Tonight’s six-game slate begins with the Yankees hosting the Astros at 7:15 ET.
Today’s SPs and 2023 Stats
A quick note on PLV: If you’re curious about its intricacies, check out Nick’s primer. A quick 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).
Julio Urías has an ERA of just under 5.00. That’s not ideal. As you might’ve guessed his PLV numbers haven’t been as strong this year relative to last. Most notably, his fastball hasn’t graded out as well this year with a 3.66 PLA versus a 2.24 PLA last year. Still, I think it’s primarily a combination of the results just being overly harsh and the sample being a little wonky given that he missed over a month with an injury. The sales pitch tonight is easy: He’s at home against Oakland. And, he’s coming off a season-high 104 pitches, which I think is a good sign.
Of course, there’s Shohei Ohtani as the top option on both sites. At the risk of the greatest player in baseball exposing me for the clown that I am, I’d put Urías ahead of him because of his matchup against the A’s and the price discount.
Based on his salary and the fact that he’s a road dog, Mitch Keller is the one pitcher with upside that might get overlooked. The Brewers do strike out a bit and have struggled as a whole this year to score runs (fifth-lowest team wOBA). We haven’t seen a ceiling score from Keller in a while, but it’s certainly in his bag of tricks and worth going after in tournaments.
I’ll be honest: I kind of want to ignore Sonny Gray. He’s a good real-life pitcher but he rarely sets himself apart from the field for us in fantasy land. Based on his output, I think his salary should probably be cheaper than it is. But then again, maybe everyone else feels that way too, making him sneaky in tournaments. I don’t know. The Cardinals have all but waved the white flag this year, so there’s that.
Cristian Javier has been nearly as effective as he was last year with his strikeout rate down nearly 10 percent. However, he did show some signs of life against the Rays his last time out with his fastball returning 17 whiffs on 40 swings (42.5% whiff rate). The slider, however, was still MIA, and that’s the thing that’s really held him back this year. He’ll face the Yankees. Yes, Aaron Judge recently returned and they exploded last night for seven runs against Shane McClanahan, but this is also the same lineup that gifted one of Alek Manoah’s best starts of the year back in April. The point is, they’ve been mostly bad (24th in team wOBA) so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Javier has a good game.
Bryan Woo has shown impressive K upside thanks to his fastball’s 16.1% SwStr rate. However, the Mariners have mentioned limiting his innings and he’s been held to under 80 pitches in two of his last four starts, so he’ll have to be really efficient to pay off his salary.
Urías and the Dodgers are, by far, the biggest favorites on the board (-275). However, I do want to at least mention JP Sears. He’s pitched really well all year and has shown that he can pay off his $6,800 salary on DK. But it’s probably not something worth chasing tonight, even on a small slate, given that he’ll have to tangle with the likes of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, et al.
Jameson Taillon has pitched well of late with a 2.67 ERA/1.02 WHIP over his previous five starts and is a strong home favorite (-160). But I’m not convinced he has enough strikeout upside to warrant the risk against the Reds (ninth in team wOBA this season).
We can’t play Adrian Houser against the Pirates, can we? But he struck out 10 against Atlanta two starts ago! Yes, but look what happened in his next start: It wasn’t good. It’s the Pirates, so I guess if you really want to cross your fingers and punt SP 2 on DK, you can do it. But you’ve been warned!
HOU: I give Clarke Schmidt credit. The Yankees have almost certainly relied on him more than they originally anticipated given the injuries to Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes and the struggles of Luis Severino. And he’s at least held his own and maybe even more so if you consider his 5.23 PLV. Still, he’s not someone who I’d anticipate being able to hold down the Astros. Plus, he’s logged 104 innings this year, which is a career-high. So you wonder if perhaps fatigue could start to be a factor. Schmidt has drastic splits: A .376 wOBA allowed to LHB versus just .289 against RHB. Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez jump to the top of the list.
MIN: With Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty gone, Matthew Liberatore will have an extended opportunity to prove himself. So far, he’s got a lot of proving to do. But, hey, who knows, perhaps better days are ahead. Anyway, as far as tonight goes, we have to consider him as someone to stack against given his unsightly 6.75 ERA and 1.84 WHIP. His 6.9% SwStr rate and 13.9% K rate don’t inspire much confidence either. I’d consider using any Twin bat tonight. Ok, maybe not Joey Gallo, but then again he’ll almost certainly be someone who could set you apart from the crowd if he has a big night provided he’s in the lineup of course.
LAD: JP Sears has been one of the few bright spots for Oakland this season and has done yeoman’s work with a 4.09 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He does give up home runs but I don’t really want to target batters against him: He’s done a great job avoiding walks, plus PLV loves him quite a bit. Regardless, the Dodgers have an implied total north of five runs and could easily blow up the slate if they get to the A’s pen early so you certainly have to consider them.
CIN/CHC: After last night’s slugfest at Wrigley Field, you can expect to see quite a few Cubs stacks again tonight. Luke Weaver survived his latest outing against the Dodgers surrendering a single run over six innings. But you don’t need me to point out that his 1.60 WHIP and 17% K rate aren’t fooling anyone. He’s also allowed a .394 wOBA to opposing batters.
There is some sticker shock with Cody Bellinger’s salary and I think if I’m spending up, I’d rather go after Álvarez and Tucker. Still, against a mediocre righty like Luke Weaver, he warrants a long look.
If you’re playing multiple lineups in tournaments, don’t forget about Aaron Judge. He can easily tilt the slate, and probably won’t be on too many rosters.
He hasn’t done a whole lot, but I still believe Seiya Suzuki is a solid buy-low. PLV indicates that his swings and takes have been very good (60 DV); sooner or later better results have to come. I promise I wrote that last night before realizing he went yard. You don’t believe me, do you?
Ian Happ has always had better splits as a lefty, so this isn’t a bad buy-low spot for him either. The two home runs last night will certainly make him popular though.
Jameson Taillon has rebounded after an awful start to the season and has a 2.67 ERA and 1.02 over his previous five starts in July. Still, lefties have had his number all year: 11 home runs and a .388 wOBA allowed. Enter Elly De La Cruz (he’s really expensive but always a fun tournament play), Joey Votto, and Jake Fraley.
LAA: Bryan Woo has allowed a massive .503 wOBA to lefties. Of course, we can’t play Shohei Ohtani as a hitter on FD or DK but Woo’s splits make Mickey Moniak, Luis Rengifo, and Mike Moustakas potential darts.