Pitching Preview: Is Mike Soroka the Top Early Arm While Justin Verlander Sits Atop the Main Slate?

Pitching Preview: Is Mike Soroka the Top Early Arm While Justin Verlander Sits Atop the Main Slate?

Since the Saturday slate is split into a five game slate and an eight game slate, I will do a quick rundown for each and make my case for options not named Justin Verlander.


Pitchers to Use

Mike Soroka

I can’t really condone paying a premium for Soroka on a normal slate. With the limited options though, you have to consider him here. He gets a righty heavy team in Detroit who will strike out a bunch against anyone. He is also allowing 64% ground balls to righties. He hasn’t flashed much K upside, but the matchup should help with that as mentioned. I prefer him over Woodruff as Woodruff should get a ton of lefties in the Pittsburgh lineup which is the side of the plate he has struggled with.

Homer Bailey

This is how ugly the pitching is on this slate. I am recommending Bailey in Texas against the Rangers, which sounds terrible. However, Bailey is basically free and is going to face a ton of lefties which is the side of the plate he has had more success against. His K rate is 6% higher, his xFIP is 0.4 points lower, his ground ball rate is 4% higher, and his hard contact is 6% lower when looking at numbers against lefties.

He is likely going to give up runs here, but there is some K upside in this matchup that can hopefully offset the runs he is going to allow. The plus to playing Bailey is how cheap he is and the bats he allows you to fit.

Pitchers to Pick On

Tanner Roark

There are a lot more pitchers to pick on this slate than there are to use and it starts with Roark. One of these days, Roark is going to completely implode. What better spot than against his former team? I say he is due for massive regression for many reasons.

The first is his SIERA sits at 4.49 while his ERA sits at 3.20. Next is his career left on base rate is 70%, but this year he is hovering closer to 80% so far. He also has a career HR/FB rate of 10%, which is about league average, but this year he is only sitting at 3%. All of these signs point to regression. The Nats can load up lefties which is where Roark really struggles and this is the smallest park in the majors. I expect people to not play the Nats and to instead play Roark, so this should be great leverage.

Daniel Norris

The other good leverage spot will be using the Braves who mash lefties against Norris. The Braves have six hitters with over a .185 ISO. Norris is also worse against righties which is where the Braves should load up. He has allowed seven homers already to righties this year.

Nick Kingham

The rest of these spots are going to be pretty obvious so let’s just get to the point. Kingham is bad, and he is really bad against lefties where he has allowed a 6.4 xFIP, 2.7 HR/9 and a 2.2 whip. The Brewers have a bunch of lefties who hit righties very well.

David Hess

Hess is just a homerun allowing machine, especially to righties where he is allowing over 4.0 HR/9. The Giants offer solid value, but I expect them to be popular as a cheap source of homeruns.

Shaun Anderson

Anderson competes with Hess for having one of the highest SIERAs on the whole day, not just the early slate where he sits at a 5.07 SIERA. He has also allowed a 1.5 whip and is only striking out 13% of hitters. Allowing hitters to put the ball in play in Camden Yards is not ideal.


Pitchers to Use

Jacob Degrom

Degrom is the cheapest of the studs, and he is the one I want to play here. The DBacks are much better against left handed pitching as they are middle of the pack in every category against righties. Degrom isn’t your typical righty though. He sports a 3.5 SIERA with a 29% K rate which is second best behind Verlander. Take the savings with Degrom instead of paying more for another stud.

Jack Flaherty

This is more so about price and talent than it is about matchup. Flaherty is just an all around solid pitcher, and DK has him priced with the scrubs. He has only three outings out of 11 starts this year with less than double digit DK points. On top of that, five of his outings have returned more than 20 DK points. Again, the Cubs aren’t the greatest matchup, but Flaherty offers talent and upside at a depressed price here.

Jose Urena

Whenever Urena faces majority of righties, he is in play. He gets the Padres here who are all righties. He sports a 55% ground ball rate, a 3.97 xFIP and only 0.8 HR/9 to righties. So while his K upside is usually limited, he generally offers some safety at a cheap price against righties.

Pitchers to Pick On

Rick Porcello

He has one of the highest SIERAs on the slate at 4.95. He is also allowing 1.4 HR/9, only 40% ground balls and a 1.3 whip. These are all signs of a guy we can stack against. The Yankees off power throughout their order, so don’t be afraid to load up on them.

Brett Anderson

Anderson is another candidate that is due for some heavy regression. His ERA of 3.86 is much lower than his SIERA of 5.49 which is the worst on the entire day. He is only striking out 12% of hitters and has a 1.4 whip. The Astros are going to put the ball in play and have baserunners all game long.

Cole Irvin

The Dodgers are in play whenever they are on a slate. Even though they are better against righties, they still hit lefties pretty well. Irvin is a mediocre lefty who can be attacked as he had a 5.57 xFIP in AAA before being called up and has a 5.08 xFIP in the majors through three starts. Another notable trait of Irvin is he doesn’t allow many ground balls as he has hovered at or below 40% this year.


Coors may not be as popular here with Stroman and Gray pitching, but you can always load up on the best hitting environment on any slate. Stroman is a heavy ground ball guy and has been pretty good this year, which makes me slightly hesitant on attacking him. I would side with using Blue Jays over the Rockies as Gray has strikeout ability, but can also blow up.