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OwnersBox- Afternoon slate (6 games) – starts 4:04 PM EDT; Main slate (6 games) – starts 7:04pm EDT
DK/FD – Early slate (6 games) – starts 4:05 PM EDT; Main slate (6 games) – starts 7:05 PM EDT
Main slate has Coors and all the joys/sorrows that come with it. If you don’t like the Coors factor, target the Early 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.
We’re finally into the season enough where most pitchers have at least one start under their belt, and we have tangible Statcast data to analyze. It may be a small sample size, but I tend to favor recent data vs stale data, so let’s dig in. If you haven’t browsed our Player Pages and all the stats that are available, you really should check it out.
The two kings of the Early slate are clearly Kodai Senga and Jeffrey Springs. Tanner Houck vs the Tigers in (relatively safe) Comerica Park would be the third option if you want a value pivot off the chalk. It’s also worth noting that the Cubs game is likely to be cool with the wind blowing in, so Justin Steele is another solid pivot.
Sean Manaea worked out of the bullpen his first time out, and…it didn’t go well. He’s pencilled in as the starter Saturday vs KC, but for how long? Matt Duffy is almost automatic vs a lefty, but the sites caught on from his last performance and priced him up – if Manaea is on a pitch count (or gets chased again), he’s likely not worth it. Franmil Reyes, however, is still priced down and likely batting cleanup. Playing KC players feels a bit like dumpster diving after their lackluster start, so might as well go with the cheaper option (and likely chalk in this case).
Shintaro Fujinami – and the A’s team overall – have performance issues. Fujinami walked slightly fewer batters last time out but was blown up for eight ER vs the Angels. The value twins vs RHP for the Rays are Luke Raley & Josh Lowe. Raley has homered in his last two, and Raley & Lowe homered back-to-back in the last article I wrote. Brandon Lowe (so many Lowes!) is priced down to go along with his recent slump and the possibility that he gets swapped out if (when) Fujinami breaks down. I think you can fade him despite the discount, as he’s been really riding the struggle bus. I’d rather use Isaac Paredes in the same price range as he will stay in regardless of the pitcher who swaps in later.
The Giants, like the Royals, haven’t had much to celebrate in the 1st week of the season, but Michael Conforto has been one bright spot lately. He has a solid walk rate to go along with his above-average ISO & OBP, giving him a solid floor while being a cheaper Joc Pederson.
Joey Wentz is another pitcher trying to get his legs under him as part of the Tigers’ rebuild, but he has yet to cement a spot in the rotation when other options return from IL. BOS stole the home opener from the Tigers on Thursday and could steal another one here with solid righty bats such as the red-hot Adam Duvall, Kiké Hernández, and Justin Turner.
Even with using the more expensive arms on the Early slate, there will likely still be room for paying up for a few bats. If you have money to burn, Francisco Lindor & Pete Alonso are options vs Trevor Rogers and J.T. Realmuto & Alec Bohm are solid vs Nick Lodolo. Salvador Perez has had a slow start to the season like his teammates but is always in play vs a lefty. Lastly, Randy Arozarena is a higher-priced Rays bat if you have room.
Pitching for Main is rough – first, you’ve got Coors; second, even where you have options you could get away with in the right matchup, most of the teams involved on the main slate are the top offenses in the league. The “safest” matchup appears to be NYY-BAL with the wind blowing in at a park that’s already safer for pitching from the modifications made last year. Jhony Brito was a nice surprise in his first start, 2-hitting the Giants at home. Can lightning strike twice? The Orioles are much more dangerous than the Giants. On the other side, Cole Irvin is as much a Toby as you can find…but the Yankees had issues with another Toby (Matt Strahm) in their last game vs a lefty, so maybe you can stack both in this game and just move on to bats.
In the Russian Roulette tier, we have options like Jordan Montgomery, Noah Syndergaard, and José Berríos either facing offenses that are rolling lately (MIL) or in more hitter-friendly parks (LAA, ARI). Berríos got blown up his last time out, so as he often does, he could bounce back and surprise vs the Angels. Syndergaard probably has the “best” matchup vs the Dbacks, but his mechanics still aren’t great. I think on a slate like this, you build around the inevitable volatility of Coors and work in whichever of the five pitchers mentioned here that works with the salary you have left and hope they are the least worst of your options. Vaya con Dios, amigos.
Coors slate – embrace the madness. Luckily, neither WAS or COL are bringing their best arms to this fight, so we should be able to attack both sides. Trevor Williams doesn’t have solid CSW numbers on either side and is weaker vs lefties, so the COL staples of Ryan McMahon & Charlie Blackmon should be good starts for your lineup. Elehuris Montero is also stronger vs Rs and has one of the best OBP of the team vs RHP. Alan Trejo is a cheap sleeper to plug in if he makes the lineup, with the best OPS on the team (even if it’s a small sample size). Austin Gomber was one of the pieces of the controversial Arenado trade that has mostly been a Toby at best. The Nats haven’t had much to be proud of this season, but they can exploit weak lefty pitchers, so time to load up on Nat bats. Lane Thomas likely starts up top with a solid 35% hard contact rate vs left-handed pitching. Joey Meneses hasn’t truly taken advantage of Coors in the two games so far, but he still has a 43% hard contact rate and a 50% line drive hit rate vs lefties in earlier games this week- give him one more shot here. Lastly, Victor Robles has a low CSW rate along with a balanced 33.3% GB-LD-FB ratio, which could translate to multiple on-base opportunities.
The second best-hitting environment on the slate belongs to Chase Field, and the Dodgers are likely more than happy to take advantage. Freddie Freeman has a line drive rate nearing 60% vs R pitching paired with a 33% hard contact rate – that should make Zach Davies nervous. Jason Heyward is another lefty that has found long-lost power, sporting a 75% hard contact rate. Will Smith should also return to the lineup on Saturday and has almost been automatic, producing a HR per game. Lastly, Max Muncy is a streaky lefty that you want when he’s dialled in, and now is one of those times.
STL-MIL is a game that could shoot out with two teams that have hit well lately, vs average lefties. For the Brewers, you have Brian Anderson & Joey Wiemer, who has killer speed to go with his 50% hard contact rate. On the Cards’ side, you have the duo of Paul Goldschmidt & Nolan Arenado who are about as good as lefty mashers as you can get. Brendan Donovan also has a surprising .750 OBP to go along with his 75% hard contact rate in a rare lefty-on-lefty matchup.
Other one-offs worth considering for the main slate:
Gleyber Torres & Jose Trevino for NYY; Adam Frazier & Jorge Mateo for BAL; Geraldo Perdomo for ARI; Matt Olson for ATL; Xander Bogaerts for SD; Daulton Varsho, Matt Chapman, & Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for TOR