MLB Thoughts 10/16/-10/17/16

Two games on the Sunday/Monday MLB Playoffs slate: Toronto at Cleveland and Los Angeles at Chicago. Let’s go through both games and identify who, in these high stakes tough matchups, will be good targets today. All prices referenced are FanDuel pricing.

Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs

Don’t overthink Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw, especially at his $9,800 salary – His numbers are staggering and there might just be enough people who believe he’s unclutch in the playoffs  that will pass on him against the Cubs. Kershaw’s numbers are staggering, especially against LHH, where he amassed a 36.9% K-rate against a tiny 1.4% walk rate, a 1.72 xFIP and 11.51 K/9 IP.

The Cubs send out SP Kyle Hendricks ($9,500), who will likely be lower owned because he’s A) Pitching against Kershaw, B) Only three hundred dollars separate the two pitchers, C) Joe Maddon likes to pull his starting pitchers early and rely on his bullpen, as in Game 1’s Jon Lester fiasco, where Lester was leading and had thrown 77 pitches, but got pinch hit for anyway.

The last reason there is pause for even throwing Hendricks in as a fade Kershaw tourney play, because Maddon’s track record is consistent in this regard. If Hendricks isn’t going to be able to the distance if rolling, then the upside simply isn’t there for tournaments, and you should be fading Kershaw in cash games. It’s too bad, because Hendricks has been terrific lately, with a 25.8% K-rate, 4.2% walk rate and 3.23 SIERA over the last 30 days.

Hitters to consider:

Dodgers:

Kyle Hendricks is tough, even against LHH at home, but SS Corey Seager ($3,400), in 85 plate appearances since August 1st against RHP on the road, had a 145 wRC+ and .392 wOBA in split. OF Joc Pederson ($3,000) has been batting sixth recently against RHP and in his last 78 PA against RHP on the road, has a 139 wRC+ and .219 ISO. Lastly, 1B Adrian Gonzalez ($2,800) really came on strong in this split, popping a 151 wRC+ and .324 ISO over his last 74 PA.

Cubs:

Targeting Kershaw will obviously be done since this is a 2-game slate and people will be hunting the road less travelled, so if you are going to blaze that trail, 3B Kris Bryant ($3,700) had a 151 wRC+, .320 ISO and .399 wOBA and SS Javier Baez ($2,900) rocked a 203 wRC+, .254 ISO and massive .476 wOBA in 66 PA in split.

Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Indians

The Indians, tough at home this season (2nd in wRC+, 6th in ISO, 3rd in wOBA), face TOR SP Marcus Stroman ($7,500), who was very strong away from Toronto, even recently, as he had a 2.47 xFIP over his last 154 batters faced in split. Stroman’s strikeout upside was excellent as well over that span, carrying a 9.91 K/9 IP and a reasonable 5.8% walk rate (2.23/9 IP).

For Cleveland, SP Trevor Bauer ($7,800) has not been as strong, with a 4.55 xFIP, 9% walk rate and only 7.11 K/9 IP. He’s been worse against RHH, too, with a 4.97 xFIP and 5.54 K/9 IP in that split, with a 1.73 HR/9 IP. Last night’s Indians starter, Kyle Tomlin, kept the Jays bats in check despite his own issues, but it has to be identified that Bauer has the worst recent performances in split of any of the four pitchers on the slate, making him the most attractive hitter target, especially in Cleveland, one of the best hitting spots this season.

Hitters to Target:

Blue Jays:

So we want to target big righty bats here, and we again look to 3B Josh Donaldson ($3,700), who was good in split all season, but even since September 1st (63 PA), he’s kept it going with a 131 wRC+. Also, OF Jose Bautista ($3,300) carries a tidy 129 wRC+, 17.3% walk rate, .363 wOBA since August 1st in split. Catcher Russell Martin ($2,700) has been surprisingly strong in split. In 98 PA since August 1st, Martin has a 143 wRC+ with a massive .326 ISO and .383 wOBA.

Last night, those three went 2-10 with a walk and a double against the four Indians pitchers they faced, but it was Tomlin off whom Donaldson doubled.

Indians:

The home team, as stated above, always hits well. Against RHP, 1B Carlos Santana ($3,300) and Mike Napoli ($3,100) make an excellent tag team. Santana had a tremendous year at home against RHP, with a 158 wRC+, .303 ISO and .409 wOBA over his 242 PA and Napoli kept up with Santana, despite the reverse split, by knocking a 154 wRC+, .321 ISO and .404 wOBA.

2B Jason Kipnis ($3,400) quietly did his thing, too, this season, with a 144 wRC+ and .389 wOBA and 3B Jose Ramirez ($3,300) was a surprising 153 wRC+ and .402 wOBA, with a mere 7.8% K-rate against RHP at home. Finally, SS Francisco Lindor ($3,200) blasted the same split for a 148 wRC+ and .396 wOBA.

Good Luck! – Jason