MLB DFS Pitching Preview – Justin Verlander is Today’s Ace – The Quant Edge

MLB DFS Pitching Preview – Justin Verlander is Today’s Ace – The Quant Edge

For today’s MLB DFS Pitching Preview, we will go through both the early and main slates since we have an eight game early and six game main slate. The main slate pitching has proven vets, while the early slate has some young arms. Let’s dive in.

Early Slate

Pitchers to Use

Luis Castillo

Castillo has been a heavy ground ball guy to both sides of the plate and is also striking out both sides of the plate around 29% of the time.

I mentioned it last time that Castillo pitched that his biggest issue is walks as he is walking 13% of hitters. I usually stay away from pitchers with walk rates that high, but again, with limited options on this slate, Castillo has to be in consideration.

The matchup with the Cubs is sneaky good for Castillo’s upside as they will likely throw in a couple more lefties who just aren’t very good. There are five projected starters, not including the pitcher, who have a K rate over 26% against right handed pitching.

Zach Eflin

Eflin is much better against righties and he should get a lineup full of them against the Marlins in Marlins Park. He won’t strike out a ton of guys (only 19% K rate to righties), but the run prevention here should be pretty good.

To righties he is allowing 0.89 HR/9, only a 4% walk rate, 46% ground ball rate, and 32% hard contact. We know the Marlins are the most favorable matchup for a right handed pitcher, putting Eflin firmly in play.

Austin Voth

Anytime the Tigers are facing a righty, we need to take a good look at the pitcher they are facing. Voth looked really good in his first outing with the Nats with a 6IP, 2ER, 7Ks stat line against a very good Braves offense.

Voth has seen a spike in velocity this year, which has helped his K rate jump from 21% to 25% at the AAA level. There is some strikeout ability against this weak Tigers offense which has five hitters with a K rate over 27% against right handed pitching.

Brendan McKay

We finally get to see one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball take the mound today. Here are McKay’s stats across AA and AAA this year:

AA – 41IP, 1.77 xFIP, 42% ground ball rate, 40% K rate, 6% walk rate, 0.43 HR/9

AAA – 25IP, 3.78 xFIP, 50% ground ball rate, 28% K rate, 6.5% walk rate, 0.36 HR/9

It is important to note too that McKay is a lefty and the Rangers have really struggled with left handed pitching this year. They only have two hitters with an ISO over .200 and they have seven hitters with a K rate of 24% or higher against left handed pitching in their projected starting lineup.

Pitchers to Pick On

Julio Teheran

The regression monster is finally attacking Teheran as his last two outings have combined for 8IP, 17 hits, 13 ERs, and 2HRs. His ERA of 3.94 is still way below his SIERA and xFIP of 5.21.

Teheran also has a career HR/FB rate of 12% against lefties, however this year’s HR/FB rate for him sits at 4% against lefties. That is going to start regressing soon, and the Mets lefties have some power to make that happen. Oh and he has to face Pete Alonso too who hits homers off everyone.

Andrew Cashner/O’s pen

Keep an eye on the weather for this game. There is a chance we could get an in game delay, which could shorten Cashner’s outing. If that happens, you get more innings from the terrible O’s pen in Camden Yards.

Regardless you can still pick on Cashner here. Lefties haven’t done much damage against him this year, but similar to Teheran, that is going to change. He has a career HR/FB of 11% against left handed bats, but this year that number sits at 2.4%. The Indians are loaded with lefties as well. His SIERA of 5.17 is third worst on the slate, and outpaces his ERA of 4.37.

Steven Matz

Whenever the Braves face a lefty, I have significant interest. They are filled with lefty mashers throughout their lineup. Matz should face a majority of righties here where he is allowing 2.1 HR/9, 4.5 xFIP, and 41% hard contact.

Gregory Soto/Tigers pen

The Tigers pen competes with the O’s pen for worst in the majors. The Nats let us down against a lefty yesterday, but I am going right back to the well here. Soto has maxed out at 88 pitches this year, with his last two outings being 75 and 72. So there is a good chance the Nats get to the bad pen pretty early in this one, especially if they give Soto trouble out of the gate.

Soto has the worst SIERA on the slate at 5.9 and should face a majority of righties here. Against righties he is allowing 2.57 HR/9, a whip of 2.14, an xFIP of 6.04, 47% hard contact and only 39% ground balls.

Main Slate

Pitchers to Use

Justin Verlander

Verlander is the best arm on the whole day, and he gets a very favorable matchup against a watered down Mariners lineup. The Mariners have three hitters with an ISO over .2oo and five hitters with a K rate over 24% against right handed pitching.

Meanwhile, Verlander has the best SIERA on the slate at 3.17 and is striking out 32.6% of hitters while only walking 5%. He is well worth paying up for here.

Zack Greinke

If you want to save some salary off Verlander, I don’t hate Greinke here. He is projected to face seven lefties plus the pitcher today. Left handed bats are the side of the plate he has absolutely dominated this year. Against lefties he has a 22% K rate, 0.9 whip, 3.11 xFIP, 55% ground balls and only 33% hard contact. He gets to pitch in the pitcher friendly park in San Fran here as well.

Dakota Hudson

I don’t like to pick on teams swinging the bat well, but Hudson grades out as the best cheap option for me. If the Padres play their normal lineup, they will be right handed heavy. If they try to play the splits and go lefty heavy, they will be using much worse hitters.

Hudson is a massive ground ball guy as he has allowed 71% (!!) ground balls to righties and 52% to lefties. So while he doesn’t strike many guys out, he has been able to survive thanks to his ground ball rates. An interesting stat is that Hudson has given up more than 3ER only once this season. He is priced cheap enough that we can play his floor even though his ceiling is lower than we would like.

Pitchers to Pick On

Jon Gray

Let’s just start with the obvious. Gray is bad against lefties. Gray is also bad at Coors. The Dodgers hit righties extremely well and are loaded with lefty bats. It is that simple. The Dodgers are going to be the mega chalk once again after another good outing in Coors last night, so this shapes up as another fade and pray in tourneys for ownership reasons.

Tyler Skaggs

This is more of a mini stack or one off spot for me than a full stack. However, there is interest here. Skaggs has always been prone to giving up production to right handed bats and the A’s are full of righties who mash lefties.

Jordan Lyles

We just saw Clevinger really struggle yesterday off his return from the IL and now it is Lyles turn to make his first start back from injury. Unluckily for Lyles, he is tasked with facing the Brewers in Milwaukee. If you stack the Brewers here and Lyles shows rust, they will turn to the pen early and the Pirates pen has been pretty bad.

Even when healthy, Lyles is someone you can pick on with lefties. He has allowed 1.9 HR/9, 1.64 whip, 5.12 xFIP, 46% fly balls and 35% hard contact to lefties.

Yusei Kikuchi

Kikuchi just hasn’t been good to either side of the plate and the Astros are finally fully healthy. He is allowing 1.9 HR/9, only striking out 16% of hitters, has a SIERA of 5.09 and an xFIP of 5.02.

The Astros have four hitters with over a .300 ISO against lefties this year, and they don’t strike out much either.

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