MLB DEEP DIVE – 8/17/17
Luis Severino is coming off a poor outing against the Red Sox, but he had been very good in his previous starts. He has increased his change-up usage about six percent (about nine percent to righties) over the last month and it has resulted in improved fastball performance. From the start of the season until his July 15th start, Severino allowed a .352 xwOBA on his fastball with a 9.3 percent whiff percentage. Since that start, Severino has allowed just a .312 xwOBA on his fastball with an 11.5 percent whiff percentage. He has a friendlier matchup against the Mets tonight, as they are a watered-down offense after trading Lucas Duda and Jay Bruce and they are dealing with nagging injuries to Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes that forced them to both be scratched from the lineup last night. Also working in Severino’s favor is the presence of extreme pitcher’s umpire Bill Miller behind the plate. Do not let the struggles of Jaime Garcia last night scare you away from Severino in a great spot.
Aaron Nola has been phenomenal recently, posting a 28.7 percent strikeout percentage over the last 30 days. He faces a Giants team that does not have much power and Nola gets a massive park boost pitching in San Francisco. The Giants’ offense also has a few more strikeouts in it than it has for most of the season. Severino is the better point per dollar play as Nola is priced just below him on DraftKings and FantasyDraft and above him on FanDuel, but Nola makes for an excellent GPP pivot at lower ownership.
Jeff Samardzija has a friendly matchup against the Phillies at home. Samardzija has been inconsistent this season, but does have upside as his 24.8 percent strikeout percentage shows. The Phillies are a better offense now than they have been for much of the season, but there are still strikeouts and holes in their lineup. One red flag for Samardzija is that his strikeout percentage is noticeably lower at home than on the road, striking out just 21.8 percent of hitters at home compared to 27.3 percent on the road. Be sure that Posey is behind the plate if you roster Samardzija, as he has struggled mightily with Hundley behind the plate this season.
Jameson Taillon makes for an excellent GPP pivot from Samardzija in the upper-middle price range. The Cardinals’ offense has come to life lately, but Taillon has been excellent against right-handed hitters this season and he will face this righty heavy lineup at home in Pittsburgh. Taillon has struck out 27.5 percent of right-handed hitters that he has faced this season, while inducing 26.9 percent soft contact, walking just 5.7 percent, and allowing only 0.82 home runs per nine innings. The matchup is not as sexy on paper as Samardzija’s is, but it is a much better spot than it looks and he is likely to come at a steep ownership discount compared to Samardzija.
Jhoulys Chacin is in a sneaky good spot against the Nationals- depending on lineup. The Nats are without two of their primary left-handed hitters in Bryce Harper and Brian Goodwin and right-hander Michael A. Taylor has returned from AAA. They have a projected lineup with four lefties but only two of them, Murphy and Lind, are power hitters that pose a threat to Chacin. Chacin has been elite against right-handed hitters, striking out 22.7 percent with a 53.1 percent groundball percentage and more soft contact allowed than hard contact. He has done a much better job of keeping left-handed hitters in the park at home than he has on the road as well. Facing the Nationals is always a dangerous task, but this is a pretty good spot for Chacin at a very low price tag.
Aaron Judge homered off Robert Gsellman last night and has another excellent matchup tonight against Steven Matz. Matz has not been able to find his form this season and has struggled to miss bats, recording just a 7.0 percent swinging strike rate this season. Judge has massacred left-handed pitchers this season to the tune of a .462 xwOBA and .301 ISO. Gary Sanchez is an excellent play as well.
Joey Gallo is having an incredible season, with nearly half of his hits being home runs. He hit another monster home run last night and he will face rookie right-handed Reynaldo Lopez tonight. Lopez is a legitimate pitching prospect, but he is a flyball pitcher and has had a bit of a home run issue at AAA this season as he has allowed 16 homers in just over 120 innings pitched in the International League (which is much more pitcher friendly than the PCL). Gallo has a .378 ISO against righties this season and has a great chance to do damage against a combination of Lopez and a depleted Sox bullpen tonight.
Daniel Murphy is one of two power lefties available to the Nationals tonight. While Chacin has been excellent against righties this season, he has struggled against lefties. He has struck out just 16.2 percent of lefties this season while allowing 1.54 home runs per nine innings. As mentioned earlier, he has done a better job keeping the ball in the park at Petco but that should not deter you from rostering Murphy. Murphy has a .371 xwOBA and .249 ISO against righties this season. It is worth noting that Murphy has been in and out of the lineup recently with hip issues, so he is not at 100 percent.
Todd Frazier has a .374 xwOBA and .277 ISO against lefties this season and gets the same excellent matchup as Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Frazier’s biggest issue at the plate, like Judge, is making contact. Facing a pitcher who does not induce swinging strikes makes it an excellent spot for Frazier.
Nicky Delmonico has been excellent since being promoted to the majors, including hitting home runs last night off of Yu Darvish and Tony Watson. He has a .400 xwOBA and .212 ISO in his limited time with the White Sox. In the minors, Delmonico displayed mediocre power- but enough to be worth considering against Tyson Ross in Texas- and the ability to be a good hitter overall. He is incredibly cheap across the industry and is a top value option.
Adam Lind is a fixture in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup now that Bryce Harper is sidelined. Lind has a .380 xwOBA and .215 ISO against righties and, as discussed previously, Chacin struggles with left-handed hitters. Lind and Delmonico provide a nice cheap core that does not lack upside tonight.
Leury Garcia- I may have saved the best for last. Garcia is one of my favorite hitters on the slate and he tends to go overlooked. He has a .323 xwOBA with a .216 ISO against right-handed pitching this season and he has speed as well. Tyson Ross does not miss bats and he does not hold runners. Garcia will also benefit from the excellent hitting conditions in Texas.
Texas Rangers- We can stack against the White Sox every night regardless of who the starting pitcher is or what the park is because their bullpen is that bad. Tonight, it is a young starting pitcher with a flyball problem in Reynaldo Lopez in a great hitter’s park. The Rangers will be extremely popular, but it is for good reason.
Chicago White Sox- Stacking the opposite team of the popular stack is often a strong tournament strategy. That is the case tonight as the White Sox will benefit from the same excellent hitting conditions as the Rangers, but at an ownership discount. Tyson Ross has just a 6.4 percent swinging strike rate this season and has already allowed 7 stolen bases in 38.0 innings. The White Sox have plenty of speed in their lineup and the top of the order generally consists of hitters that are better than people give them credit for. I love Leury Garcia tonight, whether in a stack or as a one-off, and the rest of the projected top five for the White Sox makes a lot of sense as well.
New York Yankees- The Yankees implied run total is way lower than expected against Matz, which does concern me. Still, there is plenty of upside here as Matz has not been able to strike hitters out this season and has allowed plenty of home runs to righties. The Yankees have a lot of right-handed power in this lineup and should be able to succeed against the Mets bullpen if they can get to Matz early.