Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Friday’s 15-game slate on DraftKings and FanDuel. We’ve also got projections derived from FanGraphs’ Depth Chart projections and rankings of the top plays at each position.
Woof. Just woof. Despite there being several big names in action tonight, most of those big names have struggled early in the season. Take a look at these advanced statistics from Fangraphs for the five pitchers with the highest projections today in the chart embedded at the bottom of this post.
Look at those xFIPs and SIERAs. Woof. Just woof.
The one guy on that list who has been pitching well and has the underlying numbers to back it up is Jon Lester. Were there better options today, I’d make a bigger deal about the fact that I don’t like the ball park or matchup for him. Cincinnati is definitely a hitter-friendly park, and the Reds have hit lefties well so far with the sixth best wOBA vs. LHP and third lowest strikeout rate. But there is no safer starter on paper than Lester. He seems hard to pass on in cash games, especially on two-pitcher sites (he’s priced pretty well on DK). On a one-pitcher site like FD, you could make a decent case for going with a cheaper starter, which we’ll get to in a minute.
If forced to pick one of those other starters from the list above, I suppose I’d go with Samardzija. The matchup with the Marlins is, at worst, average, and the game is in San Francisco, which always makes you feel a bit better about a pitcher. But the main reason to give Samardzija a look is price. Of those five guys listed above, he’s the cheapest on both DK and FD.
As for the other guys, Wainwright’s xFIP and SIERA are a little over 6.00, Felix might be hurt, and there’s no value in Harvey’s salary on either site even if he does get the bounce back game I think might be coming at some point. Pass, pass, pass.
Now about those cheaper FD options. Well, option. Singular. Both Andrew Cashner and Aaron Nola look like good values based on the projections embedded herein, but Nola has pitched so much better than Cashner and only costs $100 more than Cashner, so Nola is really the only option. He has 23 strikeouts compared to just three unintentional walks through three starts, which has led to a 2.51 xFIP to date. His ERA sits well above 5.00 because he literally has the lowest strand rate of any qualified starter so far this season. That’s going to correct itself sooner rather than later. His matchup with the Brewers looks like a decent one as they are mid-pack in wOBA vs. RHP so far and have the seventh highest strikeout rate. He’s way under-priced on FD at $6,900, but he’s priced just about right on DK at $8,300. The same is basically true for Cashner, so Nola is your man in that price range, no matter the site.
The cheapest guy I could recommend is Nick Tropeano. The projections like him a lot more than the pricing model for either site does, so he could be a value today. But Tropeano hasn’t been great through two starts despite an ERA of 0.84. He has stranded 15 of the 16 base runners he has allowed, in large part because he has yet to allow a home run despite having a fly ball rate of 59.4 percent. In raw numbers, none of the 19 fly balls he has allowed have left the yard. So yeah, there are some red flags here. But his strikeout and walk rates aren’t far off his 13-start career averages, and those averages are basically league average rates. Given how cheap he is on each site, he’s worth considering.
Baltimore Orioles – There’s not a pitcher in the league with a higher fly ball rate than Chris Young since the start of last season. He often makes it work with a good home ball park and a good outfield defense behind him, but he’s always at risk of giving up several dingers in a single game. The Orioles are third in ISO and home runs against right-handed pitching so far, so the could do damage in this matchup. Davis, Machado, Alvarez and Schoop are the best plays.
Chicago Cubs – After dropping 16 runs on Cincy last night, the Cubs are in a good spot again tonight. They’ll face Jon Moscot who has a 4.67 ERA (5.62 xFIP) in four career starts. Here’s what’s crazy about his ERA and xFIP, though. His numbers are that bad despite a .228 BABIP and an 81.5 percent strand rate. So even with excellent luck he’s posted horrific numbers. I guess that’s how it goes when you have eight strikeouts and six walks in your 17 1/3 career innings. Bryant, Rizzo, Heyward, Russell, Baez, Soler, Montero all options.
Chicago White Sox – Through three starts, Martin Perez has two more walks than he does strikeouts (11 and 9, respectively). He’s got the typical lefty-righty split, so right-handed White Sox are good options against the southpaw. Literally any right-hander that ends up in the lineup is an option.
Houston Astros – Houston will face knuckleballer Steven Wright tonight. The knuckleball is a fickle thing which makes Houston bats a boom-or-bust play. And Houston is a boom-or-bust lineup to begin with as they have plenty of power but also tend to strike out a lot. There is a lot of upside here if that’s what you’re looking for. Correa, Valbuena, Gomez, Tucker, Gattis and Castro are options. FWIW, Carlos Gomez has hit knuckleballs well in an obviously small sample size.
- Brian McCann
- Yasmani Grandal (better value is on DK)
- Stephen Vogt
- Jason Castro
- Evan Gattis (better value is on FD)
- Austin Romine
- Anthony Rizzo (better value is on FD)
- Chris Davis
- Pedro Alvarez
- Matt Adams
- Jose Abreu (better value is on FD)
- Jonathan Schoop
- Brett Lawrie (better value is on FD)
- Kolten Wong
- Logan Forsythe (better value is on FD)
- Jason Kipnis (better value is on DK)
- Kris Bryant
- Todd Frazier
- Luis Valbuena
- Alex Rodriguez
- Evan Longoria (avoid on DK)
- Manny Machado (avoid on FD)
- Nolan Arenado (avoid on FD)
- Addison Russell
- Javier Baez
- Carlos Correa
- Jonathan Villar
- Jimmy Rollins (better value is on FD)
- Jason Heyward
- Josh Reddick
- Yasiel Puig (better value is on DK)
- Avisail Garcia
- Ryan Raburn (better value is on DK)
- Steven Souza (better value is on FD)
- Jorge Soler (better value is on FD)
- Jacoby Ellsbury
- Carlos Gomez (better value is on FD)
- Chris Coghlan
- Preston Tucker
- Austin Jackson
- Jon Lester (better value is on DK)
- Aaron Nola (better value is on FD)
- Andrew Cashner (better value is on FD)
- Jeff Samardzija
- Nick Tropeano
- Matt Harvey