After a short slate yesterday we are back to full power with 15 games today.
The pitching research is, umm, interesting. I’m going to spend most of my time talking about the hurlers today.
Yesterday there was almost no offense which meant pitchers dominated. That can happen from time to time in baseball.
Las Vegas lines
Today there are only two games with over/unders above 9 runs — Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays is at 9 and Philadelphia Phillies at Colorado Rockies is at 10.
We’ll want to target hitters from all four of those teams. The Blue Jays’ righty sluggers have a fantastic matchup against Hector Santiago. Colorado’s matchup against Aaron Harang isn’t too bad either.
There are four games with over/unders at 7 or less, including the Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres in PetCo, which has the lowest O/U of the day at 6.5 The other low-run games are STL@NYM, CIN@KC and LAD@SF
We’ll want to start pitchers in those games when we can.
A good strikeout total from a pitcher can turn a bad outing mediocre and a mediocre outing into a tournament-winner. A player on a team with a high win probability in a game with a low over/under also makes for a good target. When we can mash all of those things together we get peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and chocolate, whichever you like better.
Those are standard thoughts throughout the industry. I like to add in one more factor which should, in theory help you, Ninja, sneak up on your foes and slice and dice your way to a tournament title. It’s simple really, I like to compare current and career batting average on balls in play and walks plus hits divided by innings pitched numbers to see if a pitcher is due for a regression.
Regression is usually considered a negative term, but baseball players can go through a number of regressions both positive and negative. During a 162-game season, most batters and pitchers will regress toward their career numbers. That’s why most of the industry uses three-year averages as their base for preseason projections.
So when a player’s BABIP and WHIP are both significantly off their career marks then there is opportunity for us to go full ninja. Players pitching out of their minds are likely to fall back to Earth — let someone else use them. Meanwhile a pitcher who can’t can’t catch a break may only need a good matchup to get back on track. We’ll draft them and win.
Top six pitchers
1. Anibal Sanchez, $8,100 — Sanchez scored 34.4 fantasy points his last time out. He had been in the upside range for a while. His WHIP and BABIP indicate he’s pitching about how he should, but he has the second best weighted on-base average matchup of the day and the third-best strikeout matchup against the Brewers. He may not drop another 34-pointer, but Las Vegas has him as the most-likely pitcher to win (moneyline of -183) for a reason.
2. James Shields, $9,700 — Shields saunters into the day with Las Vegas’ third-best moneyline at -134. He’s pitching for the Padres in that aforementioned projected lowest-scoring game. and He’s got the second-best strikeout matchup against the Cubs.
3. Mike Foltynewicz, $6,400 — With seven strikeouts in each of his last two game, Foltynewicz scored 19 and 16 fantasy points. His salary doesn’t reflect how good he’s been. He’s a budding star and gets to face the Rays who have struck out sixth most this season. His WHIP, 1.71, and BABIP, .347, are bloated even if he ends up in the high range of those numbers for his career. That indicates he should actually be pitching better than he has. Considering his price and potential today, Foltynewicz is my favorite pitching option.
4. Trevor Bauer, $6,800 — Last time out, Bauer dropped 30.3 fantasy points on the Cardinals thanks to 10 strikeouts. Sure there’s a chance Jose Abreu mashes a homer, there’s also a chance Bauer, who is seventh on my strikeout chart, puts up another gem against the rest of the White Sox lineup.
5. Jeremy Hellickson, $5,200 — Things just got a little weird. Sorry. Yes, calm down. I know he has to face Giancarlo SMASH Stanton. BUT, he also gets to face the rest of the Marlins, a team that has struck out fifth-most this season. His 1.68 WHIP and .344 BABIP are considerably higher than his career marks of 1.28 and .274. He’s given up four homers combined in his last three starts. Nobody is going to own him. But the potential is here for one of those tournament-changing surprises. When you build a contrarian lineup it’s supposed to make you a little sick to your stomach. Take some Pepto and get him in a tournament lineup.
6. Nathan Eovaldi, $6,500 — Talking about being sick to your stomach. … Eovaldi has found the struggle and carried with him. He’s allowed a .308 batting average and five homers in seven games. And now he faces the nuclear-hot Nationals and Bryce Harper. But Eovaldi’s WHIP and BABIP indicate he’s been unlucky. He’s also struck out 31 batters to only 11 walks and the Nationals have struck out fourth-most in MLB. I’m not saying he’s a lock, but he has the potential to surprise, which is the kind of risk we have to take if we want to win a tournament.
Pitchers I’m avoiding
Sonny Gray, Johnny Cueto and Gio Gonzalez — There are a handful of reasons to start all of these players, but a couple reasons to not start them. And at their price I don’t want to deal with the risk. Gray’s WHIP and BABIP indicate he’s due for a regression and he’s also the highest-priced pitcher on the board so he’s going to have to be really great to provide value. Cueto is also high-priced his wOBA matchup isn’t great and he’s not on the strikeout chart because the Royals don’t strike out. Gonzalez is one of the pitchers most likely to win, but he’s a strikeout pitcher who isn’t on my strikeout chart and hasn’t had a ton of success against the Yankees.
Speaking of pitchers to target
Toronto vs. Hector Santiago — As mentioned above, start some Blue Jays. I’ve got one lineup with Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Devon Travis and Russell Martin in it. Jose Bautista is also a nice option.
Colorado vs. Aaron Harang — In Colorado, with a 10-run over/under, any bat goes. But Carlos Gonzalez has a history of hitting Harang and Corey Dickerson has a history of beating up right-handers.
Phillies vs. Chad Bettis — Bettis gets to make his second start of the season in Colorado. He has the best wOBA matchup of the day because the Phillies have been bad. However, Bettis’ first start at Dodgers Stadium left him with a 7.20 ERA and a 2.20 WHIP. That’s the kind of bad you don’t need to see or hear. You can just feel it. Yes, that means he’s due for a regression, but it’s not coming in Coors. I have Ryan Howard in a couple lineups. Markel Franco and Freddie Galvis are too expensive, considering you could pay less for Donaldson and only $100 more for Marcus Semien at 3B and SS respectively. But if you’re stacking Phillies you should consider them. You could also consider Ben Revere, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz.
A couple value bats
Atlanta hitters Jace Peterson and Todd Cunningham have been swinging hot bats. They’ll cost you $6,200 combined and Peterson is a 2B/3B so he’ll give you some flexibility.
Thomas Field, $2,600, has only played in six games for the Rangers this season. One of those games he scored 23 fantasy points and in his last game he scored 16 points. He gets Wade Miley, who has a 9.64 ERA in two home starts this season.
I shouldn’t have to tell you to consider Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, but all of them are in more than one of my lineups today.
Good luck today and every day.