Pitching Preview 6/8 | Should We Pay Up for Max Scherzer and Lucas Giolito or Focus On Bats?

Pitching Preview 6/8 | Should We Pay Up for Max Scherzer and Lucas Giolito or Focus On Bats?

We have good sized early and main slates. Lucas Giolito headlines the early slate, while Max Scherzer is the top dog on main slate. Let’s go through all of the viable pitching options to see if they are worth paying up for.

Early Slate

Pitchers to Use

Kyle Gibson

Gibson’s numbers against righties this year have been elite. He is sporting a 30% k rate, 0.9 HR/9, 1.15 whip, 2.76 xFIP, and 49% ground ball rate against righties. He is going to face a righty heavy Tigers team that we have attacked with right handed pitching all year. This is the guy I want to pay up for if paying up.

Framber Valdez

If you want a midrange option, Valdez is your guy. He should end up with a K rate in the mid 20s range, so nothing too spectacular there. However, he is just a solid option for his price here. His ground ball rate is insanely high as each year it has been over 50% and last year in the majors across 37 innings it was 70%. The Orioles have been striking out at a 26% clip, with a .161 ISO and 91 wRC+ against lefties this year, so there is some upside.

Joe Palumbo

If you are playing tournaments, you have to consider Palumbo. The A’s mash lefties, however, Palumbo has dominated AA this year and has massive K upside. His K rate sits at 30% in AA as he has struck out 65 hitters in only 50 innings. He is sporting an xFIP of 3.9 which is pretty solid as well. The A’s very well could get to him as they do against many left handed arms, but if you are looking for upside from a punt, this is your guy.

Brad Keller

If you are looking for a safer punt that likely just won’t go negative, then Keller is your guy. His ground ball rate is high enough that he never gets blasted. He has also had some pretty good success against the White Sox over the last two years. On top of all of that, he has never given up more than one HR in a start at the major league level (I think I just jinxed him).

Pitchers to Pick On

Detroit Bullpen Game

Detroit is rolling out a bullpen game here facing the Twins. All Twins are in play as they are a top five offense against both right handed and left handed pitching and Detroit has arguably the worst pen in the league.

Paul Blackburn

Blackburn is a righty who doesn’t strike many guys out facing the Rangers in Texas. That is the recipe for getting blasted by the Rangers. He does induce a good amount of ground balls, but that is about the only thing he does well. He has a 5.23 xFIP in AAA so far this year.

Adam Plutko

Plutko is a massive flyball guy who will be facing the Yankees who just look to hit homers throughout the order. The Yankees have feasted on flyball pitching this year (see: David Hess), and I think that success can continue today.

Most of the Yankee power is right handed, and Plutko has only allowed 11% ground balls to righties so far in his small sample this year. He is allowing 53% hard contact to righties to go with those fly balls. Yankee right handed power is in a nut spot here.

Aaron Sanchez

I am on team Aaron Sanchez isn’t very good. On top of that, he is dealing with finger issues that have plagued him over the last two seasons. Whenever he has tried to pitch through the finger issues, he has gotten blasted. He sports the third highest SIERA on the slate at 5.14 while his ERA is only 3.9, so hee is due for some regression soon.

Joe Palumbo

I know I mentioned you can use Palumbo here, but he is very risky and you absolutely can stack against him if you aren’t playing him. As mentioned above, the A’s mash lefties as they rank 2nd in ISO and 3rd in wRC+ against left handed pitching.

Main Slate

Pitchers to Use

Max Scherzer

If you can afford him, Scherzer is your pay up here as he is going to face a righty heavy Padres team. He is sporting a 38% K rate, 2.11 xFIP, 46% ground ball rate, and 0.88 whip against righties this year. This is as good as a matchup as you will get in terms of matching the pitcher’s strengths with the opposing team’s weakness. It is just going to cost you a lot of salary to make it work.

Chris Bassitt

Bassitt might give up a homer or two here, but he has legit upside. He should face a bunch of lefties for the Rangers, and that is the side of the plate he has shown upside. Yes, he is allowing 2.2 HR/9 to lefties, however, his K rate jumps from 21% against righties to 28% against lefties. He is also only allowing 33% hard contact and a 1.1 whip to lefties. As long as the homers don’t come with anyone on base, he has upside here.

Jon Lester

I don’t think Lester is very good, however we just don’t have many options on this slate for pitching. Lester has a similar outlook to Bassitt and they are both appropriately priced in the midrange because of it.

Lester is allowing 1.4 HR/9 to righties, but his K rate jumps from 18% to lefties to 23% to righties. This is because he throws a cutter which neutralizes opposing handedness. The nice thing about this matchup is the Cardinals should go pretty righty heavy here which plays into Lester’s upside.

Pitchers to Pick On

Jeff Samardzjia

If this game was in Dodgers Stadium, the Dodgers would be mega chalk. With this game being in San Fran, I think the Dodgers come in at lower ownership than they should. Shark has been getting pounded by lefties, and I want as many lefty Dodger bats as I can fit. He is allowing 38% hard contact, 51% fly balls, 5.4 xFIP and 1.8 HR/9 to lefties.

Steven Matz

The Rockies have some lefty mashers in their lineup as they have a team ISO of .199 against lefties. I think this is likely more of a mini stack spot than a full stack as Matz has been somewhat decent, but he should still give up a couple homers here. He is allowing 2 HR/9 to righties and has always struggled keeping the ball in the park against right handed bats.

Adrian Sampson

Outside of the Dodgers, the A’s are my favorite stack on the main slate. They have a bunch of righties and that is the side of the plate where Sampson has been worse allowing 1.9 HR/9, 1.5 whip, 5.10 xFIP, 46% hard contact and only 38% ground balls. Not to mention this game is in Texas too, one of the most hitter friendly parks there is.