Sign-up for OwnersBox here and get two free entries + up to $500 of your first deposit matched.
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).
Thursday brings us a nine-game slate starting at 1:05 ET with the Cubs hosting the Nationals and ending with Atlanta wrapping up their three-game series with the Marlins at 4:10 ET. And in between we’ve got the Brewers and Rockies finishing their three-game series at Coors Field. Making the slate even more enjoyable is the weather, which looks pretty safe across the board.
A quick note on the PLV metric listed above: If you’re curious as to its intricacies, check out Nick’s primer. A too-brief summary: PLV is a quantifier that uses several variables to assess the quality of each individual pitch; the higher the value, the better the pitch. PLA is the ERA equivalent to PLV (the lower, the better).
Would you believe it? We’re a month in and the Oakland A’s are not at the bottom with a team wOBA of .300, tied for 22nd with the Marlins. Completely unrelated because they aren’t on the slate but the Yankees are tied with the Nationals with a team wOBA of .298 (24th). One spot ahead of the Marlins with a team wOBA of .304 are the Astros. Huh.
Anyway, George Kirby’s 20% K rate might leave a little to be desired but he’s also remarkably efficient and gets to face the aforementioned A’s. The Mariners are also the biggest favorites on the board (-225). Kirby’s PLA of 2.47 is also the fifth-best among pitchers who have thrown at least 400 pitches so far this year. Jacob deGrom, Joe Ryan, Drew Rasmussen, and Gerrit Cole are the four ahead of Kirby.
Grayson Rodriguez has looked the part so far (32.4% K rate and 3.54 PLA) and is coming off a career-high nine strikeouts against the Tigers. Today, he’ll face a Royals offense that is tied with the Tigers for the worst team wOBA at .279 with the Orioles installed as significant road favorites (-164).
Lucas Giolito has been fairly decent outside of a stinker against the Pirates. Overall, he owns an excellent 2.87 PLA. It was a little surprising to see him throw only eight changeups his last time out. Yet, he still had a decent line against a Rays team with the best wOBA in baseball at .376. Either way, his changeup has graded out exceedingly well (0.91 PLA) so you’d figure we’ll see some good lines from him once he leans on it a bit more. He’ll face the Twins who have struck out at 25.6% this year, the fourth-highest rate in baseball. He seems like a pretty decent value on OwnersBox ($7,600) and on DraftKings ($7,400).
Pablo López has given up 11 earned runs in his past two starts against the Nationals and Royals of all teams. If you’re a little worried, that’s understandable but his 2.66 PLA indicates that it’s probably only a blip. The White Sox have gotten off to a dreadful start (.296 wOBA, 26th) but they’ve simply got too much talent to stay that way for long. Anyway, López doesn’t look like a necessity today considering the shape of the slate but he deserves to be considered considering his impressive 31.1% K rate and 2.66 PLA (89th percentile).
The Angels/Cardinals game looks like an interesting one in that it’s a battle between two powerful lineups and two pitchers in Griffin Canning (3.06 PLA) and Jack Flaherty (3.81 PLA) who’ve both shown varying degrees of vulnerability and strikeout ability. I have no idea what to expect in this game but the wide range of outcomes makes it worth circling in tournaments.
Justin Verlander is making his Mets debut against his first team. But given the long layoff, I think I’d probably take a wait-and-see approach.
The same goes for Jameson Taillon who also returns with a good matchup against the Nationals.
Max Fried was expected to start today but instead, we’ll see Dylan Dodd make his third career start. He had a 28.4% K rate across 46.1 IP in Double-A last year. However, he’s been a little erratic since being demoted with a 4.91 ERA and 1.50 WHIP across three starts in Triple-A. The 12.4% walk rate seems uncharacteristic given his scouting report, so maybe that’s just a blip. Regardless, he’s the risk/reward option in the lower tier with a tempting matchup against the light-hitting Marlins (.300 team wOBA, 22nd).
Jesús Luzardo gets a tough matchup against Atlanta but he has the strikeout ability that always makes him a tournament option. In his final start last year, also against Atlanta, he struck out 12 across six scoreless innings.
All eyes should be on Coors Field. Connor Seabold did have some pretty decent numbers the past two seasons with the Woo Sox in Triple-A but it’s hard not to like the Brewers’ chances at putting up some runs. Jesse Winker makes sense as a buy low considering his career .875 OPS against RHP.
On the other side, the Rockies will face veteran lefty, Wade Miley. As much as I want to completely ignore his 1.86 ERA, he does have surprisingly good PLV grades. Still, I think we’d be asking for trouble expecting the results to stick at Coors Field making the Rockies one of the top offenses on the board.
RHB against Patrick Corbin has been a thing for years making the Cubs a team to target. They’ve got an implied team total of five and a half runs not far behind the Rockies. Seiya Suzuki looks too cheap on FanDuel ($2,500).
Don’t forget about the Mariners. They’ll be facing A’s right-hander Drew Rucinski who before making his season debut on April 28th, hadn’t been seen in the majors since 2018.
Vince Velasquez’s career splits tell us we should be looking at the likes of Brandon Lowe, Josh Lowe, and, of course, Wander Franco. PLA confirms charging him with a 3.94 PLA vs LHB and a 3.06 PLA vs RHB through his first six turns. Granted, neither mark is bad but that is to say, if we’re picking and choosing from the Rays, the lefties make the most sense on paper.
Jordan Lyles has struggled against LHB throughout his career and that’s playing out again so far with a 4.42 PLA vs LHB compared to a 3.32 PLA vs RHB. Gunnar Henderson could be a decent punt in tournaments.