MLB DEEP DIVE – 7/20/17
Madison Bumgarner is the biggest name pitching option on the slate and he is at home against the San Diego Padres. It is a good matchup for Bumgarner, especially with Margot expected to go on paternity leave starting today, but there are also reasons to be concerned. First, Bumgarner has just a 9.9 percent swinging strike percentage with a 23.0 percent strikeout percentage against right-handed hitters this season. While those numbers are fine, they are not necessarily what you want from the most expensive pitcher on the slate- especially when it is a small slate and there is a lack of value bats elsewhere. Second, this is Bumgarner’s second start since returning from a major shoulder injury he sustained in a dirt bike accident earlier this season. His first start was against this same Padres team and he recorded just a 4.9 percent swinging strike percentage. This is still an excellent matchup for Bumgarner, especially at home in AT&T Park and he should be rostered in cash games. There is merit to fading him in tournaments, however, because of ownership and the fact that there are some concerns surrounding him.
Cole Hamels is a risky option facing the Orioles on a hot night in Baltimore, but he has a lot of upside in this matchup. He has pitched well since returning from the disabled list, especially if we discount his start against the Indians (which is fair since it was his first start back and they do not strike out easily). In his three starts since then, Hamels has a 22.7 percent strikeout percentage while walking just 2.7 percent of hitters. Hamels likes to work out of the strike zone, throwing just 41.4 percent of his pitches in the zone this season. Baltimore has the 8th-highest o-swing percentage in baseball over the last 14 days and the 4th-highest o-swing percentage overall this season. As a team, they have struck out 25 percent of the time against left-handed pitching this season. Breaking the matchup down by pitch type, Hamels throws about 20 percent change-ups to right-handed hitters. Machado and Mancini are the only Orioles’ righties who have had any sort of success against left-handed change-ups, but they also have high swinging strike percentages against the pitch. On the downside, Hamels has allowed 40.0 percent hard contact with just 10.9 percent soft contact so there is certainly some risk against the powerful Orioles’ hitters. On this short slate, I am siding with Hamels in tournaments.
Felix Hernandez has looked good since returning from the disabled list on June 23rd. Over those five starts, Hernandez has averaged a 9.0 percent swinging strike percentage and 32.7 o-swing percentage with a 23.2 percent strikeout percentage. He also has a 43.4 percent groundball percentage which, when combined with a 14.8 percent infield flyball percentage, is very good. Against righties over that span, Hernandez has a 30.0 percent strikeout percentage with 27.9 percent soft contact, 39.5 percent groundballs and 17.6 percent infield flyballs. Most of the hitters that we worry about in the Yankees’ lineup are right-handed and the game is in Seattle where the weather is chilly and the park is spacious. Hernandez’s mid-range price tag across the industry is very appealing.
Wade Miley is a high-risk/medium-reward option against the Rangers. Miley is incredibly inconsistent, in large part because of his inability to control the baseball and throw strikes. The Rangers are an aggressive team that will help him out, however, as they rank in the top half of the league in o-swing percentage and swing percentage over the last 14 days. They have struck out 25.5 percent of the time against left-handed pitching with a .297 wOBA and 80 wRC+ against lefties this season. There is a path to success for Miley and, on this short slate, he is worth considering in tournaments as a way to save money and fit the bats that you want.
Manny Machado is one of the only Baltimore hitters that profiles well against Cole Hamels. Machado has a .390 xwOBA and .209 ISO against left-handed pitchers since the start of last season and will be hitting in the friendly confines of Camden Yards on a hot Baltimore night. While Hamels has been pitching better of late, he is still allowing over 40 percent hard contact to right-handed hitters.
Adrian Beltre will face Wade Miley tonight. Miley has allowed a .366 xwOBA to right-handed hitters this season and Beltre has a .391 xwOBA and .241 ISO against lefties since the start of last season. Miley has a 51 percent groundball percentage against righties, but has also allowed 1.64 home runs per nine innings to righties as a result of his struggles with command. Beltre is a strong third base option that is likely to be lower owned than Machado.
Corey Seager is one of several left-handed power bats in play for the Dodgers tonight. Mike Foltynewicz has struggled with left-handed power this season, allowing a .343 xwOBA and 1.64 home runs per nine innings to lefties. Seager has a .409 xwOBA and .195 ISO against right-handed pitching this season and his ISO climbs to .220 at home.
Nick Castellanos has a .377 xwOBA and .287 ISO against left-handed pitching since the start of last season. He will face left-hander Danny Duffy, who has been good against right-handed hitters this season. Castellanos is a good enough hitter that he is a strong play against pretty much any lefty, however.
Trey Mancini is too cheap for the power upside that he offers. He has a .370 xwOBA and .243 ISO against left-handed pitching since he was called to the majors late last season and he will enjoy the same excellent hitting conditions as Manny Machado. He is the other bat in the Baltimore lineup that I will be particularly concerned about for my Hamels shares. He has shown several times this season that he has double dong upside and that is very hard to find at a cheap price, especially on a five-game slate.
Mikie Mahtook should take over J.D. Martinez’s role in the outfield against left-handed pitching. He has a .311 xwOBA against lefties since last season (.341 this season) with a .190 ISO. His price will come up as he gets more playing time, so take advantage of the savings now despite the tough matchup with Duffy.
Todd Frazier is particularly inexpensive on DraftKings and FantasyDraft and is expected to be in the lineup tonight against Felix Hernandez. As mentioned earlier, Hernandez has been pitching well since returning from the disabled list. Frazier has posted a .355 xwOBA and .203 ISO against right-handed pitching this season, however, which makes him a very strong value play in tournaments given his home run upside.
Brandon Belt almost always goes overlooked at home but he should not tonight against Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin is very good against righties and struggles with lefties. He has allowed a .356 xwOBA and 1.88 home runs per nine innings against left-handed hitters this season. Belt has an elite .402 xwOBA and .247 ISO against righties this year. Before you say “yeah, but AT&T Park”, Belt actually has a higher ISO (.260) at home against right-handed pitching this season. That is not to say that the park is not a negative factor, just that he is hitting incredibly well this season and that it is true at home as well.
Texas Rangers/Baltimore Orioles- Both of these stacks are in play tonight despite the opposing pitchers being viable options as well- it is the nature of short slates. The hitting conditions are excellent and neither pitcher is elite, although Hamels is much better than Miley. Both offenses are in polarized spots and it is likely that they either do very well or very poorly depending on whether the opposing pitcher is able to locate his pitches as both of these pitchers rely on command to have good outings. If either pitcher is off, these offenses can do a lot of damage.
Los Angeles Dodgers- Mike Foltynewicz’s biggest weakness is left-handed power and the Dodgers have plenty. Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Clay Bellinger, Yasmani Grandal and possibly Chase Utley offer big-time power upside against the right-hander. If for some reason Tyler Flowers does not catch for the Braves, it is a boost for the Dodgers.
San Francisco Giants- As mentioned earlier, Chacin is very bad against left-handed hitters. If the Giants cooperate and use a lefty-heavy lineup, the Giants will be in a very nice spot. Normally we do not like to stack the Giants at home regardless of matchup because of the ballpark and hitting conditions but, on a five-game slate that has a lot of good pitching, it will not be as difficult for them to be the highest scoring stack.