Happy Friday! Another big, 14 game-slate with one of the more intriguing nights of the season. What makes this set of games so interesting is the pricing DraftKings has set the starting pitchers at. Not that it is bad, by any means. There are just a lot of different paths to take when looking at roster construction.
There are three pitchers priced at $13,000 or higher. Then, Patrick Corbin is set at $11,900 in his own, high-mid tier. Next, there is a mini-tier with two starters in the $9K range. Then there is a massive drop off. Eduardo Rodriguez is just $8,100 and then we need to dive into the less expensive starting pitchers.
For stacks, there shouldn’t be any team which garners ridiculous ownership. However, the Chicago White Sox will be popular. They are in a great matchup and ballpark. To top it off, they are very affordable, allowing you to pay up for a stud pitcher.
Let’s take a deeper dive into this slate to find some of the best GPP options for tonight’s MLB 14-game slate.
Trevor Bauer (CLE): $13,300 @ OAK
Although he may be a weird dude off the field, Trevor Bauer has been one of the best DFS pitchers all season long. There is an argument to be made that he deserves to be priced higher than Jacob deGrom. Either way, $13,300 is a pretty penny to pay as your SP 1.
In GPP’s, we are looking for around 3-4 X of a players salary. On a $50,000 team salary, this should give us 180-200 DraftKings points. This brings salary into perspective when paying up for a pitcher. Although he could score the most raw points this evening, around 40 points will pay-off value. Bauer has yet to score more than 39.2 DK points this season but has recorded at least 30, six times. His consistency to pitch big games makes him a fantastic cash-game pitcher. He will get a park upgrade and face a strikeout-prone A’s team.
I won’t be paying up for Bauer because it is very hard for him to hit value at this price. He is worth mentioning in this article though because I feel like he will be the highest scoring pitcher this evening. On a night where ownership should be irrelevant, Bauer is worth a look if you can make him fit.
Nick Pivetta (PHI): $9,500 vs. WAS
The Canadian sophomore has had a rollercoaster season with the Phillies in 2018. Showcasing incredible pitching performances multiple times, Pivetta has also been rocked on numerous occasions. Making him the perfect GPP starting pitcher. Pivetta has a high 28.6% strikeout rate to go along with a respectable 3.24 SIERA.
Diving deeper into his numbers, the Phillies starter is significantly better when pitching at home. His K% jumps up to 32.1% (23.4% on the road). His xFIP is 2.78 vs 4.00. The BB% is much lower, along with the HR/9, opponent batting average, and WHIP. What is even more interesting is that his BABIP is also lower at home. This either suggests he is due for positive regression at home (making his numbers even better) or negative regression on the road. The point is, Nick Pivetta has elite numbers at home and will face a struggling Nationals team.
Washington is coming off a two-game series in Tampa Bay where they failed to score a single run. Last night, Aaron Nola and the Phillies bullpen struck out 10 Nats hitters in a 5-4 win. Left-handed hitters do give Pivetta more problems than righties. Well, Bryce Harper is batting a .200 AVG in the last 14 days with 12 strikeouts. Juan Soto is the second lefty to fear. In those same 14 days, the rookie sensation has zero home runs to go along with two RBI’s. If you want to throw Daniel Murphy in the mix, he has recorded just nine hits (eight of which were singles) in 39 plate appearances. This Washington Nationals team looks scary on paper but is a team you can certainly target starting pitcher with. Until the bats get going, lock in pitchers against this slumping team.
Marco Gonzales (SEA): $7,800 vs. KC
At first glance, the Mariners starter can be overlooked quite easily. He isn’t a “sexy” pitcher with big strikeout stuff. A very average 21.1% strikeout rate is not all that exciting for GPP’s. However, there are hardly any reasons to think he will have a poor outing. He limits power to both lefties and right-handed hitters. Has a decent 3.75 SIERA. To go along with a 0.99 HR/9 rate. If we take away his last two starts (@ BOS and @ NYY), Marco has had a solid season. It is very acceptable to expect a 20-25 DraftKing point outing against a terrible Kansas City Royals team.
The Royals have generated a measly 57 wRC+ (30th in the MLB) over the last 30 days and are getting worse. This team has a couple of power-hitting lefties in Mike Moustakas and Lucas Duda, but otherwise are closer to an AAA lineup. Salvador Perez is the third-best hitter in this lineup and is dealing with a hand injury.
As a salary relief starting pitcher, Marco Gonzales is a very viable SP 1 or 2. Depending if you want to look further down the pitcher chart…
Joe Musgrove (PIT): $7,600 @ SD
The fourth pitching option to look at this evening is Joe Musgrove. There are a lot of categories to look at when determining a starting pitcher for DFS. What set Musgrove apart the most was the matchup and ballpark. To go along with a reasonable price, the Pirates starter becomes a good GPP option. In his first MLB outing, Musgrove struck out seven Cardinals on 67 pitches through seven innings. Since then, he has had some rough outings against very good ball teams. The Padres are quite the opposite. They are ranked in the bottom three of nearly every advanced hitting category and play in a deep, pitcher-friendly ballpark.
Although another 30 DraftKing point performance is not a realistic expectation, it is his ceiling. He is not a strikeout pitcher and never really has been. He does, however, limit the hard contact and pitches to contact, getting a lot of ground balls. This is a safer GPP option which will allow the salary to pay up for the big bats.
Felix Pena (LAA): $6,600 @ BAL
There can be a case made for pitchers who have a lower salary, like Marcus Stroman, Ian Kennedy, or CC Sabathia, but Felix Pena is as low as I am going to go. And there is plenty to like about this kid.
To start, he is a strikeout pitcher. In the MLB this season, Pena owns a 10.8 K/9, while posting a 26.8% K rate in AAA. He is not a flamethrower, but what is interesting is the velocity on his sinker curve pitch, which is averaging 93mph. Close to the same speed as his fastball, his newly added pitch adds movement and deception. He mixes up his fastball and slider quite often, keeping hitters on their toes.
Pena dominates righties compared to left-handed hitters. On the season, he has faced just 28 righties but struck out 12 of them. They are hitting .192 off him with just one BB (hit-by-pitch). The Baltimore Orioles are a very right-handed heavy lineup. If they start, Colby Rasmus and Chris Davis will be the only lefties in the lineup. Both have power, but can also strikeout three times each.
There is certainly risk with Felix Pena. He could be on a pitch limit, he does give up home runs and does not have a lot of MLB experience. At his low price tag and strikeout upside though, he is a very intriguing option.
Chicago White Sox
Yovani Gallardo is toeing the rubber tonight in Arlington for the Rangers against the Chicago White Sox. Forget, for a moment the fact that he is a terrible pitcher. It is supposed to be 97.8 degrees! That is not a comfortable environment for a starting pitcher. Balls will jump off the bat and go a long way. OK, now back to the part where Gallardo sucks. Sure, 2018 is a small sample size. He has pitched just 12.2 innings in the MLB and 49.2 in AAA. However, he has had a long career and you can go back as far as you’d like, he cannot get strikeouts while making a career as a mediocre groundball pitcher.
Now in 2018, the veteran has given up four home runs in those 12.2 innings of work. He has walked nine batters and given up 20 hits. The White Sox are not a good team, everyone knows that. But they do have some massive power hitters in their lineup. Chicago will be popular tonight due to the low cost and fantastic spot in a great hitters ballpark.
Los Angeles Angels
If you haven’t been stacking against David Hess this season, then you have missed out. Not a ton to talk about, he has bad pitching statistics across the board and does struggle more with left-handed hitters. The Angels do not have any imposing lefties, other than Luis Valbuena, who is struggling himself. That being said, the top half of this order is in play most nights and worth a look against one of the worst pitchers in the MLB. Mike Trout is supposed to be starting in center field tonight which indicates his hand injury is a non-issue. Camden Yards is a much better hitter park than Angel Stadium which gives a boost to all hitters.
The 4.43 implied run total for the Brewers is very interesting. As a betting man, I will take the over. Sal Romano has struggled a lot this season and will try to quiet a very powerful Brewers team. Romano owns a .373 wOBA to left-handed hitters which bodes well for guys like Eric Thames and Travis Shaw. With the lack of command, Sal Romano has a higher than average BB/9 and extremely low SwSt %. The 24-year-old also owns a very low .286 BABIP, which suggests he has been getting lucky this season and is due for negative regression.
The Brewers and Reds are obviously trending in the opposite direction. Each game becomes more and more important for a team like the Brewers who are in a very competitive division. They will come out blazing, looking to tee off on a sub-par starting pitcher.
In a divisional game, the Nationals will continue their series with the surprising Phillies. The 0-3 Erick Fedde is set to take the mound for the Nats in a very important game. His ERA is an inflated 5.40, which is misleading, considering his SIERA is just 4.06. What is concerning about Erick Fedde’s game is the below average strikeout rate and 17.6% HR/FB.
The Phillies lineup consists of a group of hitters who are fairly undisciplined and free swinging. They also have a lot of power. Against a pitcher who cannot generate a lot of swinging strikes, the Phillies should be able to make a lot of hard contact and drive the ball out of the park. Rhys Hoskins is one of the better options on the night to hit a home run, while cheaper players such as Nick Williams and Maikel Franco have huge upside at a discount.
Los Angeles Dodgers
There are probably 11 teams to look at tonight for stacks. The Dodgers round out my top five though. On big slates, such as this 14-game night, west coast teams often go overlooked. It doesn’t matter the scenario or situation. There are more people who live on the east coast and therefore are not as likely to stay up late to watch a game with their players. It happens in every sport.
The Dodgers host the Colorado Rockies this evening and will see lefty Tyler Anderson. I honestly haven’t dug into his numbers too much before today.
Tyler Anderson has pitched 285.3 innings in the MLB. In his short career, the Rockies pitcher has pitched just 66.2 innings against fellow lefties. He has given up 10 home runs to the same handedness. Five of those 10 have come this year in just 14 innings, or 74 batters faced. He has a .449 wOBA to left-handed hitters vs a .311 wOBA to righties. As a southpaw, he has extreme reverse splits taking place this season.
Assuming Cody Bellinger is in the lineup, lock him in as a top hitter. Not only will he be virtually under-owned (likely less than 3% due to the late night game and lefty on lefty matchup), but he also has a very good matchup. Even if Anderson somehow pitches a solid game, the Rockies bullpen has been one of the worst in the MLB all season. This team is getting hot at the right moment and is very capable to go on a massive offensive surge.