MLB DEEP DIVE – 9/7/17
Today Adam and EMac are splitting the Deep Dive by Pitchers and Hitters. You can watch them both along with Jay Walker at 5pm ET on the DeeperDive.
PITCHING – by Adam Scherer
Chris Sale is the clear cut top pitching option on a slate that lacks much pitching. Sale has been one of the best, if not the best, pitchers in baseball this season and he gets a phenomenal matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays. Sale has struggled in two of his last three starts, but they were in much tougher matchups in the Indians and the Yankees. His velocity in those starts was not down from his season averages so it does not seem like we have much to worry about. Sale has struck out 36.1 percent of hitters this season and Tampa Bay has strikeouts and weak hitters up and down their lineup against lefties.
Zack Godley put together his best outing in a while in his last start against the Colorado Rockies in Coors. It was a watered-down Rockies lineup, so we should not be overly excited, but it was not a worse lineup than the Padres are likely to run out on Saturday. Godley’s velocity was still down a tick in that start, but he did a better job of throwing first-pitch strikes and strikes in general so that is at least a step in the right direction. There really is not a lot in the way of safety on this slate, so Godley makes one of the better options in his matchup against the Padres despite his lack of dominance recently compared to earlier in the season.
Alex Wood has not been getting swinging strikes or strikeouts in his recent starts like he was early in the season, but his price has finally come down. The big concern with Wood is that his elite groundball rate has come crashing down, inducing just 38.9 percent of the last 30 days, and he has allowed over 40 percent hard contact to go along with the increase in flyballs. This has results in a huge uptick in home runs over that span. While there is some risk in rostering Wood since he has not been quite right recently, the Rockies are atrocious outside of Coors Field. Wood will have to deal with a couple tough righties in D.J. LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado but, other than that, he should be able to navigate the Rockies lineup. There is certainly upside here for Wood at an $8,700 price tag.
Andrew Heaney is definitely risky and he has a tough matchup against a Mariners’ team that has struck out just 19.3 percent of the time against lefties this season. They have been below average in terms of production, however, with just a .309 wOBA and 93 wRC+. Safeco Field is a fine place to pitch for a flyball-pitcher like Heaney. He has generated swinging strike rates greater than 10 percent in all 4 of his starts this season, though they have been in better strikeout matchups. Still, at his price and with his ability, trading off some strikeout upside for the chance to pitch somewhere other than Texas or Camden Yards could be worth it on a slate short on pitching.
Hitters – by EMac
Cincinnati Reds vs RHP Chris Flexen (NYM) – Yes, I have an obsession with Cinci this year and they tend to make up the core of a lot of my lineups, particularly when the Reds are at home, against a right-handed pitcher and then I want to surround him with some of his friends. Sadly Billy Hamilton is on the shelf with a broken thumb and will likely miss the remainder of the season, however, that does open up a role for OF Phillip Ervin to lead off. He is an absolute steal on FanDuel at $2,300 and reasonably priced on DraftKings and FantasyDraft.
Of course the heart-and-soul of any Reds stack has to be 1B Joey Votto with his outstanding .430 wOBA, 1.041 OPS and .260 ISO in 455 lefty/righty plate appearances this season. Wingman 2B Scooter Gennett is a reasonable facsimile when considering his price point and he has tallied a .395 wOBA, a .948 OPS and a .263 ISO and we have to remember that he does have four home run upside (while true, I am happy any time he gets one in a game). OF Scott Schebler rounds out the trio of hitters swinging the stick from the left-side of the play that I will be targeting and we can also fill out the remainder of the stack with any combination of right-handed hitters 3B Eugenio Suarez, OF Adam Duval or SS Zack Cozart.
Washington Nationals vs RHP Mark Leiter Jr. (PHI) – This season against 142 lefties faced, Leiter has allowed 1.87 HR/9 with a 20% HR/FB rate and while his 27.5% hard hit rate is good, we know that 2B Daniel Murphy is a master of launch angles and one of the most complete hitters in the league and 1B/OF Adam Lind is also a decent option if he makes the lineup in this lefty/righty matchup.
Against same-handed hitters, Leiter is about a league average pitcher, but we know that 3B Anthony Rendon (.378 wOBA, .216 ISO), 1B Ryan Zimmerman (.374 wOBA, .238 ISO) and SS Trea Turner (.357 wOBA and speed for days) all excel in righty/righty situations. These guys are options as one-offs or as part of a full Nationals stack.
Atlanta Braves vs LHP Adam Conely (ATL) – Here is a fantastic situation where we can go with some discounted lefty killers in C Kurt Suzuki (50 Pas, .483 wOBA, .477 ISO), 2B Ozzie Albies (34 Pas, .442 wOBA, .321 ISO) and SS Johan Camargo (63 Pas, .428 wOBA, .262 ISO) and I can tell you right now that this trio will be in my DraftKings optimal player pool and that I don’t mind using them as salary relief on FantasyDraft despite their not being at the more “traditional” corner infield positions. LHP Adam Conley is only striking out 16.3% of all right-handed hitters this season and even though he does not have egregious home run numbers, he is on borrowed time with a 38.7% hard hit rate and a 5.58 xFIP which show that his 4.80 ERA is likely to crest over 5.00 if he gets another four to five starts this season.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs LHP Andrew Albers (SEA) – Hell and Yes there are going to be some Halos in my lineup tonight! OF Mike Trout (duh he is Mike FREAKIN’ Trout), Justin Upton (a noted lefty killer himself) and 1B C.J. Cron (an underappreciated play against lefties who will be overlooked once more with his rising price tag) for a nice late night hammer trio.
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA at LHP Max Fried (ATL) – Stanton received a day off on Friday and he gets a rookie LHP on the mound today, albeit one with a good curveball. In 135 plate appearances against southpaws, Stanton has crushed to the tune of a .471 wOBA and a .440 ISO with an amazing 1.197 OPS showing that he is a complete hitter.
Nick Williams – PHI at RHP Edwin Jackson (WAS) – Williams is our bargain outfield option on most sites and he has been very effective through 135 plate apparances against opposite-handed pitching compiling a .354 wOBA and a .220 OPS and he will help us on our quest to roster Chris Sale.
Other Stacks: Arizona vs Jhoulys Chacin (SDP) will likely be the most popular and the New York Mets vs Homer Baily (CIN) will be the most overlooked, but keep in mind the Mets recent production of 5, 7, 6, 1, 11, 6, 1, 8 over the last week. There are a lot of crooked numbers there and we can get them as an off-the-board option on all sites.