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If you’re unfamiliar with OwnersBox, they offer a really unique roster format that includes one pitcher, four IF, three OF, and one Super Flex (OF, IF, and P). Today’s Phillies, Mets, Twins, and Orioles games were all washed away. Yes, that’s four rainouts! It leaves us with a doozy of a four-game slate starting at 1:10 PM EST (1:09 PM EST on OwnersBox). Note: the late-night SD @ ATL and LAD @ ARI games are not featured in today’s slate.
A quick note on the PLV metric listed above: If you’re curious as to its intricacies, be sure to check out Nick’s primer. A too-brief summation: PLV is a quantifier that uses several variables to assess the quality of each individual pitch; the higher the value, the better the pitch.
Kevin Gausman surrendered eight hits in his first outing against a tough Cardinals lineup and was ultimately done in by some suspect defense. The good news though, is that he racked up seven strikeouts (28.9% CSW). The Blue Jays are the biggest favorites on the slate (-210).
Lance Lynn faced the Astros in his last start and pitched well, recording six strikeouts (29.2% CSW). He was a little wild with four walks, but his four-seam fastball looked excellent and recorded a -2.37 PLA (PLV in ERA form).
Chris Sale barely pitched last year thanks to various injuries, including a broken wrist from a bike accident. The results from his first start were gruesome on the surface but he totalled six strikeouts in just three innings. His slider (50% CSW on 16 pitches) and changeup (46.7% CSW on 15 pitches) were excellent providing hope for better days ahead. Speaking of which, a matchup against the Tigers always does wonders.
He’s probably best left as a wait-and-see option, but I think Alex Wood is worth mentioning, considering it’s a light slate. Similar to Sale, his 2022 season was cut short by an injury. In Wood’s case, a shoulder impingement prevented him from pitching in his normal arm slot. He’s worked extensively this past offseason to recapture the slider that has been an integral part of his success. The early returns this spring looked promising.
On a short slate, all eyes will be on Coors Field. Josiah Gray struggled last year in his first full season in Washington. But as a 25-year-old former top prospect, it’s certainly fair to say the jury is still out.
Gray struggled in his first start against Atlanta, but we did see him at least change his pitch mix. Last year, he threw his four-seamer at just under 40%. In his first start, he threw it at a 16.1% clip.
He’s always shown impressive swing-and-miss offspeed pitches, it’s just a case of improving his command. In the meantime, last year’s numbers point to Rockies LHB. Last year, Gray allowed a .415 wOBA to LHB and just .300 to RHB.
On the other side, the Rockies will turn to Kyle Freeland. He had that one dream season in 2018 in which he somehow delivered a 2.85 ERA and 1.25 WHIP across 202.1 IP. In the 470.1 IP since he’s posted a 4.94 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.
To his credit, he shut out the Padres in his first start, which was almost too fittingly on April Fools’ Day. If you need a reminder, be sure to read Justin Paradis’ fantastic SP Round-up. The Kyle Gleeland nickname is almost too good.
The Nationals should stack plenty of RHB in their lineup to take advantage of Freeland’s weaker splits (.337 wOBA allowed against RHB, .323 against LHB for his career). Switch-hitting third baseman Jeimer Candelario has shown better splits as an RHB (.332 wOBA as RHB versus .309 as LHB).
If you’re pivoting off Coors Field, never a bad idea in tournaments, the Blue Jays are the other offense that stands out with an implied team total of just over five runs. Jordan Lyles showed significantly worse splits against LHB last year, and for his whole career. Of course, that’s no reason to avoid the big Blue Jays RHB against a pitcher with a career 5.09 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Brandon Belt has not done much in his first few games as a Jay, but he’s close to the minimum salary and has a career .359 wOBA vs RHP.
If you’re fading Lynn in tournaments, Michael Conforto’s price on FD ($2,600) and DK ($3,200) makes him an interesting gamble. He has a career .368 wOBA vs RHP.
Comerica Park, especially in April, is a dreadful park for hitters. But some of the Red Sox LHB might be interesting. Spencer Turnbull is returning after having had Tommy John surgery, and he looked a little rusty in his first start back against the Rays during which he allowed seven runs on eight hits while recording just seven outs.