MLB DEEP DIVE – 7/8/17 (Main SLATE)
Jeff Samardzija has been very good for the Giants this season, striking out 26.9 percent of hitters with a 10.6 percent swinging strike percentage and 34.5 percent o-swing percentage while pitching to a 3.06 xFIP. He is pitching at home tonight against a Marlins team that has been average against right-handed pitching this season, striking out 20.4 percent of the time with a .326 wOBA and 99 wRC+.
All-in-all, this is a relatively safe spot for Samardzija, but there is reason to question his tournament upside since the Marlins do not strike out a lot and Samardzija’s 24.0 percent strikeout percentage at home this season compared to 28.8 percent on the road suggests that he may be more willing to pitch to contact in his friendly home park.
Jake Arrieta is finally a little bit more reasonably priced than he has been in his last couple of starts, but is still a viable option against the Pirates. Arrieta has struck out 24.3 percent of hitters this season but he has a below average 9.7 percent swinging strike percentage and 28.6 percent o-swing percentage. Pittsburgh has struck out just 18.3 percent of the time against right-handed pitching this season, although they have been below average in terms of production with a .312 wOBA and 92 wRC+.
The spot for Arrieta is very similar to Samardzija. Arrieta is less expensive, but is not as good of a strikeout pitcher and is facing a team that strikes out less. He is “safe” but will probably be highly owned in tournaments despite most likely needing to go very deep into the game in order to post a score that will really make you wish you had rostered him.
Mike Clevinger will face Detroit for the second time in as many starts. Clevinger is an elite pitcher in terms of upside and this is a very good matchup for him despite the power that is in the Tigers’ lineup. Clevinger has struck out 28.4 percent of hitters this season with an elite 13.8 percent swinging strike percentage and a 28.8 o-swing percentage that is just shy of league average. Against right-handed hitters, of which most of Detroit’s lineup is comprised, Clevinger has a 29.5 percent strikeout percentage and a 45.2 percent groundball percentage.
The risk with Clevinger is that he struggles with his command at times. His strikeout ability and the fact that people refuse to roster him more than makes up for that risk, however, especially in tournaments. Clevinger has three quality secondary pitches to pair with his 93-94 mile per hour fastball. His change-up, curveball and slider have all generated greater than 23 percent whiffs this season.
It should also benefit Clevinger that he is expected to have a pitcher-friendly umpire tonight in Marvin Hudson. As has been the case for each of his last four starts, Clevinger is one of my favorite pitchers on the slate.
Luis Castillo makes for a very interesting GPP option at a very low-price tag across the industry. It is a dangerous spot for the rookie right-hander as he travels to Chase Field in Arizona, but there is no denying his upside. He has pitched 16.1 innings in the majors so far and he leads the entire slate in strikeout percentage.
Castillo has struck out 30.1 percent of hitters that he has faced with a 14.2 percent swinging strike percentage. He has actually been better against lefties than righties so far, striking out 34.3 percent of lefties with a .258 xwOBA compared to a 26.3 strikeout percentage and .337 xwOBA against righties. He is averaging over 98 miles per hour on his fastball and he throws it about two-thirds of the time.
Somewhat surprisingly for such a hard thrower, Castillo has a groundball percentage greater than 60 percent to hitters from both sides of the plate. Like Clevinger, the main concern with Castillo has been his ability to consistently throw strikes as his first-pitch strike percentage is just 45.2 percent and his zone percentage is just 41.3 percent. His price factors in all of this risk, however, which makes him a very appealing option. It is a Saturday night, so fire up some very high-upside, contrarian tournament lineups with Clevinger and Castillo and go pound some beers.
Justin Turner will face Ian Kennedy tonight. Kennedy has allowed 1.70 home runs per nine innings to righties this season with a slate-leading 37.2 percent hard contact. Turner has been excellent this season, posting a .409 xwOBA against right-handed pitchers. Though his .113 ISO against righties looks concerning, it is .219 since the start of last season so we can still feel confident in his power potential.
Cameron Maybin is in an interesting matchup against Tyson Ross. Maybin’s numbers against righties are nothing special and Ross has always been better against righties than lefties. The reason he is interesting, however, is that Ross is terrible at controlling the running game and the game is being played in Texas. The ballpark increases Maybin’s upside simply because of the great hitting environment, but his true upside comes in his ability to run against Ross if he is able to get on base. He is not a good option in cash games, but makes for a great contrarian tournament option.
Carlos Gomez has shown off his power lately and tonight he will face Jesse Chavez, who has allowed 2.42 home runs per nine innings to righties this season and will be experiencing a massive park downgrade going from Los Angeles to Texas. Gomez has been hitting second recently, as well, which increases his upside as well. Gomez has a .341 xwOBA and .251 ISO against right-handed pitching this season.
Luis Valbuena has been awful this season but he gets to face Tyson Ross in Texas. Ross has allowed a .395 xwOBA to lefties this season with just a 7.1 percent swinging strike percentage (including foul tips). We know that Valbuena has power when he makes contact, and he should be able to make contact against Ross. Valbuena is also showing signs of coming around, as he has a 43.5 percent hard contact percentage to go with a 43.5 percent flyball percentage and 26.1 percent line drive percentage in 32 at-bats over the last 14 days.
Hunter Pence appears to be healthy and he will face a lefty who is making his major league debut in Chris O’Grady. Pence has a .337 xwOBA and .214 ISO against left-handed pitching since the start of last season and this is a good opportunity to roster him in a good spot before his price increases.
Joc Pederson has a great matchup against Ian Kennedy. Pederson has a 41.7 percent hard contact percentage with just 8.3 percent soft contact over the last 14 days to go along with a 41.7 percent flyball percentage. Pederson’s big issue has always been strikeouts, but Kennedy has struck out just 19.9 percent of lefties this season while allowing 1.86 home runs per nine innings. Pederson offers massive upside, while most people will probably target Cody Bellinger at a similar price point. Pederson makes for the better option as Bellinger seems to be going through an adjustment period at the plate while Pederson heats up.
Coors Field- Coors may not be overly popular tonight as Jose Quintana is a well-known name and nobody likes to roster the White Sox. It is a good spot to attack in tournaments, however, because both of these pitchers rely on curveballs. Quintana has thrown his curveball 29.4 percent of the time this season while Hoffman has thrown his just shy of 18 percent. Curveballs are usually not as effective in Coors as they are in ballparks at lower altitude, so targeting pitchers who rely on them offers a lot of upside. The Rockies are the preferred stack of the two as Quintana throws his curveball more often and does not have a fastball in the upper-90s to fall back on like Hoffman does.
Texas Game- Both teams in Texas are strong options as well as the ballpark offers a great hitting environment and neither pitcher is particularly good. Jesse Chavez has been home run prone all season long and travelling to Texas does not figure to help those issues. On the other side, the Angels lack power but they do put the ball in play and have some speed in their lineup. Cameron Maybin has 25 stolen bases and Andrelton Simmons has 13, while Ben Revere, Kole Calhoun and Eric Young all have at least 5.
Los Angeles Dodgers- There is power up and down the Dodgers lineup and they will be facing home-run prone right-hander Ian Kennedy. There are plenty of ways to target the Dodgers as every hitter in the lineup except for the pitcher has home run power. It is worth noting that both lefties in the Royals bullpen are fresh, so it is not an ideal spot for the Dodgers once Kennedy is out of the game.