MLB DEEP DIVE – 7/25/17  

PITCHING

Jameson Taillon is the most expensive pitcher on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, which is pretty incredible on a full slate.  He is more reasonably priced on FanDuel at $8,300.  He has a relatively safe matchup against the Giants at AT&T Park but there is reason to question how much upside he has.  San Francisco has struck out just 19.6 percent of the time over the last 14 days and they have struck out 18.6 percent of the time against right-handed pitching this season.  In addition, Taillon has a whiff percentage of just 7.3 percent (including foul tips) against left-handed hitters this season compared to 12.3 percent against righties.  That has translated into a 16.4 percent strikeout percentage against lefties compared to 28.3 percent against righties.  The Giants figure to have Denard Span, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik in the lineup tonight, meaning there are at least four decent left-handed bats for Taillon to contend with.  He is worth considering in cash games on FanDuel but is a pretty easy fade at his price on DraftKings and FantasyDraft.

Sonny Gray is the recommended option on DraftKings and FantasyDraft if you insist on paying up for pitching tonight.  He has struck out 22.7 percent of hitters with an 11.8 percent swinging strike percentage and 32.8 percent o-swing percentage this season.   The Blue Jays will most likely have a right-handed heavy lineup against Gray.  Against righties this season, Gray has a 23.3 percent strikeout percentage and a 54.1 percent groundball percentage.  Toronto has a 20.4 percent strikeout percentage with a .317 wOBA and 95 wRC+ against righties this season.  It is a tough matchup for Gray in terms of strikeout upside, but there is more upside for him against Toronto than for Taillon against the Giants with similar floors.

Madison Bumgarner is priced at $9,700 on DraftKings, $18,900 on FantasyDraft and $10,200 on FanDuel.  At first glance, these prices seem very reasonable.  For that reason, I expect Bumgarner to be popular simply because of his name value and price.  I will be fading him in all formats on all sites today, however.  Before we even get to Bumgarner, let us talk about the Pirates.  Pittsburgh’s projected lineup has zero left-handed hitters against Bumgarner.  Against left-handed pitchers this season, Pittsburgh has struck out 18.1 percent of the time with a .328 wOBA and 102 wRC+.  We do not necessarily expect them to do a lot of damage against Bumgarner, but we should not expect them to strike out much either.  Now, let us take a look at Bumgarner this season and since he returned from the disabled list.  Against right-handed hitters this season, Bumgarner has struck out 22.2 percent of hitters.  He has just a 9.2 percent whiff percentage against them, however, and has allowed 36.7 percent hard contact.  Probably the most concerning thing, however, is his two starts against the Padres since returning from the disabled list.  For context in case you have been hiding under a rock, the Padres strike out a lot.  They lead the major leagues with a 27.2 percent strikeout percentage against left-handed pitching this season.  In two starts against them since returning from the disabled list, Bumgarner has managed to record swinging strike percentages of 4.9 and 5.2 percent.  That is very concerning and he will now be facing a team full of righties who do not strike out.  He is almost guaranteed to be higher owned than he should be on this slate.

Mike Clevinger has been surprisingly consistent lately, recording at least 22 DraftKings points in four consecutive starts.  He faces the Los Angeles Angels in Cleveland tonight.  The Angels have struck out just 18 percent of the time against right-handed pitching this season, but they are also below average in terms of production with just a .307 wOBA and 94 wRC+.  The Angels’ projected lineup has five righties and four lefties, but Clevinger has been good against hitters from both sides of the plate.  He has struck out 26.7 percent of lefties this season while allowing a .329 xwOBA and he has struck out 28.5 percent of righties while allowing a .284 xwOBA.  Also working in Clevinger’s favor is the fact that the Angels have the 11th-lowest walk percentage against right-handed pitching this season.  He is expensive, particularly on DraftKings and FanDuel, but he remains a strong pitching option.

Charlie Morton is in an elite spot against the Phillies and is my favorite pitching play on the slate as of right now.  Morton has had decent results in three starts since returning from the disabled list, with DraftKings scores ranging from 13.4 against Seattle to 21.9 against Minnesota.  Tonight’s matchup against Philadelphia will be his best matchup since returning, by far.  The Phillies projected lineup has five left-handed hitters plus a pitcher against Morton.  Morton’s biggest weakness this season has been right-handed power and the Phillies do not have much of that.  Morton has struck out 28.8 percent of lefties this season while holding thme to a .294 xwOBA.  His 47.8 percent groundball percentage paired with a 14.8 percent infield flyball percentage should help to negate the negative effects of Citizens Bank Park.  Philadelphia has struck out 22.5 percent of the time with a .305 wOBA and 84 wRC+ against righties this season.  They have been much better offensively of late, striking out just 20.9 percent of the time and recording a .353 wOBA and 115 wRC+.  While they are an offense that I am high on moving forward, I expect Morton to have a lot of success against them tonight.

Jake Faria faces the Orioles for the second time this season and this time he will do it in Tropicana Field.  Faria has been excellent this season, striking out 22.3 percent of hitters with an 11.9 percent swinging strike percentage since being called to the major leagues.  He will face a right-handed heavy Orioles lineup tonight.  He has allowed a .271 xwOBA to righties this season with a 15.0 percent whiff percentage and a 25.6 percent strikeout percentage.  Baltimore has struck out 22.6 percent of the time against right-handed pitching this season.  Pairing Faria with Morton gives a lot of upside at pitcher while allowing you to still pay up for bats.

Lance Lynn has had a pretty tough string of opponents lately as far as strikeout numbers go.  He is in a nice spot tonight though.  The Rockies have struck out 22.5 percent of the time against right-handed pitching this season and they always struggle away from Coors Field.  The key for Lynn will be how the Colorado lineup looks.  The projected lineup for the Rockies currently has just three lefties in it- and one of them is Carlos Gonzalez who will strike out against anyone.  Lynn has been dominant against right-handed hitters this season, striking out 25.8 percent while allowing just 29.4 percent hard contact and inducing 21.9 percent soft contact.  He has held right-handed hitters to a .276 xwOBA.  Lefties have been a different story, as he has allowed a .341 xwOBA with just a 17.0 percent strikeout percentage.  If the Rockies have a right-handed heavy lineup again tonight, Lynn makes for a strong tournament option at a reasonable price tag.

Luis Castillo has a dangerous matchup against the Yankees tonight but he is still inexpensive across the industry.  Castillo will always be in play as long as he remains cheap because of his strikeout upside.  Even if he allows a couple of runs, he can turn in a nice performance for his price because of the strikeouts.  The Yankees’ projected starting lineup has five righties and four lefties, with most of the home run power coming from the right side in the form of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Matt Holliday, Todd Frazier and Clint Frazier.  Castillo has struck out 30.3 percent of right-handed hitters this season and has recorded a 55.3 percent groundball percentage and a 16.7 percent infield flyball percentage.  That is a lot of good outcomes for Castillo when right-handed hitters do put the ball in play against him.  Castillo has been very good against lefties, as well, striking out 28.8 percent and allowing just a .225 xwOBA.  The Yankees have struck out 21.9 percent of the time against right-handed pitching this season and 23 percent of the time overall over the last 14 days.

Hitting

High-Priced

Bryce Harper faces Zach Davies.  Davies has not been good this season, despite his impressive win-loss record.  Davies has allowed a .345 xwOBA to opposing lefties with 1.55 home runs per nine innings.  Harper is, of course, one of the best left-handed hitters in baseball and has posted elite numbers this season with a .445 xwOBA and .351 ISO against right-handed pitching.

Giancarlo Stanton faces another lefty tonight and despite the big name, Cole Hamels does not miss bats anymore which is important when rostering Stanton.  Cole Hamels has just a 7.7 percent whiff percentage against right-handed hitters this season with a 12.9 percent strikeout percentage.  He has allowed 40.3 percent hard contact with just 13.2 percent soft contact and 1.41 home runs per nine innings.  Stanton has a .402 xwOBA and .344 ISO against left-handed pitching since the start of last season.  If you can find a way to fit Stanton and Harper into the same lineup, you are off to a great start.

Edwin Encarnacion will likely go overlooked tonight, but he has a very nice matchup against Jesse Chavez.  Chavez has really struggled with right-handed power this season, allowing 2.54 home runs per nine innings.  Encarnacion has been well above average against right-handed pitching this season, posting a .356 xwOBA and .241 ISO.  It was fellow Cleveland first baseman Carlos Santana that had a double dong last night, but Encarnacion will have a chance to post one of his own tonight.

Yulieski Gurriel has gotten expensive on DraftKings and FantasyDraft but he is still a very strong option tonight against Nick Pivetta.  Pivetta has been able to strike out right-handed hitters this season but he also has allowed a ton of home runs to them.  Righties have hit 3.53 home runs per nine innings against Pivetta so far.  Gurriel very rarely strikes out and very rarely walks, so he should be expected to put the ball in play against Pivetta.  Gurriel has a .216 ISO against right-handed pitching this season and clearly has the power to do damage against Pivetta.

Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda are all top plays against Jhoulys Chacin.  Chacin is elite against right-handed hitters but struggles mightily against lefties, allowing a .356 xwOBA with 1.78 home runs per nine innings and a 16.2 percent strikeout percentage against lefties this season.  Conforto has been the best hitter of this group with a .398 xwOBA and .312 ISO against righties but he is also the most expensive.  Duda has a .391 xwOBA and .302 ISO, while Bruce has a .371 xwOBA and .287 ISO this season.

Value

Marcell Ozuna is in the same very good matchup as Stanton and has also dominated left-handed pitching over the last two seasons with a .395 xwOBA and .230 ISO.  Factor in the massive park shift going to Texas and he is an elite option at a reasonable price tag.

Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers are great value options against Felix Hernandez.  Since returning from the disabled list on June 23rd, Hernandez has been elite against righties and awful against lefties.  Hernandez has allowed a .450 xwOBA with a 15.4 percent strikeout percentage to lefties over that span (compared to .252 and 32.9 percent to righties).  Benintendi has a .342 xwOBA and .171 ISO against righties this season and Devers is making his major league debut after posting a .275 ISO and .408 wOBA at AA this season.

Asdrubal Cabrera is another Mets’ lefty which means he is another hitter in a very good spot tonight.  He will most likely bat second for New York and is a top option at second base and/or shortstop depending what site you are playing on.  He has a .356 xwOBA and .164 ISO against right-handed pitching this season.

Stacks

New York Mets- It should be pretty obvious by the players that I wrote about individually, but the Mets are one of my favorite stacks tonight.  They have a ton of left-handed power that profiles as top options at their positions individually and any time you can group those guys together and maximize your upside it makes a lot of sense to do so.  Factor in that they only have a 4.3 implied run total that should keep ownership down and you have a great tournament stack.

Houston Astros- The Astros will have a watered-down lineup tonight without Correa and probably without Springer.  They still have plenty of upside, however.  Nick Pivetta has struggled against right-handed power this season and Jose Altuve, Gurriel, Bregman and hopefully Gattis should all be in the lineup.  Even Jake Marisnick is in play as he has shown plenty of power this season to go along with all of his strikeouts.

Washington Nationals- Zach Davies has been bad against hitters from both sides of the plate this season and the Nationals have plenty of power to take advantage.  Anthony Rendon has quietly been one of the best hitters in baseball this season and consistently goes underowned in DFS.  A full Nationals’ stack of Goodwin-Rendon, skipping whatever trash hitter they insist on batting second, makes a lot of sense.

Los Angeles Dodgers-  The Dodgers have a ton of left-handed power throughout their lineup and tonight they will face young right-handed Jose Berrios.  Berrios has a very promising future, but he has struggled to get swings and misses against lefties this season as he has recorded just an 8.6 percent whiff percentage and struck out 18.8 percent of left-handed hitters.  He has allowed a .347 xwOBA and 1.29 home runs per nine innings to lefties this year and a .353 xwOBA against them since the start of last season.