MLB DEEP DIVE – 9/13/17

 

PITCHERS

 

Max Scherzer [RHP – WAS] and Yu Darvish [RHP – LAD] are both viable plays on Wednesday night, but I don’t see myself rostering either of them. With Scherzer, he’s facing a Braves team that rarely strikes out vs. RHP (19.3%), and you aren’t getting any form of discount despite consecutive sub-par performances. The middle tier of pitching of chock full of solid options tonight, and all of them boast 30-plus-fantasy point upside in their respective matchups. I’d fault no one for deploying Scherzer on a night where his opponent owns a slate-low 2.8-run implied total, but I won’t be going there myself.

Darvish should be able to limit runs against the punchless Giants, but like the Braves, they strike out at a sub-20-percent clip vs. RHP and don’t exactly facilitate big fantasy performances. Since Darvish’s first two starts with the Dodgers–where he tossed a combined 12 two-run innings with 20 strikeouts–he has been underwhelming, allowing 16 runs and six home runs across 18.1 IP (four starts). Let the record show that those four starts came against the Rockies (at home), Padres (at Petco), Brewers (at home) and White Sox (at home). It almost seems like Darvish has caught the same can’t-win bug as this entire Dodgers offense, and I don’t have much confidence in his ability to produce tonight. He is discounted, though, so I understand why you would want to entertain the idea in GPPs.

 

Ervin Santana [RHP – MIN] is someone I generally never roster, but I may make some exceptions on Wednesday. The Padres are a truly terrible offense, with the 29th ranked wOBA (.301) and second highest K-rate vs. RHP (25.1%) this season. They also rank dead last in isolated slugging (.129) over the past 30 days, which should favor Santana and the power troubles he’s experienced in 2017. Santana has excelled in these types of matchups all season, inducing weak contact and a decent amount of strikeouts against impatient hitters. Moreover, Santana is striking righties out at a respectable 22.5-percent clip, and the only four lefties San Diego uses on a nightly basis are Carlos Asuaje, Yangervis Solarte, Corey Spangenberg and Erick Aybar.

Santana spun a complete-game gem against the Padres in early August, and I legitimately wouldn’t be surprised to see him toss another 8-9 innings tonight. San Diego ranks 29th against the slider this season, and Santana is throwing it at 47-percent frequency to righties with 40-percent whiffs/swing. You’d generally have some concerns about Santana getting beat with the fastball, but it should come as no surprise that the Padres rank dead last against the pitch this season, and should fine themselves in an early hole at Target Field. Again, I’m not usually an advocate of rostering Santana, but really find myself liking him this evening.

 

Kevin Gausman [RHP – BAL] stumbled through his last start against the Yankees, but hot temperatures inside Camden Yards can explain away some of those struggles. I went back to the well with Dylan Bundy the other night after he too collapsed against the Yankees, and I’m willing to do the same with Gausman on Wednesday. Gausman has always sat on a nice high-90’s fastball, but he didn’t move it around enough and got tuned up with his secondary offerings. He began throwing the splitter–easily his best pitch– at a much higher clip, and straightened out his delivery over the past couple months, and the effects were obvious; the 26-year-old right-hander is sporting a 2.67 ERA with a 25.7 percent K-rate and 13.7 percent swinging strike rate over his last 10 starts, while allowing only 29-percent hard contact in the process.

Toronto has been experimenting with future assets of late, rotating a lot of Triple-A-level scrubs in and out of their lineups. None of these fresh faces are even the slightest bit imposing at the plate, so only Justin Smoak and Josh Donaldson pose a problem on Wednesday. Teoscar Hernandez and Richard Urena are both striking out at a near 30 percent clip in their cup of coffee with the Jays, while Ezequiel Carrera, Kendrys Morales, Smoak, Donaldson, Miguel Montero and Jose Bautista all own 22-plus-percent K-rates vs. right-handed arms. With Welington Castillo likely sidelined again, we should see Caleb Joseph behind the plate, and that will only bolster Gausman’s value on Wednesday night.

 

Patrick Corbin [LHP – ARI] got torched by the Padres last week, but there’s no reason he should be priced this low against the Rockies. Sure, Colorado has hit left-handed pitching well this season, but they struggle mightily outside of Coors Field and strike out at the league’s sixth highest clip (24.4%). Nolan Arenado is the only serious concern tonight, as Trevor Story and Mark Reynolds have been a walking strikeout vs. southpaws, while the latter has even struggled to hit for power with the platoon advantage. D.J. LeMahieu and Jonathan Lucroy, meanwhile, don’t strike out, but they’ve been far from imposing at the dish.

I’ll happily take the savings with Corbin tonight, as he’s been absolutely brilliant outside of last start. Corbin’s 3.36 xFIP, 11.6 percent swinging strike rate, 53 percent ground ball rate and 25 percent hard-hit rate since the start of August are more than enough to target him against a Rockies squad that cannot produce on the road. Corbin has been fantastic inside Chase Field this season, and I’d expect him to bounce back nicely on Wednesday night.

 

Doug Fister [RHP – BOS] has shocked the world of late, posting 21-plus DraftKings Points in six of his last seven starts while sporting a respectable 23-percent K-rate and 57-percent groundball rate over that span. I actually don’t mind the idea of using him against an Athletics team that strikes out at the fourth highest clip vs. right-handed pitching (24.6%) and owns a modest 3.9-run implied total tonight. Fister has been ultra-efficient, too, tossing seven-plus innings in four straight and six-plus frames in all but one of his last seven starts. He’s a -195 ML favorite at home and should get plenty of run support with Jharel Cotton pitching for Oakland. I wouldn’t expect Fister to carry much ownership, either, as he’s seen a price hike across the industry following a string of impressive performances.

 

Tyler Glasnow [RHP – PIT] let me down in a big way earlier this season. I’ve been a Glasnow truther since his inception, though, and refuse to give up on the young righty this early in his career. Here are the facts: Glasnow throws nasty mid-to-high-90’s heat but has never been able to control his fastball. Walks have plagued him throughout his shoddy major-league career, but his stuff has been, and always will be good enough for him to excel at the highest level of baseball. Even when he was struggling, Glasnow got plenty of whiffs, but his inability to throw for strikes made him very hittable.

Here are some more facts: Glasnow has been absolutely filthy in Triple-A since being sent down in mid-June. Over 15 starts with Triple-A Indianapolis Glasnow posted a 1.93 ERA with a jaw-dropping 38.5-percent K-rate, 13.5 K/9 and 16.3-percent swinging strike rate. He tallied seven-plus strikeouts in all but one of 15 outings, while racking up nine-plus K’s in each of his last five starts. Most importantly, however, has been Glasnow’s ability to limit free passes; he lowered his walk rate to 8.8 percent, boasted a ridiculous 30-percent K-BB rate, and finished his Triple-A campaign with a career-best 0.95 WHIP.

I completely understand why you might have some trepidation about rostering the oft-wild righty, but I’m certainly willing to roll the dice. Milwaukee owns the league’s highest K-rate vs. RHP (26.0%), and has seen their wRC+ fall to 91 over the past few months. The Brewers boast plenty of speed, and Glasnow is terrible at holding runners, but if they’re running wild on the basepaths we’re already cooked.

There’s too much upside to ignore here, but there’s also the distinct possibility that Glasnow has Blake Snell Syndrome, where he cruises through the minors only to implode again under the bright lights. You already know where I’ll be going tonight…

 

HITTERS

HIGH-END

 

Nelson Cruz [OF – R] is my top overall hitter tonight, squaring off against Martin Perez inside the homer-happy Globe Life Park. Not only is Cruz torturing southpaws to the tune of a .391/.254 wOBA/ISO for his career, but he’s had Perez’s number, too, with a whopping 105-MPH average exit velocity and three home runs in 15 career plate appearances. This is too good a spot to pass up for the veteran slugger, and Seattle’s slate-high 5.6-run implied total only reinforces that notion.

 

Anthony Rizzo [1B – L] isn’t far behind Cruz as a top option, facing the washed up arm of Matt Harvey inside Wrigley Field. We won’t have any wind at Wrigley so it should play as a neutral park, and Rizzo has been brilliant at home all year, with a .416 wOBA, .254 ISO and 37 percent hard-hit rate. Harvey is allowing a plump .391 wOBA to left-handed bats with 2.67 HR/9 and only 14.9-percent strikeouts. I don’t understand why Terry Collins is running him back onto the mound with only days remaining in the season, but we should exploit this gift nonetheless. Rizzo makes for a stellar option at the top of the first base position.

 

Jose Altuve [2B – R] draws a great base-stealing matchup against Tyler Skaggs, who ranks towards the bottom of baseball in SRAA (3.64%) and has caught only one of eight runners in 12 starts this season. Skaggs isn’t a particularly bad pitcher, but he’s struggled against right-handed hitters and now faces one of the best lefty-mashing teams in baseball. Altuve, specifically, owns a .396 wOBA and 155 wRC+ vs. LHP since the start of 2015, while his 31 stolen bases this season ranks third behind only Billy Hamilton (58) and Dee Gordon (52). With how impressive Altuve’s been this season, I see no reason to avoid him on a night where he could rack up multiple stolen bases and an extra-base hit or two along the way.

 

Nolan Arenado [3B – R] has been so ridiculously good against southpaws that I refuse to ignore him tonight. I’m a fan of Corbin and think he’ll piece together a solid performance, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arenado make him pay on a pitch or two. With a mind-numbing .538 wOBA, .448 ISO and 11-percent K-rate vs. LHP, it’s hard to not love him even against an impressive lefty. Chase Field isn’t exactly the most pitcher-friendly venue, either.

HONORABLE MENTION: J.D. Martinez [OF – R] vs. Marquez [RHP]; Trea Turner [SS – R] vs. Gohara [LHP]; Anthony Rendon [3B – R] vs. Gohara [LHP]; Mookie Betts [OF – R] vs. Cotton [RHP]; Rhys Hoskins [1B/OF – R] vs. Straily [RHP]

 

MID-RANGE

 

Joey Gallo [1B/3B – L] strikes out a lot. Mike Leake strikes no one out. Joey Gallo trashes right-handed pitching (.356 ISO) and leads all hitters with a 58-percent flyball rate and 46-percent hard-hit rate this season. Mike Leake allows a .340 wOBA to opposite-handed bats and has to pitch inside Globe Life Park against a slew of power-laden lefties. Considering Gallo’s price drop on DraftKings and multi-position eligibility, I’ll certainly be utilizing his services tonight.

Freddie Freeman [1B/3B – L] shouldn’t be forgotten, either, as he faces a stiff test in Max Scherzer but is priced to reflect the matchup. Freeman is still one of the best hitters in baseball, appears to have recovered from the wrist ailment that was plaguing him since the All-Star break, and is priced to soar past his salary with one swing of the bat. Freeman’s last seven starts include two home runs, three doubles, eight RBI and only four strikeouts. Hell, even Justin Bour [1B – L] is interesting at a cheap cost, and Nola hasn’t been exactly stellar of late.

 

Kyle Schwarber [OF – L] is somehow below $4K on DraftKings, which doesn’t make much sense considering he’s facing the deceased Matt Harvey. Schwarber is a boom-or-bust player, but it’s hard to see him busting against such a dreadful righty. With his ample power Chicago’s 5.4-run implied total at home, I’ll be sure to consider him in the outfield at only $3,900. He’s also on the table at $3,600 on FanDuel. Ian Happ [2B/OF – L/R] merits consideration, too, as he is another unpredictable, yet high upside lefty for the Cubs.

 

Dee Gordon [2B – L] isn’t someone to sleep on tonight, as only Yu Darvish and Trevor Cahill have a worst SRAA than Aaron Nola does this season. Nola has surrendered 18 stolen bases to only two caught stealing, and has been one of the easiest pitchers to run on in 2017. Gordon is most affordable on DraftKings but I like his tournament value across the industry regardless of price. It doesn’t hurt that Gordon has been on a bit of a tear lately while Nola has cooled off considerably.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jean Segura [SS – R] @ Perez [LHP]; Ryan Zimmerman [1B – R] vs. Gohara [LHP]; Neil Walker [2B – L/R] vs. Glasnow [RHP] [GPP]; Jose Reyes [3B/SS – L/R] @ Lester [LHP]; Alex Bregman [3B/SS – R] @ Skaggs [LHP]; Trevor Story [SS – R] @ Corbin [LHP] [GPP]; Andrew Benintendi [OF – L] vs. Cotton [RHP]

 

VALUE

 

Keon Broxton [OF – R] and Hernan Perez [3B/OF – R] are two Brewer bats you’ll want to have if you think Glasnow will struggle tonight. Glasnow’s biggest problem outside of control has been his inability to hold runners, so it only makes sense to target some Milwaukee bats with speed. I’m gonna be rolling the dice on Glasnow in a bunch of GPPs, but hedging with some Brewers base-stealers also makes a lot of sense.

 

Mike Zunino [C – R] bats down in the Mariners’ order, but there’s more than enough pop in his bat to justify playing him at discounted price. Perez has struggled with righties and only strikes them out at 12-percent, so that should work in Zunino’s favor considering his 36-percent K-rate vs. LHP. I’m happy to load up on Seattle righties even if they don’t have the most favorable batting spot.

HONORABLE MENTION: Danny Valencia [1B – R] @ Perez [LHP]; Willson Contreras [C – R] @ Harvey [RHP]; Ben Zobrist [2B/OF – L/R] vs. Harvey [RHP]; Rougned Odor [2B – L] vs. Leake [RHP] [GPP];