about 12 percentage points higher than his career average. Against righties this season, he has allowed 1.22 home runs per nine innings with a .346 xwOBA against.
Max Kepler has a 40.4 percent hard contact rate with just 5.8 percent soft contact over the last 14 days and Alex Meyer, who is making his first start back from the 10-day disabled list, has struggled against lefties this season, allowing 1.69 home runs per nine innings and inducing just 7.4 percent soft contact (although he is also allowing just 29.6 percent hard contact). He has allowed a .358 xwOBA to lefties so far this season. Kepler is too cheap for this matchup against Meyer.
Chris Davis is an excellent GPP option if you are not rostering Eduardo Rodriguez. As the only lefty in the Orioles’ projected lineup, Davis is very likely to go overlooked. Rodriguez is primarily a fastball/change-up pitcher and, as such, he struggles more against lefties than righties. Rodriguez has allowed a .347 xwOBA to lefties this season and Davis can handle left-handed pitching. He has a .180 ISO and .338 xwOBA against lefties since the start of last season. While it is still not an elite matchup, Davis has double dong upside whenever he takes the field and he will be virtually unowned in the lefty-lefty matchup even though it is not as bad of a matchup as it may appear.
Martin Maldonado is a strong value option at catcher on this four-game slate. Maldonado will be facing off against Adalberto Mejia, who has allowed a .381 wOBA and 1.83 home runs per nine innings against lefties this season. Maldonado has a .380 xwOBA against lefties since the start of the 2016 season and has home run upside for a very inexpensive price.
Toronto Blue Jays- While it may appear that C.C. Sabathia is pitching better of late, there is reason to think it may be a mirage. Sabathia has had three favorable strikeout matchups in a row against the Royals, Rays and Athletics (and the massive help of Will Little behind the plate in possibly the worst game ever umpired). He has still been allowing hard contact despite his success, allowing 38.5 percent against Tampa Bay and 46.7 percent against Oakland. Toronto has struck out just 19.7 percent of the time as a team against lefties this season, and has right-handed power up and down their lineup. They have a lot of upside on this short slate.
Boston Red Sox- While I generally do not recommend the Red Sox, they are in a great spot against Wade Miley. Miley, as mentioned earlier, has been getting lucky this season. Boston has the third-highest wOBA against lefties in the majors so far this season and Baltimore’s bullpen behind Miley is very capable of giving up plenty of add-on runs.
Minnesota Twins- The Twins probably will not be very popular tonight but they have a lot of upside. Alex Meyer is a talented pitcher with good stuff, but he struggles with his control and the Twins are one of the most patient teams in the league in terms of swing percentage and swing percentage at pitches outside of the strike zone. The ballpark is not favorable to hitters, but a full stack makes sense since we could see a lot of base runners against Meyer. They are a stronger play on FanDuel where runs and RBI are weighted heavier than they are on DraftKings or FantasyDraft.